Mario Kart 8 guide: tips, tricks and shortcuts

Don't miss our essential guide to winning more races in Mario Kart 8, with a complete breakdown of every single shortcut in the game.

Mario Kart 8 has done much to improve the fortunes of the Wii U in recent weeks, and it certainly gave Nintendo a positive springboard to launch the fresh volley of upcoming titles from its E3 broadcast. More importantly, it did an even grander job of killing the dead time between late-night conferences in the office this year.

We wanted to put together a quick guide to help you get to grips with what's new in the eighth edition. Regardless of your experience with the series there should be something useful for everyone in our roundup, from our breakdown of all the shortcuts tucked away in the game's 32 tracks, to navigating Nintendo's shy acceptance of an online 21st century.

Mario Kart 8 - tips, tricks, fire hopping, drifting, slipstream, stunts
First up, we've got around a dozen essential tips for getting to grips with Mario Kart 8, from using the Rocket Start trick to get off the grid nice and quickly, to making the most of the new anti-gravity sections in the game. Whether you're a complete newcomer, series veteran or lapsed player, there should be something here to help you get off to a better start.

Mario Kart 8 - shortcuts, Nitro tracks, courses, hidden ramps
Just as you'd expect from a Mario Kart game there are plenty of shortcuts tucked away in the 32 courses used to fill up the many cups and challenges. We've split our shortcuts guide up into two different sections - one for the all-new maps, and another for the retro tracks that have been given a fresh lick of paint for the new game.

Mario Kart 8 - shortcuts, Retro courses, mushrooms, gliding
Just like the new tracks, you'll find the retro course shortcuts much more useful in the Time Trial mode of the game, where you've got a handful of speed-boosting mushrooms to help you burst through the rough terrain that often forms part of the secret path. Still, it never hurts to know where all of these corner-cutting spots are, should you be lucky enough to land a mushroom in the middle of a close multiplayer race.

Mario Kart 8 - best karts, combinations, characters, vehicles, gold parts, friend's ghost
Finally, we've pulled together some of the most common questions you're likely to have about Mario Kart 8, from the best kart combinations you can piece together, to grabbing your friends' ghost data from Nintendo's rather archaic online server system. We'll also show you how to work on unlocking every character and kart part available in the game.

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Every extra bit of speed helps in Mario Kart 8. We'll help you get over the finishing line first.

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