With more tracks in Mario Kart 8: Deluxe come more shortcuts to find. Here’s a rundown of every shortcut, as well as some course-specific tips.
Table of contents
As the most basic Cup, there aren’t a whole lot of nuances to learn, but the Mushroom Cup does hide a few secrets.
Mario Kart Stadium
Shortcut 1: The main shortcut in Mario Kart Stadium is at the very end of each lap. Just look for the pipes in the rough and use a boost item (a mushroom or star) to blast past the sand.
Shortcut 1: It’s not a traditional shortcut, but you can rub against these tire-like objects while in the water for a boost. They’ll follow the center track.
Shortcut 2: In that same underwater area, you can boost over or simply drive over this carousel and shave a second off your time.
Sweet Sweet Canyon
Shortcut 1: Both the left and right paths of Sweet Sweet Canyon are mirror images, note which paths other human players are taking. If you’re in the lead, try to veer off and go on a track others aren’t on so you can avoid more accurate item attacks.
Shortcut 2: Another straight boost path is located near the end of the track if you have an appropriate item. Just aim for the donut.
Shortcut 1: You have the option of taking the traditional left road or the gravity tilted right side. The right path actually has two more coins on it, so take it if you’re running low on your coin stock.
Shortcut 2: After the second thwomp in the outdoor area near the end of the course, you’ll find a platform to jump to.
Shortcut 3: Near the finish line you can land on either the left or right ramps to get a stunt boost and grab a few coins.
Shortcut 4: After the first lap, the center area of the pond zone will open up, allowing players to take another path with a glide ramp.
It’s getting a little trickier with the Flower Cup, but most of the shortcuts are in plain sight.
Shortcut 1: There’s really only one shortcut to speak of in this simple track. Near the end you can take the optional flight ramp to soar over other players — just watch the towers of goombas.
Shortcut 1: Right near the start, you can take the left side ramp to leap over the docks, which gives you a straight shot to the upper scaffolding area away from players. Note however that it’s very easy for someone else to knock you into the water, so be wary of taking it if someone is behind you with an item (after the first lap).
Shortcut 2: Right after the market, you have a choice: the left low road or the right high road. Both are basically equal, but again, note which path other players typically take and do the opposite if you’re in the lead.
Shortcut 3: If you keep getting hit by the trolleys, consider taking this safe left path after the aforementioned split.
Shortcut 4: Have a boost item? Ignore the left side and just boost forward over the grass near the finish line.
Shortcut 1: Obscured to the left here is a rough path shortcut. Use a boost item.
Shortcut 2: If you have enough top speed directly following the water area, you can hit a stunt boost off the ramp and coast into the upper floor.
Shy Guy Falls
Shortcut 1: Alternate left and right to hit as many boost pads as you can while you’re in the rapids area.
Shortcut 2: Directly following the big blue ramp into the canyon, if you have enough speed and hit your stunt boost, veer left and aim upward to nestle into the upper cave area.
A lot of small time savers start to pop up all over the place in Star Cup. For Mount Wario you won’t get any second chances as it’s a downhill race.
Shortcut 1: Hit the orange ramp at the start and you can leap right into the plane.
Shortcut 2: Hit the bumpers for a quick boost while you’re in low-grav mode.
Shortcut 3: Hop over the luggage belt at the end of the course for a quick shortcut.
Shortcut 1: Taking the right path will lead you into a cave with a boost pad.
Shortcut 2: With a boost item, you can get across this rough ground and charge right into the finish line.
Shortcut 1: In an almost mirror image of the first course, you can boost through the last corner before the finish line.
Shortcut 1: This inconspicuous glacier before the first checkpoint is actually a ramp.
Shortcut 2: In the outdoor area where the track splits, you can actually head to the center, where a hidden ramp lies. Make sure you bring a boost item to get to it, as the snow will slow you down.
The going gets very tough in this complex cup, but consistently hitting each shortcut will ensure that you’re placing higher as you learn each track.
Shortcut 1: After the first turn, veer left and into a giant bumper for a shortcut. Don’t forget to stunt boost.
Shortcut 2: You can see the finish line for this shortcut. Just hop onto the leaves.
Shortcut 1: If you have a boost item, you can skip the turn right as the track begins or after a new lap.
Shortcut 2: The same goes for the area immediately following that turn, as another boost item will get you across the rough and into the ramp for a stunt boost.
Shortcut 3: Head to the right side in the fork following the previous shortcuts, hit the stunt boost on the ramp and ram into the objects ahead for boosts.
Shortcut 4: With enough speed and a boost, you can aim upward and land on the platform above after the blue ramp.
Shortcut 5: One final boost between two bundles of bones stands between you and victory.
Shortcut 1: Whenever you get to the split with the giant Bowser creature, take a look at what area he’s punching. Speed up as quickly as you can and pick that path. He likely won’t be fast enough to return to it by the time you reach the area where his fist will land.
Shortcut 2: Taking the left side before the finish line will lead you to a ramp where you can perform a stunt boost.
There are no major shortcuts in Mario Kart 8’s version of Rainbow Road, but it’s important to remember that with each lap the conveyor belt arrows change sides. As you’d expect, you want the green side.
Comprised of tracks from older iterations of Mario Kart, these tracks bring us back to a simpler time.
Moo Moo Meadows (Wii)
Shortcut 1: Another boost opportunity is right near the start.
Shortcut 2: The Monty Mole enemies leave bumps in the track off of which you can stunt boost.
Mario Circuit (GBA)
Shortcut 1: These boost patches are all over the place! Hit one at the start or after a lap.
Cheep Cheep Beach (DS)
Shortcut 1: It doesn’t look like you’d survive, but in the shallow, light colored water, you can boost ahead and skip this turn around the start of the track.
Shortcut 2: This shortcut appears immediately following the first. It's subtle, but you can see a trail of coins peeking up above the water.
Toad’s Turnpike (N64)
Shortcut 1: Going up the low-grav ramp on the right isn’t necessarily faster, but it leads to coins. Grab them if you’re low or at the start to keep your speed up.
Shortcut 2: If you hit a ramp on an open truck, you can land on another truck and grab a quick stunt boost.
Shortcut 3: In a rare turn of events, you might be able to hit the truck ramp just before the tunnel. Coast over the bridge for a massive shortcut.
As the second set of retro tracks, the Banana Cup is a little trickier.
Dry Dry Desert (GCN)
Shortcut 1: At the beginning of each lap, you have the chance to hit a very helpful boost shortcut. Make sure you have two mushrooms (or a star) or you’ll hit a lot of rough spots.
Shortcut 2: Fortune favors the boost items. You can skip this entire section with them.
Shortcut 3: If you end up in the water, you can stunt boost off these sinkholes.
Donut Plains (SNES)
Shortcut 1: Hey look! Another boost shortcut at the start of a lap.
Shortcut 2: More Monty Moles, more chances to stunt boost off of their mounds.
Royal Raceway (N64)
Shortcut 1: After the first bend, there’s a ramp you can get to with a short boost. Even a mini-turbo will work.
DK Jungle (3DS)
Shortcut 1: Veering left after the big blue ramp will save you some time, but the path contains less coins. Choose accordingly.
The Leaf Cup has several tricky tracks, including Yoshi Valley, so you’ll need to cut corners as much as you can.
Wario Stadium (DS)
Shortcut 1: You can stunt boost off of every single ramp in this level.
Shortcut 2: It’s not a big shortcut, but you can boost over this gap underwater on the final corner.
Sherbet Land (GCN)
Shortcut 1: Boost between the lamppost and the ice column at the start.
Shortcut 2: The cones herald danger, but they also hide an alternate path in the water through a cave.
Shortcut 3: The final area also hosts another extra path beyond the cones. In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe alternate routes aren’t necessarily faster, as you can use the new pink boost level to drift around the corners on the ice above and nab an ultra mini-turbo.
Music Park (3DS)
Shortcut 1: It’s a trend! Boost at the start across the rough.
Shortcut 2: Following the piano key bend, veer left and take the ramp. You don’t need a boost to make it, but it helps.
Shortcut 3: Right as the black notes slam down, you can stunt boost off of the ripple effect it creates. This will work as long as you’re in the gray area.
Shortcut 4: The final turn will lead you to a drum to the right that you can use as a shortcut.
Yoshi Valley (N64)
Shortcut 1: Yoshi Valley is a notoriously difficult track to learn as there are many twists and turns that are all optional. But there is a common ground at the end, when you can boost ahead onto a ramp after the giant egg hazard. Save a mushroom or star for that purpose during each lap.
The final cup of the retro series kicks things up a notch.
Tick-Tock Clock (DS)
Shortcut 1: If the hand on the clock at the start is in position, you can use it to bypass the gap. Make sure you stunt boost off the center.
Shortcut 2: The second clock around the last bend is tougher to hit as you don’t have much time to aim. Just skip it if it’s not pointing directly toward the other side.
Piranha Plant Slide (3DS)
Shortcut 1: This bush on the final stretch of Piranha Plant Slide is actually fake! You can ram into it normally but you’ll be pushed backward a bit. Use a boost item to get through unscathed.
Grumble Volcano (Wii)
Shortcut 1: This map is full of rough that you can boost through. Be on the lookout for every turn.
Rainbow Road (N64)
Shortcut 1: The infamous over-the-rails shortcut at the start has been taken out due to the low gravity mechanic. So while there aren’t any hard shortcuts for this downhill map, the best advice that we can give is to hug the wall near the train — it’ll provide you with coins.
We’re moving into the DLC tracks now, with a mix of retro courses and some taxing new ones.
Yoshi Circuit (GCN)
Shortcut 1: Immediately after the start/finish line there’s a waterfall with a ramp. You can hit it without a boost item as long as you’re moving quickly. When you exit the waterfall, veer to the right quickly or you’ll fall off the cliff.
Shortcut 2: You can boost here with an item. Just don’t get caught by the piranha plants on the side.
Excitebike Arena is one of those rare levels with no shortcuts, given its simple U shape. Just be sure you hit every stunt boost on every ramp.
Shortcut 1: After the cavern inside the dragon’s mouth, take the ramp to the left. It’s possible to boost over the rough patch, but it’s dangerous because you can careen into the wall.
Shortcut 2: With an item or even a mini-turbo you can boost around this bend.
Shortcut 1: Instead of collecting traditional coins, you’ll need to drive on the boost pads to up your coin count. Use them until you hit your maximum of 10.
Shortcut 2: Directly before the finish line of this downhill jam is a boost opportunity.
The second DLC Cup, part of the same add-on as the Egg Cup, contains a few more straightforward tracks.
Wario’s Gold Mine
Shortcut 1: You can actually leap off the rails and into this area on the left. Mainly use it to earn a quick respite from getting fired upon or to dodge an enemy attack.
Shortcut 2: Your low gravity ability triggers while you’re in the mines. Touch the sides of the carts to get a boost.
Rainbow Road (SNES)
Shortcut 1: If you’re brave, you can save fractions of a second by drifting and hopping around corners. Outside of that, don’t expect to find any major shortcuts since the feather item isn't available racing modes.
Ice Ice Outpost
Shortcut 1: After the break in the path with the two highways, veer right into the cavern and onto the two ramps. Be quick with your stunt boosts so you don’t lose momentum and fall off.
Shortcut 2: Yet another pair of ramps awaits you before the finish line. Make sure you take this one at an angle, though, so you don’t just hit the first ramp and go sailing into the ocean.
Shortcut 1: At the start of each lap, aim this mushroom at this angle to get the maximum distance.
Shortcut 2: Hit all three boost pads in the castle to open up the ramp next to the Master Sword statue.
Shortcut 3: Another boost path awaits you after the castle section.
As you might expect, a Cup themed around Animal Crossing won’t challenge you much, but there are still a few shortcuts to find.
Baby Park (GCN)
In a shocking turn of events, this track really doesn’t have any true shortcuts. Just master the art of drifting each corner and you’ll be fine.
Cheese Land (GBA)
Shortcut 1: At the start is a boost opportunity.
Shortcut 2: The next bend is a lot less subtle, as there’s a giant cave signaling a boost path.
Shortcut 3: It’s partially obscured by some cheese wheels, but the last bend has a ramp if you can boost past the rough. Since it’s a flight ramp, this is one of the most effective shortcuts in the game.
Shortcut 1: When given the choice of a path at the beginning, the left side has more coins while the right is likely to be less crowded.
Shortcut 2: At the end of the track is a short ramp boost. You don’t need a boost to get to it.The stunt boost from the prior ramp should be enough to make up for the slowdown from the rough area. Just be quick to veer left after the ramp in the previous area as it’s easy to miss.
Shortcut 1: The seasons may change to alter this track aesthetically, but the layout does not. After reaching the beach zone, you can immediately boost over the gap to the left of the track. Make sure that you have an item as the rough patch is long.
Shortcut 2: Right at the end is another boost path.
The last Cup of the bunch boasts a few of the toughest tracks.
Neo Bowser City (3DS)
Shortcut 1: It’s a very small patch, but you can boost over this section immediately after entering the tunnel.
Shortcut 2: Right as the low gravity section kicks in, there’s another rough patch to boost over. If you hit the rotating boost spots or use a mini-turbo, you can clear it without an item.
Shortcut 3: As you approach the blue ramp at the end of each lap, use a boost item to get massive air then veer to the left. Use the current to lift yourself up and back onto the track.
Ribbon Road (GBA)
Shortcut 1: Near the start is a deceivingly pink rough patch you can boost over. We would not recommend using a mushroom as the bend is rather narrow and too much of a boost would send you into the wall.
Shortcut 2: Halfway into the shaking blue ribbon track is a yellow ramp that leads to a blue flight boost.
Shortcut 3: Have you caught onto the pattern yet? Most races have a boost path near the end of each lap.
Super Bell Subway
Shortcut 1: Hey, it’s one of the last final bend boost paths in the game.
Shortcut 1: While it’s not a traditional shortcut, you can use all sorts of boosts to your advantage at the start of Big Blue. You can not only drift for a mini-turbo — you can also hit the boost stumps since the map is in low gravity, as well as drive over the boost pads and hit stunt boosts on the ramps.
Shortcut 2: They’re a little more dangerous than most, but the first bends in Big Blue allow for some boost shortcuts.
Shortcut 3: Leap off right near the end of the water slide section with a boost, and you’ll end up scoring one of the biggest shortcuts in the game.
Shortcut 4: You thought Super Bell Subway had the last corner boost shortcut? Think again! At the very end of Big Blue when the finish line is in sight, you can cut the final bend.