Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Adds Accessibility, But Nintendo Has Room to Grow

Some new features in Mario Kart made for a family moment to remember. Nintendo now has an opportunity to make more happy memories for more families moving forward.


Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is already a massive financial success as well as one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch. Two new features, Smart Steering and Auto Accelerate, are positive steps for accessibility, even as the company could do more.

Smart Steering helps keep you on the track, and adjusts its level of assistance based on how much control you're exerting over the steering, while Auto Accelerate does as it implies and automatically revs up without holding down a button. This has caused some consternation among gamers, who lamented it simplifying the game. Alternately, videos have circulated suggesting that it can break the game even at its highest difficulty level.

But there's a different dimension to the tool than has been widely talked about. A post on Reddit (via Destructoid) from a father named Keith lauded Nintendo for adding the features, saying that his young daughter Molly was able to play with her siblings for the first time. Molly had suffered a stroke in infancy, giving her limited mobility in her right hand. Smart Steering and Auto Accelerate effectively compensates for this and lets her race with her left hand.

"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," Keith said. "This is truly a day I won’t forget thanks to Nintendo."

In my own review, I had mentioned that Smart Steering was hit-or-miss, sometimes overcompensating and throwing me off during a turn that I had planned to be hairpin and precise. But Keith's post shows a benefit I hadn't really thought through, in that it allows customizable settings for different levels and types of disabilities. I wanted to explore the topic further, so I consulted with AbleGamers COO Steven Spohn.

"It's great that Nintendo put in steering assists. It's a step in the right direction," Spohn said. "So far, most of the Switch's accessibility has been accidental. Like Snipperclips, which is accessible to the blind community because of the rumble feature. Then again you have [Breath of the Wild] which is very inaccessible to people with mobility impairments."

Still, Spohn pointed out that Nintendo has room to grow. PlayStation and Xbox have accessibility teams and features that are built directly into their consoles. Plus, both publishers have worked with the AbleGamers Foundation in the past, while Nintendo has shied away. "The vendor has some catching up to do," he said. "We love Nintendo and hope to see them continue on the path to making games as accessible as possible." 

Keith's story, and the comments from Spohn, are a good reminder why Nintendo's efforts to offer tools are about much more than playing with small children, as we usually envision. And maybe seeing it have such a profound impact on a family will encourage Nintendo, among other developers, to consider accessibility more often.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 1, 2017 11:45 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Adds Accessibility, But Nintendo Has Room to Grow

    • reply
      May 1, 2017 11:58 AM

      That's interesting to read, you'd think they'd have spent more time with organizations like that given their accessibility focus.

    • reply
      May 1, 2017 4:21 PM

      My oldest son is all about Mario Kart. He can't wait to get his hands on this game!

    • reply
      May 1, 2017 4:37 PM

      Yeah, it can break the game. But, if you know enough about the features, you can turn them off. I like having it in the game. It helps my 4yr old play with us so she feels included with the rest of the family. In a couple of years, the 2yr old will feel the same.

    • reply
      May 1, 2017 4:47 PM

      Wait, are these things that can't be turned off? If so that sucks.

      I have issues with my hands so these features so sound cool but I wouldn't want to force that kind of thing on everybody.

      • reply
        May 2, 2017 12:31 AM

        There are three things: auto-steer, auto-accelerate, and tilt controls. Every player can individually turn on or off each setting from the character/kart select screen before the match.

        • reply
          May 2, 2017 12:59 AM

          They can also be toggled mid match in the pause menu.

Hello, Meet Lola