Answers to Common Questions About Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8 Wii U controls and gameplay explained

Mario Kart 8 introduced new concepts to Nintendo's popular racing series such as anti-gravity sections, new power-ups, and DLC. Here are answers to common questions about the game as well as a primer on controls for Mario Kart 8 on Wii U.

Information in this article applies to Mario Kart 8 for Wii U, not to be confused with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch.

What Are the Controller Options for Mario Kart 8?

You can play Mario Kart 8 with any controller that's compatible with the Wii U. If you play with the Wii U gamepad or the Wii remote, you can control your vehicle by rotating your controller like a steering wheel. MK8 also supports accessories for the Wii like the Wii Wheel and Wii U accessories like the Wii U Pro Classic Controller. The controls for Mario Kart 8 are a little different depending on which controller you use:

  • Wii U Gamepad: On the gamepad, you can steer with the D-pad or left analog stick, or you can use motion controls. The touchscreen displays your standing in the current race, a toggle to switch between D-pad or gesture steering, and a button for off-TV play if you'd rather see the action on the gamepad.
  • Wii U Pro Controller / Wii Classic Controller: Nintendo's official controllers have the same configuration as the Wii gamepad but without gesture controls or a touch screen.
  • Wii Remote: The Wii remote by itself only supports motion controls.
  • Wii Remote / Nunchuk: Using the Wii Remote with the Wii Nunchuk accessory allows the player to control steering with the joystick.

To switch between controllers, return to the opening game screen and press A on the controller you want to use.

Mario Kart 8 on a TV with different controllers

What Does the Horn Do in Mario Kart 8?

If you play MK8 using the gamepad, you’ll see a big horn in the middle of the touchscreen. If you tap the horn or press the appropriate button on another controller, it will cause other racers to look startled. Using the regular horn doesn't give you any advantages, but the Super Horn power-up will slow your opponents down.

Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U gamepad

How Do You Choose the Best Character and Car Combo?

The character, vehicle, wheels, and wings you select for your racer will affect speed and handling. Each character is assigned a weight, so Baby Mario is considerably lighter than Bowser. Light characters have better acceleration (the time it takes to reach top speed) and handling (how sharply you can turn), but they are easily bumped off the road by heavier characters.

When choosing a vehicle, hit the plus (+) button to view its stats. That way, you can see the various effects your selections have on speed, traction, and other attributes. What works best will depend on your driving style and the track you are on. Below is a chart detailing the stats for all choices.

Mario Kart 8 vehicle stats chart

Use the Mario Kart 8 Calculator to quickly see the results of any combination.

How Do You Enable the On-Screen Map in MK8?

After many complaints about the lack of an on-screen map in Mario Kart 8, Nintendo added one in an update. You can turn it on by pressing the minus (-) button on the gamepad.

Unfortunately, this doesn't work with the other controllers. If you're using a different controller, then you must reach over and press the gamepad button to enable the map.

Mario Kart 8 onscreen map

Are There Track Shortcuts in Mario Kart 8?

Shortcuts not only exist in Mario Kart 8; they are essential to winning races. Watch IGN's video 30 Mario Kart 8 Shortcuts in 3 Minutes on YouTube to see most of them.

If a shortcut takes you over rough terrain, it will slow you down unless you use a speed-boosting mushroom.

Mario and Peach on motorcycles in Mario Kart 8

How Many Players Does MK8 Support?

MK8 has local multiplayer and single-player modes plus online multiplayer support through the Nintendo Network. Up to four players can compete simultaneously.

Mario Kart 8 Balloon Battle

What Don't People Like About Mario Kart 8?

While MK8 received rave reviews, there are a few features that players complained about:

  • Battle mode takes place on race tracks rather than in special arenas.
  • The horizontal split screen of previous MK games has been changed to vertical to accommodate widescreen TVs.
  • The gamepad cannot be used as a fifth screen to allow 5-person local multiplayer.
  • There is no in-game chat.
MarioKart Vehicle Customization

What Is the Luigi Death Stare?

The Luigi Death Stare is an internet meme based on the hostile look that Luigi gives other racers as he passes them.

Luigi Death Stare

How Do I Get a Free Game When Buying MK8?

Nintendo's offer of a free download code when you registered the game expired on July 31, 2014. It's no longer possible to get a free game by registering your copy of MK8.

Mario Kart 8 free game offer
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