While it’s likely still a little too early to tell, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit feels like it has the potential to be more than just a toys-to-life mixed reality (MR) tech demo.
During a virtual preview session hosted by Nintendo that expanded on some of the upcoming MR title’s features, I finally saw it in action. In various ways, Home Circuit is the kind of game you need to see to understand.
I remember watching Nintendo’s still recently released trailer and not grasping how the Home Circuit worked. Am I really controlling the physical kart? Is it all just in-game, and the karts don’t move? Is this just a very expensive amiibo?
First off, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit really does allow players to turn their home into a real-world Mario Kart course. The setup process involves placing four gates and two arrow signboards to create a custom track. It’s worth noting that given the game’s expensive price tag, it’s disappointing the gates consist of what seems like flimsy cardboard.
The size of your play space can vary significantly, with tracks extending to a maximum of 4.6m and players being able to race at a total of 9m away from the course.
You then download Home Circuit from the eShop and scan a QR code on the back of the physical Luigi or Mario kart to sync the toy with the Switch. While Mario Kart Live is available for free in the eShop, it requires the kart toy to be playable.
After a quick setup lap around your custom track involving painting the course with a virtual kart, you’re ready to race in one of the title’s several modes, including Grand Prix circuits, time trials and local multiplayer with up to four players.
There’s no online multiplayer featured in Mario Kart Live, but that’s to be expected, given its focus on mixed reality. However, Nintendo says the game disconnects the Switch from Wi-Fi entirely to connect to the kart.
To be clear, your actions in the mixed-reality portion of the game affect the real-world kart. This means that when you turn a corner in Home Circuit on the Switch, the actual physical kart turns in the real-world. Also, if you hit an item box and get your hands on, for example, a Green Shell, shooting it successfully at an opponent will result in their kart slowing down both in the game on the Switch and in the real-world. The same can be said about accidentally hitting a table leg or couch.
In some ways, this is similar to Anki’s Overdrive line of modern-day slot cars. With Overdrive, you set up your own course using track pieces, and then control your vehicle via your smartphone. There are abilities, attacks and other features that come into play with Overdrive, but your attention is always on the physical cars whipping around the track you created. With Home Circuit, your attention is divided between the real-world kart and the actual game running in mixed reality on the Switch.
San Francisco-based Anki shut down in April 2019 after running out of money, but Digital Dream Labs eventually purchased its assets in January 2020.
Though Nintendo says all the Mario Kart series mainstays are in the game, it’s difficult to tell if Mario Kart Live will feel like a proper entry in the iconic series, especially since the in-game perspective is so close to the kart that it’s almost in first-person. With that in mind, there are 50cc, 100cc and 150cc karts. There are even 200cc races where the physical cart can drive at 10km/h when hitting a boost.
If you’ve been watching the Fast and the Furious movies and you’re looking to race at 150cc or 200cc, Nintendo suggests using a much larger play space because otherwise, the kart is challenging to control.
The game also features the ability to customize gates with AR obstacles like Piranha Plants, Thwomps, Item Pipes, Music Notes and several other options. Still, I’m concerned that beyond being fascinating technology, after a few hours, Home Circuit‘s mixed reality novelty will wear off.
For example, to play multiplayer, you need to buy two Mario or Luigi karts, which is an expensive proposition for most people. Otherwise, you’re stuck racing against AI Bowser Jr. and other Koopalings. A lot of the appeal of the Mario Kart series comes from racing against friends.
On the plus side, you can change your course to different mixed reality environments like racing underwater or in a desert, which in turn, subtly shifts how the kart handles. Further, just like in other more recent Mario Kart titles, coins you collect in the game can be used to unlock cosmetic features for your kart and racer. That said, these cosmetics unfortunately don’t affect how the kart controls.
Most of the game’s fun seems to stem from actually building the course, which you’re able to alter with real-world items. For example, say you decide to place a few small cardboard boxes in the middle of your track. This means you’ll need to navigate around those boxes in AR while playing the game. Nintendo also claims the real-world karts are very durable and can easily withstand crashes.
This is also one of the rare instances where Nintendo is handing the reins of one of its iconic franchises to a North American developer. While a joint project with significant input from the Japanese gaming giant, the bulk of Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit‘s development was handled by Troy, New York-based developer Velan Studios.
Since I haven’t actually played Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit yet and have only watched the game in action, it’s difficult to know for sure if it has the potential to be more than just an impressive mixed reality demo.
The groundwork is there, though, especially if you’re willing to pick up more than one $129 physical kart to play the game. Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit releases on October 16th. MobileSyrup will have more on Home Circuit in the coming weeks.
MagSafe Charger Only Charges at Full 15W Speeds With Apple's 20W Power Adapter – MacRumors
Alongside the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models, Apple introduced a new MagSafe charger that attaches to the magnetic ring in the back of the devices, providing up to 15W of charging power, which is double the speed of the 7.5W Qi-based wireless charging maximum.
Apple does not provide a power adapter with the $39 MagSafe charger, requiring users to supply their own USB-C compatible option. Apple does sell a new 20W power adapter alongside the MagSafe Charger, and as it turns out, that seems to be one of the the only charging options able to provide a full 15W of power to the new MagSafe charger at this time.
YouTuber Aaron Zollo of Zollotech tested several first and third-party power adapter options with the iPhone 12 Pro and a MagSafe charger using a meter to measure actual power output. Paired with the 20W power adapter that Apple offers, the MagSafe Charger successfully hit 15W, but no other chargers that he tested provided the same speeds.
The older 18W power adapter from Apple that was replaced by the 20W version was able to charge the iPhone 12 Pro using the MagSafe Charger at up to 13W, but the 96W Power Adapter and third-party power adapters that provide more than 20W were not able to exceed 10W when used with the MagSafe Charger. Below are the results from Zollo’s tests:
- Apple’s 20W Power Adapter – 15W
- Apple’s 18W Power Adapter – 13W
- Apple’s 96W MacBook Pro Power Adapter – 10W
- Anker 30W PowerPort Atom PD 1 = 7.5W to 10W
- Aukey 65W Power Adapter – 8W to 9W
- Pixel 4/5 Charger – 7.5W to 9W
- Note 20 Ultra Charger – 6W to 7W
For maximum charging speeds with the MagSafe Charger and an iPhone 12 or 12 Pro, Apple’s 20W power adapter is required, and older power adapter options won’t work as well. Third-party companies will need to come out with new chargers that use the particular power profile that Apple is using to provide the optimum amount of power before a third-party charger will be able to provide the full 15W with the MagSafe Charger.
Zollo’s testing also revealed that Apple is using aggressive temperature control, so when the iPhone gets warm, the charging power tends to stay below 10W. The best speeds come from charging using the 20W power adapter without a case on the iPhone to better let heat dissipate.
Older iPhones, such as the 11 Pro Max and 8 Plus, charged at around 5W with the MagSafe Charger and Apple’s 20W power adapter, which is in line with the testing results we saw last week. It’s not worth buying a MagSafe Charger to use with a non iPhone 12.
The same goes for Android phones. The MagSafe Charger technically supports Qi-based charging and can work with Android devices, but when paired with an Android smartphone, the MagSafe charger was outputting at 1.5W, which is slow enough that it’s nearly useless.
iPhone 12 drop test results are in: Ceramic shield is as tough as it sounds – CNET
Apple has covered its new iPhone 12 with a brand- , which it says is the . Every year Apple makes a similar claim about its glass, but this time may be different because this is no ordinary glass. While it may look and feel exactly like glass, the ceramic shield covering the screens is, as the name suggests, a combination of glass and ceramic (which is harder than most metals). It’s a totally new cover material for the iPhone and it’s unlike anything we’ve ever tested before.
And testing it is exactly what we did. To find out how this new material holds up to the elements, we put two brand-new iPhone 12s through a few scratch and drop tests. And as it turns out, this new glass is incredibly durable. (This rival says its screen is.)
iPhone 12: Breaking down the glass
The ceramic shield only covers the front — the screen — of the iPhone 12. The back is covered with the same glass as last year’s iPhone 11, which Apple says is the toughest in the industry. Both types of glass are made by Corning.
Aside from the glass, the other factor that may play a role in how well this phone holds up to drops is the design. The glass on the iPhone 12 lies flush with the metal frame rather than curved up like in previous models which left more of the glass exposed. Apple says that design choice alone will make the back and front twice as durable as older models.
All four models of the iPhone 12 () have the same ceramic shield on the screen and the same type of glass on the back. The only difference in materials is the frame. The two Pros have a stainless steel frame, while the Mini and the 12 are aluminum. The performance of the frame may vary depending on the material, but the glass should offer the same type of protection across the board. For our tests we used the regular iPhone 12 in blue and green.
Scratch 1: It survived the pocket/purse tumble
For the first test, I put the iPhone 12 in a small makeup bag with some of the common culprits that scratch up our phones: a set of keys, a half dozen quarters and a metallic pen. I shook the bag vigorously for about 30 seconds to simulate what happens after a few weeks of bouncing around in a purse or pocket before inspecting it.
After wiping the phone down with a cloth, I couldn’t find a single scratch on the glass or the frame of the iPhone 12.
Click on the video below to see the results from the scratch and drop tests.
Scratch 2: No scratches on the screen after sliding on tile
Next, I wanted to see how the screen would hold up if it came in contact with a hard surface like a marble table, kitchen counter or bathroom floor. I slid the iPhone 12 back and forth 10 times on a textured ceramic tile, first along the screen, then on the back of the phone.
The screen had a bid of debris from the tile, but after cleaning it off I struggled to find any visible damage to the glass. Testing the back of the phone was trickier. The raised camera module doesn’t allow the phone to lay flat on its back, so I did a few slides with the phone at an angle. This didn’t damage the glass, but it caused some of the metallic paint on the frame around the bottom camera to rub off. It was barely noticeable and the lenses themselves were still in pristine condition. Then I did it again with the camera module hanging off the edge of the tile. After inspecting the back closely, I finally managed to make out two microscopic scratches, one on the silver Apple logo, and another right below it on the blue glass. Both were thinner than a strand of fine hair and about a quarter of an inch long.
Scratch 3: Rubbing it on sandpaper made a mark
Having passed the two scratch tests with flying colors, I decided to conduct one more (extreme) test on this iPhone 12: rubbing with 80-grit sandpaper. This is probably the real-world equivalent of sliding your phone across a driveway or sidewalk, which hopefully won’t happen too often.
I rubbed the phone back and forth across the sandpaper 10 times on either side, applying light pressure. This time, both sides of the phone were scraped up. The screen had the most damage, with lines running horizontally through the middle of the phone. A few of them were deep enough to feel with my fingernail, but it was still in working condition. The back of the phone has significantly less damage, again because of the protection offered by the raised camera module, but it still had visible scrapes in the center and on the lower edges. The metallic finish on the lens frames had continued to peel off, but the lenses themselves were still scratchless.
Scratching the phone compromises the glass and makes it a lot more likely to break during a fall, so my colleague, CNET Managing Producer Chris Parker, used another brand-new iPhone 12 for our drop tests onto the sidewalk.
Drop 1: 3 feet, screen side down
One of the more common times you might drop your phone is when you’re putting it in and out of your pocket. While dropping a phone from hip height can be harmless, if it lands on the street or sidewalk, you’re likely to end up with a broken screen.
When dropped from hip height, the top of the iPhone 12 hit the ground first, then the bottom. Then it bounced in the air once more before landing flat on the sidewalk, screen side down as intended.
The aluminum frame had a few dents around the edges of the phone, but nothing serious.
Drop test 2: 3 feet, back side down
Next, Chris did the same drop, but this time with the back of the phone facing the ground.
The iPhone 12 seems to be top heavy: It landed almost in the exact same way as it did before, with the top (where the camera module is) hitting first, then the bottom. Finally it landed back side down on the sidewalk.
The main difference on this drop was the sound when it landed, a louder thud than before. Sure enough, once we turned it over, we noticed the bottom half of the phone was broken. The edge felt a bit rough to the touch, mainly from the dents on the frame, but there weren’t any shards falling off the back of the phone, and it still felt smooth despite the cracks.
With the back cracked, we narrowed our drops to the screen only.
Drop 3: 6 feet, 6 inches, screen side down
This is about as high as Chris could drop the phone without needing a ladder.
The top left hand corner of the screen, opposite the camera module, hit first, then the right side, then the left until it flipped on its back, landing screen side up. The most noticeable dent was on the top where it hit first and it almost looked like it had caused a crack in the screen right where it met the metal frame. But after rubbing it off we realized it was just metallic residue from the frame and the glass was still in perfect shape.
Drop 4, 5 and 6: 9 feet drop, screen side down
With the screen still holding strong, we decided to go even higher, using a step ladder to reach nine feet. Again this is not a realistic drop unless you happen to slide your phone off a second floor balcony, but we wanted to see how far we could take it.
At nine feet it became even harder to control the landing. While Chris was aiming to drop it flat on the screen, the iPhone 12 had a mind of its own and landed in almost the exact same way as the previous six-foot drop. With the top right-hand corner of the screen hitting the ground first, then bouncing off the left side and landing screen side up.
The dent on the top right-hand side of the frame got deeper, but the screen survived yet again.
We repeated this drop two more times hoping it would at some point land flat on its face, but the weight of the camera made it hard for it to land at that angle, especially at that height. The iPhone 12 finally landed with the screen down on the last drop, but only because it bounced off the side of the porch step. The frame had a few more bumps and bruises, but the screen still looked like new after three back-to-back drops from nine feet. The only way up from there would’ve been to climb up on the roof or rent a scissor lift, which we weren’t exactly prepared to do.
Let’s break it down
Because our tests aren’t scientific, we can’t say for a fact that the screen is stronger than any other phone in the market, but we can definitely say that our iPhone 12 was incredibly tough to crack (and scratch) even on tile and sidewalk.
The back of the iPhone 12, however, doesn’t seem to have the same drop resistance superpower as the screen. And while you may feel comfortable using this phone without a screen protector, we — and Apple — recommend using the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro with a case, as getting the screen or back replaced without AppleCare Plus coverage costs anywhere from $279 to $549 depending on the repair.
In a statement to CNET, Apple said, “iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro represent the biggest jump in durability ever on iPhone … iPhone 12 models have gone through rigorous real-world testing and are designed to be durable, but not indestructible. If anyone is concerned about dropping their iPhone and damaging it, we suggest using one of the many beautiful cases available to protect iPhone.”
5 video games for kids to while away the fall hours – that parents might like, too – CTV News
With winter weather approaching and our social options limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, kids and teenagers might be tempted to fill their free time playing video games.
Here are five games released in 2020 that parents might be comfortable letting their kids play as they while away the hours this fall.
MARIO KART LIVE: HOME CIRCUIT
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: E (everyone)
Suggested Retail Price: $129.99
The anticipated latest entry into Nintendo’s “Mario Kart” series literally takes the action into your house.
The “Mario Kart Live” kit comes with a real toy kart (Mario and Luigi are the characters currently available) mounted with a camera.
Players use the Switch to drive the cart around the house to create a racetrack. Once finished, players can race on the track in the game.
The “augmented reality” mix of real-world and virtual environments gives creative players a wealth of tools at their disposal to make challenging tracks. Standard Mario Kart elements such as items to boost speed or obstacles to impede karts can be mixed with everyday household items used as ramps or obstacles.
What’s more, the game is free of some of the limitations of similar toys like slot-car racetracks. Setup and takedown is a breeze, as the only items that needed to be placed on the floor is four gates for the kart to drive through.
There are, however, a couple of potential drawbacks.
To get the most out of “Mario Kart: Home Circuit,” you will need a large, well-lit space. It’s possible to make smaller tracks for more compact areas, but the scope of what you can do will be limited.
Also, multiplayer presents some problems. The game supports up to four players on a track, but each must have their own kart and Switch console. There is no online multiplayer option.
Not only can multiplayer be costly, but the pandemic makes it difficult to meet in the same space to race against someone not in your social bubble.
Still, as both a collectible and a game, there’s little doubt that this will be high on the wish list for any Mario Kart fan. Those with the space and the desire to create increasingly devious tracks should find enough replay value in the title for months to come.
ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW HORIZONS
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: E (everyone)
Suggested Retail Price: $79.99
The latest instalment of the popular “Animal Crossing” game was released in March, just as households across the country were preparing for the lockdown in response to the spreading pandemic.
The lighthearted nature of the game, which tasks you with developing an island paradise for your anthropomorphic animal buddies, was a welcome contrast to the uncertainty of the time.
The charming title has grown since then, with Nintendo releasing a number of free updates to keep the game fresh.
The recently released fall update includes Halloween-themed costumes to wear and decorations to place around the island, giving players several creative options to make their habitat suitably spooky.
With a Thanksgiving/Christmas themed update announced for sometime next month, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” gives gamers of all ages a lot of bang for their buck.
ORI AND THE WILL OF THE WISPS
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: E (everyone)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
An action/adventure game in the style of the Nintendo classic “Metroid”, “Ori and the Will of the Wisps” game sees the light spirit Ori navigate a forest full of wondrous sights and treacherous traps in a mission to rescue a friend, and heal the land in the process.
The latest Ori adventure boasts beautiful art direction, clever level design and an empathetic tone that should resonate with younger players.
Some of the combat and puzzles could be challenging for inexperienced gamers, though that could be remedied by playing on an easier difficulty setting.
The sequel to the indie hit “Ori and the Blind Forest” received strong reviews for its gameplay and story when it was originally released for the Xbox One and Windows earlier this year. A version for the Switch was released last month.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One,
ESRB Rating: E 10+ (Recommended for gamers 10 and over)
Suggested Retail Price: $79.99
With the 2020 Stanley Cup already awarded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL’s Edmonton bubble, and the next season delayed until at least the beginning of January, “NHL 21” might help fill the hockey void.
“NHL 21” lets you lead your favourite hockey team to glory, or you can create your own player and take the journey from promising prospect to all-star.
Players can compete online against others, so friends can match skills while staying in a safe environment. Parents may want to monitor if their kids play online against strangers.
EA Sports releases a new game in its NHL franchise every year, and there is often not a lot to differentiate the titles on a year-to-year basis. If you have a recent NHL title, you may want to direct your entertainment budget elsewhere.
If you haven’t bought an NHL title in a while, or are looking to pick up your first game in the series, then “NHL 21” is a way to scratch the hockey itch while the pro leagues are on hiatus and minor programs are suspended.
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PS4, Google Stadia
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Suggested Retail Price: $79.99
It’s fair to say “Marvel’s Avengers” didn’t quite live up to its heroic hype when it was released last month.
Reviews were mixed, with praise for its short but excellent single-player campaign and a lukewarm reception for its directionless online component.
Still, superheroes are pop culture dynamos, and there is enough here for fans of Captain America, Iron Man and Black Widow to enjoy.
Combat is fast and furious, and each of the six currently available Avengers have their own play style. Rampaging into a horde of the enemies with the Hulk or lighting them up with Thor’s hammer feels right.
While the Avengers are a force for good, the violence might be intense for very young gamers. Teen players who are into superheroes, however, will find a relatable protagonist in the delightful Kamala Khan, otherwise known as Ms. Marvel.
“Marvel’s Avengers” might currently be a bit thin on content for those who aren’t big fans of the genre, but that might change. The game’s developers have beefed up the multiplayer since launch, and new characters are on the way, with the Kate Bishop version of Hawkeye expected in the coming weeks.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020.
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