Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Complete Controls Guide - Outsider Gaming (2023)

Mario Kart 8Deluxe is one of the defining games of the Nintendo Switch. Sold in consolebundles and standing as the best-selling game of the Switch, there aren’t toomany owners of the hybrid console who don’t have Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

While thegame is relatively simple in its controls, there are multiple set-ups, theoption to make use of the motion sensors on the controllers, and some advancedcontrols that you need to know to become a great racer.

In thisMario Kart 8 Deluxe controls guide, we’ll be going through the variouscontroller options, how to set-up the controls, the basic controls, and all ofthe advanced controls – such as getting the perfect speed boost at thebeginning of the race and how to defend.

  • 1.Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Controller Options
  • 2.Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Controls Set-up
    • 2.1.Smart Steering Controls
    • 2.2.Tilt Controls
    • 2.3.Auto-Accelerate Controls
  • 3.Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Basic Controls
  • 4.Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Advanced Controls
    • 4.1.How to get a Rocket Start in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
    • 4.2.How to Drift in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
    • 4.3.How to Drift Brake in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
    • 4.4.How to get a Drift Turbo Boost while drifting
    • 4.5.How to get a Jump Boost in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
    • 4.6.How to get a Spin Turbo in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
    • 4.7.How to perform a Spin Turn in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
    • 4.8.How to perform a U-Turn in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
    • 4.9.How to Hold an Item and Defend in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
    • 4.10.How to Draft in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

In this guide, the buttons Left, Up,Right, and Down refer to the buttons on the direction pad (found on the leftside of the controllers or the right-side of single Joy-Con controller) in theway that you see them presented when you hold the controller for a race.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Controller Options

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Complete Controls Guide - Outsider Gaming (1)

On theNintendo Switch, you have four different controller options when you play MarioKart 8 Deluxe: handheld console, dual Joy-Cons, single Joy-Con, and theNintendo Switch Pro Controller.

Assumingthat you use the dual Joy-Cons option in the Charging Grip, the dual Joy-Concontrols are the same as the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller controls for MarioKart 8 Deluxe.


All of thesecontroller options can be used with analogue steering or with the tiltcontrols. The single Joy-Con controls allow you to enjoy four-player local racingthrough one console.

Once you’veselected the kind of controller that you’ll be using, you can then have a lookat the controls set-up.

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Controls Set-up

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A key aspectto the controls in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the three settings that you canselect while you’re choosing your character and customising your kart.

At any stagewhile picking your load-out, you can press + or – to bring up details aboutyour character’s speed, acceleration, weight, handling, traction, and threeother options. Those three options are the Smart Steering, Tilt Controls, andAuto-Accelerate.

In the imageabove, all three options are switched off; here’s what they do if you turn themon before a race.

Smart Steering Controls

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If you turnon Smart Steering, the silhouette image of Mario in a kart on the left of thethree options will show an antenna out the back of the kart. If you turn theoption off, it will show a no entry symbol where the antenna was before.

SmartSteering is best suited to beginners and young players of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, asthe feature automatically drives the kart and stops it from falling off of thetrack. It also stops players from being able to use shortcuts.

For moreexperienced players, this option is very tedious but is switched on by defaultfor all new players and controllers.

You canswitch it off in the initial character select screen by pressing + or -, or bypressing + during a race, and then the appropriate button (L or SL) noted inthe top left of the menu.

Tilt Controls

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Nintendolikes to flex their motion-control innovations whenever they can, with MarioKart 8 Deluxe being no different. Tilt controls can offer a new challenge orprove to be annoying if you don’t know that they’re switched on.

Whenselecting your character and kart for the upcoming race, press + or – to seethe menu. To see if Tilt Controls are on, check out the middle image at thebottom of the pop-up kart stats.

The imagewill depict your current controller load-out. If you have analogue steering on,the left analogue – or only analogue – on the controller will be yellow. IfTilt Controls are on, it’ll show two yellow arrows either side of thecontroller image.

If you wantto turn Tilt Controls off during a race, go into the menu by pressing + andthen either Y or Left/B if you’re using a single Joy-Con.

Allcontrollers can use the Tilt Controls set-up, allowing you to steer your kartby tilting your controller. You still need to press all of the appropriatebuttons to perform functions such as throwing items, doing tricks, andaccelerating.

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Auto-Accelerate Controls

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TheAuto-Accelerate option does exactly as you’d expect: it allows the game toeffectively hold down the accelerate button for you.

This canhelp against hand-cramping on the small single Joy-Con controls, but it alsoremoves your ability to moderate speed by easing up on the accelerator – a commontactic used instead of breaking.

TheAuto-Accelerate controls option is found when selecting your character and kartby pressing + or – to bring up the kart statistics overlay.

Of the threesymbols at the bottom, Auto-Accelerate in the one of the right (depicted by asilhouette of Mario with an arrow in front of his kart). When this option isturned on, the arrow is shown in yellow. When Auto-Accelerate is turned off,the arrow changes colour to a pale grey.

To changethe Auto-Accelerate controls while in a race, simply press +, look to the topright of the menu, and then press R or SR – depending out your controller type –to change the setting.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Basic Controls

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In this section,we’re just going to run through all of the basic controls, assuming that youhave Auto-Accelerate, Tilt Controls, and Smart Steering turned off.

ControlDual Joy-Con / Pro ControllerHandheld ControlsSingle Joy-Con
AccelerationAAX / Left
SteerLeftAnalogueLeftAnalogueAnalogue
BreakBBA / Down
ReverseB (hold)B (hold)A / Down(hold)
LookBehindXXY / Up
HopR / ZRR / ZRSR
Performa TrickR / ZR(at the top of a ramp or ledge)R / ZR(at the top of a ramp or ledge)SR (atthe top of a ramp or ledge)
DriftR / ZR(hold while steering)R / ZR(hold while steering)SR (holdwhile steering)
Use ItemL / ZLL / ZLSL
Pause+++ / –

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Advanced Controls

Although theset controls of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are quite simple, there are plenty ofadvanced controls to learn that can greatly enhance your racing.

From gettinga boost at the start of the race to defending yourself, these are all of thedriving techniques and advanced controls that you need to know.

How to get a Rocket Start in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

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It used tobe that getting a speedy start in Mario Kart meant that you’d have to press theaccelerate button on every number shown on the race countdown.

In MarioKart 8 Deluxe, to get a boost at the start of the race, you simply have topress and hold accelerate (A or X/Right) as soon as you see ‘2’ shown on thecountdown. If you time it right, you’ll get a big Rocket Start.

How to Drift in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

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In order tokeep your speed up when you’re steering around sharp corners, and potentiallyget a turbo boost, you’ll want to pop a Drift.

While you’redriving, with the accelerator (A or X/Right) held down, hold down R or SR todrift, and turn your kart with the left analogue.

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It takes abit of time to master, but to help make things a little easier, you can pickkarts with higher handling and grip ratings (seen by pressing + or – when inthe character select screen).

The onething that you’ll need to look out for, though, is the inward drifting bikes.The Comet, Jet Bike, Master Cycle, Sport Bike, and Yoshi Bike feature an inwarddrift, which means that the drift control is the opposite way to the otherkarts and bikes.

How to Drift Brake in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

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Sometimes,especially in high-speed races, drifting can get a bit out of control. So, toquickly realign your kart and drop the speed of the drift, you can use a DriftBrake.

To perform aDrift Brake, while drifting, simply tap the brake button (B or A/Down). Itcertainly helps you to get around tight corners in the 200cc races.

How to get a Drift Turbo Boost while drifting

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While you’redrifting, you’ll notice coloured sparks flying from your rear wheels. Thesesparks indicate the size of the Mini-Turbo that you have charged up from thelength of your drift.

Blue sparksmean that, when you release the R or SR button, you’ll get a Mini-Turbo boost.

Yellowsparks mean that, when you release R or SR, you’ll get a Super Mini-Turboboost.

Purplesparks mean that, when you release R or SR, you’ll get an Ultra Mini-Turboboost.

The longeryou hold your drift without going off of the track, hitting an item, or beingthrown out of the drift by any other means, the larger the boost yourMini-Turbo will provide when you eventually release the drift button.

How to get a Jump Boost in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

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To get aJump Boost, and to perform a trick in mid-air, all you have to do is press R orSR when you drive to the top of a ramp or off of an edge.

If you timethe button press just right – at the very peak of the ramp – you’ll get abigger speed boost. If you time it wrong and jump too early, you might miss theramp altogether and fall off the track.

How to get a Spin Turbo in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

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While drivingaround the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe tracks, you’ll encounter antigravity zones. Inthese zones, your wheels turn to face the track, making your kart or bikehover.

(Video) Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - All Characters

In theantigravity zones, you’ll be able to gain a Spin Turbo boost by bouncing intoother racers.

How to perform a Spin Turn in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

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To quicklyturn your kart or bike around when you find yourself stationary, you’ll want toperform a Spin Turn.

When yourkart or bike isn’t moving, hold down the accelerate (A or X/Right) and brake (Bor A/Down) buttons at the same time and then steer with the left analogue inthe direction that you wish to turn.

How to perform a U-Turn in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

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A U-Turnworks in a similar way to a Spin Turn; however, a U-Turn is performed while you’restill driving around. It’s a technique that can only be used in the Battle Modebut is very useful in the balloon-popping arena.

When you’redriving, hold down the accelerate (A or X/Right) and brake (B or A/Down)buttons at the same time and then steer with the left analogue in the directionthat you wish to go with your U-Turn.

How to Hold an Item and Defend in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

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Mario Kart 8Deluxe is set-up to give racers chasing the leader an edge, with the further backa driver is, the higher their chance of getting a more powerful item. So, thoseout in front can expect to be bombarded by items.

The onlydefence that race leaders have against the chasing pack is strong driving andholding certain items to defend the rear of the vehicle.

SingleBananas, Bob-ombs, single Green Shells, and single Red Shells can all be heldbehind by pressing and holding L or SL, keeping them on the back of the kart orbike for as long as you hold the button or until they get hit.

To then usethe item, all you have to do is release the L or SL button – likely wanting todirect it backwards by pulling backwards on the left analogue just as yourelease the item. You could also use the look behind button (X or Y/Up) to seeif your opponents are closing in on you.

The biggestproblem for those out in front is picking up Coins. However, when an item boxdoes, almost inevitably, land you with a Coin, do not use it unless you’re onnine coins and want that ten-coin speed boost.

As you can’thold two of the exact same item, if you hold onto a Coin until you hit another itembox, you’ll all-but guarantee that you’ll get an item that you can use fordefence.

How to Draft in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Drafting isanother way in which chasing drivers can get ahead of race leaders. Timing aDraft well can see you slingshot past one or multiple karts that are ahead ofyou.

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To Draft inMario Kart 8 Deluxe, all you have to do is drive behind another racer. After afew seconds, you’ll see a wind stream pick-up either side, at which point you’llstart to drive faster. When you see the opportune moment, pull out to the sideand use the speed boost to overtake them.

If the rolesare reversed, and you can see another racer trying to Draft past you, throw anitem backwards or hold an item in defence while trying to swerve into them.

There youhave it: your complete controls guide for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the NintendoSwitch.

FAQs

What do the controller buttons do in Mario Kart 8? ›

Here are the basics on how it works with each setup: Joy-Cons in portable mode - simply tilt the whole system with the Joy-Cons attached! Joy-Cons + Grip in portable / docked - utilise your Joy-Con grip and tilt the controller like a wheel. Pro Controller in portable / docked - simply tile the controller like a wheel.

What is tilt control Mario Kart 8? ›

Tilt controls allow you to steer your racing vehicle by tilting the Joy-Con to the left or right as opposed to steering with the control stick.

What does auto-accelerate do in Mario Kart 8? ›

Auto-Accelerate is new to the Mario Kart series of games, making the vehicle automatically accelerate to the fastest speed possible. You can turn on this option when customizing your vehicle by pressing + or – and then pressing R, or by pressing R on the pause menu during a race.

What is smart steering in Mario Kart? ›

Smart Steering is a mechanic introduced in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as a way to make gameplay easier. With Smart Steering turned on, the player will auto-pilot along with the road's edges and not be able to go off-road.

How do you throw backwards in Mario Kart 8? ›

how to throw items backwards in mario kart 8 deluxe nintendo switch

How do you do tricks in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe? ›

Tricks or Stunts are a valuable technique that can result in a Jump Boost. To get these short speed boosts, simply hit the R button just as you leap off a ramp, boost ramp, bump, or edge. Doing so will result in a trick animation and a Jump Boost.

How do you do a brake Switch in Mario Kart 8? ›

Driving in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch is as straightforward as it gets. Hold the A button to accelerate, the B button to brake and the R button to get your Fast and Furious drift on.

What controller is best for Mario Kart 8? ›

A large majority of first-party-developed games on the Nintendo Switch usually keep utilization of the Joy-Con controller in mind. For multiplayer games — like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Arms, Mario Party and 1-2-Switch — having extra Joy-Cons in hand can make all the difference when gaming beside friends.

How do you turn on Smart Steering in Mario Kart? ›

While selecting your kart, hit the plus or minus button on your Joy Con or Pro Controller to open up additional options. You'll see motion control, auto-accelerate, and Smart Steering. Press the L button to turn on Smart Steering. You'll notice that Smart Steering is automatically turned on by default.

What does SL mean on Mario Kart? ›

Tap the screen or hit the left shoulder button to add or get rid of that dreaded — or life-saving? — feature. You can also add smart steering to your kart or bike before the race. On the kart selection screen, hit the plus or minus button to gain options for motion control, auto-accelerate and smart steering.

How do you put an item behind you in Mario Kart? ›

You can hold shells and bananas behind your Kart to defend from Green and Red Shell attacks. Just hold down the left trigger, and don't let go until you want to fire. Triple Red Shells and Triple Bananas float around and protect you from Shell attacks and can strike nearby players.

Do coins do anything in Mario Kart? ›

Uses. Coins, sometimes found in Item Boxes or just laid out across the track, can be gathered by driving into them or receiving them in Item Boxes. Once you get a certain amount, your Kart will gain speed, allowing for quicker race times (according to the people who work at Nintendo).

How do you use a controller on Mario Kart? ›

How to play Mario Kart Tour with a controller! (Android) - YouTube

How do you use the Nintendo Switch controller on Mario Kart? ›

The game allows you to play by holding one Joy-Con in each hand or by sliding each little controller into the Joy-Con grip. This mode allows you to use an analog stick to steer or the four directional buttons below it. You can also hit up the settings in the pause menu to change to motion control.

How do you throw items behind you in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe? ›

Throw an item behind you by pressing back on your directional pad or joystick as you throw. Know your newcomers: Mario Kart 8 introduced four new items to the mix. Learn them and love them: The Boomerang, which flies out and comes back and can be thrown three times.

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