Mario Kart 8 Deluxe doesn’t add a whole lot to the racing side of things, but there is one new mechanic that will define how you approach each run: the pink drift level. This third drift state will provide an even bigger boost but it’s tougher to pull off. First, you’ll need to know the basics.
What’s the difference between the old and the new drift system?
Hold down the R button while turning to initiate a drift, then maintain it for a specified period of time for a mini-turbo. At first blue sparks will appear, then orange, then pink — that last level is known as an ultra mini-turbo and is unique to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. If you let go of the R button at any time during the drift, you’ll get a boost that’s dependent on your mini-turbo progress.
You cannot hit the ultra mini-turbo level if you have smart steering enabled, so be sure to disable it before a race in the loadout screen or in the middle of a race from the pause menu. (An easy way to see if you have smart steering on is to look for an antenna on your kart.)
How to maintain drift
There are two basic forms of drifting, and one of them is outdated.
The most common strategy is to consistently hit a drift on every turn, so you gain (at minimum) a blue-level boost and rocket ahead on a straightaway.
Another, referred to as snaking, allows players to obtain boosts on straightaways. This concept is toned down in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It’s far more efficient to just accelerate on a straight road rather than lose speed snaking. If you’ve built that strategy into your repertoire, you should eliminate the habit.
The same goes for fire hopping, a tactic that was popular in the Wii U edition of Mario Kart 8. It isn't necessarily a drift, but a way of extending boosts through repeated hopping. Again, if you’ve seen these ideas expressed in a video, erase them from your memory.
With that in mind, the best Mario Kart 8 Deluxe map to practice your drift skills in is Baby Park, which has a simple loop layout. Take every turn early by hopping with the R button, then get into the habit of rocking the analog stick back and forth to ease yourself around the corner.
The reason you’re taking the corner early is to start your mini-turbo before you actually take the turn, so you have the pink sparks going right as you hit the straightaway. Repeat for the other turn until you have the timing down.
From there, you’ll have to adjust to other maps which might have tighter turns or more unforgiving hazards in the way. In those cases, it might be beneficial to drop your drift early and just get your boost rather than maintain it and hit a wall, fly off the track or bump into an object.