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by super_luigi16

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FAQ/Walkthrough by super_luigi16

Version: 0.88 | Updated: 06/25/14

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1. Introduction

                   \\\ 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... ///

Go! Welcome to my guide for Mario Kart 8, one of the most anticipated Wii U games in 2014! This guide will help you with everything from learning about and mastering the courses to develping sound item strategies and from competitive battling to unlocking all of the vehicles and characters. The following sections are comprehensive, and they should be accessible to racers of all skill levels, including those who have believed that they have peaked or plateaued. Furthermore, this guide is definitely a collaborative venture; for those of you who have something to add or who think existing content needs to be changed, please check out the Contributing section!

Without further ado, I present to you my guide for Mario Kart 8.

Extended Table of Contents

Because this is such a large and comprehensive guide, I have created this section to allow you to easily jump to any section. Unlike the auto-generated TOC to the right, the following table includes all of the sub-sub-sections as well!

Coming Soon!

About the Game

As denoted by the game's title, Mario Kart 8 is the eighth entry in the Mario Kart franchise (barring the arcade games), and it is the direct successor to Mario Kart 7 and the spiritual sequel to Mario Kart Wii. It is the first (and likely the only) Mario Kart title on the Wii U, and it came out approximately two-and-a-half years after its immediate predecessor. The game was released on the following dates for each of the corresponding regions:

RegionsRelease Date
JapanMay 29th, 2014
North AmericaMay 30th, 2014
EuropeMay 30th, 2014
BrazilMay 30th, 2014
AustraliaMay 31st, 2014

Major Changes from Mario Kart 7


Mario Kart 7, as the immediate predecessor, is where many of you will be coming from; hence, this section intends to briefly cover some of these changes. The following list is not intended to be comprehensive, but it is supposed to portray the larger picture of more relevant additions.

  • Zero-Gravity - Similar to underwater and air gliding sections, zero-gravity portions of the course transform your vehicle into a gravity-defying go-kart. Basically, your kart's wheels will turn inward and you will drive on the banked or upside-down portion track as if it were a normal piece of track.
  • Bikes - Returning from Mario Kart Wii, bikes offer an alternative driving method. They weren't present in Mario Kart 7, but they drive very similarly to the karts in Mario Kart 7. The differences between bikes and karts are not as exasperated as in Mario Kart Wii.
  • ATVs - A new type of vehicle, ATVs afford you greater bulkiness and traction in exchange for slower acceleration. Essentially, they do exactly what you'd expect them to do; they drive rather similarly to karts, and they emphasize handling and speed on non-optimal terrains.
  • Item Management - In Mario Kart 8, you may usually only have one item at a time. Basically, if you're a holding a red shell behind you, you may not have another item in stockpile that you can activate as soon as you use your red shell. This discrepensy dramatically changes competitive play online as well as item management in general. Certain items do not function like this.
  • Courses - Obviously, Mario Kart 8 offers 16 new courses and 16 revamped retro courses. Three courses return from Mario Kart 7: DK Jungle, Piranha Plant Slide, and Music Park. All courses try to integrate anti-gravity, water, and/or gliding.
  • Online Tournaments - Online has been revamped to work more smoothly and more quickly. Tournaments are now an option for events that you want others to attend on a regular basis. Private friend rooms also return from Mario Kart Wii. In Worldwides, voting is limited to three tracks per round, plus the ability to elect for a random pick.

About the Guide

As I mentioned earlier, this guide is comprehensive, meaning I'm trying to cover just about everything there is to know about Mario Kart 8. I have also attempted to make this guide easy and intuitive to use, progressing from more basic (and popular) topics like 2. Basics and 3. Unlockables to more niche topics like 6. Battle and 7. Online. Moreover, each section has its own intro sub-sections (e.g., 2. Basics has Racing: A Primer). If anything feels out of place, contact me via the info in this section: Contact Info.

Speaking of Contributing, I fully intend to use the help of the many people playing Mario Kart 8. If you have anything to contribute to this guide, please send me an email or write to me on my FB page. I don't want this guide to be limited to one skill level. I also don't want this guide to be missing otherwise vital information; any potential contribution is welcome.

Because Mario Kart 8 is a non-linear game (i.e., there's not a very clear beginning and end), this guide is more like an amalgamation of useful information than a walkthrough. Although I do include walkthrough-like sections for each course, most sections are simply full of useful information, advice, and statistics rather than straight-up instruction. Think of this guide as more of an encyclopedia than a book; you can skip straight to whatever information you need to find rather than reading everything from beginning to end. Many of the sections in this guide could likely stand on their own as in-depth guides for the game itself.

Finally, my main goal with this guide is not to simply tell you how to race. Rather, my intention is to get you to understand Mario Kart 8 and be able to learn new skills on your own--both of these skills are highly useful on the competitive scene. While I do cover an immense amount of information that you can easily translate into racing success, I also hope that you start to think critically when racing, trying new techniques and tactics out instead of settling with complacency. After all, Mario Kart 8 is highly strategic; now get out there and strategize!

About the Author

Hiya, all!

My name is super_luigi16, aka SL, and many of you may recognize me from the Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 7, and Mario Kart 8 message boards on GameFAQs. I'm also one of the three hosts of the still-popular Friday Night Cup, which ran for over two years on the Mario Kart Wii board until being moved to a more private venue (yes, it's still running); I'm also the occasional host of the Troll Cup and Battle Academy. I race online rather often (in addition to playing tons of other Wii U games), and you are free to add me on your Wii U: my NNID is SuprLuigi16.

Some of you might know that I'm also a somewhat prolific guide writer, authoring FAQs for Kingdom Hearts 3D, Pikmin 3, and other games. Most relevantly, I wrote a guide for Mario Kart 7 (it was actually my first FAQ), so I figured that writing for Mario Kart 8 was only natural. This guide actually pulls a lot of its structural and organizational fundamentals from my Mario Kart 8 guide. I'm also one of the admins of the GameFAQers United collaborative, which is a community of guide writers working together to promote each others' works. Anyway, that's enough about me: let's get to the racing! :)

Version History

This section tabulates each and every revision this guide has undergone. The section is divided into each of the major update brackets. Versions below 1.0 are incomplete, versions between 1.0 and 2.0 are complete, and versions above 2.0 are comprehensive. The most up-to-date version is always the one you are reading on GameFAQs. Not all versions are submitted due to pre-release contingincies and other factors.

Version 0


The following revisions are incomplete.

Version #CreatedSubmittedChanges
0.88June 20th, 2014June 25th, 2014Included strats for all courses through Banana Cup, barring 3DS DK Jungle
0.75June 7th, 2014June 20th, 2014Strategies for all items, other minor fixes
0.50June 6th, 2014June 7th, 2014More work in the Items section, minor corrections throughout the guide, more work in Unlockables section
0.40June 6th, 2014June 6th, 2104Formatting for first incomplete guide upload
TBDFebruary 8th, 2014N/ACreated all sections, completed intro, outro, tentative basics section, tentative unlockables section. Items started, courses halfway done.

Mario Kart 8.

2. Basics

                   \\\ We have to start somewhere, right? ///

Yes, we do! For those of you new to Mario Kart 8, this section is a great place to start; for those of you who are returning to the Mario Kart franchise, you might be better suited to read Controls and skip right onto other information you might want to visit. Nevertheless, let's back all the way up and start talking about the basics of the basics.

Mario Kart 8 is a racing game, of course. Naturally, you are judged by how quickly you complete each race. Mario Kart 8 isn't that nice, though; most of the races will require you to overcome tons of obstacles and other racers wielding whimsical, powerful, and debilitating items. Thus, each race is not simply a measure of who has the best lines (when I refer to lines, I mean how tight you can take turns, how little you deviate from perfection, etc. -- that sort of thing) but rather it is a culmination of item management, vehicle selection, and other factors like lines. These will all be covered more extensively in subsequent sections, so feel free to check out the Extended Table of Contents for more information.

This game has a variety of modes. The most famous and instantly recognizable is Grand Prix. For those who are unfamiliar, Grand Prix is a French-derived word literally meaning "grand prize." Over time, the term has become synonymous with large, important races. In Mario Kart, a Grand Prix is a four-race compilation of races culminating in--you guessed it--a grand prize. Races can also be completed on their own. For the record, I will often refer to a Grand Prix as a GP.

Another notable mode is Battle; contrary to traditional racing, battle modes force you to achieve some sort of other objective in lieu of reaching the finish first. The most Mario Kart-esque battle mode is Balloon Battle, which requires you to hit other opponents to earn points. In the past, this mode was actually a knock-out game where participants who lost all of their balloons were removed from the battle.

A final note for this section: online mode is included with this game. Although I do not explicitly mention online all of the time, most of this guide's information, tactics, major shortcuts, and suggestions are based on online racing. Most advice is readily transposable to offline gameplay, and, if it isn't, I will let you know. Online for Mario Kart 8 is hugely competitive, and many racers strive to be the best at this game; don't be surprised to hear all sorts of things about "meta" and "clans" and so on. I will cover those in this section.

The next few sub-sections will discuss some of the other before-you-get-started information. The best way to acquaint yourself with Mario Kart 8 is simply to race, so I suggest you get out there and start racing soon!

Controls

Mario Kart 8 gives you plenty of ways to play the game. You can use any of the following control schemes: GamePad, Wiimote + Nunchuk, Pro Controller, or Wii Wheel. The last three options use the GamePad as a periphery for checking the location of other racers, monitoring items, and so on. The GamePad can also be used in conjunction with another controller for Off-TV Gameplay. Anyway, you can also use the Classic Controller, but the manual doesn't cover the usage of the controller, and I can't imagine that many of you are dragging out your Classic Controllers when the Pro Controller clearly outclasses it.

Anyway, so of the four control methods, each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Firstly, let's talk about the GamePad. Without tilt controls, you have unparalleled proximity to the map and item spy; you can simply look down and see everything. The GamePad also offers tilt controls, which is very useful for Time Trials as you can drift ever so slightly tighter with motion controls than with the analog sticks on other controllers. However, the GamePad can be uncomfortable for your right hand if you try to use A to accelerate (Y may work better), and it is rather bulky. The Pro Controller removes the bulkiness of the GamePad but loses the proximity of the map and item spy. The Pro Controller is also more ergonomic for most people, meaning you may want to switch to it for longer play sessions.

Wiimote + Nunchuk offers the unique advantage of having an analog stick with rivets for specific directions. This is also useful for drifting in Time Trials as you have more consistent control over how to affect your drift; you can consistently affect your drift in a predictable way, which can allow you to make shorter drifts and longer drifts on a whim. By holding the analog stick in a certain direction, the effect on the drift can be ascertained. The Wiimote + Nunchuk, though, is rather difficult to learn as it is pretty uninuitive. The buttons are just laid out weird. They can be learned, but they don't really make sense. The Wii Wheel offers tilt controls like the GamePad, but the buttons are confusing. Controting your hands to conform to the Wii Wheels weird button map is not worth it; instead, you would have a much better time with the Pro Controller's more intuitive layout. The Wii Wheel can actually cost you races because you can't reach the buttons as quickly or consistently as with other control schemes. In summary...

For regular races...

Pro Controller > GamePad > Wiimote + Nunchuk > Wii Wheel

For Time Trials...

GamePad > Pro Controller > Wii Wheel > Wiimote + Nunchuk

Of course, you should choose whichever control method you like best. The above commentary simply is there for those who want to choose the control method but have no background in Mario Kart.

GamePad Controls



The GamePad controller. Shoulder (R/ZR/L/ZL) buttons are located on the top right and top left corners. There's an ergonomic grip ridge on the back of the controller.
InputOutputNotes
AAccelerate
BBrake; ReverseYou will start to reverse once you brake to a stop
XRearviewRearview will also have item alarms
YAccelerateCan be used instead of A
Left AnalogSteer
D-Pad (Left/Right)Steer
RHopCan be used to hop over gaps and obstacles
Hold RDriftUse the Left Analog/D-Pad to steer
ZRHopCan be used to hop over gaps and obstacles
Hold ZRDriftUse the Left Analog/D-Pad to steer
LHorn/Use ItemHorn will be used if you have no item
L + Left Analog (Up/Down)Throw or drop item, respectivelyYou can also indicate this directionality with held items
Hold LDrag ItemOnly works for certain items
ZLHorn/Use ItemHorn will be used if you have no item
ZL + Left Analog (Up/Down)Throw or drop item, respectivelyYou can also indicate this directionality with held items
Hold ZLDrag ItemOnly works for certain items
+Open MenuCannot be used online
HomeOpen Home MenuCannot be used online
A + B + Left Analog/D-PadSpin TurnMust be stopped
Hold (Z)R + Release AU-TurnMust be moving
Touch ScreenToggle GamePad MenuCan switch to mini-map, off-TV play, or horn

Pro Controller Controls



The Pro Controller. Shoulder (R/ZR/L/ZL) buttons are located on the top right and top left corners.
InputOutputNotes
AAccelerate
BBrake; ReverseYou will start to reverse once you brake to a stop
XRearviewRearview will also have item alarms
YAccelerateCan be used instead of A
Left AnalogSteer
D-Pad (Left/Right)Steer
RHopCan be used to hop over gaps and obstacles
Hold RDriftUse the Left Analog/D-Pad to steer
ZRHopCan be used to hop over gaps and obstacles
Hold ZRDriftUse the Left Analog/D-Pad to steer
LHorn/Use ItemHorn will be used if you have no item
L + Left Analog (Up/Down)Throw or drop item, respectivelyYou can also indicate this directionality with held items
Hold LDrag ItemOnly works for certain items
ZLHorn/Use ItemHorn will be used if you have no item
ZL + Left Analog (Up/Down)Throw or drop item, respectivelyYou can also indicate this directionality with held items
Hold ZLDrag ItemOnly works for certain items
A + B + Left Analog/D-PadSpin TurnMust be stopped
Hold (Z)R + Release AU-TurnMust be moving
+Open MenuCannot be used online
HomeOpen Home MenuCannot be used online

Wii Wheel Controls



The Wiimote + Wii Wheel accessory. The B button is located on the opposite side of the Wiimote in between the D-Pad and A button.
InputOutputNotes
2Accelerate
1Brake; ReverseYou will start to reverse once you brake to a stop
1 (while holding 2)HopCan be used to hop over gaps and obstacles
Hold 1 (while holding 2)DriftTilt to affect severity of drift
ARearviewRearview will also have item alarms
BHopCan be used to hop over gaps and obstacles
Hold BDriftTilt to affect severity of drift
D-PadHorn/Use ItemHorn will be used if you have no item
D-Pad (Up/Down)Throw or drop item, respectivelyYou can also indicate this directionality with held items
Hold D-PadDrag ItemOnly works for certain items
Tilt WiimoteSteerTilt more severely to steer more that direction
2 + 1 + Tilt WiimoteSpin TurnMust be stopped
Hold B + Release 2U-TurnMust be moving
+Open MenuCannot be used online
HomeOpen Home MenuCannot be used online

Wiimote + Nunchuk Controls



The Wiimote + Nunchuk control method. The C and Z buttons are located on the back of the Nunchuk (the Z button is the fatter button on the bottom).
InputOutputNotes
AAccelerate
BBrake; ReverseYou will start to reverse once you brake to a stop
B (while holding A)HopCan be used to hop over gaps and obstacles
Hold B (while holding A)DriftUse Analog to steer while drifting
CRearviewRearview will also have item alarms
ZHorn/Use ItemHorn will be used if you have no item
Z + Analog (Up/Down)Throw or drop item, respectivelyYou can also indicate this directionality with held items
Hold ZDrag ItemOnly works for certain items
Analog (Left/Right)Steer
A + B + AnalogSpin TurnMust be stopped
Hold B + Release AU-TurnMust be moving
+Open MenuCannot be used online
HomeOpen Home MenuCannot be used online

Mario Kart Techniques

In this section, I will discuss some of the notable techniques that you can use while racing. These techniques mostly involve controls and general mechanics regarding the game, meaning that these techniques will not involves items. Item strategy is located in this section. Anyway, the techiques in this section will help you save seconds off of your times and will explain some of the underlying mechanics why these techniques work. Some of the techniques in this section are rather straightforward, but I will include just about everything I know about them in this section. Of courese, any specific advice in the Tracks overrides the general advice in this section.

The Starting Boost


In order to get the boost at the start of each race, you'll want to hold the accelerator just as the 2 on the countdown becomes apparent. The closer you are to the appearance of the 2, the bigger your boost will be. You can start holding your accelerator as the 2 starts to fade, but your boost will not be long at all. If you start holding the accelerator before the 2 shows up, you will spin out. Basically, there's a fine line to straddle between perfection and blowing out; you'll want to master the timing of the starting boost if you want to get a good head start on just about everyone else.

Drifting


Drifting is one of the first mechanics that you should try and master. It makes turning--especially tighter turns--so much easier. The controls for drifting were covered earlier, but this section will help you in a more conventional way. Drifting orients your vehicle so that it hugs the turn in a certain direction. When you drift, you can generate miniturbos that will be "released" (giving you the boost) when you stop drifting. Pragmatically, this means that you'll want to drift around a turn, release on the following straightaway, and get the boost as you straighten your vehicle out. For turns that are close together, you can simply drift, release, then drift the opposite direction. You'll want to drift for most turns, though there are a few that you don't want to drift on (e.g., the beginning of Cloudtop Cruise) because it wastes time. I will make it explicitly clear which turns you'll want to drift on in the tracks section.

When drifting, you can generate two types of miniturbos: blue and orange miniturbos. Blue miniturbos are generated with less turning and give you a smaller boost while orange miniturbos are generated with more turning and give you a larger boost. As such, you are much more apt to get orange miniturbos on longer, tighter turns than on smaller, softer turns. I may refer to miniturbos as sparks as well because they are denoted by sparks on your screen. While drifting, you have control over how tight your drift is by steering left or right; if you take a tighter drift, you'll generate sparks more rapidly. Thus, some turns are intrinsically better for orange sparks than for blue sparks and vice-versa.

Drifting is generally started with a hop. This hop can be used to jump over small gaps if need be (perhaps on SNES Donut Plains? I haven't yet tested out what other effects hops might have). If you are starting a drift immediately after a jump or gliding section, you can drift without hopping. This is slightly faster as the hop does take time. You can also hold drifts over jumps, but this can be risky because your drift will be accentuated as you hold your drift over the jump. I will let you know when you will want to do this on specific courses, but be warned that the resulting turn is very sharp. It is impossible to hold a drift and trick at the same time in this game because the button for each command is the same; rather, you will need to drift, trick, then drift again.

You can drift underwater and while on anti-gravity sections of courses (and on sections that are anti-gravity and underwater!). For underwater sections, drifting will be slightly floaty in that the wheels on the side of your vehicle that are the same direction as your turn will likely be off of the ground. Although your vehicle will be tilting rather violently, don't worry about it! Anti-gravity sections also allow you to drift, though the physics can be slightly wonky if the anti-gravity is particularly weird (i.e., especially bumpy or spinny). Certain terrains (e.g., sand, ice, etc.) will force your vehicle to have slidier drifts. This means that your vehicle will slide more outward than usual; the vehicle will not have great traction/grip, so this will affect your drift. Of course, this slidiness is highly dependent on your combo's Traction|traction stat. Also, bloopers can make your drifting far slidier, meaning that you will need to be careful when you are inked. You may just slide off of the course if you are not careful!

In general, when I'm talking about drifting, I am using a kart with slightly above average handling, meaning that you may need to take extra measures if you have very poor handling with your kart or if you have amazing handling. Generally, drifting should be second nature to you. It may take a while to get used to, but, once you do, you should be able to make decisions about when to drift and when not to drift based on your own experience. Until then, following my advice is recommended.

Drifting Types


In this game, there are four classes of vehicles: Karts, Bikes, Sport Bikes, and ATVs. In terms of drifting, karts, bikes, and ATVs all drift rather similarly. They will be referred to as "outward drifting" vehicles. Sport bikes, on the other hand, are "inward drifting" vehicles. You will usually hear me refer to these two classes of drifting mechanics as such.

So just what is an outward drifting vehicle? Well, an outward drifting vehicle is a kart, bike, or ATV that starts a drift by using its back wheels and continues to use its back wheels to anchor the drift. Basically, the center of gravity for your drift rests on your back wheels; when you attempt to steer, your back wheels move instead of your front wheels. In general, outward drifting vehicles are a bit more intuitive in that they maintain this center of gravity on the back of your vehicle and that keep swinging outward as you drift. You should be able to master outward drifting much faster than inward drifting. Before we talk about about inward drifting vehicles, let me talk about one special note regarding outward drifting vehicles: you can increase the tightness of your drift by double hopping. Double hopping allows your outward drifting vehicle to make extremely tight turns, which can be useful on certain courses (e.g., Rainbow Road).

Inward drifting vehicles--the sports bikes--start drifting outward like outward drifting vehicles. Shortly after drifting outward, though, inward drifting vehicles will switch the center of balance to the front wheels, meaning that the steering will be more focused on the front wheels. This can make maneuvering a little difficult because your drift will start outward then pivot inward. The shift is jarring at first, but you should be able to get used to it with some practice.

Transitioning between the two drift mechanics is rather difficult, to be honest--especially at first. You'll want to test out both drifting mechanics, though, because you will probably like the looks of various vehicles, including sports bikes and outward drifting vehicles. Although one type of vehicle will inevitably be determined as competitively superior, we haven't yet figured this out. Until then, learn both drift types to keep your options open! It's very hard to switch drifting mechanics once you're settled in your ways.

Frogging


Also known as fire hopping, hop snaking, and various other terms.

Coming Soon!

Tricks


Introduced in Mario Kart Wii, tricks allow your vehicle to get a small boost if your character performs an aerial stunt. Performing tricks is relatively simple: when your character flies off of a large enough jump or begins a gliding section, you'll want to press the drift button in order to execute a trick. Tricks generally add a bit of air time to your jump, but the amount of air time varies from trick-to-trick and from jump-to-jump. As such, it's tough to assign any sort of rating to each individual jump. Generally, smaller jumps benefit from tricks much more than larger jumps because larger jumps will force your vehicle to have more air time. Again, this is a general estimation--the nature of each jump highly varies. However, if you have to make a split-second decision whether to trick or not, always go for the trick. If the trick is slower, it's not going to be much slower.

You can perform tricks off of all sorts of jumps with widely differing heights. Generally, your vehicle needs to be at least a foot or so (about the height of a banana) off of the ground in order to perform a trick. It's frankly impossible to make a comprehensive list of all things that you can trick off of, but I will try to make it apparent in the track walkthroughs when you can (and should) trick. Some jumps also act as anti-gravity ending points.

There are also a few intricacies regarding tricks that you should know about. Depending on when you perform the trick while lifting off of the jump the height of your trick may vary. For tricks that are executed very late (as you are already flying), the increased air time will be very low. For tricks that are executed at the optimal time (just after you lift off), the increased air time will be at its highest. For tricks that are executed early (before you lift off), the air time added will be at an intermediate between the two above scenarios. Beware, though: some tricks have very little wiggle room in executing the trick. Most bouncy platforms have this strict trick execution time. Gliding sections and larger, traditional jumps are less strict

Reversing


In the odd scenario that you actually need to reverse, you'll want to come to a complete stop and hold the deceleration/reverse button down to move backwards. The rate at which you move backward will steadily increase as you move backward. You should only need to reverse if the person directly in front of you is attempting to hit you with a Piranha Plant or something comparable. You shouldn't need to reverse if you hit a wall unless you have absolutely no other way to right yourself (usually accelerating while steering the correct way is enough).

Pivoting


In the event that you've been hit by an item and need to right your angle because you were thrown in an unfavorable way, you'll want to pivot. Pivoting requires you to be at a dead stop, and you'll want to press the accelerator and the decelerator at the same time in order to pivot in the most efficient way. If you aren't stopped, you'll simply keep moving until your going slow enough to pivot. Anyway, you'll want to get yourself facing the right direction and start going right away! Pivoting should only be used occasionally--again, usually when your mauled by items so that you are facing the complete opposite direction of the right way.

Drafting


When you are immediately behind someone in a race, you have the ability to "draft" them. Drafting, which is also referred to as slipstreaming, gives you a significant speed boost which can allow you to pass the person you were originally drafting and continue on your race in front of him or her. So just how do you draft? Well, you will want to get to within a few carlengths behind another racer and watch for the white windy squigglies around your vehicle; this means you're about to draft. When you actually start to draft, these white squigglies will become something like a bullet of air shrouding your vehicle as you zoom forward.

Although drafting is usually good, it can be risky and harmful, too. Firstly, if the person you are trying to draft has an item, he or she can simply backspam it and hit you rather easily. (If someone is trying to draft you, you can try the same thing in order to stop them dead in their tracks). Thus, you'll want to draft someone who does not have an item (or doesn't have an item that can be backspammed). You will also want to avoid drafting when the speed boost will simply hurtle you off the track--this can happen on especially windy parts of the course.

If someone is attempting to draft you, you have three options: move out of the way (they need to be behind you to draft; if you move, they aren't behind you anymore), backspam an item (throwing an item behind you will almost certainly get them off of your tail; dragging it may also deter them), and let them draft you. The last option may seem stupid, but if there's a reason that you want the person behind you to get in front of you, drafting is one way to let that happen. You may want to let the person behind you draft if you know a blue is coming and you are in first. It may seem totally unintuitive to let someone draft you, but keep your options open! You'll never know when you need them.

Spin Boosts


On anti-gravity sections, you can careen into certain obstacles and racers in order to get a small boost. This boost only works with certain objects, and I will usually point out the course-specific objects in the tracks section when they become apparent. Otherwise, you can use other racers for a spin boost, but you cannot use things like bananas and shells for spin boosts. Spin boosts can be a collaborative effort in that both characters involved in the spin boost get the boost from colliding with each other. The social dynamics of trying to collaborate in Mario Kart 8 are unclear at this point, but you should always be looking out for yourself. If you can get farther ahead by working with someone else to get a bunch of spin boosts, go for it! Otherwise, you will just want to be careful with your spin-boosting partner because he or she may have an item that can be spun right into your vehicle.

Coins


Returning from Mario Kart 7, coins give you a slight overall boost to your character's top speed as well as allowing you to unlock parts and giving you a small immediate boost. Yep, coins give you three benefits: a small immediate boost, a longterm boost to your top speed, and the ability to unlock more parts. As such, you will want to go for coins when you have the chance. When another racer gets a coin, said coin will disappear for about three or four seconds until another coin respawns in the same spot (in Time Trials, coins will not respawn). I'll let you know which coins are worth going for and which coins are not worth going for, but you should be looking out for them regardless.

Also, when you are hit, you will lose three coins. These coins will be scattered along the course for other racers (or you) to pick up later, excepting Time Trials again. This means that there will be plenty of coins strewn about the road in full races, and you will want to take advantage of these coins by picking them up if you can. Coins may be lost in obstacles if you are hit over water or near the course boundaries. If you need to be respawned by Lakitu, he will take three coins as well. Coins are a huge longterm help, so watch out for them!

In versus races, you will start with a certain number of coins depending on your starting position. Here's a table stating how many coins you will have for each starting position:

PlaceCoinsPlaceCoinsPlaceCoinsPlaceCoinsPlaceCoinsPlaceCoins
1031527394115
20416283104125

Vehicle Stats


Coming Soon!

3. Unlockables

                   \\\ Great rewards wait for those who read this section. ///

This section covers all of the unlockable parts and characters in Mario Kart 8. This section also covers the stats for each of the parts and characters so that you can determine the overall stats of your combos. The first four sub-sections will cover the individual components of your combo while the last sub-section will allow you to put all of this information together in order to figure out just how your vehicle choice fares. Before we get started, though, let me cover some of the more basic unlockables. Firstly, if you are trying to unlock Flower, Star, Special, Banana, Leaf, and Lightning Cups, you must play the cups before them and place in the top three of any engine class' GP. If you are trying to unlock Mirror Mode, you must win gold on each of the cups in the 150cc engine class.

Unlockable Parts

This section will discuss which vehicle parts are available when you first turn on the game (default) and which vehicle parts must be unlocked. The first part of this section will categorize the parts while the second part will discuss just how to get each and every part.

DEFAULT PARTS
KartsStandard Kart, Mach 8, Badwagon, Biddybuggy
BikesStandard Bike
Sports BikesSport Bike
ATVsStandard ATV
TiresStandard, Monster, Roller, Slim, Wood
GlidersSuper Glider, Parachute, Parafoil
UNLOCKABLE PARTS
KartsPipe Frame, Steel Driver, Cat Cruiser, Circuit Special, Tri-Speeder, Prancer, Landship, Sneeker, Sports Coupe, Gold Standard
BikesThe Duke, Flame Rider, Varmint
Sports BikesComet, Jet Bike, Yoshi Bike
ATVsWild Wiggler, Teddy Buggy
TiresSlick, Metal, Button, Off-Road, Sponge, Cushion, Blue Standard, Hot Monster, Azure Roller, Crimson Slim, Cyber Slick, Retro Off-Road, Gold Tires
GlidersCloud Glider, Wario Wing, Waddle Wing, Peach Paraso, Flower Glider, Bowser Kite, Plane Glider, MKTV Parafoil, Gold Glider

In order to unlock each part in the unlockable section above, you will need to earn coins. You can collect coins on every course in versus mode, Grand Prix mode, or online versus races. Coins will count for every character playing from your console, and coins will be counted even if you quit a Grand Prix early. You only need to finish a race for the coins to count. The unlock order for all parts except the Gold Standard, Gold Tires, and Gold Glider is random, so you need to collect a ton of coins to unlock everything. For one racer, the first unlock could be the Pipe Frame; for another racer, the Pipe Frame could be his or her last unlock. It's totally random. Here are the coin totals at which new parts are unlocked (gold parts are included at the end):

RANDOM PARTS
Coins NeededGot It?
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
450
500
550
600
650
700
750
800
850
900
950
1000
1100
1200
1300
1400
1500
1600
1700
1800
1900
2000
2100
2200
2300
2400
2500
2600
2700
2800

GOLD PARTS
PartUnlock CriteriaGot It?
Gold StandardObtain * for each Grand Prix
Gold TiresBeat all staff ghosts + Unlock all characters
Gold GliderObtain 10000 coins

Part Stats

The overall stats of your vehicle combination is determined by taking the base stats of the standard setup (which is the Standard Kart / Standard Tires / Super Glider) and adding and subtracting bonuses for each changed stat if you modify your parts. Thus, the standard configuration is the baseline of 0; other parts will add speed or decrease speed, for instance. Well, you may ask what these parts add to and subtract from--they modify your character's base stats. Each character belongs to a weight class, and each weight class has its own set of base stats. Kart parts modify these base stats. You will want to consult Character Stats for the exact base stats of each character. You'll also want to check out the Example Combo Calculation section for a quick how-to for determining your stats. Vehicle Stats offers an explanation of just what each stat means for your reference.

KART STATS
NameSpeedAccelerationWeightHandlingTraction
Standard Kart00000
Pipe Frame0+0.25-0.25+0.5-0.5
Mach 8+0.5-0.25+0.250-1.00
Steel Driver0-0.50+0.50-0.50+0.50
Cat Cruiser00000
Circuit Special+0.50-0.25+0.250-1.00
Tri-Speeder0-0.50+0.50-0.50+0.50
Badwagon0-0.50+0.50-0.50+0.50
Prancer00000
Biddybuggy-0.75+1.25-0.50+0.50-0.25
Landship-0.75+1.25-0.50+0.50-0.25
Sneeker00000
Sports Coupe+0.50-0.25+0.250-1.00
Gold Standard+0.50-0.25+0.250-1.00
BIKE STATS
NameSpeedAccelerationWeightHandlingTraction
Standard Bike0+0.25-0.25+0.5-0.5
The Duke00000
Flame Rider0+0.25-0.25+0.5-0.5
Varmint0+0.25-0.25+0.50-0.50
Mr. Scooty-0.75+1.25-0.50+0.50-0.25
SPORT BIKE STATS
NameSpeedAccelerationWeightHandlingTraction
Comet0+0.75-0.25+0.75-1.25
Sport Bike0+0.75-0.25+0.75-1.25
Jet Bike0+0.75-0.25+0.75-1.25
Yoshi Bike0+0.75-0.25+0.75-1.25
ATV STATS
NameSpeedAccelerationWeightHandlingTraction
Standard ATV0-0.50+0.50-0.50+0.50
Wild Wiggler0+0.25-0.25+0.50-0.50
Teddy Buggy00000
TIRE STATS
Standard Tires00000
Monster Tires0-0.50+0.50-0.75+0.75
Roller Tires-0.50+1.00-0.50+0.25-0.25
Slim Tires+0.25-0.250+0.25-0.50
Slick Tires+0.50-0.25+0.250-1.00
Metal Tires+0.25-0.50+0.500-0.50
Button Tires-0.50+1.00-0.50+0.25-0.25
Off-Road Tires00000
Sponge Tires-0.25+0.25-0.25-0.25+0.50
Wood Tires-0.25+0.25-0.25-0.25+0.50
Cushion Tires-0.25+0.25-0.25-0.25+0.50
Blue Standard Tires00000
Hot Monster Tires0-0.50+0.50-0.75+0.75
Azure Roller Tires-0.50+1.00-0.50+0.25-0.25
Crimson Slim Tires+0.25-0.250+0.25-0.50
Cyber Slick Tires+0.50-0.25+0.250-1.00
Retro Off-Road Tires00000
Gold Tires+0.25-0.50+0.500-0.50
GLIDER STATS
Super Glider00000
Cloud Glider0+0.25-0.2500
Wario Wing00000
Waddle Wing00000
Peach Parasol0+0.25-0.2500
Parachute0+0.25-0.2500
Parafoil0+0.25-0.2500
Flower Glider0+0.25-0.2500
Bowser Kite0+0.25-0.2500
Plane Glider00000
MKTV Parafoil0+0.25-0.2500
Gold Glider00000

Unlockable Characters

In Mario Kart 8, you start with 16 racers. These are your default options. You can unlock 14 more racers by completing cups in any engine class, but the fourteenth racer, Mii, will always be unlocked when you earn first place on all of the cups in one engine class. Anyway, here are the sixteen characters you start out with and the fourteen characters you can unlock; they are sorted by weight class.

DEFAULT CHARACTERS
Weight ClassCharacters
BabyweightBaby Mario, Baby Luigi, Baby Peach, Baby Daisy
FeatherweightToad, Koopa, Shy Guy
LightweightPeach, Yoshi, Daisy
MiddleweightMario, Luigi
CruiserweightDonkey Kong, Waluigi
MetalweightN/A
HeavyweightBowser, Wario
UNLOCKABLE CHARACTERS
Weight ClassCharacters
BabyweightBaby Rosalina, Lemmy, Mii (S)*
FeatherweightLakitu, Toadette, Larry, Wendy
LightweightN/A
MiddleweightIggy, Ludwig, Mii (M)*
CruiserweightRosalina, Roy
MetalweightMetal Mario, Pink Gold Peach
HeavyweightMorton, Mii (H)*
  • Mii is automatically sorted to a weight based on the weight you gave him on the Mii Maker weight selection screen

Character Stats

Each weight class also has its own base stats from which each of the parts adds or subtracts value. Vehicle Stats offers an explanation of just what each stat means for your reference. The following table organizes the base stats for each weight class, meaning you can simply do the math on these values depending on the character you choose:

Weight ClassSpeedAccelerationWeightHandlingTraction
Babyweight2.253.252.254.754.50
Featherweight2.753.002.754.254.25
Lightweight3.252.753.253.754.00
Middleweight3.752.503.753.253.75
Cruiserweight4.252.254.252.753.50
Metalweight4.252.004.752.753.25
Heavyweight4.752.004.752.253.25

Example Combo Calculation

If you've been following this section thus far, we have all of these numbers, but we haven't really put them in action yet, have we? Well, let's do some math! Using basic addition and subtraction, we can take the base stats for the character being used and modify the stats based on the vehicle being used. Let's use one of my favorite combos as the example calculation: Baby Luigi / Circuit Special / Cyber Slick / Cloud Glider. For the record, I chose it for looks, not for stats. Anyway, here are the calculations:

ComponentComboSpeedAccelerationWeightHandlingTraction
CharacterBaby Luigi2.253.252.254.754.50
BodyCircuit Special+0.50-0.25+0.250-1.00
TiresCyber Slick+0.50-0.25+0.250-1.00
GliderCloud Glider0+0.25-0.2500
TOTAL3.253.002.505.002.50

As you can see, this is an all-around balanced combo with minor sacrifices in weight and traction in exchange for a huge handling bonus. In terms of stats, I won't be touting this combo as anything amazing; I just find it really aesthetically cool and fun to drive. In terms of finding good combos: you'll want to decide which stat(s) to emphasize and which stat you're willing to sacrifice. Generally, certain stats go together... acceleration goes up when speed goes down and handling goes up when weight goes down. You won't find any parts that increase speed and acceleration. Anyway, so you should focus on stats that are important to you and your goals: speed is important for Time Trials while acceleration is important for battle.

There are also a few hidden stats that have been hypothesized, but I'm not including them in this guide because we don't know all of the stat breakdowns yet, which makes them meaningless when trying to determine overall stat values. These hidden stats include air speed, water speed, gravity speed, air handling, water handling, gravity handling, and miniturbo. Once exact stats are determined for all of these hidden stats, I will include them in the guide; for now, don't worry about them.

4. Items

                   \\\ "What the hell just hit me!?!?" ///

Items are the lifeblood of your Mario Kart experience, and you will need them to do well in battle as well as normal versus races. You can get items from cubic item blocks that appear at certain intervals along many of the courses, and these blocks will randomly generate an item based on your placement in the race, among other factors. Different items behave in different ways, and this section will go into the intricacies behind each item as well as the strategies you can use when dodging or using these items. Each item's section will include basic information about the item in addition to strategies, and the two different types of information will be clearly separated. This section will also discuss general Item Strategies and Item Distribution. Feel free to peruse them, but they will certainly help your item management skills.

Item Distribution

The item distribution (i.e. which you items you receive based on your success in the current race) is more random in Mario Kart 8 than in its immediate predecessors, Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7. Thus, you'll be more likely to receive great items in the upper places and more likely to receive horrible items in the lower places in this game than in the other two games mentioned earlier. Before we get any further, let me tell you how item distribution in Mario Kart 8 is so drastically different than in other games. Some background: some items are better than others. You should have probably known that, though. :)

How good your item is dependent upon your distance to first place not your overall place in the race. This means that you could be in twelfth but only five seconds behind first and get a worse item than the guy in second who is ten seconds behind the guy in first in the next race. It is that difference that drastically alters your item strategy and gives first place a much more comfortable lead than in previous games. First place's item luck is determined by his or her lead on the other players. If the racer in first only has a 0.5 second lead, he or she will be much more likely to receive shells and bananas than if he or she has a ten second lead--in the latter scenario, first place almost exclusively receives coins.

As such, Mario Kart 8's item distribution is best described by a spectrum, not a table.


Based off of my own rough estimates from my gameplay with normal item mode, this spectrum designates the item distribution for each item. The arrows designate the extent of times when the item is usually available; some items will be available outside significantly outside of their region in very rare instances. For instance, the coin can be obtained 10 seconds behind the lead in certain very unlucky instances.

The item distribution is extremely random, though. You can end up with very crappy items in the back or very good items in the front rather easily; the above spectrum only designates the likely ranges of item appearances based on my own time with the game. I make no guarantee that you will see the coin in the region denoted in the spectrum above; in fact, you can see coins eight seconds or more behind the lead. The above spectrum is more like a bell curve where the regions with the arrows are the middle of the bell curve.

Item Tactics

This section describes some basic item techniques that will be useful to you when you jump online. These next few sections are general strategies that affect several items (or all items), so they were placed in this comprehensive section. The strats are pretty useful in my humble opinion, so I recommend that you read through them quickly!

Super Throw


So you should know by now that you can throw certain items forward and they will arc upward and then back downward toward the course. These items are the banana and the bob-omb. Anyway, so you have that normal throwing arc. Well, you can accentuate the arc and lengthen your throw by hopping and throwing at the same time. You can also use a super throw by tossing items from the top of a hill or from a gliding section; basically, the more height you have for your shot, the better off you will be. A super throw can give you the extra height you need to land your item in front of the other racer rather than behind them. Practice the technique and use it as you see fit!