Mario Kart 8 is a wonderful addition to Nintendo's long-running series, and it's even better when you bring along friends, as the game supports four-player local split-screen and 12-player online races through the Nintendo Network.

Racing against others can get competitive, but we have battle tested multiplayer tips that will help give you the edge when it comes to reaching the finish line.

How to start a multiplayer race -- online or local -- in Mario Kart 8

When it comes to starting a race, the options couldn't be easier. With split-screen racing, make sure that each player has his or her respective controller turned on (GamePad, Wii remote or Wii U Pro Controller), then have them select their options once they're all set.

With online races, you can immediately enter online events with random players from around the world. In fact, this is the best way to go when it comes to getting practice in multiplayer tournaments, as you'll be too busy going for a first-place victory instead of hunting friends. Enter these as often as you can, so you can gain some experience and become better in tournaments.

Finally, when challenging friends to races in tournaments, all you'll need to do is get a special code when setting one up. Once provided, share it with the players you want to compete against. They'll enter the code on a special screen when prompted, then join you in a few laps around the track. While not as straightforward as friend invites with other racing games, this is still a solid option when it comes to competing with your buddies.

How to use items in Mario Kart 8

Some people feel the need to use items right away during a race. When you're going at it in a multiplayer session, however, this changes completely. With power-ups, you'll want to try and save the best for when the situation calls for them.

Coins are helpful, so when you pick one up, add it to your collection right away so you can free up a slot for another item. As for the basic weapons, like turtle shells and banana peels, save these for when you have players directly ahead or behind you, so you can line them up in your sights and put them to good use. You can also throw turtle shells behind you, but they're more accurate when fired from the front.

When it comes to more vital power-ups – namely the super horn and the spiny shell – save these for the last lap. You may have players ahead of you, and both of these will serve great purpose in the final moments of the race. The spiny shell will obviously knock out whoever's in the first place position – unless they have a super horn to defend themselves – while the horn will let you clear the playing field and protect you from the aforementioned spiny shell.

How to use jumps in Mario Kart 8

Don’t ignore jumps, as they provide a much-needed boost after you fly off a ramp. The key is to hit the jump (R button) right when you're at the peak of a ramp. If you hit it at the right time, your character will do a small victory pose, indicating the boost was successful. Once they hit the ground, they'll get a second or two of speed, which can make all the difference when it comes to passing someone.

Even if you're coming across a long trench, where you pull out your glider wings, you'll still earn a slight boost that will give you the advantage, so make sure you hit the button anyway.

In addition, smaller objects like ridges can give you a boost by hitting the jump button while coming off of them.

How to drift in Mario Kart 8

We can't talk about drifting enough in Mario Kart 8, because it remains just as important as ever. To execute a drift, you'll need to hold down the right shoulder button, then turn the analog stick in the direction that you want to drift.

Performing a perfect drift will result in a small speed boost that will give you an advantage over your adversaries. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

First, a collision with a wall or object on the track will result in a cancellation of the drift, and cost you your precious boost. When you drift, make sure you read the corners perfectly so you can get past them with ease and continue on your way. Only when the road straightens should you let go of the shoulder button and let the drift run wild. It's here where you could gain the advantage over your opponent.

Also, keep in mind you can use items during drifts, so if someone ahead of or behind you initiates a drift, you can quickly press the left shoulder button and fire it off. Sometimes catching someone in a drift is the ideal time to take advantage.

How to use "close calls" in Mario Kart 8

There's a difference between close calls and full-on collisions, which can bring your kart to a halt. If you manage to skim opponents or markers on the track that indicate the beginning of an anti-gravity section, you can actually gain a small speed boost.

You'll see this by the way your character spins around shortly after running into something or someone. By doing this, you'll gain a quick boost, though your opponent can get one as well, so you'll want to make sure you use it accordingly.

Again, don't hit a wall or on-track objects expecting the same thing. These will stop your kart dead in its tracks and you'll need to regain momentum. It's the smaller objects – opponents and markers – that will give you the boost.

How coin collecting works for you in Mario Kart 8

Finally, coin collecting is one of the best things you can do during a multiplayer race. The more coins you collect over the course of a race – and they're scattered throughout each track – the faster you'll become. Each new coin provides a small boost, and hitting the maximum count (10) will make the boosts just a bit longer. That's why it's so vital to replenish coins that you lose when hit by an item.

If you miss certain coins on the track, don't worry too much about it. As we stated, there are plenty throughout, including inside power-up boxes on some occasions. You’ll reach 10 in no time – and as a small bonus, use them to unlock new racers and other goodies.

Mario Kart 8 is available now as both a retail release and digital download for Wii U.