Mario Kart 8 Deluxe hits shops today - and it's rather good. Okay, so Wii U owners have seen much of this before, but there's no denying the sheer breadth and quality of the package.

Just compare it to the last portable Mario Kart, Mario Kart 7, and prepare to make a little startled face.

Of course, for many young whippersnappers - both literally and in gaming terms - this will be their first ever Mario Kart. You lucky, unsullied people. You're in for a treat.

You might not quite grasp some of the key tricks to success in the game, though. It's not all about going fast and taking the racing line, you know. Which is why we've assembled a few top beginner's tips for you.

The turbo start


Here's the first technique that every Mario Kart player should master - the turbo start. Wait to hit the accelerate button until just as the '2' appears on the countdown (complete with beep), and your kart will leap forward into somewhere near the top positions.

Power-slide away

Drifting, or power-sliding, is one of the keys to going fast in Mario Kart. Hold that right trigger button just ahead of entering a corner, and be sure to use the left stick to modify your angle.

The longer you hold this drift the higher the ensuing boost will be - there's even an additional 'pink' stage in Deluxe that really gives you kick up the jacksy.

Be prepared to ease off


While drifting is an essential technique, it's possible to stick too slavishly to it - even when taking a tricky and precarious corner. Remember this - staying on the track is way more useful than nailing a drift. If it looks like you're going to fly off the track, ease of the accelerator until you're under control.

It feels slow, but you'll lose a lot less time than you will if you have to call on the services of Lakitu (the little cloud dude).

Always be looking for jumps to trick off

Power-sliding isn't the only source of boosting. In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, any jump is an opportunity to gain a little forwards shove. This is activated by tapping the right trigger button (the very same power-slide button) just before you take off.

There are obvious ramps littered throughout Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but keep your eyes peeled for any opportunity to gain the smallest amount of air and be ready to tap that trick button whenever you do.

Proper use of shells and bananas


When you gain shells and bananas - the staple items of the MK universe - don't just let them loose recklessly. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's tracks are way larger and twistier than earlier entries, and they're also far more broken up.

This means that simply firing off those shells and bananas when you get them is a pretty wasteful way to go about your business. You probably won't hit anything.

With shells both green and red, wait until your target is right in front of you and on an unbroken straight before you let loose. With bananas, wait until you drive through a narrow part of the track, or until you hit some item boxes, to drop them where they're likely to do the most damage.

Also, you should consider always holding the shell or banana behind you by pressing and holding the left trigger. This protects your rear from attack, and anyone who bumps you from behind will instantly spin out.

The Super Horn is king for front-runners

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe might look like a colourful, joyful, inviting place to spend some time. But you leave yourself unprotected at your peril. In particular, being at the front is like having a target painted on your back.

That's especially so with the infamous blue spiky shell - an evilly powerful item that homes in on the leader and severely slows them down.

However, in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe there is a simple way to nullify the Blue Shell in the Super Horn item. For this reason, front-runners who acquire the Super Horn should thank their lucky stars and hold onto it for as long as necessary.

To take out the Blue Shell, wait until a second or two after the warning icon appears behind you, and you can sense the weapon's presence on your shoulder (it does a little waggle before it lands) and then hit the left trigger button.