Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: How to Win in Battle Mode

The Battle Mode in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is totally revamped and pretty great. Use these tips to get the edge on your competition.

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch brings back one of the most beloved modes in Mario Kart, and one that was undercooked in the original race. Instead of a Battle Mode that simply adds hit-points to race tracks, DX brings back proper battle arenas with specialized rule sets. This guide will explain general tips for coming out on top in Battle Mode, as well as the ins and outs of its various modes.

It's Not a Race

First and foremost, keep in mind that speed is mostly secondary in Battle Mode. There are no laps or finish lines, and speed is worth as much as the maneuverability that it affords you. That means for the most part you're shooting for a mid-range of speed, not putt-putting along but not cranking at top speed where dodging hazards can be more difficult. If you're going too fast, you risk running into a wall, which leaves you vulnerable to attack. Round curves smoothly and weave from side to side instead.

Learn the Layouts

Just like in a traditional Mario Kart race, your best tool is your knowledge of the courses. Battle Mode Arenas have a lot of nooks and crisscrossing areas that connect to each other, so take some time in single-player matches to learn your way around before challenging other players in online or local multiplayer. If you know which parts of the arena connect, you'll be able to take shortcuts to outmaneuver your opponents, dodge attacks, and set up traps.

Know Your Items

Many of the items that you're familiar with from the traditional Race modes take on an entirely new context in Battle. Threats are omnidirectional, so everything you use has to be considered in that context. Red shells can go veering off in strange directions, while Green Shell and Banana triplets make you lethal when approaching a head-on collision or side-swipe. Mushrooms are one of the least useful items, but it has its purposes for ramming enemies or getting away from a trouble spot quickly.

Use Reverse

Reverse (mapped to the B button) is almost useless in Race modes, but in Battle you'll probably have to use it quite a bit. You'll want to take sharp curves with a drift as often as possible, but once in a while you're definitely going to hit a wall, and accelerating yourself into it is the slowest way to get on the right track. Be ready to hit reverse, spin around quickly, and get back into the action quickly.

Battle Modes

Balloon Battle and Coin Runners

In these classic mode, you and your opponents will be aiming to damage each other while protecting your own stock of balloons or coins. Balloons get popped and coins get dropped with every successful attack.

For the first time, rather than being eliminated outright, losing all your initial stock of five balloons will let you respawn with three, and your point total will be cut in half. Be aggressive and rack up the points so that if you do get them halved you still have a chance to win. Coin Runners is a little more forgiving since coins are all over the battlefield and you can always steal from your opponent.

  • Bananas peels are extremely useful in Balloon Battle, both as a defensive option against shells and as a hazard you can litter around the battlefield to rack up points without even staying nearby
  • It's tricky, but you can steal balloons from other players using the Mushroom by boosting, or the new Feather item by jumping over them
  • In Coin Runners, be on the lookout for fat stacks of coins hovering over your opponents heads

Bob-omb Blast

This mode is chaotic and dangerous, as every character racks up a stock of bombs for every Question Block they touch, and two for double blocks. 

  • Pick up as many boxes as you can and litter the battlefield with them! You can hold a pretty large stock so make it as dangerous as possible for your opponents
  • When heading straight for an opponent drop a bomb behind you to leave them heading straight towards it

Shine Thief

In this mode, there is just one Shine to collect, and the goal is to hold it for a set amount of time. You drop the Shine whenever you're hit with a successful attack.

  • It can be difficult to pick up the Shine right after an attack if you're the one who connected, so leave the dirty work up to your other opponents. All of them will be targeting the Shine Thief, so stick close enough to grab it but let them loose it from the thief's grip
  • Once you have the Shine, you have a huge target on your back and it's everyone's job to hunt you. Get away from the crowd as fast as you can and weave as much as possible
  • Try to avoid clumping together. Shine Thief is especially chaotic when a lot of players are all in one area exchanging the Shine back and forth.

Renegade Roundup

The newest mode in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has all the players split into teams, Renegades and Cops. Cops have Piranha Plants attached to their karts to grab Renegades and put them in prison. If all the Renegades are imprisoned, they lose. If they manage to stay out for the set time, they win. Renegades can free their comrades by hitting a Key button in the cages.

  • Learn where the prisons are. Each course has its own placements and breaking prisoners out helps your team win and also gains you points
  • You can hit the Cops with items to slow them down or stun them, which could gain you valuable time if you need to escape
  • On the Cop side, the Piranha Plant is powerful but has limited range. You need to be going roughly the same speed and approach from an angle cone near the front to grab them
  • On the Renegade side, you can use their limited field to your advantage. Mushrooms can actually be very helpful in this mode since you can speed right past a Cop before it can grab you
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