Today, the Nintendo World Store in Rockefeller Plaza hosted a launch party for the new K’NEX Mario Kart Wii Building Sets. The event featured contests, lots of video games, photo-ops with Mario and Luigi, and an appearance by K’NEX president, Michael Araten.
The new K’NEX product will allow kids to build tracks from the Mario Kart games and then race motorized carts on them. Araten told Nintendo TV today that he wanted to bring the joy of Mario Kart to real life, but as we explored the Nintendo store and examined the new products, we were puzzled: Why would anyone choose to play with K’NEX’s motorized cars instead of playing the Mario Kart game on the Wii?
The joy of Mario Kart has always been that you get to drive your car, but the K’NEX karts are not remote controlled, so all the player gets to do is snap together a few pieces of plastic and then watch as the karts go round and round. The fact that most of the kids in the stores were absorbed in the Wii game and not the new toys reflects this failure on K’NEX’s part to capture what makes the game fun.
One commenter, Scminization, said it best on YouTube when he advised, “Hand this idea over to LEGO. They could make it better, like, maybe make it remote controlled or infa-red, stuff like that.”
Other YouTube commenters were outraged for another reason: “This isn’t K’NEX, this isn’t creativity! The motto of K’NEX is that you can build your own stuff… You guys have lately been going away from the original K’NEX idea. Now K’NEX stinks more and more. I refuse to buy sets from you anymore,” wrote user Legosrule11.
Here’s an awkward sneak peek at the new product: