If you have a Nintendo Switch, chances are you’re in love with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The game is fantastic, and easily sets a high bar for the series (Double Dash shenanigans notwithstanding). Mario Kart’s debut on Switch has brought the masterful racer into the zeitgeist of gaming culture yet again, which has shone a spotlight on the game’s blistering difficulty mode: 200cc.
Originally released as a free update a year after the release of Mario Kart 8, 200cc dials the game’s speed to eleven, providing the fastest action the series has ever seen. Cups in 200cc offer the Mario Kart’s toughest, most exhilarating trials. With the most elusive of the game’s unlockables – the Gold Mario racer – locked behind victory in all of the mode’s cups, how should players tackle this new challenge? That’s why I’m here.
Having just finished my quest to grab perfect ratings in every 200cc cup, I’ve learned a few things about how to achieve a high speed victory. It takes patience, a bit of creativity and a willingness to break from Mario Kart conventions. Here are 8 tips on how to master 200cc.
Would you like to play a game?
If you are trying to take on 200cc before succeeding at the game’s other difficulties, just stop. Don’t even waste your time. If 150cc or Mirror mode present enough challenge, then 200cc isn’t for you. Already mastered Mario Kart’s other challenges? Perfect. You have no doubt memorized the courses, understand optimal item utilization, can powerslide into the beyond and have settled on a character/kart combo that feels natural. Congratulations, that’s the easy part.
A trip to the body shop
Victory at 200cc is won at the kart and character selection screens. My first advice is to keep playing as your favorite character. You already understand that weight class and how it controls. When customizing a kart, prioritize handling and traction. Handling will make sharp turns at the mode’s blazing speed much easier, while traction can help when you inevitably find yourself in the rough. Weight is another valid concern, as the massive momentum accrued at high speeds will cause bumps from larger characters to be potentially catastrophic. If you find yourself struggling, feel free to make a change – it will take some experimentation to find a winning combo for your style. You’ll know as soon as it clicks.
Everything in 200cc revolves around an ability to stay on the track. To do this consistently and effectively, you will need to familiarize yourself with the brake. Typical drifts without it will see you slamming into the wall or off the course. The key is to learn how much to use it. In my experience, 3 taps of the brake while in a powerslide are enough to keep true. However, sharper turns require more liberal use in order to avoid an accident. You should never have to come to a full stop, but you may have to jam on the button around a tricky turn. This is the biggest challenge, and will be until you develop a feel for how it works.
Shift your drift
Braking works directly in tandem with drifting, and you must alter your approach to the mechanic in order to succeed in 200cc. On slower modes, the goal of a powerslide is to gain a speed boost. Not the case on 200cc, as it is instead a necessary means of turning. A drift should end when you have safely gotten through a particular turn. It doesn’t matter if your have even gotten a boost – if you are through the turn, your drift should end. Chasing a boost will often launch you toward a romantic outing with Lakitu. You are moving fast enough at 200cc that the goal becomes guiding your momentum around the course rather than gaining additional momentum. Racing with this mindset will put you ahead of the pack.
Cleared for landing
An underrated problem I encountered in 200cc was being in the air. Your directional input in limited while airborne, allowing other racers to knock you off course. Too much hang time or speed can also cause awkward turns upon landing. While learning, the sooner you can get your wheels on the ground, the better. Experienced players can also perform tricks off of rippling track or any other natural jump. On 200cc, it is always better to be cautious with this mechanic. As I mentioned with drifting, your speed is such on 200cc that you don’t typically need more. Aerial tricks can sometimes leave you with unexpected speed coming into a turn, which can cause problems. You will eventually learn where tricks are worthwhile. Again, your goal is to stay on the track, whatever it takes.
The path of least resistance
Have you mastered every shortcut the game has to offer? Great! Now forget all about them. Winning on 200cc requires staying on course, and many shortcuts are alternative routes that require great skill to navigate. At a faster speed, they often lead to more trouble than they are worth. If a shortcut bypasses a tough section rather than offering one, then by all means, use it! But if it requires slick driving even on 150cc, you’re going to have bad time. The easy path is the smart path.
Take a break
200cc is incredibly frustrating at times. Difficult driving paired with red shells and bananas unleashed by savvy computers can make even the most seasoned snap their Switch. If you feel yourself getting worked up, take a break. When you return, you’ll bring a fresh perspective and often improve dramatically.
200cc is hard. It takes even the most seasoned Mario Kart players time to acclimate to the additional levels of skill required. But practice makes perfect. You will find courses that where you struggle immensely (looking at you SNES Rainbow Road) while others are a breeze (I rock Big Blue). These tracks were not designed with a higher speed in mind, which adds tremendous challenge but also allows them to be broken in clever ways. It is all part of what makes the mode such a blast. The more you play, the more that the added mechanics will become second nature. You’ll be a champion before you know it.
Take it from me. Nothing beats heading online with Gold Mario screaming about your legendary accomplishment.
Brett Williams is an Associate Writer for MONG who wishes he was as skilled in his Honda Civic as he is in a B-Dasher. You can follow his nonexistent ramblings on Twitter.