Mario Kart 8 Tips & Tricks [VIDEO]

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Mario Kart 8 is the hottest release since earlier this year when Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze hit the shelves. There’s a lot riding on a successful launch for the game and I’m here to make sure you have fun with it if you do decide to pick it up. If you’re new to the Mario Kart 8 series I’ve got some quick tips and tricks that’ll help you make the most of your game, with a few Mario Kart 8 exclusive tips and tricks thrown in as well.

Get a Head Start Boost!


Everyone starts from the same place, but not all starts are created equal! If you’re savvy to getting a boost right out of the gate, you can perfect the boost start during each race to give you a quick edge over competitors. During the race countdown, watch the screen as the numbers appear. Right as the number 2 begins to fade from the screen, press and hold your accelerate button. If you managed to time it right, you’ll get a quick boost. If you didn’t, you’ll get a stalled start and you’ll lose precious milliseconds. Either way, practice this one on your own before heading into online races with it.

Coins are more than Wario’s best friend


Coins have made it back into the Mario kart franchise for Mario Kart 8 and they serve several purposes. They’re used to unlock the various kart parts you’ll need to stay competitive online. About every 50 coins or so, you’ll unlock a new kart body, wheel, or glider for your use. But aside from that, coins also offer a small benefit on the track as well.

You can hold up to 10 coins while you’re racing and if you manage to collect all 10, you’ll have a slight speed boost. Keeping them can be hard, as any weapon used against you will cause you to drop three coins per hit. It’s a hard knock life, but well worth it if you can keep those coins.

Unlock kart parts before you play online!


Mario Kart 8 has one of the biggest selections of kart bodies, wheels, and gliders. There are over 30 different pieces for you to choose from and each piece has its own stats that change how the kart handles. Combine this with specific stats from the weight class of your character and you’ve got a lot to play with.

Make sure you’re collecting coins offline before you try to head in online races if you want to be competitive. You’ll need to unlock most of the parts, which is accomplished by collecting coins in any mode. From there, try to put light characters in kart bodies and wheels that have better handling, while heavier karters should have karts that have better acceleration.

Learn to drift and bump in Mario Kart 8


Drifting is a huge part of Mario Kart 8, especially in the anti-gravity parts with tight turns. A drift boost can mean the difference between taking a turn expertly with a speed boost to put you ahead of the competition, or spinning out and landing somewhere in the rough. Some of the turns in later tracks are downright tricky, so learning how to drift is key here.

Hitting the drift button and directional button will drift you a specific way. Generally you want to be pushing the stick against the direction you’re going to create a tight loop around the track. If you time your drift right, you’ll get orange sparks under your wheels when you’re back in the straightaway, giving you a significant boost.

Mario Kart 8 also encourages you to bump into your fellow racers to boost off of them in the anti-gravity parts. If you time this with a drift, you can drift boost into another boost if you end up behind someone. It’s quite helpful in reclaiming spots if you’ve just been knocked down a few.

Use the Best Mario Kart 8 Character (for you)


Most people who play the game will end up choosing their favorite character no matter their weight class, but if you want to be competitive you have to play to your strengths.

There are three weight classes in Mario Kart including light, medium, and heavy. Light characters like the babies and some of the koopalings are really great at boosting and drifting and have great acceleration but medium speed. Heavier characters on the other hand have raw speed power, but their acceleration is poor due to their weight. You can minimize the gaps by custom-tailoring a kart to your racer, but you should try them all, find a play style you like, and stick with the characters of that weight class.

Here’s a quick list of their classifications.

Light Characters

  • Toad
  • Koopa Troopa
  • Shy Guy
  • Baby Mario
  • Baby Luigi
  • Baby Peach
  • Baby Daisy
  • Lakitu
  • Toadette
  • Baby Rosalina
  • Lemmy
  • Larry
  • Wendy

Medium Characters

  • Mario
  • Luigi
  • Princess Peach
  • Daisy
  • Yoshi
  • Iggy
  • Ludwig

Heavy Characters

  • Bowser
  • Donkey Kong
  • Wario
  • Waluigi
  • Rosalina
  • Metal Mario
  • Pink Gold Peach
  • Roy
  • Morton

Learn the Mario Kart 8 Shortcuts

Shortcuts have always been a big part of the Mario Kart series and if you’re savvy, you’ll want to learn them all before you start racing online, because chances are the people you’ll be going up against already know all the shortcuts for every map. Some of them are pretty obvious, but every track in the game has a well-hidden shortcut.

Shortcuts are a high risk, high reward situation, so if you’re a couple of places back you pretty much have nothing to lose by taking one. If you’re in first place you might want to think about taking that nose dive off the side of the map onto the leaves on Cloudtop Cruise, unless you’re confident in your karting ability.


Either way, some of the shortcuts have rough patches ahead of them, so having a mushroom saved up from your random items is ideal for negating that and getting through the shortcut quickly. I found the best way to learn all the shortcuts is the time trials mode, since there’s no pressure with other racers possibly finishing the race before you want to finish exploring the track.

First Place isn’t always the best place to be

While crossing the finish line first is always the goal of Mario Kart, unless you’re able to pass your opponents up by several seconds, keeping the lead is one of the hardest things to achieve. The dreaded spiny shell is always looming over your head, but you have the means to combat it in Mario Kart 8! If you manage to take the lead and get the super horn in your random item rolls, keep it! If anyone throws a spiny shell your way, when you see it hovering ahead of you you can utterly destroy it with the super horn. It’s the only item in the game that lets you combat what used to be an insta-KO.


Of course, there’s still no defense for lightning bolts, which nuke any weapon you happen to be holding and turn you into a miniature version of yourself capable of being flattened like a pancake.

One jump ahead of the slowpokes

Situational awareness in Mario Kart 8 will get you a long way. The tracks are more dynamic than ever before, so you’ll need to keep an eye out for things that weren’t there on your first run through. Grumble Volcano is a good example of a track that begins crumbling away as the race begins, but there are others that are new to the series. Thwomp Ruins has several Thwomps throughout, but it also releases giant boulders and new paths open up on the third lap.


Bowser’s Castle and Twisted Mansion both have diverging paths with obstacles down each path, so paying attention to which track Bowser’s statue is pounding, or where the giant ghost fish is swimming can give you extra breathing room on the track.