How to Play Mario Kart Wii

By Seth Amery

Updated September 22, 2017

Veterans of the "Mario Kart" series still enjoy fond memories of using the Super Nintendo controller to traverse long stretches of Koopa Beach. Nintendo kept the tradition alive with "Mario Kart Wii," leading to the most successful launch the series had seen. Much of this success is thanks to an intuitive gameplay and control system. Let's-a go!

Mario Kart Wii Control Scheme

Because "Mario Kart Wii" allows four types of controllers, the exact control scheme will depend on the one you use.

Wii Remote with Nunchuk: Pressing "A" accelerates your kart or bike. It also doubles as the confirmation button, so get familiar with it; you'll use it most often. With the Nunchuk, use the stick to steer and "C" to look backward.

Wii Remote with Wheel: To accelerate and confirm actions, press "2." Like any normal steering wheel, using this accessory lets you tilt the wheel in the direction you want to turn. With this setup, you can look backwards by pressing "A."

Controller: Whether you have the Classic or GameCube controller, the "A" button accelerates your vehicle. To look backward, press "X" on either controller.

Selecting a Driver and Kart

Before selecting a driver, think about your own driving strengths. Each driver class features different benefits and weaknesses. A driver can only pick a car that matches its class: A small driver can only drive small cars, for instance.

Small Drivers: To start, you'll have Baby Mario, Baby Peach, Toad or Koopa Troopa to select. These drivers aren't very heavy, making them easy targets for bigger drivers to ram off the road. They're superior when it comes to reaching top speed quickly, but their top speed doesn't quite match bigger drivers.

Medium Drivers: Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and Peach are the medium-sized drivers. This is the most balanced class, able to keep up with most other drivers and quickly return to the path after crashing -- not to mention they won't bounce too far when they're struck by other drivers.

Large Drivers: Wario, Waluigi, Bowser and Donkey Kong are the last group of starting drivers. While they're too slow to get an early lead in a race, they're more likely to stay on the road with a faster top speed and heavier weight.

Maximizing Kart Strengths

The kart or bike your driver selects also offers additional benefits; for example, one kart might be slow while another might be faster overall but unable to turn corners as easily.

Small Vehicles: Karts in this class don't have what it takes to keep up when speed is all that counts, but they're much faster at returning to their previous speed if they crash -- a good thing considering they'll bounce off any opponent that crashes into them.

Medium Vehicles: Arguably the easiest of the bunch, medium karts are the average on which the others two classes are based. Medium karts aren't as fast as large cars, but they'll recover quicker than large vehicles will, for instance.

Large Vehicles: These karts handle the road poorly and fail to get back to their top speed after crashing, but they're the fastest of the bunch. They're also the sturdiest, so you don't have to worry about bouncing off-course in a collision.

Using Items to Your Advantage

Each course has items scattered in fixed locations; as you learn the unique features each course has to offer, you'll come to memorize where each group of items hide. Each item is designed to either give you an advantage or take some away from an opponent. A few examples include:

Spiny Shell: Colloquially referred to as either "blue shell" or "that thing everyone hates," this item immediately targets the driver in first place.

Red Shell: On the other hand, firing off one of these directly targets the driver immediately ahead of you, tracking him until it collides.

Banana: If subtlety is more your thing, leave one of these behind you; when an opponent drives over it, he'll spin out for a few seconds.

Hopping During a Race

One neat trick you can perform while driving any course is a hop. You'll need to have drifting control set to manual. Pressing the "R" button without holding down a directional pad button lets you hop into the air briefly.