Who Is the Best Character in Mario Kart 8 and Why?

Fan art of Mario Kart

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Everyone knows what getting hit by a blue shell or falling off Rainbow Road is like. Mario Kart is associated with competitive nostalgia, and Mario Kart 8 is a phenomenal entry in the franchise for the Wii U and ported to the Nintendo Switch. For this analysis, we are going to be looking at Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Switch.

The Characters in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Before diving into who is the best character in Mario Kart 8, you will want to know the roster if you aren’t already familiar. The characters and their variants include:

Mario, Tanooki Mario, Baby Mario, Metal/Gold MarioLuigi, Baby LuigiRosalina, Baby RosalinaBirdo
Peach, Cat Peach, Baby Peach, Pink Gold Peach, PeachetteDaisy, Baby DaisyYoshiToad
Koopa TroopaShy GuyLakituToadette
King BooPetey PiranhaWigglerWario
WaluigiDonkey Kong, Funky KongBowser, Dry BowserDry Bones
Bowser Jr.KamekLemmyLarry
MortonDiddy KongPaulineMii
Inkling Girl, Inkling Boy from SplatoonLink from The Legend of ZeldaVillager Male, Villager Female from Animal CrossingIsabelle from Animal Crossing

Each wave of DLC continues to release new characters. Each character is rated from very light to very heavy, which should be considered against their stats.

What Do Each of the Stats Mean?

Players in Mario Kart 8 must choose their driver and car parts. The parts comprise the vehicle, tires and glider. The vehicle can either be a kart, bike or ATV. Each aspect has pre-assigned metrics, and the game automatically determines a score for them based on an equation. There are five stats in Mario Kart 8 for vehicles, and they are:

  • Speed: Top land speed capability.
  • Acceleration: How fast the vehicle reaches top speeds.
  • Weight: How much the car weighs, which matters for knocking other players with lower weight classes.
  • Handling: How well the vehicle turns, where higher stats dictate sharper turns and drift potential.
  • Traction: Off-road driveability and how much the vehicle slips.

On top of the stats for your personally designed vehicle, all characters have assigned stats. Each character has a number for each of the base vehicle stats, but they have additional categories branching from them with their own numbers, including:

  • Anti-gravity speed
  • Air speed
  • Water speed
  • Mini-turbo
  • Invincibility
  • Anti-gravity handling
  • Air handling
  • Water handling

What Are Other Gameplay Tips to Think About?

That is a lot of information to consider, but what this proves is there are statistically better characters than others. However, a character’s potential lies within the player’s ability to match them with an equally powerful kart to max out their stats. If you know who the best character is but don’t know the build that suits them best, you may have an unbalanced setup.

Additionally, the same setup may not work for every map type. It doesn’t make sense to optimize for water speed if there is no water present in the level. That focus could have been better allocated to increasing mini-turbo or handling. Familiarity with the maps is key for stat distribution.

It’s also key for utilizing the environmental elements to your advantage. If you want to hit all of the item boxes or speed boosts, you’ll have to know how and when to start drifting with the correct angles.

Plus, player skill has a lot to do with it. You may choose the perfect combo, but being the best at Mario Kart cannot happen without gold old-fashioned practice. 

So, Who Is the Best Character in Mario Kart 8?

Fans of Mario Kart 8 have a couple of answers for this, especially when it comes to choosing the fan favorite versus an objective “best” driver.  but a few data scientists attempted to make an objective chart of the most optimal combinations.

The Best Character — Wario

Wario is a fan favorite and statistically a high-ranking choice. Paired with the Gold Standard or Sports Bike, he has pretty insane speed and acceleration for getting into first place quickly. Wario is in the heavy character class, which tends to ascend highly into Mario Kart veteran favorites. Statistically, heavy characters have more ways to achieve higher statistics than lower-weight classes.

Wario is also an objective fan favorite because he will rarely get shoved aside by passing drivers. Just try to knock him over — it won’t happen often.

The Runner Up — Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong is another contender. Paired with the Biddybuggy or Sports Bike, his heavyweight status also puts him in stiff competition against Wario. This sturdy antagonist is able to maintain speeds for a very long time compared to other characters — if you have the skill to achieve it.

The Late Arrival — Dry Bowser

This reskinned version of Bowser that came out in DLC has different stats than his original counterpart. The regular Bowser doesn’t have ideal handling, but Dry Bowser makes up for his shortcomings. Perhaps those bones gave the previously hefty Bowser some light weight class advantages?

The Underdog — Yoshi

Yoshi is the unexpected choice here. If you’re an expert Mario Kart 8 racer, Yoshi is ideal for min-maxing because of his already very balanced stats. Yoshi is nothing if not consistent. With excellent off-road handling and speed, Yoshi is good if you find yourself off-track. If you know there are some shortcuts you could take by going off-map, Yoshi might be the perfectly cute racer you need.

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe For the Win

There is a lot that goes into becoming an elite Mario Kart player. How much do you know about the maps and how certain characters interact with others? How quick are your reflexes and knowledge of secrets in the courses? All of these qualities add up when picking a character.

For those wondering who is the best character in Mario Kart 8, many will rally for Wario — but others will disagree. Everyone’s play style is different, but when you look at the numbers, Wario usually comes out on top. 

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