Mario Kart 8 Deluxe artwork
© Nintendo

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe tips to guide you to victory

Master Mario's latest racer with these eight top tips.
Written by Chris Scullion
6 min readPublished on
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, an enhanced version of the Wii U game, has arrived on Switch. The Wii U version was great, but as so few people owned Nintendo's last console, there will be plenty of people who are experiencing the plumber's ace racer for the first time.
If you fit into that category, these tips will help you get off to a good start. Even if you owned the original, there are a few new features to learn such as the purple boost and the ability to carry two items. We cover it all in this handy guide that'll help you beat your rivals to the finish line. We've even got some tips for the new Battle Mode.

1. Learn the boost start

A screenshot showing how to get a boost start in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Hit accelerate when you see Lakitu's two fingers
The boost start is the first thing that you need to learn every time you play a new Mario Kart game because the timing's different every time. In this one it's a little trickier because there are different levels of boost, and if you don't time it perfectly you'll get a much weaker one.
The trick is to hold down the accelerator the second the '2' stops moving down. An easier way to time it is by looking at Lakitu's hands – when he makes the '2' gesture, that's when to hold it down. Do it right on the '2' and you'll get the fastest boost.

2. Give auto steering a go, but don't rely on it

A screenshot of auto steering in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Auto steering will help you stay on course
If you're completely new to Mario Kart, you might want to try out auto steering (which is turned on by default). This puts a little antenna on the back of your kart, and any time it looks like you're going to hit a barrier or drive over an edge, the antenna will light up and guide you back on track.
It's a really useful way of getting used to the game without getting too frustrated, but once you get the hang of it you should probably go into the options and turn it off – it also applies the brakes a little when it kicks in, so if you don't use it you'll take corners faster.

3. Use the new purple boost

A screenshot of the purple boost in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Use the purple boost on long bends
In the Wii U version of Mario Kart 8, there were two levels of boost you could get by drifting around corners. Hold a drift for long enough and blue sparks would appear under your kart, which gave you a small speed boost when you came out of the drift. Hold it for longer and the sparks would turn orange, giving you a better boost.
In the Switch version, there are new purple sparks which appear if you hold it even longer and give you a hefty boost. It's not often that you'll find a corner long enough to make it to purple sparks but if you can, go for it. It'll only go as far as orange if you're using auto steering.

4. Manage your items carefully

A screenshot of Yoshi with a banana in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
In the lead? You might want to hold on to a banana
In the Wii U version, as in most other Mario Kart games, you could only carry one item at a time. This time you can carry two (though you can't switch between them). This lets you see whether you should risk using the one you have active.
For example, if you're in first place and you have a banana, you might pick up another item which happens to be a horn. In that case, it's safe for you to drop the banana because you'll still have another defensive item left. On the other hand, if you get a second item and it's a coin, you should hold onto your banana in case you're attacked with a red shell. Always pay attention to your second item before deciding whether to use your active one.

5. Pick a kart that suits your style

A screenshot of the vehicle selection screen in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Choose your vehicle wisely
There are loads of different types of vehicle in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and by combining your character, vehicle body, wheels and glider you can put together a range of wildly different karts, bikes and quads. Mess around with these combinations to find the kart that best suits your playing style.
For example, if you're an aggressive driver who bumps into opponents a lot, use a heavier character and bigger wheels so that you can increase the kart's weight. If you're just starting and you're in the habit of crashing a lot, focus on increasing your acceleration so you can get back up to full speed quickly. If you think you're a pro, increase your top speed instead. It will take you longer to reach it but once you do, you'll dominate – if you don't crash.

6. Practise Battle Mode offline

A screenshot of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Battle Mode is an all-new feature for Deluxe
The new Battle Mode is a fantastic addition to the Deluxe version, offering five different modes set over eight brand new battle arenas (including a brilliant Splatoon themed one). These can all be played online, but if you're a Mario Kart amateur there's a chance you might end up picking bits of red shell out of your teeth for weeks.
Instead, play single-player battle modes offline first. You can set the CPU difficulty to Easy to get used to the rules of each mode, then raise it to Normal, then Hard as you adapt. Once you start winning in Hard, you should then be good to go online and take on the world.

7. Learn the 180 turn

A screenshot of a 180 turn in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's Battle Mode
Hold B and quickly turn left of right to do a 180
There's a really handy Mario Kart technique which isn't discussed much, mainly because it's only useful in Battle Mode. If you hold the brake (the B button on the default controls) and quickly turn to the left or right, you'll perform a really sharp 180-degree turn which swings your kart around a lot sharper than a normal turn or a drift does. This is fairly useless in races but it's a great trick to learn in Battle Mode.
If you have a red shell and someone approaches you from the front but drives past before you get the chance to react, you can quickly do a 180 to face them after they pass and chuck the shell at them.

8. Collect loads of coins

A screenshot of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe showing a vehicle customisation unlock
Collect coins to unlock vehicle parts
Finally, try to collect as many coins as you can early on. When you first play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, all the tracks, characters and speed classes will already be unlocked from the start (except for Gold Mario, who you get for winning all GPs at 200cc). The only major things that are locked are the vehicle parts, which you unlock by collecting coins. You'll need to collect thousands of coins to unlock everything, so even when you're winning a race and you already have the maximum 10 coins, do go out of your way to keep collecting them, at least until every part has been unlocked. The more parts you have, the more you can tinker with the set-up to get a vehicle that perfectly fits your playing style.
For more gaming coverage, follow @RedBullGames on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook.