Nintendo fans have reason to celebrate on May 30th when Mario Kart 8 speeds to retail and digital download. The famous Mario brothers, Donkey Kong, Wario and even the seven Koopalings chuck red turtles shells at each other to win the different cups, except this time, they’ll do so across cool anti-gravity tracks with new weapons like the powerful Super Horn and Piranha Plant.  

There’s a great chance you’ve played a Mario Kart game or two. While part eight is fairly straightforward, you might need a quick refresher. That’s what these beginner’s tips are for. 

Pick the control type that’s best for you 

Personally, we think highly of the Wii U GamePad, but you don’t have to use it. In fact, Mario Kart 8 also supports the excellent Classic Controller Pro, but if you crave motion controls, the Wii Remote is the best option, especially if you have a Wii Wheel handy. 

How to get a Rocket Start in Mario Kart 8 

If you want to achieve the best lap times, the Mario Kart 8 Rocket Start is essential for would-be champions.  Before the race begins, look for Lakitu’s countdown. Begin accelerating when you see the number two. That’ll give you the best chance of getting ahead of the pack and dominating the first lap. 

How to drift in Mario Kart 8 

You won’t win many races against online opponents without drifting. It is essential to achieving Mini-Turbos and Super Mini-Turbos, which we’ll discuss momentarily. To drift in Mario Kart 8, press and hold the Turbo button while going into a turn, and change direction by steering left or right. The sharper the turn, the quicker you’ll score blue and then orange sparks.  

How to use Mini-Turbos and Super Mini-Turbos in Mario Kart 8

While drifting, you might see blue sparks on your back tires. Let go of the drift button to score a Mini-Turbo speed boost. If you can, hold down the button longer to turn those blue sparks orange. Now you’ll have a Super Mini-Turbo and get an even longer speed boost. 

Tip: You will also get a much-needed speed boost by crossing Dash Panels along the tracks. 

Ram players off the road

If you don’t have an item handy, feel free to bump into another player to send him or her flying. The size of your character will determine the force of the shove. That said, go with Bowser.

How to get a Jump Boost in Mario Kart 8 

There are plenty of ramps in Mario Kart 8 and opportunities to catch big air.  Hit the jump button right before going off the ramp and you’ll get a speed boost while performing a trick. Switch up the trick by pressing/tilting the d-pad or analog stick. 

How to use items in Mario Kart 8 

Let’s face it, everyone who plays Mario Kart 8 uses items to get ahead, whether it’s a red turtle shell to knock out a first place gamer or a banana peel to spin people’s karts out of control. Bottom line, you need to have an item on your person at all times. To make this happen, simply drive through one of the item boxes along the track. Keep in mind your strategy might change depending on the item acquired. The new Super Horn, for instance, is great for deflecting the dreaded Spiny Blue Shell, while the new Piranha Plant takes a bite out of players directly ahead of you.  

How to collect more coins in Mario Kart 8

Gold coins serve a dual purpose in Mario Kart 8. Each one you collect increases your character’s speed. In addition, collecting coins lets you unlock vehicle parts. Remember, you can only have a maximum of 10 coins per race, and you lose some whenever you get hit with an item.  

Here’s the deal with coins. At first, you’ll only need 50 coins to unlock a vehicle part. Once you reach 1,000 coins, you’ll need 100 to receive a new part until you hit 2,800. 

Know your weight class 

Each character in the game belongs to one of the following five classes: Featherweight, Light, Medium, Heavy and Cruiser. The weight affects drift ability, weight (how easy it’ll be for rivals to push you around) and even Mini-Turbo power. For example, Featherweight racers are by far the speediest, but get beaten up by Heavy racers.

Tip: Choose vehicle parts wisely when customizing. Tires affect handling. Gliders, on the other hand, tweak your air speed. 

For more tips and strategies, pick up Prima’s official Mario Kart 8 guide.