Who doesn’t enjoy the Mario Kart series? They’re fun games, have frantic racing, are great for multi-player, but for me the best aspect is in the creative track designs. So in honour of Mario Kart 8 coming out I decided to look back and pick my personal 10 favourite tracks in the series. As it’s harder for the flat tracks from the SNES and GBA to compete with the 3D ones this list will include entries from Mario Kart 64, Double Dash, DS and Wii (I’ve not played Mario Kart 7). Also if a track is featured in more than one game I will only include one incarnation of said track. So as Mario would say “Let’s-a-go”.
Mario Kart

10. Toad’s Turnpike (64)

Toad's Turnpike

Whilst Mario Kart 64 may not be one of my favourites it still has some pretty fun tracks, and Toad’s Turnpike is one of them. The track itself is a basic figure 8 circuit but its standout factor being set as a busy road, with many cars, lorries and other vehicles to dodge. This can make from some crazy and hectic racing and is always good fun. The vehicles are generally slow so they aren’t too much of a pain to dodge, but what really makes this course interesting is what happens when you play it on mirror mode. The cars all drive TOWARDS you. As if this track wasn’t insane enough, but that’s why I like it.

9. Wario Colosseum (Double Dash)

Wario Colosseum

Wario’s Courses are usually themed after Stadiums or Colosseums. An example of this is Wario Colosseum in Double Dash. This is a big course which has many twists and turns. It has an awesome helix which allows for powerful drifting and a giant ball cage where you can either take the long way around or take the launch ramp straight over the pit. An average lap clocks in at around 1:30 making for one of the game’s longer courses, because of this though there are only 2 laps as opposed to 3. Bit of a shame but that still doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a really fun course.

8. Yoshi Valley (64)

Yoshi Valley

Yoshi Valley is an interesting one indeed. Whist some tracks contain the occasional branching path with more than one route Yoshi Valley is full off different routes to take. There are so many routes that the game can’t actually tell who is in the lead (but I can with the map :P). The course is quite hazardous as well with spiky hedgehogs, a giant Yoshi egg and narrow ledges. Trust me you do not want to fall off those, especially considering Lakitu is always really slow at bringing you back. I won’t deny that it will frustrate some gamers, but I like it’s design concept and what it has to offer, plus that theme is damn catchy.

7. Coconut Mall (Wii)

Coconut Mall

Mario Kart Wii has some pretty crazy tracks, but Coconut Mall is just as mental by its own standards. The course takes place inside a shopping centre. The various obstacles include escalators that can either speed up or slow you down, a fountain which is good for performing stunts and drunk drivers just moving backwards and forwards in the car park (?). What is also fun about this course is the different ways to take including driving through one of the shops, a nice touch indeed. With its colourful look and fun design Coconut Mall is one of the game’s most fun offerings. Also side note, look out for certain Miis used throughout the track.

6. Tick-Tock Clock (DS)

Tick Tock Clock

Taking inspiration from Super Mario 64 this DS outing made for a fun racing track. Being clock themed this track has areas with giant clock faces where you have to dodge the hands that move unnaturally fast (huh, guess time really does fly). Tight 90 degree turns ideal for powersliding, a giant swinging pendulum and cogworks that depending on which side you drive on you’ll go faster or slower, so pay attention to the environment. All this adds up to make Tick-Tock Clock an enjoyable and creative course.

5. D.K. Mountain (Double Dash)

DK Mountain

D.K. is one of the characters who always seems to have great tracks. D.K. Mountain is a prime example of this. The track starts up with an awesome barrel cannon ride up to a giant volcano. Once you get to the top it’s a race down the rocky mountain. On your way down you have to dodge falling boulders and traverse tricky turns around bottomless pits. The terrain is often bumpy which makes using items much harder, but still all the more chaotic. The course ends with a rickety bridge that’s quite hard to keep steady on. It’s a fun course with a challenge to match.

4. Bowser’s Castle (Wii)

Bowser's Castle

One of the regular tracks used throughout the Mario Kart series has been Bowser’s Castle, with it’s crushing thwomps, lava pits and dangerous corridors. The version on the Wii though kicks it up to 11. After you launch off the drawbridge into the castle you are met with a wobbly corridor which is a good place to perform stunts. Along with the aforementioned hazards there’s also a giant mecha Bowser shooting fireballs at you and you have to use stunt ramps to dodge them. Even once you leave the castle there are lava jets that spew out from the ground which do make for stunt opportunities but will burn you if you get too close. It may be really lethal but it makes for a great track nonetheless.

3. Rainbow Road (Double Dash)
Rainbow Road

Another track used throughout the series is Rainbow Road. The game’s finishing track that is coloured like a rainbow and usually presents the player a meaty challenge. Personally my favourite incarnation of this track is Double Dash’s offering. The track has very few guard rails so falling off is easy here, especially with the course’s U-turns and a helix with boost pads, boosting is fun but don’t get too greedy with the speed. The course’s other noticeable feature is the wind tunnel which blasts you from one side of the tube to the other before landing on a giant boost pad. Visually the track is gorgeous, with a night time setting overlooking a lit city, and the track has possibly my favourite theme for any Mario Kart game (seriously, give it a listen). Whilst the 64 and DS ones are good as well the Double Dash outing just feels like the most enjoyable to me.

2. Waluigi Pinball (DS)
Waluigi Pinball

Now THIS course is a breath of fresh air and a really good idea, the theme being a giant pinball machine. The track starts out with you being launched through a light tunnel before going down the pinball runway. Aside from the tight turns and slopes you also have to watch out for giant pinballs running down the course that’ll crush you if you come into contact with them. Once the road ends you end up racing down the pinball table to dodge the bumpers and the pinballs being hit back by the flippers. That’s really all the track has to offer but just the whole concept is a winner in my books. The track design is bright and colourful and the sound effects have been stylised to fit a retro arcade machine. Very nice touch for a very nice track.

1. D.K.’s Snowboard Cross (A.K.A. D.K. Summit) (Wii)

DK's Snowboard Cross

Take everything that was great about D.K. Mountain, multiply it tenfold and you have D.K.’s Snowboard Cross. Both tracks are very similar in design but I felt that this track had more to work with and was more fun. This track is themed around a ski resort, starting with a barrel cannon up to the top of the peak making your way to the bottom. Along the way you will have many great stunt opportunities with the ramps, half-pipes and moguls bumps, plus an S-bend that is ideal for drifting. Near the end there’s a half-pipe with snowboarding Shy guys and thick layers of snow that slow you down. After that you come to the finish and experience the fun all over again. Great design, stunts aplenty, catchy music, a beautiful snowy look and reasonably challenging, I mean what more could you want in a Mario Kart track? And for that D.K.’s Snowboard Cross remains my favourite Mario Kart course in the series.

And those are my favourite Mario Kart Tracks. I hope that Mario Kart 8’s will be just as much fun as these ones were.

 

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