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Guide: Mario Kart 7 Top Tips

Posted by James Newton

Be magnificent in MK7


By now you'll probably have pumped a stack of hours into Mario Kart 7, but if you're still finding yourself more loser than leader we've got Mario Kart medallist James Newton to put together a few short tips to help you shave seconds off your performances.

If you want to put your new skills to the test, check out our Mario Kart 7 communities to meet up with other users and even the odd staff member too.

Still not sure if this affair of the kart is for you? Our Mario Kart 7 review should explain more.

Bigger Boosts

The quest for quicker times begins at the start line: hit the accelerator at the right time and enjoy a speedy start.

The key is to press and hold accelerate just as the 2 stops spinning: hit it right and your launch boost will last around a second. Push too early and you'll spin out; hit it late and you'll get a shorter boost. If you're playing a heavyweight with poor acceleration, getting the fastest start is crucial, especially when taking on the tricky staff ghosts.

R Rated

The R button is crucial to Mario Kart mastery; not only does it let you drift around corners, tapping it on jumps and ramps gives you a minor speed boost upon landing, a little like the tricks in Mario Kart Wii. It's a little boost that makes a big difference.

Blue Boosts

You've probably noticed there are blue and red boost ramps now: red function as normal, but hitting a blue ramp breaks out the glider for weaving gracefully through the air. As above, pushing R on the ramp initiates a little spin for a boost on landing.

When you're in the air, be sure to look out for any pipes or fans blowing up air: these can be used to push you to greater heights and grab vital coins and extra items.

Be aware that you're still vulnerable to items while in the air, so plan accordingly.

Drifting Away

Drifting has been a Mario Kart staple for years, but its appearance in Mario Kart DS divided users due to the prevalence of so-called "snaking". While that hasn't been eliminated in MK7, it's been toned down to make things a little fairer.

You no longer need to tap left and right on the Circle Pad to build up your sparks, as they build depending on the tightness of your turn. Let your kart drift lazily around the corner and you'll be lucky to build up a boost; aggressively attack the inside line and you should grow your sparks much more quickly.

Of course each character handles differently so take the time to learn your chosen combatant's quirks and you'll be well rewarded.

In the Slipstream

Stick behind a rival racer for a few seconds and you'll get a nifty boost of speed. You'll know if you're slipstreaming correctly as small dash lines appear on screen and you'll hear an audio cue too; just stay behind them a little longer and you'll be able to boost past them.

Greed is Good

For the first time since Mario Kart: Super Circuit, gold coins litter the raceways of Mario Kart 7. Grabbing them increases your overall speed, up to a maximum of ten coins: if you get hit or fall off the course, you'll lose coins, though.

One thing you may not realise is that picking up a coin gives you a very short speed boost; while one isn't big enough to make a huge difference to your time, could give you a slight advantage over your opponent, and remember — every coin you grab is one your opponents can't.

Unlocking Karts and Characters

Coins aren't just good for speed: they're also the key to unlocking the game's karts and parts. You'll get a new part for every 50 coins until 300, after which you're rewarded for every 100 until you reach 1,000. It then rises to 200, and you get your final parts at 2,500 and 3,000 coins. There's also a very special part for winning all cups with at least a 1-Star ranking, so get practising!

If you're thinking the character select screen looks a bit bare, you receive a new character every time you win a 150cc tournament in Grand Prix mode. To race as your Mii, win every cup on any difficulty — you can even mix and match 50cc, 100cc and 150cc, as long as you win each cup at least once.

StreetPass Ahoy

If you have invitations set to "on" in your StreetPass Mii Plaza, the Miis of people you've raced against — or even ones that appear in your communities — will appear in your Plaza. You can't use them for the built-in StreetPass games, but if you like being nosey it's ideal.

However, if you're a Super Mario 3D Land owner you'll notice your Toad houses have been restocked with gifts from your online Mario Kart adversaries.

Got a Tip?

Know something we don't about how to fulfil your racing potential? Leave a comment below or drop us a line via the Contact form and we'll share the best tips online!

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User Comments (60)



ThomasBW84 said:

Marvellous stuff

I'm looking forward to playing this at Christmas, as every Christmas must have a shiny new game amongst the gifts. I like the fact the coins give a minor boost, a welcome plus for 'proper' racing lines perhaps?



Riquerico said:

Good to know they kept MK Wii's drift system (or at least it's similar). Snaking ruined my online experience with MK DS.
Looking forward to playing this with NintendoLife people!



Late said:

Only downside is that I knew these tips already but it's still great for newcomers.



BenAV said:

Tip: Make sure you have Internet that can handle playing the game online



QuickdrawKid said:

Thanks for the tips! Now I know when I'll stop getting parts, and that there's definitely something for getting star ranks in every cup. I've got 50cc and 150cc done, just need to finish 100cc and Mirror.

The StreetPass bit definitely explains why I keep seeing strange people in the Toad houses in SM3DL.



RVN said:


  • if you manage to get one of those "low position items" try to gain positions whitout using that item, there are shortcuts that are kind of "overpowered" if you save the right item to use on them.
  • depending on your top speed, it might be wise to use 2 blue boosts instead of 1 red one.
  • at first position, and if you don't wanna risk by doing tip#1, if you get triple banana and are being tailed, you can set a trap by going to the outer part of the track while throwing the bananas.


zyxion said:

I still feel the AI is cheesy in this game Bowser still comes in from nowhere while im in first place and steals my lead I only got 2 characters unlocked so far because of this



Megumi said:

I think its because this game still has that "rubber-band" effect thing...ugh.



Raylax said:

@tbd: Haha, I know right? My Mii Plaza population has doubled in two days. TWO FREAKIN' DAYS.



Radixxs said:

So glad they replaced MKDS's drifting system with this, I never drifted on that game because it was too much effort for such little reward.



Punny said:

I envy you Mario Karters... I have to wait a few weeks for this game. But, by the sound of it, it will be well-worth the long wait.



Matillion said:

R Rated, eh?
I'd better get to the store and get my L and R button repaired,
or else there'll be no gaming goodness for me.



kobe1724 said:

Can't wait to get this on Christmas!
@James I'm a little worried about the durability of the shoulder buttons on the 3DS, and with a game like MK7, they are used like crazy. How durable are they, and will they survive hours and hours of MK7 playing time? I just don't want them breaking on me like with my DSi.



Shirma_Akayaku said:

these tips are nothing new to me. I have and played every mario kart game there is. Ive unlocked all the characters already (unlock mii last). I think i have around 1000-1200 coins already within the second day of release.
it's a great game anyways



bboy2970 said:

I DO NOT like the StreetPass Plaza thing. I looked into my plaza after receiving a SP today and there were 93 PEOPLE!!!!!! They serve no purpose....they just sit there and you can copy their Mii if you want. I heard there was a 100 person limit in the Plaza....I'm afraid they'll start pushing the earliest ones out when it hits the max. I would be very pissed if my legit StreetPasses got pushed out for a group of random folks from the internet. I have now gone into the settings and turned invitation off after deleting all those people (a process that took far too long...). If there are any legitimate use for these Miis being in my Plaza, please, someone inform me!



Noire said:

Y'all just drive backwards around the track. You'll thank me later. :3



Bigrat said:

My R button started getting creaky after playing OoT for hours... My circlepad is getting worn out a bit too, gets stuck sometimes, I think I just need to clean it though.
I do fear the buttons are going to wear out when I get this game later in the week.



grumblebuzzz said:

Boo. I just got my own place so I won't be able to get Mario Kart till next year sometime. *emo tears



Ren said:

Finally the 3DS is looking like the awesome stopgap until the WiiU comes out that it was intended for. Top Tier games like this look as good or better than many Wii games and playing in 3D can be really intense. I'm so glad they're starting to flow in now. Between these releases and Zelda:SS the WiiU will seem like a short skip away. Can't wait for the 3D video update too; I shoot film for a living and this is the best toy I could dream of to have in my pocket. awesome!



GlasS said:

There is a tiny touch of melee in these games, these tips can help.

Take advantage of the opponents' weight. If they are a very light opponent who's trying to nudge in front of you, nudge back. Avoid Bowser, DK, and Wario, though. Also, if you are gaining or using the slipstream on a lighter opponent, the straighter on you hit them, the more ridiculously they will bounce out of the way.

These are only helpful tips on some occasions, using them constantly will earn you a mob chasing you with red shells or worse.



asoccerstar43 said:

i got mario kart early yesterday morning and i guess the first people to buy it at target on monday got a free $5 gift card for target. yay



Sh00kst3r said:

There's this "Player" idiot who keeps exploiting the Maka Wuhu glitch. Grr... I get legitimate 1st place and HE just warps to the finish. >

My tips:
*Driiiift. That's how you win.
*Did you know there's ACTUALLY a way to dodge blue shells? Yeah! Simply get a



Neonpowerstar said:

I think I might have played against the "Player" person that I remember, I think he did vote for Maka Wuhu every time. Then again, it could just be a coincidence; I've seen at least three people named "Player", so that guy might have been a legit racer who just happened to like Maka Wuhu. BTW, I successfully dodged a blue shell on my first (and only) try; I actually deliberately stopped right before the finish line to let the shell catch up to me so I could attempt the dodge. The annoying thing is, I end up in first place with a mushroom quite often, but whenever I do, no one gets a blue shell, then when I'm in first without a mushroom and least expecting it, I get blue shelled. Oh well, at least blue shells aren't nearly as common as they were in MKW. I'm definitely not complaining about that.



IanUniacke said:

One tip. If the blue shell is coming and you're near a jump...take the hit to your time and put on the breaks till the shell hits. If you try to make the jump you'll get knocked into the void and probably take a longer penalty.



Retro_on_theGo said:

If you're in first and have a mushroom HOLD ON TO IT!
I already know these tips because I'm so good at Mario Kart (haha, yeah right.) but fun read anyways.



kobe1724 said:

@Bigrat Luckily the shoulder buttons work perfectly still, even after hours and hours of me and my brothers playing Oot 3D, street fighter, and SM3DL. I want MK7 so bad, but I fear that the shoulder buttons will fall apart after hours and hours of drifting. Still getting it though.



Minny said:

One thing I have noticed from getting the Lucky 7 item is that generally the item that is in front of Mario (his 12 O'Clock) is the one you use when you smash the item button.

This is a great game, and I love that Nintendo brought back coins, just wish the carts were a bit more customizable (wish we could choose from 10-15 sets of gliders, wheels, and karts).



mud985 said:

HUGE TIP!!!: everyone seems to miss this, but if you get a tanooki leaf use it just before a blue glider ramp (blue boost pad) and while your flying pull back on the slide pad while rapidly tapping the L or X button. It makes you fly much higher and farther, great for passing tricky parts.



HADAA said:

@bboy2970 No need to delete them as there is no known Mii limit in your Plaza. The "100" you mentioned was your 3DS friend list, unrelated to this. I know folks who got over 2000 Miis in their plaza, and the Dec 8th system upgrade might add a new StreetPass game.

I'm new to MK and I suck at drifting. If both sides of a road are voids, I will always fall over into one of them when I release R button. Any tips?



TeeJay said:

@HADAA You can somewhat control the path of your drift by pressing left and right. One direction gives you a wide drift while the other hugs the curve.



NintyMan said:

If you don't like the gryoscope controls in first-person mode, you can use the circle pad instead. Also, if your thumb gets sore pressing the A button for so long, you can switch over to the Y button. It accelerates your kart too.



mud985 said:

I have a question. Before getting my final star rank i had 1396 coins total and after i beat the cup unlocking the "special part" i had 1428 coins total. But it didn't give/unlock me the part you are supposed to get at 1400 coins. So my question is will i still be able to unlock it later after I collect the last part for 3000 coins? pls help me



weirdo said:

''You no longer need to tap left and right on the Circle Pad to build up your sparks''

This isn't true, I've seen myself you get sparks by turning your circle pad -left-right-left-right



Picola said:

@James and Mud985 - how do you see your current coin total?

Great article James, and a fantastic game. I'm 2 cups away from a star rating in all cups...



Nintendude92 said:

You have 3,000 coins and all parts? I'm nearing 3.5k and still need ~3 parts

@45. it's based on the duration of your drift, and turning inwards reduces the time needed to build the boost



tylerFKNjohnson said:

@NintyFan ....... it doesnt matter what button you're pressing? Youre using the SAME THUMB. if it gets sore, then tough luck. -_- switching buttons wont help it.



Zelda35 said:

For the begining boost T enshure u get a boost make a relly quick and tiny Pause



Zelda35 said:

For the begining boost T enshure u get a boost make a relly quick and tiny Pause



Sam_Loser2 said:

I never heard of snaking until after I lost the DS game. I really wanted to try it out. If you can pull it off, you ought to do it.

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