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Guide: Getting Started in Mario Kart 8

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Don't drive into the deep end

As some of the Nintendo Life team still like discs that come in boxes, our original plan was to release a getting started guide on 30th May; then we remembered some of you trendy types may download the title as soon as it pops up on the Wii U eShop, which may or may not be at midnight. You just can't wait, right?

So here it is, a guide with some tips on what to do first when playing the game. Unsurprisingly we're not going to say "jump into 150cc online races and get slaughtered by players from Japan" — no no, that's not the way to do it. Do you want to dive into the fun or be a winner? Better yet, let's try and achieve both.

Start off in 50cc Grand Prix

Yes, we know, you're all pro players that can take on 150cc right away, or many of you will be, but these are also new courses with some key changes in style. You've got anti-gravity to contend with, while the new physics and vehicle balancing that Nintendo's applied will, initially, feel like a bit of a departure from the far looser Mario Kart Wii handling. You've also got a load of vehicle customisation and character types to worry about, which we'll cover a little lower down.

While rattling through the Grand Prix tournaments will help you familiarise yourself with the 32 tracks — looking for shortcuts and quick routes, of course — they also allow you to unlock the latter two cups in the new and retro sections — so that's Star, Special, Leaf and Lightning. It's worth spending early hours doing this; while starting off in 50cc will allow a lot of players to succeed easily to unlock all the cups, it's also valuable practice and allows you to build towards your quest of conquering all classes for a shiny profile status update. You know you want three stars showing next to your name, not to mention that Mirror Mode is an unlock when beating all standard classes and cups.

Remember, you'll be able to enjoy Mario Kart 8 for years to come, there's no need to rush.

Obsessively collect coins

Coins are important for multiple reasons, as like in Mario Kart 7 you can collect up to 10 at any one time so that your vehicle is that little bit faster. That's great in the short term, but like its 3DS predecessor this title also tallies up all of your coins towards unlocking vehicle customisations. As coins are often placed on a good racing line in any case, it's well worth amassing as many as possible so that, before too long, you'll be rocking the coolest vehicles, wheels and gliders in the game.

Complete Grand Prix cups with different characters

Mario Kart 8 allows you to collect stamps, lots of stamps. One way to get hold of neat versions for each character is to simply work through the roster when completing the various cups and classes. Start with Mario at the top left and work your way through, and when playing through the cups the game is very generous in unlocking more characters, to the point that it shouldn't take you too long to unlock the full roster. It may be tempting to simply blast through as your favourite mascot, but if you want to collect stamps those Koopalings may need to be taken for a spin.

Know your weight classes

As per tradition, the character you choose will affect the handling, weight, acceleration and top speed of your vehicle — along with customisations, which we'll come to shortly. Light characters typically have quick acceleration and steer well, but can be easily pushed around. Heavy characters typically have excellent top speed and can bustle others out the way, but can be tricky to handle on tight corners and have slower acceleration. Medium characters are all-rounders, as you'd expect, falling between the two.

Below are the weight classes for the roster:

Light: Wendy, Lemmy, Larry, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, Baby Peach, Baby Daisy, Baby Rosalina, Koopa Troopa, Shy Guy, Lakitu, Toad, Toadette

Medium: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Yoshi, Ludwig, Iggy

Heavy: Donkey Kong, Bowser, Wario, Waluigi, Rosalina, Roy, Morton, Pink Gold Peach, Metal Mario

The weight class of a Mii character, meanwhile, varies depending on the size of the Mii in question.

Check your vehicle before heading onto the track

While it's tempting to go for the kart or bike that looks the most rad, if you want to find a ride that suits your style the best in areas such as handling, weight, acceleration and top speed. Oddly, the vehicle select screen doesn't tell you anything about performance by default, so just hit + (Start) to bring up some easy to read charts. Performance is affected by both the vehicle choice and the character, so that combination you're eyeing up will be different depending on the weight class of your racer. In early days experiment, as even a combo that doesn't grab you in terms of stats may just feel right when in the heat of a race.

Meanwhile, Wii veterans should know that bikes can no longer wheelie for a higher top speed, but can benefit from both phases of drift boost rather than just one.

Basic racing tips

  • To get a boost start, hit accelerate just after the '2' appears in the pre-race countdown.
  • Don't forget to use stunts off every jump or even bumps in the road, as they provide useful boosts; to do this you use a timed press of the right shoulder button, also the control for drifting — if using motion controls, shake that controller.
  • When in anti-gravity keep an eye out for small beam pillars — bump off the edge and you'll get a Spin Boost.
  • When drifting, aim to get to the second phase of the drift, shown by orange / red sparks.

Bits and bobs

  • If you insist on tackling Time Trial runs in 150cc to brag to friends, select the choice to race the Nintendo staff Mii; if you win you'll have a glowing sense of accomplishment and a cool stamp, too.
  • Just finished an awesome race and want to upload the Mario Kart TV highlights later? After the race hit the + (Start) button to shortlist up to six favourites.
  • If you want to upload videos from Mario Kart TV to YouTube, you'll need a Google account first.
  • If racing online and keen to take on others using motion controls, or those on a certain race class etc, head to Custom in the online area and hopefully find others keen to follow the same rules as you, or you can try setting up a Tournament.

Those are some basic tips to consider in the early hours of your racing in Mario Kart 8. We'll have some more detailed, precise guide content on the way soon, but if you have any burning questions post them below. Enjoy the race, whenever you get started!

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User Comments (59)



KevTastic84 said:

Cheers for the hints. This not knowing when my Wii U bundle is being delivered is killing me, and leaving me with cabin fever. Luckily i can crack a window and play MK7 with my head poking out.



KevTastic84 said:

Plus my boy Nero is doing a twitch stream of MK7 online and MK8 as soon as he downloads it at midnight (if available) to keep me entertained. Join me and him. Search his name NeroTNC



Tops said:

Wow I didn't realize there were so many light class characters. Why did so many medium class favourites need to be sacrificed? WHY!?



NintyMan said:

It might actually be a good idea to race in 50cc first. I thought about jumping to the top, but these are brand new tracks and even if I played some of them in the GameStop demo, I still need to be safe and start small first and going up the ladder from there.



Chard5001 said:

"It may be tempting to simply blast through as your favourite mascot, but if you want to collect stamps those Koopalings may need to be taken for a spin."

… But they are my favorites...



MetaRyan said:

Light: 13 - Medium: 7 - Heavy: 7
(What about Metal Mario and Pink Gold Peach?)



jenkje said:

My two sons have been playing MK8 for two days as we preordered it in Norway. BEST RACING GAME EVER, PERIOD. 10/10. Nintendo rules!



unrandomsam said:

@DestinyMan My test as to whether it is worth playing it all is whether I can get a 1st in 150cc Heavy Weight - Absolute Maximum Speed. (If it is a good game I should not be able to do it).



shredmeister said:

Isn't there a 'feather' class? There's too many listed in the 'light' class here. I suspect half of them are in that lighter category.



VIIIAxel said:

Huh, my two favorite characters so far (Yoshi and Ludwig, both of which I played as in the Gamestop demo) are both medium weight characters. I like the all-around types of characters, so that's good to know! I didn't know that you get stamps for completing cups as different characters, so that's nice to know, too! Thanks for the tips!



DBPirate said:

I was going to start on 50cc anyway so I could unlock the characters easily (I would unlock 8 in 50cc). Since there's only 14 to unlock, I would only have to unlock 6 more in 100cc and since you can unlock characters in multiplayer, I have a bigger chance of unlocking them all without having to replay cups.



sinalefa said:

I usually suck at 150cc. I play it because it is the way to unlock characters. So far I am missing Lakitu and Metal Mario in MK7 because of that.

But I want the Koopalings and Rosalina this time, so I will need to improve.



Corleonis88 said:

for those with the game. is the game allowing more than one profile like in mario kart wii? or is it one shared save file? new super mario bros u has tree files, but they are all shared with other profiles, so I really don´t know what to expect



shigulicious said:

24 hours from now I will be able to play. Im 39 years old and it feels like Christmas Eve, 1982.



sketchturner said:

What the heck!? Why are Rosalina and skinny Waluigi heavy characters??? Weird.
In any case, great article!!!!! Except now my impatience is greater than ever.



SavoirFaire said:

I find the lack of King Boo disturbing...

On a serious note, I swear I read somewhere there were actually 5 weight classes, not 3, which smoothed the roster out a bit evenly between weight classes. Perhaps it was just a hypothetical thing though, as I can't find it again.



tripunktoj said:

In Mario Kart 7 its easier to get 3 stars cups if you start with 150cc, since you have no unlockables and the CPU cant use them either, so I think it'd work the same way here... But if you like your MK though, itd be OK to start with 50cc.



Yai said:

Thanks for the guide, this is handy! Does anyone know if the online play is like MK7 in that it would scale your cc based on the ranking you had? I hated how after a while it only picked mirror mode when I would rather play 150cc.



Nintenjoe64 said:

The Miiverse page for MK8 is busier than I've ever seen. All seems positive feedback so far.



jjmesa16 said:

One question I have is, can I play multiplayer on the gamepad? I know it going to be a cramped screen but I have to be on the road tomorrow (how ironic with Mario Kart coming out) and I was wondering if I could play with my cousin on just the gamepad.



gblock said:

Just got mine about an hour ago at Walmart in WV...played through two cups in it! I'd be playing now, but I gotta work in the morning, but I have aaaaaaaaallllll weekend to tear up some MK8



0utburst said:

Is there anyway to play on wiimote using the DPad ONLY for steering? I personally prefer the DPad on the gamepad and pro controller. I rarely use the sticks except for scrolling down menus on eshop/webpage.



0utburst said:

Yes. I've asked the same thing before. It shows what you can see on the TV according to Damo. I haven't tried yet but I've played a few race this morning. (I was too sleepy to wait for the download last night.)



BestBuck15 said:

Greetings from Ireland, 9am 30/5/2014, Argos don't have MK8 in stock till next week. Brilliant I'll have to pay through the nose at Gamestop.



ThistleAndWeeds said:

I pre ordered this in march from nintendo UK with the blue shell and it's not getting delivered today because the carrier (yodel) don't understand what next day delivery means.. Having spoken to nintendo customer service I'm apparently not the only one who hasn't received it because of yodel and after contacting yodel they responded saying there were issues in the sorting hub and it won't be delivered until tomorrow. They haven't even offered an apology. I'm extremely mad.



chiptoon said:

I would so love to get started with Mario Kart, but my preorder isn't going to arrive til next week - and there are no copies available in stores in South Africa!

How utterly ridiculous, and what a complete fail by Nintendo's local distributor.



BestBuck15 said:

I payed €60 in gamestop, I'm sick. They are way to expensive and the guy was trying to sell me insurance in case I broke the game disc.

They are selling Watchdogs for PS4 for €75. A lot of money for a game that'll be a fiver in 12 months.



Gerbwmu said:

Downloaded MK8 this morning. Watched my 5 year old play it for an hour and it's already worth every penny. Maybe I'll get to play later.



jackson15 said:

Personally I am not a big fan of Mario Kart.. I love the mario from the 90`s.. but this looks a little interesting.



Charlosa said:

Likewise Thistle - Just spoke with Yodel and not only did I get an apology, but I was advised that apparently the lorry heading from Manchester to their Enfield depot broke down. I got the impression that the lorry was pretty much only carrying items from the same company related to my delivery and the lady did confirm that there were a number of other people in the same boat as me - So my guess would be the company can only be Nintendo and it's their stock of MK8 deliveries for those of us in London and the South East that ordered it from the Nintendo Store... At least they offered a pre 12pm tomorrow - Let's hope they can deliver (every pun intended)...



ThistleAndWeeds said:

@Charlosa Well I haven't received any apology from Yodel, the closest I got was a sadface.. They haven't offered me any pre 12pm delivery and I live in the South West. The last response I got from Nintendo was this:
[12:17:21] Kurt: We are hopeful for the next update from yodel being in the next 1-2 hours. I do apologise for the delay I had to contact our courier team.
You: ok Well I guess I'll just wait then.. Is there going to be anything done about this if it doesnt arrive until tomorrow because this is shocking
Kurt: That will be something that is currently being discussed and as such I do not have information on at this time.



freaksloan said:

Just waiting for my UPS delivery man, it is on the truck for delivery. He either gets here at 10 am or after 5pm. His ASS better be here at 10 am.

The wait is KILLING ME!



Einherjar said:

@sketchturner Its not because of their weight, its because of their hight. They need to use bigger karts because of that, which brings them up into the heavyweight class.
Rosaline and Waluigi are one of the tallest characters in-universe.



Charlosa said:

Not good - I hope they manage to sort it out for you for tomorrow... (Equally I hope for myself that they are true to their word for delviery pre12 tomorrow, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting...)



BestBuck15 said:

I have six of the eight 50cc cups complete. I know it's early to judge but 50cc is pretty boring.



Gold_Ranger said:

"Unsurprisingly we're not going to say "jump into 150cc online races and get slaughtered by players from Japan" — no no, that's not the way to do it."

LOL... That's exactly what I did when I booted it up at 1030am!
Was in first place the entire time....
got hit with lightning...
3rd place....
Red Shell'd
Red Shell'd again right away...
9th place! lost 3 points....
I'm now working through Single Player.

My WiiU ID is kaine_morrison



Emblem said:

Yep definitely start at 50cc, havnt played for years but jumped in the deep end, needless to say all I managed to get was a silver and that was partly by luck. Best MK yet nostalgia aside.



Lobster said:

@Blue-Thunder I know, I got offered "game insurance" at GameStop too and I was like "Wtf?" They tried to pawn all these controllers and other stuff on me too and I was like, "Dude, I want Mario Kart, I came here for Mario Kart, not half the store!" But I didn't say that.



Charlosa said:

Hey Thistle, Considering what I was told by Yodel today, I don't know how or why, but my copy just turned up. So hopefully yours might be winging its way to you as I type this... Enjoy



ThistleAndWeeds said:

Nope I definitely won't be getting it as it was logged in at Manchester for the 3rd time at 5:17pm and I'm in bristol but that's great your got yours I just hope mine actually turns up tomorrow!

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