Going from one game in a series to the next is tough. You've got old habits clinging to you, there's a ton of new information to take in, and you don't know where the path to improvement begins. You might nut some of it out for yourself, or you might throw your hands up and sigh, but it's tough. And even if you ask for help, there's no guarantee it'll be that one last thing that was holding you back from improving. I've been spending the last month and a half figuring this game out. I've put hundreds of hours into time trials and online races, and I've discussed all the finer points of the game with the best players out there. All this has culminated in the following guide. The following is not an exhaustive list of techniques and strategies. What it is, is a path to follow. If you follow it, you will improve--that much I guarantee--and you will enjoy the game more as you begin to understand how it works. Part 1: Mentality You need to begin by accepting one thing: You are not good at the game. Nobody is. The game's a month and a half old, and even the best players in the world are still hitting walls, failing shortcuts, and throwing away defence ahead of a red shell. This is the perfect time to improve, because your improvements will be fast and you'll see the results straight away. Whenever a race goes badly, consider the following: - Was there anything that you did that could have prevented whatever it was that happened? Remember that if every race goes poorly, the only thing that each race has in common is your own play. - Was there anything that another player did that seemed to give them an upper hand? Perhaps they bunnyhopped better than you, or perhaps they took tighter lines, or perhaps they simply trailed an item all race and prevented you from passing them. If it got them the win, it's something you can learn from. And above all else, don't get salty. This game is unforgiving and unfair. You will lose races in spite of playing perfectly, and you will win races because the same happened to someone else. You can't win every race in this game; you can't even get top 6 every race in this game. If you have a bad race, learn how to shake it off and keep your head. As soon as you get frustrated, you make poorer decisions; poorer decisions lead to even more bad races. Keep your head. This is the single most important thing to do while playing this game. Part 2: Technique Your first in-game task is time trials. While I personally enjoy them a lot, I get that they aren't fun for everyone; think of it as an investment. If you can cut down on the mistakes that you yourself make, you'll have more good races. From there, you'll enjoy the game more and more; perhaps you'll even come to enjoy time trials where you thought you wouldn't. You need to be spending a little time going through the time trials, and gradually achieving each goal below. You always have something to work toward in TTs, and each step will require you to learn more and more techniques: Step 1: Beat the staff ghosts on every track. Step 2: Get within 10 seconds of the world record on every track. You should be able to do this with any combo of 4 speed or more, but I'd highly recommend using the same combo that the WR uses (or, alternatively, the Pipe Frame). Use this site for reference; clicking on the time for each track links to a video of the world record that you can use for reference. Step 3: Get within 7 seconds of the world record on every track. Step 4: Get within 5 seconds of the world record on every track. Step 5: Get within 3 seconds of the world record on every track. Step 6: Get within 2 seconds of the world record on every track. Step 7: Get onto the Worldwide Top 20s on as many tracks as you can. I'm going to say straight up that steps 5 through 7 are extremely difficult, and most players--even the very best--will not achieve them. However, the key point here is that by doing every track incrementally, you get better at the game in general. Naturally, some tracks are much harder than others; getting 1:42 on Mario Kart Stadium is much, much easier than getting 1:56 on Music Park. But as long as you keep chipping away at the time trials--even doing half an hour or so on any given day is really useful--and aiming to improve, you'll see improvements online in no time. One caveat is inward-drift bikes. If you don't enjoy using karts, and are fine with the fact that inward-drift bikes are at a disadvantage, you can apply the same steps above to the bike BKTs. Part 3: Strategy Online, you have to contend with items and other racers, which is where a lot of the usual complaints begin to surface. However, there are ways to use the game's mechanics to your advantage. Items should be used defensively above all else. Before throwing a red shell, check your item spy to see if the player behind you could potentially hit you with their own red shell, or if holding the red shell to deter someone behind you from taking a shortcut could be more useful than hitting the player ahead of you. And for fuck's sake, don't red someone who has a Piranha Plant. The beginning of each track is vital to the outcome of the race. Consider how early or late the item boxes are, where the first coins are, who's likely to pass you or be passed, and whether or not people are likely to trail their items once they get them (hint: they always do, so give them space). The Shy Guy Falls first corner is always a mess of shoving and trailing, while Rainbow Road's first corner series sees at least half the room draft and spindrift off the track. Learn what happens most of the time at the start of any given race and be ready for it. Coins are important, but going wide for coins early is usually not a good idea if you're in 1st. Coins are an investment; you spend a little bit of extra time collecting them for a payoff over the rest of the race. However, if that little bit of extra time sees you fall out of 1st and potentially get hit by 2nd place's trail item, the investment is not worth it. Similarly, going for coins late on lap 3 is a bad idea because the speed increase won't have kicked in by the time the race is over. Having 10 coins is important, especially if those around you don't have 10 themselves, but there's no need to go out of your way to get them. Vehicles need to have 2 acceleration or more. Anything with less than 2 acceleration is not viable online. Stop fucking using Morton/Gold/Slicks in worldwides. Seriously. Stop. It's really, really bad. It's fine in clan wars if you're fast enough to make use of the speed and if your team can meatshield for you, but that's the only exception. Yes, France, I'm talking to you. Part 4: Fun Taking the game seriously and enjoying the game are not mutually exclusive. By all means, don't expect too much out of yourself, and don't for goodness sake take your frustrations out on others. They're all in the same boat as you when it comes to improvement. And when you understand the game--be it through your own experience or through learning from other players--you can begin to enjoy it more and more. I'll likely write up some more in-depth guides at a later point (and by write I mean actually write, not this 5PM drivel above), but for now, I hope that this helps everyone to enjoy the game a little more.