Has there ever been a series that so perfectly captures the mayhem of racing games like everyone’s favourite plumber and his red shell collection? The short answer is arguably no, and this May will see Nintendo’s front man return to the track in Mario Kart 8. All new racers, all new tracks, all new karting goodness. The Wii U game can’t come soon enough for many, and we know that some of you can’t wait to get your hands on those starmans and mushrooms, but at the end of the day it’s still a video game. There’s no way the harmless karting fun of the Mario Kart games will ever make its way into the real world, is there?
Well, it turns out there is a way and it’s happening this weekend (March 7th – 9th) at the South by South West Interactive gaming event in Austin, Texas. Working in partnership with the Motor Oil company, Pennzoil, Nintendo of America has arranged to have a live, custom built Mario Kart track stationed right outside the Palmer Events Center where SXSW is being held. Event attendees will be able to hop in the driver’s seat for free and take their karts out for a spin with other racers; while this may seem no different from any other karting rink out there, this one will use RFID technology to link the kart with the track to provide the driver and spectators with an interactive, real-life Mario Kart experience.
In other words, when racers hit a certain part or icon on the track, the RFID will kick in and affect the karts in a certain way, making them speed up briefly or slow down for a time. Yep, Nintendo wanted drivers to safely get as close to the Mario Kart mayhem as possible so it brought in items — it's an idea we've seen before. Sadly, there will be no bananas or green shells available, but the constant speed changes are sure to make the race a challenge. The races will be shown from the driver's perspective to screens throughout the Convention Center so it may turn out to be quite the spectator sport.
This Mario-Kart themed special event isn’t just for Nintendo’s benefit however, as Pennzoil will be using it to promote its new oil, which is the first synthetic gas made from natural elements.
The track will be open throughout the weekend during the afternoons between 12pm and 6pm, so if you happen to be attending the SXSW interactive convention this year, it might be a good plan to check it out; please let the event organisers know if you spot a blue shell. We don’t think you’re allowed to bring your own items in.