How to play Mario Kart with your friends on Nintendo Switch (online and in person)
The new Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has launched on Switch and it’s amazing. There are more ways to play with your friends (and lose them later) than ever before. Some of these options are a bit confusing, so we’ll cover how to play with your friends no matter where you are or how many switches you have.
Multiple people can play on a single console with split screen. Up to eight people can play on their own Switches with wireless gaming. You can also play with up to twelve friends over the Internet with online play. The switch also supports multiple controller configurations. Let’s see how to do each of them one by one.
Note: Switch controllers work a little differently than most consoles. Each Switch comes with a pair of Joy-Con controllers that can be used as a single large controller for one person or individual smaller controllers for two people. So if you want to play four, you only need two pairs of Joy-Con Controllers. You can also use Pro Controllers, although they are obviously limited to one per player.
Local split-screen play with up to four players on a single switch
The easiest (and cheapest) way to play Mario Kart with your friends is with local multiplayer. This mode only requires a Switch and a copy of Mario Kart (plus controllers for everyone). It will also look familiar to anyone who throws blue shells at their Super Nintendo friends and family.
To use this mode, choose Multiplayer from the main menu. Here you can select the number of people you want to play with, up to four players.
Then choose your game mode. If you choose Grand Prix, you will have to choose your difficulty (50cc, 100cc, etc.) before moving on to the next step.
You will see a screen like the one below where you can assign controllers to players. Hold down the L and R (or SL and SR) buttons on your controller at the setting you want to use. At the top of the screen, you will see the three different configuration options in which you can use your controllers.
For example, if you want to use the left and right parts of a Joy-Con controller separately, you’ll need to turn the controllers sideways and hold down the SL and SR buttons on each controller. Your screen should look like this.
If you want to use both Joy-Cons to create a full-size controller, press L and R on both Joy-Con halves at this screen. Your controller configuration should look like this.
You can add up to four players using any combination of controllers. For example, if you have two pairs of Joy-Con, each half can be a separate controller, allowing four people to play. In this case, your screen would look like this.
During this phase, you can easily pair controllers from other consoles to your Switch. To pair a Joy-Con controller with your Switch, press and hold the small round button along the flat edge of the controller until the row of green lights starts flashing.
Joy-Con controllers will also automatically pair with any Switch they’re physically connected to. So if you want to share controllers between consoles, it’s as easy as dragging them onto the Switch.
Once you’ve paired and configured all of your controllers, you can choose your characters, customize your vehicles, and choose your track to start racing as usual.
Play with up to eight friends using wireless play
Split-screen multiplayer is great, but it’s an old trick. If you really want to get the most out of your Switch, wireless playback mode is where it’s at. In this mode, up to eight players can use up to eight Switchers to play a game in the same room, each with their own (or shared) screen. Up to two players can play on a single Switch at a time in split screen, which means you only need four or more or at least four switches for an eight-person race. Likewise, you can do a four-way race with just two switches.
Wireless reading is a bit more complicated than split screen, but it’s still pretty easy. To get started, choose Wireless Play on the main Mario Kart screen. Choose the number of players that will play on this Switch console. So if you’re going to play a two-player race, but each person has their own Switch, you’ll choose “1P” from the main menu.
The first person to start Wireless Play will need to create a room for everyone to play. This allows the switches to connect directly to each other without an Internet connection. Select Create Room and press A.
After that, each Switch that chooses Wireless Play near the first Switch will see a screen like the one below. The room you just created should appear in the list of rooms in the lobby, with a counter for the number of players in that room. Choose the room you want to join and press A.
Once everyone has joined the room, you can choose your character and customize your vehicle. In wireless gameplay, each player can vote on the next map they want to race on and the game will randomly choose the next track from each player’s selections.
Play with your friends from all over the world with the online game.
While it’s nice to be in the same room with your friends while you play, so you can hear their screams of rage, it’s not necessary. Mario Kart also allows you to play with your friends over the Internet. Up to twelve people can play in a single race using an online match, although only two people can share a single Switch. For a full twelve-person Grand Prix, you’ll need at least six Switches.
To get started, choose Online Play from the main menu. As with wireless gaming, choose how many players will play on that Switch, not how many will play overall.
From the Online Game menu, choose Friends. Global and regional modes will put you in contact with Mario Kart players from all over the world, even if you are not friends. For this guide, though, we’ll assume you just want to piss off people who know where you live.
Just like Wireless Play, you’ll need to create a room for yourself and your friends. You’ll also see a list of people you’ve added as friends. You can select them from the menu to see if they are already in a room. Otherwise, you will need to create one. Select Create Room and press A.
When your friends log in to the online game, they will see a checkered flag next to your name in their friends list. To join your room, they must select your name and press A.
Your friend will see your name, as well as some stats from the games they’ve played with each other. With Join highlighted, they need to press A to start the game.
Currently, online play is free for everyone, but Nintendo will start charging for it. sometime in the fall of 2017. Although Nintendo has not yet committed to a price for this service, it will be less than $30 per year. Enjoy the free ride while it lasts!