15 Best Characters To Play As In Mario Kart 8 Ranked

Mario Kart 8 continuing to be supported by Nintendo with new tracks on the way, but fans are also excited about seeing Mario Kart getting its cinematic debut with Illumination’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie releasing in 2023.

Since 1992, fans of the Mario Kart franchise have debated about which character is the best in the game. In Mario Kart 8, fans are more passionate than ever about which character deserves first place. Speed, acceleration rate, handling, and character weight are all of these components that factor into the science behind which character in Mario Kart 8 is the best to play.

The characters are in three categories based on their size – light, medium, and heavy. The heavier characters are favored due to their ability to maintain top speeds, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are destined to cross the finish line at number one.

With such a wide variety of characters, people still find themselves returning to Mario Kart 8. The characters are accessible to pretty much everyone, but they all have their subtle tweaks that can make or break a race, with some arguably being downright overpowered at times.

15 Luigi

Much like his big brother, Luigi is balanced across almost all his stats, with his handling being slightly better at a 3.75. When paired with the right loadout for his vehicle, Luigi can zip right through the tracks with ease, especially when utilizing the drafting mechanics.

Luigi doesn’t really have any benefits from being a medium-weight class, but that also means he doesn’t have any drawbacks either. Hits from characters such as Bowser or Donkey Kong won’t have nearly as much knockback to recover from.

14 Metal Mario/Pink Gold Peach

While Metal Mario has been around since Mario Kart 7 as an unlockable player, this is Pink Gold Peach’s introduction to the Mario Kart series. Since the games’ initial release these characters haven’t exactly been fan favorites due to their lackluster designs, but they deserve more credit for their weight and top speeds in Mario Kart 8.

These two heavy-class characters are both balanced with the same stats. They are perfect for drifting around corners due to their high traction and average mini turbo boosts. Each fall short in regard to handling on land and especially in water, but pair either of these two powerhouses with a kart combination that favors acceleration, and they are sure to blow past any opponent’s kart.

13 Shy Guy

This iconic Super Mario ghost character returns as a playable character in Mario Kart 8. Ever since being introduced as a guest character in Mario Kart DS, Shy Guy has swiftly grown to be a fan favorite among the Mario Kart community. So much so that, for the first time, players can choose from nine different colored skins made available as DLC.

This cute little masked figure has some of the best acceleration in the game. Being in the lightweight class, they will easily be able to weave their way in between other karts with their outstanding traction and handling. But be wary of being trampled over by larger carts when lightning strikes. Although their top speeds are average, it is the combination of well-timed mini turbos and excellent acceleration that makes Shy Guy one of the best light-class characters.

12 Donkey Kong

This classic character has been playable since the dawn of the series. Due to Donkey Kong’s plethora of preexisting self-titled games to choose from, his status among the Mario Kart roster has always made him a popular choice.

His weight and size make him a formidable foe if ever he gets too close. Unfortunately, he is subject to some of the classic pitfalls of heavy-class characters. Donkey Kong will weigh down his kart, so make sure to choose wheels that balance this out. He may start off slow as the countdown buzzes, but if he manages to maintain a consistent speed and avoid water, there are only a handful of characters on the roster that will be able to take him down.

11 Waluigi

As much as Waluigi is forgotten among fans, he should be remembered during the character selection screen. Having once started out as a middleweight character back in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! he returns to Mario Kart 8 as a default heavy-class character.

As such, he has decent acceleration as well as top speeds, but his handling on land and water causes a shaky ride. Although his acceleration is average, it is best to choose a kart that favors this in order to make up for slower turbo speeds. Make sure to keep Waluigi in the air for as long as possible. His top speeds while flying are almost unmatched.

10 Mii

First introduced during the Mario Kart Wii era, the Mii has received a variety of mixed reviews. As an unlockable character in Mario Kart 8, the Mii ends up being a trickier choice than others due to a crucial choice the player must make.

The Mii’s stats will depend upon the size and width it was given by the player. The Mii that is able to hold its own against the others on this list should fall into the heavyweight class. If the player’s Mii is scaled with a heavier build and balanced with a kart that favors good handling it creates a force to be reckoned with. Their land speeds will max out with the rest of the top-tiered characters while their traction and acceleration will average out with the medium and lightweight classes.

9 Dry Bones

For such a bothersome enemy that only appears in certain levels in Mario games, Dry Bones has become a recurring playable character in various Mario spin-off titles. In Mario Kart 8, he is very much a character of pros and cons. On one hand, he has some of the best handling and acceleration in Mario Kart 8.

Unfortunately, Dry Bones’ top speed and weight are far from the greatest which forces the player to play a lot of defense to keep other characters from catching up or knocking him off the track. However, there is more to enjoy with Dry Bones such as his drafting speed.

8 Morton

This star-faced koopaling goes by Morton Koopa Jr. and was introduced back in Super Mario Bros. 3. Normally, he would stand almost statistically identical to his counterpart, Roy, yet in Mario Kart 8, his weight class puts him above average.

An underling of the king of koopas off the track, when he maxes out his top speeds he becomes a top racer. Morton Koopa Jr. hunches tall as one of the top heavyweight characters. His weight allows him to reach speeds most characters can’t while also maintaining good control of acceleration. Morton falls under the very heavyweight class, which means his handling and mini turbos are some of the worst in the game, so his kart build should focus on balancing that.

Coming from the faraway land of Hyrule is Link, the hero of the Triforce, and he’s got a total stat score of 21.25, which gives him some of the highest stats in Mario Kart 8. Link excels with traction and speed, making him work best on either a motorcycle or ATV.

Link has a speed stat of 4, which makes him one of the fastest characters in the game on his base stats alone. However, that speed doesn’t immediately guarantee a win because the player still has to master the right time to drift, turn, and dodge.

6 Rosalina

The queen of the galaxy, Rosalina has the exact same stats as Link, which makes her one of the fastest princesses in Mario Kart 8. Another aspect she and Link have in common is their weight, which is on the higher end of a medium-weight class.

Rosalina is capable of not only taking hits from characters, but she has the ability to deal with more of a knockback than other medium-weight characters. Sadly, this is the only variant of Rosalina in the game that’s not a baby, even though she has become one of the better additions to Nintendo’s lore.

5 Bowser

Lord Bowser is the primary antagonist of the Mario franchise, so it is no surprise that he is one of the most powerful characters in Mario Kart 8. He has appeared in every Mario Kart game and due to his popularity will be a top contender in every game to follow.

Another character in the VIP very heavyweight section and is able to max out at speeds only topped by two other characters in the game. Bowser should avoid water and air travel as much as possible. His handling is some of the lowest in the game, so he will be difficult to control in those two situations. Although on land, his weight and speed (when kept consistent) will be able to bully opponents behind his part.

4 Babies

While there are many babies to choose from in Mario Kart 8, it is the two protagonist brothers of the franchise that should be prioritized. The baby princesses lag behind only slightly in speed, so they are still are very valid choice, but the baby Mario bros are just ever so slightly faster.

These diaper dashers are the only members of the lightweight class that are able to hold their own with the heavyweights. The babies have the best acceleration and handling in the game. When placed in a Tanooki car combo that accentuates the babies’ lack of weight, there’s an amazing balance of stats that takes place. Drifting is where the babies excel due to the mixture of spectacular traction, top acceleration, and the best mini turbo boosts in the game.


These lovable dinosaurs have been a staple of the Mario franchise since their introduction in Super Mario World, and in Mario Kart 8, they continue to be a show-stealer. Stats-wise, Yoshi is solid across the board with a strong focus on acceleration, handling, and traction.

Yoshi can get themselves out of the dirt better than most, especially if they are driving an ATV or one of the bigger vehicles. The best aspect of Yoshi is the ability to pick any color for them, allowing everyone to have the Yoshi that fits their personal style.

2 Dry Bowser

Thankfully returning to the Mario Kart franchise in the second DLC pack, Dry Bowser comes in as a top competitor. Although he may just seem like a re-skin of Bowser, he is able to differentiate himself with a weight difference that gives a wonderful advantage.

While some of his stats are lower than most light and medium characters in the game, it’s his speed that makes him a force to be reckoned with. Dry Bowser is considered a heavyweight character, yet he falls into the sub-category of being very heavy. There are only a few characters within the game that are considered to be in the very heavyweight class. What sets him apart from the others in this class is that his handling and traction are closer to the overall average of lighter choices.

1 Wario

One of the few anti-heroes of the franchise, Wario has been able to distinguish himself from the crowd of characters as a fan favorite. He has been racing in the franchise since Mario Kart 64 and has managed to maintain his appeal in Mario Kart 8 since its initial launch.

Wario leads the way as the top very heavyweight contender in the game and has for years. Whether it be on his personalized motorcycle or in the seat of any combination of karts, his speeds and traction are unmatched. If Wario is able to maintain his top speeds without being hit, there are almost no characters who can match him. He is perfect for tightening drift corners and boosting into first. With his years of experience behind the wheel and prolific appearances throughout the Mario Kart series, Wario has positioned himself to be the default racer.

Author Profile

Simon Costanza
Features Editor

Email https://markmeets.com/contact-form/

Leave a Reply