Pump the brakes almost never
In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, B is the brake button, and you should avoid pressing it at all costs. If you are going around a sharp turn, drifting is your best friend. If you find yourself getting dangerously close to walls, pulling off the gas is usually enough to avoid a collision without fulling coming to a stop. Even if you are about to fly off the track after an ill-timed, frantic boost, Lakitu picks you up and drops you on the course much quicker than in previous iterations, so you may as well accept your fate rather than prolong the effect of your mistake.
If you brake, you often have to reposition your kart by turning slowly, which can result in losing even more time than you would have if you had just plunged into the abyss. That being said, if you play on the game’s hyper-intense 200cc mode, you will need to use the brake function to keep yourself from running into wall after wall after wall.
Stunts and tricks have been featured in the last few iterations of the Mario Kart franchise. In Mario Kart 8, they offer easy ways to get a plethora of additional boosts and shave some valuable time. Each time you hit the top of a ramp — or a drop in elevation in general — make sure to press R as you take off to perform a stunt. When you land, you’ll get a small boost. While it’s most important to perform stunt boosts off of ramps — since otherwise the landing slows you down a smidgen — stunt boosts can be used in many other situations. Perform a stunt when driving over a pad to get a little extra juice.
Essentially, any situation where the course’s elevation changes in an opportunity for quick flourish, and a jolt of extra speed.
You always want to take the shortest route and cut turns as tightly as possible to minimize the amount of ground you have to cover, right? Not exactly. Yes, the quickest route is generally best, but it can be worth to go slightly out of your way to pick up coins on the track. Each coin you collect (up to 10) increases your maximum speed. You will drop your coins when you’re hit by a shell, so be careful and make sure to replenish your stock when you have to. When you knock someone else’s coins loose, make sure to run through the wreckage to snatch up the spoils.
Get aggressive in anti-gravity
In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, portions of some tracks feature anti-gravity segments, which alter the rules of the road. These sections trigger when you pass over a blue pad, which causes the kart to transform into a hovercraft (as seen above).
Unlike on the ground, running into other racers and some objects is highly encouraged in hovercraft mode: You can get spin boosts by running into other racers, as well as the little posts with sideways spinning wheels scattered throughout tracks. Pressing the stunt button when colliding with small objects like cones also earns you a small boost.
Picking up and using items
For the first time in the series, you can hold two items in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. When coming up on a line of item boxes, try and snag the double box, which will fill both slots at once. Since you can hold twice as many items, you should feel even less attached to what you’re carrying: Don’t hesitate to use them right away, particularly when you are not up in front. However, when you are in the lead, it’s often smart to hold your items. If you have a trio of banana peels, let them circle around you to shield yourself from incoming shells.
As always, Mario Kart 8 has a tendency to restrict the items leading players can get from item boxes, barring them from game-changing items like stars, red shells, and Bullet Bills. If you have one of these items and you are gaining on your opponents anyways, we suggest holding them for when you are close enough to overtake the leader. This is particularly true when in second or third place when you can score a red shell. Instead of firing it right after it’s added to your inventory, wait until you are closer to the final leg of the race to better ensure that you can finish on top before your opponent has time to retaliate.