‘Mario Kart 64’: 5 Tips and Cheats to Master the Iconic Racing Game

Mario Kart has come quite a long way since Super Mario Kart in 1992. The racing franchise continues to be a hit today, with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe still serving as one of Nintendo’s top sellers years after release. Still, it’s nice to go back and play the classic every once in a while. Nintendo Switch Online’s new Expansion Pack has allowed fans to do just that, bringing Mario Kart 64 to the platform along with some other Nintendo 64 titles. Whether it’s your first time picking up Mario Kart 64 or you’re revisiting an old favorite, improve your game with these tips and tricks.

Four player screens in Mario Kart 64
‘Mario Kart 64’ is available now via the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion. | Nintendo

Regain speed quickly after falling off a cliff

One of the most frustrating moments in Mario Kart 64 — right up there with getting hit with the dreaded Blue Shell — is falling off the track. You’re in 1st place or about to get there, and then all of a sudden, you make a wrong move and plummet to the abyss below. It’s an especially common occurrence in the notoriously tricky Rainbow Road course.

When this happens, a Lakitu, or a Koopa floating in a cloud, will pick you up and place you back on the track. The process takes a few seconds, so it’s not the best position to be in. On top of that, you lose your items, and you’re sitting still.

However, there is a way to get back into the race quickly: tap the acceleration button three times instead of holding it. This gives a boost to help you pick up speed quickly and catch up to other racers. It might not get you back to 1st place, but it keeps you from falling too behind. Note that this also works best with lightweight characters, like Princess Peach and Yoshi.

Avoid spinning out after hitting a banana

Banana peels have long been an iconic item in Mario Kart. Players can throw them in front or behind their kart to cause other drivers to temporarily lose control upon impact. When you see one ahead and feel like you can’t avoid it, you don’t have to just take the loss. Don’t panic; just pay attention to your kart.

If the wheels squeak, hit the brakes to stop the kart for a moment. That way, you won’t spin out at high speed. This trick also works for icy tracks and collisions with other drivers. If you do it correctly, a little music note will appear above your driver.

Fly over another driver with a mushroon boost

Can’t speed past a driver ahead of you? No problem — fly over them instead. When you have a mushroom or a turbo boost, you can position yourself right behind another driver and use the hop button at the right time to jump over their head. It can take a few tries to get right, but you’ll look like a pro when you master it. Your opponents will never see it coming.

It’s also possible to achieve this trick from the starting position when you’re behind another driver. You’ll need to accelerate at the right time to get the initial speed boost, but then you can jump on top of the other person and use their kart as a spring.

Place fake item boxes carefully


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Fake item boxes can be a helpful tool in Mario Kart 64 if used correctly. They look different from real item boxes in that the fake ones don’t spin or float. Plus, a randomly placed item box in the middle of the road will look slightly obvious.

The best method for getting away with a fake box drop is to time it just right. When you see a row of item boxes coming up ahead, get ready to drop the fake as soon as you pass through the real ones. That way, the fake will land in line with the rest of them. Other drivers might be less suspicious of a box grouped with others instead of sitting on its own.

Save time in Choco Mountain

As Kotaku reported, there’s a glitch in Mario Kart 64’s Choco Mountain that tricks the game into thinking you’ve finished a lap. The course has a lot of steep walls, which you can jump on by hopping at the right moment. Sometimes, wall jumps save a few seconds. Now imagine what would happen if you used a speed boost during the jump.

By using a mushroom from a Time Trial, you can jump onto the steep wall toward the end of the track and clip outside of it. The game will think you’ve entered a new lap, saving even more time. This is a difficult trick to manage, and it’s only been done a few times, so if you can achieve it, you might just be the ultimate Mario Kart 64 racer.

Mario Kart 64 is available now on Nintendo Switch via Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack ($49.99/year).