Mario Kart was put onto shelves in 1992 and became one of Nintendo's biggest franchises to date. The unique take on the racing game genre created something entirely different and off the beaten path. By throwing in items and vast maps with multiple branching paths, Mario Kart become one of the most beloved racing games of all time. Very few games have been able to contest this legacy; a few other games caught some traction, including Diddy Kong Racing and Crash Team Racing, but none reached the level of popularity Mario Kart would.
Mario Kart currently has 8 entries, not counting re-releases and re-makes such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Virtual Console releases. With a game with such a rich history, many secret techniques have been found that'll help boost your way to first place. This is used in casual settings, or some of the harder ones can be seen in the speed-running community of Mario Kart. Some of the techniques are only usually in certain Mario Kart games, simply because their engines are different, while others apply to all of them.
Many tricks utilize what is called a Mini Turbo. It is probably more likely known as drifting, or drift boosting. It's the act of drifting and letting go when flames appear on your tires to give you a boost. To do it you simply hold L or R while turning and it'll charge itself. It's one of the most well-known techniques in Mario Kart's history, so let's get into the ones you don't know!
25 Fallen Off The Track? No Problem!
Mario Kart 64 has arguably the highest skill ceiling compared to the rest of the series. Of the entire series, Mario Kart 64 has the most shortcut capabilities that makes it possible for the game to be beaten in about a half hour. When you fall off of a map in any Mario Kart game, you will be picked up by a Lakitu and dropped back onto the track. You will start standing still and lose any acceleration you may have had, as well as items. However, in Mario Kart 64 if you triple tap the A button when you accelerate, you will pick up speed faster than if you held the button. This also applied if you slowed down by driving on different terrain, such as grass or dirt.
24 You're Such A Snake, Mario
Snaking is perhaps the most important technique to someone who wants to "up" their Mario Kart game play as its perhaps the most useful thing in the game. The act of snaking refers to using a Mini Turbo (drifting) while going down a straight path. It gets the name from the pattern you use to do the technique, a snake one. It refers to drifting, release to go a direction, then start drifting back towards the original direction. It is as if you are slithering like a snake. It is generally the fastest way to move around in any of the games, and since there's a lot of moments that have lone straight paths, it is a good idea to learn the technique, as it has no signs of leaving the series anytime soon.
23 A New Way To Use Mushrooms
Mario Kart encourages you to utilize items in order to get ahead. You can use them to attack those ahead of you, or protect you from those behind you. In Mario Kart 64 specifically, mushrooms play a very important factor in many tricks and glitches to blast your way to first place as quick as possible. There is a technique using them called "Shroomsliding." To do it, drift after getting a boost from a mushroom and let go just before the mushroom boost ends to gain an extra one. It is important to note this will not work if you use a mushroom during a drift, as it will overwrite the drift boost. It's a useful technique to use when going around a corner or cutting through uneven terrain to maintain your speed.
22 Sometimes Motion Control Is Better
Mario Kart Wii would introduce gyro controls to the series, where you can steer with motion controls as if you were actually driving. Despite the criticism of motion controls, Mario Kart was able to make use of them and feel natural and a viable choice to use over a regular controller. The gyro control in Mario Kart actually has near max to fully maxed out traction, making it a lot easier to make turns. When available, the gyro controls are actually better than traditional ones if you want to push your game to its limits. Mario Kart doesn't use many buttons, simply one for an item, one for jumping and drifting, one to break, and one to accelerate. Due to this, it makes it so taking out the control stick entirely is perfectly fine.
21 It's Like Hitting Your Head Against A Wall (Literally)
This next technique seems like one that you shouldn't be doing, just 'cause the first thing you learn to do in any racing game is to not crash into the walls. However in Mario Kart 64 there's a hidden trick you can do by doing just that. It's done using the technique described previously, Shroomsliding. This one is a bit trickier to do, though. Wall Boosting is when you hit a wall to get a boost, as the name implies. However, this requires you to hit a wall at the end of a Shroomslide. Doing so will provide you with a faster than normal boost and one quicker than a regular shroomslide. It is more on the risky side however, as messing up the timing will cause you to slow down.
20 Your Head Shouldn't Face That Way!
Mario Kart 64, being one of the most popular entries in the series, led to it quickly becoming one of the most optimized games in all of Mario Kart. There are very small details that can become the main thing you should be paying attention to. In Mario Kart 64, there's something that can happen called tilting. This refers to when your character's head is not pointing the way you are going, and hence, tilted. Untilting is simply the act of reversing this. If you try to just hold the other direction, your issue will still be present, but luckily there's a better way. If you only tap the other direction (opposite of where your character's head is titled), then you will untilt and be facing forward again.
19 Hop Hop Hopping Away
Ramps are no stranger to the Mario Kart series, and they have been here since the beginning. Since they have such a history in Mario Kart, there's always ways to utilize them to optimal levels. In Mario Kart, there is a trick called a Low Hop. In order to Low Hop, you have to jump onto a ramp rather than driving on it and jump off again before the ending. This will cause you to trick sooner than you'd normally be able to do, and you will spend less time on the ramp and in the air, the air having the slowest travel speed. Low Hop is very much a must-learn technique if you want to improve your gameplay, as ramps are in a good majority of the games.
18 Don't Weigh Me Down
Weight in Mario Kart has always played a big factor. Heavyweights are harder to hit and mess up their positioning, while lightweights move faster. Lightweight characters are the best to pick in the game, however, especially in Mario Kart 64. This is because of the Triple A Tapping trick previously mentioned. The lighter the character, the better this technique is for them. In Mario Kart 64, the only lightweight characters are Princess Peach, Toad, and Yoshi. Since Mario Kart 64 has been around for so long, and the game has become so optimized in terms of going as fast as you can, the odds of needing the benefits of medium and heavyweights is slim, and to be the best you'll want to pick a lightweight character.
17 Avoid The Unavoidable
No matter which version of Mario Kart you're playing, there's likely an infamous item known as the Blue Shell. It is given to a player who doesn't really have a chance at winning at the moment, and once it's shot it will track and drop down on the person in first place, causing an explosion that will likely lead to the first place player losing their lead. However, there is usually a way to avoid it, generally with mushrooms or boosts off of ramps. In the GameCube's Mario Kart Double Dash, there is a consistent way to avoid blue shells without needing to rely on items or being in a specific point in the map. If you charge a drift boost, and let go of the control stick as well as the right drift when the blue shell charges at you, it will miss completely.
16 Do A Barrel Roll! Kinda!
Double Dash is the most unique Mario Kart game out there. Each character has a special item that'll give them an edge. Not only that, you use two different racers per kart. It's considered one of the best entires in the franchise, and for good reason. Due to this, there's a lot of techniques that people have discovered over the years. One of them is a quick way to U turn, called LR Spin. It's called this because you are required to hold both the L and R buttons, while holding a direction. This will make you do a quick U turn, as opposed to having to back up and turn, and then go forward and turn more. It's a good technique to get out of certain dilemmas.
15 Where We're Going, We Don't Need Gravity
Double Dash has many interesting mechanics that aren't seen in the other Mario Kart games. The obvious double drivers aside, there are more hidden techniques in this game that just aren't found in the other games. One of these would be a technique called Fast Dropping. This refers to when you are in the air, usually after going off of a ramp. It seemingly looks as though you're stuck and at the whim of gravity. Luckily, you can give gravity a bit of a push. If you press R while in midair and hold either left or right, you will fall faster. You will start with a drift and don't have to worry about losing your sense of direction when you land.
14 You Can Even Drift In The Air
Mid-air drifting is a very interesting feature that would be introduced in Double Dash. It is also doable in other Mario Kart games such as Mario Kart 8. In order to do it, you have to start the drift before going off of a ramp. While in later games you do get a boost by tricking on a ramp (pressing the L or R button), this is a better way of doing it. In order to pull off a mid-air drift, you have to start charging the drift before you hit the ramp. After, you'll be able to let go to get a boost in midair. While this is harder to do than regular tricking, if you want to optimize your gameplay, it is a good technique to master.
13 Tap That (Button)
Double Dash has perhaps the most interesting hidden movement mechanics over any other entries to the Mario Kart franchise. The discovery comes from players' love of the game, and them wanting to push it to its limits. There would be a technique discovered known as the L Tech or L Tapping. It is button specific, and you must hold down the R button. As you do this, you must tap the L button. When you do this, it will allow you to gain speed faster. It is a useful technique to do, and one you should be doing anyways. It's relatively easy to do, as there's not any specific timing you have to do to achieve the L Tech. It'll only boost your drift movement, which is good.
12 No More Tight Turns
R Tech at first glance may seem to be the same as L Tech, but it is actually quite different, and to some quite better. The trade-off is R Tech is much harder to perform consistently. It provides an easier alternative to making tight turns, especially long winding ones. In order to R Tech, you will not be holding down any of the buttons, unlike L Tech. Instead, you rapidly tap one of the shoulder buttons while continuing to accelerate. The difficult part about this technique is that you have to press the button multiple times in the matter of just one second. It's very difficult to pull off, and messing it up can lead to you crashing into a wall and losing a lot of speed.
11 No Pow For You!
In Mario Kart Wii, a new item was introduced known as the POW Block. While it has been seen in other Mario games, this was the first time it appeared in Mario Kart. Oddly enough, it never appeared in any game except for the Wii edition of the game. It will appear over you, and after so many hits it will spin you out and you'll lose your speed. However, if you flick your controller up (if using motion controls) or press up on the D Pad if you are on a controller you will still lose items and spin out, however you will maintain the speed you have. Another way of avoiding it is being in the air when the last hit of the POW Block occurs.
10 Pretend Like You're Playing Super Mario
In Mario Kart 8, there are coins lying around the track and even can be an item obtained from an item block. The only other Mario Kart games that this was featured in was the first installment Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 7. While it isn't directly explained, you should always make sure you have the max amount of coins at all times. Why? The more coins you have, the higher your max speed will be. While it may seem unimportant at first, as it can cause you to take longer paths to get coins it was usually very worth it. It makes catching up to those ahead of you easier, and will help you speed through tracks faster than you ever could.
9 The Rocket That Never Stops
Mario Kart DS gained a lot of popularity, being one of the most portable with some fan-favorite maps that were birthed from it. It was easy to set up multiplayer games, and with download and play it was very accessible and as such has its fair share of techniques discovered. This is called a Prolonged Rocket Boost, and it's so good it's often considered cheating by many. To do so, you must first be at top speed. Once you reach that, you will perform the snaking technique mentioned earlier in this article. If you continue to snake, you will continue to get the drift boost and will be able to go over any terrain without slowing down, meaning your top speed will never slow down.
8 It's All Downhill From Here
Mario Kart 7 was the only Mario Kart that would come to do the 3DS. It was one of the better selling ones in the franchise's history. The popularity would lend itself to discovering new techniques found in Mario Kart 7. Mario Kart 7 has a fair bit of ramps and downhill tracks. It can be hard to find ways to build up speed, especially because snaking can be more scary as it is easier to run off the track and lose even more time. Luckily, there's a better and safer way to build up speed in a situation like this. If you jump while going downhill, you will gain speed faster than trying to drift boost, and it is a much safer way of gaining speed.
7 These Shouldn't Work In Water In The First Place
Traveling in water is one of the most universal pet peeves in gaming. Moving around slower, the change in audio quality... more often than not, water levels are the worst in an entire game. Mario Kart was not safe from the infamous water level, and some of the karts in the game have you going through underwater segments. You slow down, although your handling becomes easier. However in Mario Kart 7 there is a way to get a boost before you go into the water and will help you get out faster. It is actually really simple, but something you can overlook easily. If you hold forward before going into a body of water, you will actually get a slight speed boost when you enter into it.
6 Get Your Items Faster
Mario Kart 7's running theme is having a fair number of small techniques that when put all together will allow you to speed through tracks faster than you ever could before. Those being mixed in with the techniques that carry over from the other entries make this Mario Kart have a lot of tracks that can be beaten in record time. Mario Kart 7 had an interesting mechanic with its item wheel. When it is spinning and cycling through the items after hitting a block, if you keep hitting the L button, it will make this sequence go by faster. The trade off to this is if you push it for too long, you will use the item as soon as you get it, so it's important to keep an eye on the wheel.
5 Stop Rear Ending Me!
One of the most important techniques to know is a slipstream boost. It is in almost every Mario Kart game, and is a key mechanic to know if you want to get to first from behind. While items help, you don't always have them, but what you do always have is opponents. If you drive directly behind another racer, you will gain speed and eventually you will build up a boost that'll blast you ahead of them. It works the other way around too, so you want to make sure no one's trying to do this to you and pay attention to your back just as much as your front. If you hit someone while slipstream boosting they will lose their momentum and have to build it up again.
4 Become A Manager For Your Boosts
Mario Kart 8 is the only Mario Kart game to ever be re-released and upgraded with the Switch's Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Many techniques were carried over from the original Wii U version to this one. One important technique is one known as Boost Controlling. When you do a trick off of a ramp (jumping right at the end) you will gain a small boost. However, some ramps have boosts on them, so it can be implied you can stack the boosts. However, this is not the case. If you trick over a boosted ramp, the trick will actually overwrite the boost from the boost pad, which is a bigger boost than if you do a trick. So, if you do a trick on a boosted ramp you will go slower than if you just drove over it.
3 Pump, Pump, And Away
Brake Pumping is a technique called that because that's essentially what it is. Drifting can sometimes go a little too tight and you'll end up driving on the track and lose your boost, speed, and traction causing you to slow down vastly and lose your placing. However, in Mario Kart 8, there's something you can do, and that's Brake Pumping. If you tap break while drifting, drifting becomes much tighter, although you do slow down. However, it is better to do this as if you end up falling off of the map, you'll lose a lot of time and if you go off into the grass or dirt part of the terrain, it will only make it harder to adjust and get back on track in the race, literally.
2 Really, You Need To Learn How To Drift
One of the more advanced techniques found in Mario Kart 8 would be something called a Spin Drift. This is similar to a mid-air drift, though it functions a bit differently. This is a way to change where you are going while maintaining your drift throughout. If you go off of any kind of ramp while drifting, you can tap the other direction to change the trajectory of your kart while maintaining the same drift direction. This is useful if you are going off of a ramp and have to make a tight turn not long after. Another benefit is charging the drift so you can snake properly and boost ahead of the competition. Spin Drift is a useful technique to use, as it'll help you fix potentially game changing mistakes in trajectory.
1 Which Do You Ride: Kart Or Bike?
In Mario Kart Wii and 8, you are able to drive either a bike or a kart and they both have benefits and downsides. With the bikes, you get less of a drift boost, however you can wheelie with them which will let you drive in a straight path faster than a kart can go. However, the kart has better handling and you can get more of a boost off of drifts. Off Road Bikes, however, help to keep your speed up and take shortcuts karts would not be able to take. Ultimately, karts come with more of an advantage, as many techniques come with drifting and ultimately snaking is much more powerful than wheelies. It's up to player preference ultimately, but if you want to optimize your gameplay fully, karts are for you.