If you don’t feel anything, you’re dead inside
For a lot of elitist gamers, the worst “change” in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the introduction of “Smart Steering” and “Auto Accelerate”. The two options are pretty self explanatory, but they allow you to either have the game auto steer or leave the gas pedal down. It lowers the skill ceiling for new players by letting them focus more on learning the courses or using items without having to fiddle with anything else. It can definitely automate the experience a bit, but it hardly ruins it for “expert” players.
What most people fail to realize is that these options can be used as accessibility features for disabled gamers. One such example comes from Reddit where a man named Keith has described how his young daughter, Molly, is now finally able to play Mario Kart with her siblings thanks to these new features. Molly is four years old, but she had suffered a stroke just after being born. It has left her with limited mobility in her right hand, hence how these new features have helped her play Mario Kart.
“Thanks to Mario Kart’s new Auto Drive feature,” Keith explains, “she can now steer with her left hand and let the game drive for her or vice versa. I’m sure this feature will be an annoyance to many, but for my daughter, who would otherwise not really be able to participate, it is the best feature ever added to a Mario Kart game. She is currently sitting in my living with my other 2 kids and my wife and all of them are playing Mario Kart and laughing their heads off. This is truly a day I won’t forget thanks to Nintendo.”
That is a very touching story made possible because Nintendo’s approach to gaming is more about being inclusive rather than pushing people away. I’m not sure why we keep having discussions about “casual” games or “hardcore” games when one of the main objectives with gaming should be having fun. Does someone else having an easier time really hurt “hardcore” players that much?
To make matters worse, these new options don’t break Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in any way. Using both options at once, you still need to know what each item does, when to use it, how to properly time jumps off ramps for small boosts, how and when to drift and even potentially break if playing on 200cc.
Knowing that more people can finally experience Mario Kart 8 is a good thing. I don’t know how anyone can be upset with this. If you’d like to read more about the story, you can check out the Reddit post or Kotaku’s great write-up about Molly and her newfound hobby.