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Smite's karting minigame, Apollo's Racer Rumble

Smite [official site] has picked up a little karting mode for a limited time in the form of Apollo’s Racer Rumble. It’s pretty standard for MOBAs to offer up modes beyond the regular lane-pushing slugfest and often developers use limited time alternate modes to push the boat out a bit in terms of what you do with the characters. Where the mode you’ll see in professional tournaments is all SRSBSNS and PAYING ATTENTION, limited time modes tend to be daft/non-canonical/slightly broken/good for a bit of downtime between SRSBSNS.

Apollo’s Racer Rumble is very much a Smite rework of Mario Kart and the musical flourishes and types of items and so on feed into that impression. I vroom vroomed around the track as the Father of the Frost Giants, Ymir throwing down little ice wall barriers, having my vision obscured by mystic dark fog, getting walloped by Thor’s Hammer and trying to land enough corner drifts and turns on the speed pads to keep ahead of the pack.

It was an engaging enough minigame but a couple of things:

1. I’ve talked at length before about Smite’s relationship with other games and how it often seems to set itself up to need to fend off accusations of copying or cloning even when the gameplay itself is markedly different. This is a casual minigame billed as a fun diversion rather than a standalone title, but there is still the invitation to spend money to unlock related bits and bobs and having obviously shared DNA with a beloved franchise will likely rub some people up the wrong way, although perhaps that will skew towards people who don’t play Smite anyway. I enjoyed it in so far as it was a way to pass a bit of time with those characters which doesn’t require the best part of an hour and a row about mid lane, but I found myself a bit weirded out by the extent to which it felt like it was trading on Mario Kart.

2. It repeats the thing I find uncomfy about Smite in terms of its tendency towards one-note representations of women. At the very beginning of the course I played (Elysium Beach, I think) the starting grid was flanked by busty, not-extensively clad goddesses. They’re actually playable goddesses from the main game in skins also from the game – one being Beach Babe Aphrodite and the other being Challenger Nu Wa from previous events – but here they seem to just be there as cheerleaders or busty ornaments for an otherwise-spectatorless course. Bleh.

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Philippa Warr


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