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Mario Kart 8 Tips & Tricks [VIDEO]

Check out our Mario Kart 8 Review and Mario Kart 8 Forums!

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!

mk8-boost-start

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

wario-coins-mk8-tip

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!

mk8-kart-parts

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

mario-kart-drift-mk8

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)

character-picker-mk8

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.

mk8-tips-shortcut

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.

superhorn-mk8-tips

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.

mk8-twisted-mansion-paths

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.

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  • darkcreap

    Is that your voice Ashley? Never listened to the podcasts, so it is quite a surprise.

    Thanks for the tips!!

    I have been practicing a lot with Mario Kart SNES in the last weeks. So addictive… sad I have no one for multiplayer. I used to have long evenings in Battle Mode with friends back in the 90s. What a wonderful game.

    • http://about.me/overlordror Ashley King

      Yep that’s me, though the recording was done this morning so I think I sound a little sleepy. O_o

      • Fred

        Did you guys discontinue the podcasts?

        • http://about.me/overlordror Ashley King

          Yeah the podcast is on hold right now, since Mark is no longer part of Neverstill and it was just he and I for the longest.

          • Fred

            Did you have enough listeners to justify a Nintendo based podcast? You could invite some of the other Wii U Daily Contributors.

          • https://twitter.com/Zorpix_Fang Zorpix

            *cough cough*

          • Fred

            Well, jump on with Ashley and we’ll listen. It’ll be better for me at least. I prefer my podcasts to be 85% Nintendo Related and 15% everything else and before they were about 20% Nintendo 40% Playstation/Vita 40% Xbox so I’d love a Nintendo based one!

          • https://twitter.com/Zorpix_Fang Zorpix

            I’ve brought it up before… Let’s just say it’s not the best time for either of us, though. They have other things to discuss before dealing with the podcast. though if more user interest comes up, It’ll probably get pushed higher on the to-do list

            But that’s just my two cents. I’m not very high up in the WUD food chain, so I don’t know too much ;P

          • Fred

            Thanks I hope you get more interest!

  • Razo_E

    There’s always been a way to avoid the blue shell. If you use a mushroom just before it drops down to hit you, it’ll miss.

    • http://about.me/overlordror Ashley King

      True enough, but the super horn is a guaranteed destroy when you see it hovering. You have to perfectly time the mushroom boosts.

      • Jason

        I saw on YouTube that a well timed banana toss can destroy it. Though I’ve never been able to do it myself.

  • Kyle

    I just cant wait to play mk8

  • Chase U

    The wait is almost finally over guys! I’ve been counting down since back in January when I first got a Wii U and heard about Mario Kart 8 for the first time. Me and my friends are gonna have an awesome time playing it tomorrow and lucky for me I have an edge over them since I’ve played the demo 3 times!

  • Ducked

    Off topic: Nintendo just announced a GameCube controller adaptor for Wii U in a recent Smash Bros video

  • Wooopigsooie

    “When in first place and looking to stay in that position, certain items can be held behind you by pressing and holding the power button. That way the entire system shuts down before anyone is able to catch up! It’s an automatic win!” Sorry, I just had to. XD

  • JollyShredder

    “And today we’re going to be looking at some tracks, tips, and trips?”

  • rp17

    There are actually 7 different weight classes within the 3 main ones…

    • Josiah Parsons

      Where did you find this?

    • Michael Hancock

      What factor does weight play?

      • rp17

        In Mario Kart Wii the heaviest characters would bump into and knock the light characters off the track. This happened so much almost no one used the lightweights (besides the speed reduction as well).

        Not as big of a deal now though, as bumping in antigravity now results in a boost.

  • Nostalgic_Chaos

    The Weight classes are: Featherweight, Light, Super Light, Medium, Cruiser, Heavy (Metal characters) and Super Heavy.

    I’ll be using DK a lot. He’s a Cruiser, so he’s not too heavy and not too light. He’ll have the perfect combo of acceleration and speed. I’ll use Peach and Wendy often too.

    • Fred

      So if DK is a Cruiser, and the Metal Characters are Heavy, then whose Super Heavy?

      • Nostalgic_Chaos

        Super Heavy are Bowser, Wario and Morton, and then you also have the option of using a Mii in the Super Heavy category, as well as using a Light and Medium version as well.

        Online, you’ll probably want to go with a Cruiser: DK, Roy, Waluigi and Rosalina.
        It seems that the Medium and Heavier characters seem to have an advantage Online due to that slight extra speed.

        • Maxid765

          I agree with this, from what played in the Demo, I had the best results playing as DK, so I say cruiser weight is probably the way to go

          • Nostalgic_Chaos

            Yeah, even for that extra weight defence as well, as you get people purposely bumping into you, trying to throw you off of the course, although that is a lot harder to do now on Mario Kart 8.

        • palomino blue

          I never realized there were so many weight classes. It’s all about using what you like though as power up strategy and a little bit of luck can completely influence the outcome of a race.

          • Nostalgic_Chaos

            Yeah, luck really does play into it as well. I’ll be using Light characters sometimes too. I just like to have that extra weight Online though, as you get people trying to shove you off of the course on purpose.

    • Adrian

      I’ve always used DK, but in SNES and 64 he was heavy. Dunno what this cruiser is, but that’s probably a good thing.

  • Fred

    10pm can’t come soon enough!!! That’s when we can start downloading it here in Utah. It always works that way it releases at midnight EASTERN!!!

    • Roadkill409

      Now that you have had it for a day or so, what do you think of the game?

      • Fred

        I’ve really enjoyed it. I didn’t like Mario kart Wii, but I really like this one.

  • Jason

    For the speed boost at the beginning of the race, you need to hold the A button when the 2 drops, not when it fades away. If you start holding it when it fades away, you’ll only get a mini speed boost, it you start holding it as soon as it stops moving downward, you’ll get a boost that lasts for a little over 1 second.

    • Fred

      Have you played too? I can’t wait till 10pm so that I can start downloading my copy

      • Jason

        No, I haven’t played it yet, GameXplains did a video about the turbo boost.

    • Adrian

      When you say drops do you mean when it appears or disappears completely?

  • Andrew Gonzalez

    You want to know what’s messed up is that COD is doing double XP weekend. Hmmmm I wonder why? Scared of a little plumber on wheels?

    • Nostalgic_Chaos

      Nah, I doubt it’s anything to do with Mario Kart. They do Double XP Weekends very often anyway.
      I’ve got COD Ghosts and Black Ops 2 for Wii U, but I’m literally selling them both tomorrow when I pick up MK8 lol.
      Man, I hate the COD games. Was only playing them cause I literally had nothing else to play on my Wii U, and I enjoy the intense online games from time to time. I’m officially retiring from COD and will never touch one of them again. Now, if they brought the Battlefield games to Wii U, I’d be playing those, because Battlefield is so much better than COD. In fact, Battlefield 3 is one of my favourite games of all time.

      • Andrew Gonzalez

        But they did do double XB when GTA5 was released last year.

        • Nostalgic_Chaos

          Oh okay.

  • Moreck

    Thanks for the tips! Also, you have a very pleasant voice :)

    • YogiGRB

      yeah i agree, she does have a pleasant voice doesn’t she

  • Brian

    There used to be ways to avoid lightning by using a invincible star. Not sure what you mean by no defense against it.

  • Rinslowe

    Well. I’m rather embarrassed. I clicked on this article to get a head start on the competition & strategy and I find all you lot here already!
    Right then, so no need to pretend like we aren’t all in it for first place position, once we approach that finish line!
    Haha…

    May the best kart win people…
    :P

  • Rinslowe

    E-Shop is congested :(
    Can’t get online to download Mario Kart 8….

  • MetroidZero

    Enjoying the game thus far. Very fun game & very gorgeous game too. Just waiting for my Club Nintendo confirmation email to come in so I can download Pikmin 3. -_-

  • Potemkin

    Your voice is actually very relaxing ma’am

  • MerryBlind .

    This is it guys! I have it! Now I just have to finish my day of work and get home……. can’t wait!!

  • DoctorWily

    Great video, Ashley. Very nicely done!

  • Laila Allen

    Anyone know how to increase my selection of tracks during online play in MK8? Can only see 3 computer selected tracks and a random…. in previous MK7 version I had all tracks to choose from.

    • http://myanimelist.net/profile/flclfool flclfool

      Select random :P I think they only show 3 to make sure people don’t track troll. Random however can get any of the tracks

  • Adrian

    So how do I get stars on my trophies?

    • http://myanimelist.net/profile/flclfool flclfool

      1st place each track of a GP for 3 stars. Even if you get 2nd in one race you won’t get max 3 stars.

      • Adrian

        sweet, on the road to 3 starring everything.

        • http://myanimelist.net/profile/flclfool flclfool

          150 theyll troll you by slipping into first last second of last race :P rage

          • Codster9

            Know that all too well. Blue shelled at the finish line. Just got to keep trying. :(

          • http://myanimelist.net/profile/flclfool flclfool

            I’m not even kidding, I’ve been busy with other stuff for awhile but these two tracks keep getting the best of me right before the finish line. 150cc in Shy Guy Falls and Dolphin Shoals, drive me crazy

          • Codster9

            That is just terrible luck.

          • http://myanimelist.net/profile/flclfool flclfool

            Coms are the best trolls in any MK game yet lol

  • Dan Hutt

    Last section, the person says that “To drop items behind you, press and hold the”…Power button? Pow button?

    Dear me.

  • Troy

    I am having alot of problems staying connected to online play