Nintendo Reveals Life Sized Mario Kart Track for a Limited Time

The concept behind Nintendo’s Mario Kart franchise has never been very complex; take a few noteworthy characters from the Mario Bros. video game series, put them in go-karts and arm them with a turtle shell catapult. Since 1992, gamers have turned their home classic arcade machines into virtual go-carts, racing against their friends in split screen mode and going for gold. To celebrate Mario Kart 8, recently released for the Nintendo Wii U, a life sized replica of the classic Mario Kart track was setup for all to enjoy at SXSW.

Using a video screen to countdown the lowering of the checkered flag, event organizers Pennzoil and Nintendo helped music and Mario Kart lovers to recreate the game in real life. Nintendo outfitted the go-carts with cameras to capture the players’ movement and put it up on the big screen. Many, many SXSW attendees got on line to have a turn at the Mario Kart replica track, with some waiting almost four hours.

So, how did Nintendo and Pennzoil handle turtle shells, wipeouts and attacks? While there weren’t any real turtle shells barreling down the track, event organizers were able to simulate the action. In addition to cameras, the go-carts also came with digital readers. Digitized versions of attacks and special features were rendered on a large flat screen, but the speed burst feature was able to be implemented in real life.

Racers responded positively Mario Kart replica racing, overall. Even those who stood on line were able to be entertained by keeping their eyes on the big screen. Setup to accommodate four racers at a time, participants were strapped into the go-carts and fitted with black helmets. Players also had the opportunity to choose between playing as Princess Peach, Browzer, Luigi or Mario.

Unfortunately, anyone who didn’t attend SXSW in Austin, Texas, this past week in March won’t have the chance to go ‘Mario Karting.’ Few authentic, classic arcade machines can be turned into an activity that is fun, even without game controllers. Mario Kart Reimagined may have been a temporary event, but fans will surely find a way to try it at home.