Mario Kart — one of the most beloved Wii games of our childhood is a nostalgic source of entertainment for many college students today. Featuring some of our favorite characters like Mario, Yoshi and Toad, challenging tracks, and game-changing items like the highly praised Bullet Bill and the utterly cursed Blue Shell, Mario Kart gave a whole new meaning to racing games.
Mario Kart can be seriously fun, but it can also mean some serious competition. Between dodging tactfully placed bananas, outracing Red Shells, rapid place changes and buzzer beaters, Mario Kart makes for an adrenaline-pumping experience, to say the least.
If you want to mean business in your next Mario Kart tournament, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Yes — there are secrets on various tracks and some glitches in the game to play around with (which won’t be covered here), but relying on these methods alone won’t significantly improve your Mario Kart game. It all comes down to strategy at the end of the day: how fast you can drive, how effectively you leverage items and how well you can come back from and even capitalize on precarious scenarios.
Next time you’re challenged to a Mario Kart Tournament, remember these strategies to improve your game, and you will absolutely sweep the competition.
Race in Manual
To optimize your speed, always race in manual — not automatic. The reasoning behind this all comes down to drifting. When using manual, players have complete control over drifting. Even more, when you hold a drift long enough, you also get a speed boost — free of charge.
This gives players racing in manual a massive advantage over players racing in automatic (whose drifts are done “automatically” by the game itself and do not get speed boosts). These little speed boosts add up, making these players significantly faster throughout an entire race.
Making the switch from automatic to manual may be a little frustrating at first, but once you practice and get the hang of it, you will see a noticeable difference in your track times!
Try to Be Player One if Possible
Additionally, if you have the option to be Player One or Player Two (if only two people are playing) — VALLEY recommends being Player One. Why would this make a difference? One wouldn’t think there is a significant difference between the two, but there actually is. It isn’t about having control over track selection. It all comes down to view!
When you’re playing with two people total, the screen is split in half with Player One racing on top and Player Two racing on the bottom. In VALLEY’s experience, it is slightly more advantageous to race up top because it’s easier to see going over jumps and ramps. Racing on the bottom slightly cuts off your view when going up and over jumps and ramps, making it a little more difficult to navigate.
Pick a Bike — Not a Kart
Another crucial point of improvement comes down to the vehicle you choose. The two main classes are karts and bikes, which both come with their advantages and disadvantages. However, while a case could be made for both, VALLEY recommends selecting a bike or motorcycle. With a bike, players can perform wheelies (just pull up on the Wii remote quickly), which can increase your speed for a few seconds. Karts do not have this ability. When you’re going head-to-head with an opponent on the last lap, a wheelie could make the difference between a first and second place finish.
Draft, Draft, Draft!
Drafting is another key strategy to add to your Mario Kart toolkit. Players can draft each other simply by driving right behind another player. After a few seconds, the player at the rear will suddenly surge forward (sometimes knocking your opponent out of the way) with a quick speed boost. Just like in real race cars, this Mario Kart technique will help you pass opponents. Drafting will significantly increase your speed and prove to be most useful, especially when you are fresh out of items.
Dodging Red Shells
Red Shells: the unsuspecting little red turtle shells that automatically seek and take out a particular player. They’re the absolute best when you’re tailing an opponent and the absolute worst when one’s about to smack you out of first place. While they are much more successful than green shells, dodging red shells is not impossible.
If you have a banana or green shell from an item box, hold on to it (especially if you’re in first place) in case a Red Shell comes your way. The timing is absolutely critical, but right before a Red Shell hits you, deploy a Green Shell or banana behind you. Instead of striking your player, the red shell will impact the item, so you can keep cruising to the finish line.
If you’ve ever been racing and suddenly a little blue and black cube pops up on your screen, that’s a POW. One of the other players racing queued it up from an item box. After a few seconds, the POW box will shrink in size, only to completely spin you out as if you ran into a banana.
Like red shells, it may seem impossible to get out of this perilous scenario. However, there is a way to dodge POW’s as well. Again, the timing is crucial, but right before the POW box shrinks down in size, pull up on your Wii controller as if you were going to do a wheelie. Instead of wiping out, your character will do one 360-degree spin and keep driving forward as if nothing happened at all.
Oh no — blue Shell. You’re in first place with only one lap to go. An opponent is right on your tail, just waiting for an effortless outside pass. The warning lights and alarms blaring from your controller. Defeat seems imminent. But, you reach into your back pocket and remember there is one thing you can control… how fast you’re going, so hit the brakes (hit 1 on your controller)!
Wait, wait, wait. This seems completely counterintuitive. Why would you brake?
Here’s the reasoning. While blue shells target the player currently in first place, it also takes out any players nearby. So, if you can slow down and get close enough to your opponent in second before a blue shell hits, both players will be impacted. At this point, it’s a race to see who can accelerate the fastest from a dead stop. While it’s not the most glamorous strategy out there, it will at least give you a fighting chance to reclaim top spot and prevent your opponents from getting an easy win.
With these new strategies under your belt, you are ready to be a Mario Kart champion. Let VALLEY know how you’re stacking up against the competition and owning your Mario Kart game. Tag us, @VALLEYmag, on Instagram.