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‘Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’ Beginner’s Guide: Drifting, Items And Everything You Need To Know

The latest game in the franchise is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch and while it’s a Wii U port of Mario Kart 8, and therefore has a ton of similar mechanics to how you race, there are some small details and differences you will want to know. Whether you’re a seasoned kart-racing vet or a beginner, check out our guide of the basics and some more advanced tricks to racing in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.


In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the control scheme is the same from Mario Kart 8. You have the A button as the acceleration and the B button acts as the brakes, which you use to get around sharp corners.

You can also use the R button to drift on corners so you can maintain your speed. We’ll go more in-depth with drifting in a later section.

When you drive through the course, driving through the question mark boxes will give your racer an item. You can hold up to two items at once and launch one at a time using the L button.

Everything else just comes down to your skill as a racer and a little bit of luck.

To get a good start from the get go, you can hold down the acceleration button just as the timekeeper counts down to 2. If you do it right, you will get a boost from the start, but if you hold the acceleration too early you’ll spin out and fall behind everyone else.

There are also a lot of secret areas in each course that can help you catch up to your opponents or put distance between you and the rest of the competition. Certain secret areas need a boost from a mushroom while others are tucked away hidden from sight.

Explore each course thoroughly and experiment with different areas to find these secret tracks.

mario kart 8 deluxe Character Select The character select screen for ‘Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’


Before you start a race, you’ll need to choose a character and your kart parts. Characters don’t change the way you race (unlike in past games) but the kart parts are where you can differentiate your racer from the competition and add a layer of strategy to what you do.

You have to choose a kart body, wheels and a glider. Each part changes your kart’s acceleration, speed, handling, weight and traction.

Acceleration determines how fast you can get to top speed. Speed is your kart’s maximum velocity.

Handling determines how well your kart can turn corners while the traction determines how well your kart drives off-track. So if you go off course and end up in dirt or water, the higher your traction, the better your car drives without losing speed.

Weight in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe determines how you interact with other karts. If you have a heavier kart, you can knock other racers to the side if you use a mushroom. If you manage to hit them in mid-air, you can knock them off a course.

Consider all of this as you choose your kart parts. You can unlock more parts as you collect coins in Grand Prixs.

mario kart 8 deluxe coins Grabbing coins is imperative to hitting your top speed.


While you drive, you’ll notice coins in the middle of the road and you’ll sometimes get them as an item. But what do they do exactly?

Coins in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe actually make your kart drive faster. Players can only hold 10 coins at a time, and their top speed increases with each coin you obtain. However, if you are hit with a shell or fall off the course, you will lose coins and lower your top speed.

So grab as many coins as you can to raise your top speed; they also help you unlock kart parts.

mario kart 8 deluxe drfit You can now drift to pink and gain an even bigger speed boost.


The most important aspect racing in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is your ability to drift. Not only does this maintain speed while turning corners, you can actually gain small boosts if you drift correctly. Drifting needs to be learned and takes a lot of practice to get down, but once you will do much better in races.

When you reach a corner, you can hold the R button while turning your kart in the direction you want to go. You’ll see sparks fly from the back of your kart, which will signify you are drifting. However, if you continue to hold the R button down and move your directional pad left and right you will begin to see the sparks change color (if you do it right).

The sparks will change from blue to red and then to pink (a change exclusive to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe), then let go of the R button to receive a boost. The longer you do this the bigger your boost.

But beware, judge the amount of time drifting by the size of the turns. If you drift too long you’ll fall off the stage or go off-track.

mario kart 8 deluxe green shell Use items to keep your opponents at bay.


So you’re in first place but have a lap or two to go before you are crowned the winner, how do you protect your lead?

Besides racing well enough to avoid obstacles, you can use your drift boosts and secret areas to build your lead. But a more effective and simpler way to protect your lead is to use items as protection.

While in first place, the items you obtain will normally be bananas or a green shell. They may seem useless to someone who is in first place but you can use them to shield yourself from green and red shells. Just by holding the L button you can hold the shell or banana behind you to absorb any projectiles that may come your way.

There are items and powers that you can’t defend from simply by holding your item behind them. In those cases you’ll need a special item to defend yourself (like the horn with blue shells) or avoiding them with your driving.

Again, there is a lot of luck in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe but if you follow and understand the basics you can win more often than not.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is available on the Nintendo Switch.