Mario Kart 8’s Smart Steering is the Best New Addition to the Series

Mario Kart 8's most controversial new feature is also its best.

Paul Tamburroby Paul Tamburro

Nintendo have put considerable effort into making Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as accessible as possible. When you first play the game its smart steering is activated by default, while there is also the option for auto-acceleration to ensure that you don’t even need to hold down the gas while you race. Both of these features can be turned off, but their implementation has still caused upset among players who incorrectly insist that this provides their opponents with a tactical advantage.

While the feature was criticized following the game’s launch, the debate surrounding whether or not it provides players with an unfair advantage became more heated following the publication of a video from the site Nintendo Life, which claimed you could ‘Win Gold in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Without Touching the Controller.’ The video shows the player winning the Mushroom Cup gold trophy in 50cc, the game’s easiest difficulty setting, and has been used as evidence against the introduction of smart steering and auto acceleration.

You can watch the video below:

The problem with this argument is that when used outside of 50cc, solely relying on smart steering and auto acceleration will not guarantee victory in any capacity. In fact, putting down your controller in 100cc, 150cc and the high speed 200cc will more often than not see you stuttering along in last place. When you factor human players into the mix, then Mario Kart 8‘s autonomous driving actually hinders your progress, with it prohibiting you from taking many of the game’s vital shortcuts and removing the super turbo that is only available when smart steering is deactivated.

Also: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Shortcuts For Every Course: A Guide to All 48 Tracks

But that’s not all. As pointed out by gaming industry commentator Jim Sterling’s latest episode of The Jimquisition series, Mario Kart 8 will disconnect you from an online game if do not make any inputs within 30-40 seconds, effectively making it literally impossible to play an online multiplayer race with your hands not touching the controller. The game’s online tournaments also give creators the option to prevent players from using smart steering, further limiting the uses of the self-driving feature in the game’s online component.

Unfortunately, this still hasn’t stopped some outspoken members of Mario Kart 8‘s player base complaining about its implementation, despite it making the game more accessible to younger and inexperienced players, along with players who are physically impaired. This Reddit post from a father whose daughter had suffered a stroke perfectly outlines exactly why Nintendo’s decision to make Mario Kart 8 more accessible is a hugely positive move, and why more games should arguably follow suit:

“I have 3 kids ages 7, 4 and 3. The 7 year old is capable of playing the game normally and the 3 year can’t really play, but likes to hold the controller and push the buttons. However, my 4 year old had a stroke just after she was born and her right side is not coordinated enough to hold the controller in a way that really allows her to play with us. Well, thanks to Mario Kart‘s new Auto Drive feature, 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.”

It’s understandable that players wouldn’t want unfair advantages given to their opponents in competitive online games, but this simply isn’t the case in Mario Kart 8. While smart steering and auto accelerate allow less capable players to join in with everyone else and take on the games various Grand Prix single-player events, they won’t allow someone utilizing it to steal victories from more skilled rivals with ease. Gaming should be for everyone, and Nintendo has succeeded in making this the case in Mario Kart 8.