With Mario Kart 8 Deluxe releasing on Nintendo’s handheld/home console hybrid today, let’s take a look at what we can all agree are the best tracks to ever grace the series!
10. DK Mountain (Mario Kart Double Dash & Mario Kart Wii)
We’re kicking off this top 10 by going ape, ahem sorry. This track is suitably kooky for something themed around the Mushroom Kingdom‘s favourite simian. We got jungle bits, a barrel that you shoot out off, boulders to avoid and a big ol’ grump of a mountain. If that doesn’t scream Donkey Kong I don’t know what does.
Joking aside it’s nice and challenging to start with, has the fantastic spectacle of being shot up the mountain, then has an intense downhill section. A ton of fun and suitably Kongish.
9. Yoshi Falls (Mario Kart DS & Mario Kart Wii)
When you think of a best Yoshi track maybe Yoshi Valley or Desert may pop into your head, but for me Yoshi Falls may just be the winner. I’ll stop saying Yoshi as much now. Relatively short but an incredible place to hone mad drifting skillz.
The banked dirt roads allow for crisp drifts, just don’t let the waterfalls push you in! If you do fall then drink in the sight of that big ol’ white and green egg. I pity the poor creature that laid that monster.
A short challenging course that allowed you to really get the feel of that distinctive Mario Kart handling. That little green dinosaur should be proud.
8. Royal Raceway (Mario Kart 64 & Mario Kart 8)
A regal racetrack with the best easter egg in the kingdom. On the surface this track looks almost themed on the real world. Grey tarmac, green surroundings, racing themed billboards and a stand full of cheering fans. However just after the jump you get the magnificent sight of Peach‘s castle ripped straight from Mario‘s classic 64 platformer. The best part is you can actually take a little detour off the track and have an excursion around the grounds of the palace. A great hidden gem.
Despite this easter egg being removed in the 8 version the revamp also has some neat improvements. It cuts down some of the corners , adds a ramp and a splendid collection of hot air balloons really improved the atmosphere of the track. A real joy to race around.
7. Piranha Plant Slide (Mario Kart 7 & Mario Kart 8)
Mario Kart 7 passed me by but thanks to Mario Kart 8 this track didn’t. The reason Piranha Plant Slide is so satisfying is that it feels distinctly Mario. Mario Bros. 1 to be precise.
We start on the surface staring at a pipe and scenery directly inspired from the original sidescroller then plunge underground. Down in the dark below we have to sidestep Goombas and tread carefully around piranha plants. Finally we get sent soaring gloriously through the sky to cross the castle shaped finish line. The way the track mimics the flow of a classic platformer level in Mario Kart form is fantastic. Love the concept of this track.
6. Daisy Cruiser (Mario Kart Double Dash & Mario Kart 7)
A nifty locale for a racetrack. There are some satisfying stairs to drift around, a madcap middle deck with tables moving to and fro plus a hell of a shortcut that shoots you through a funnel. The hazards of the tables and the pool provide plenty of challenge and the straights allow the perfect time to line up a green shell. Basically it’s a nice intermediate track with a great, and unique, setting.
The big question is though, how did Daisy end up with this ship? I mean we don’t see her do anything except enter the odd tennis, karting or golf tournament so she couldn’t have earned it surely. In that case did someone buy it for her. Seems unlikely. I mean if she didn’t turn up bleeting, “Hi! I’m Daisy!”, we’d forget who she is. Quite the conundrum.
Before you say it I don’t think Luigi‘s ghostbusting makes the kinda dollar that can buy a racetrack sized Cruise ship, do you?
5. Mario Circuit 1 (Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart : Super Circuit & Mario Kart DS)
Of course the first track ever is going to hold a special place in all our hearts, right! Sometimes the simple ideas are the best. For many of us it was our first time lining up on the grid with our favourite character, and you best believe if you get a mushroom you’re gonna cut straight across the bottom half of the circuit.
A great track to learn the ropes. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best; a pleasant track to start the Mario Kart saga. Enough said.
4. Rainbow Road (Mario Kart 64 & Mario Kart 8)
We can’t have a top 10 without flippin’ Rainbow Road from the 64 version now can we. This track is the big daddy of them all. If you’re a tricky son of a gun you can leap off the side of the opening slope to skip half of the track. However if you don’t you can enjoy the whole experience of what feels like a celebration of the game, being the final race of the Special Cup and all.
Upbeat music and all the famous faces up in lights among the stars. Triumphant bliss! Though if you got screwed over by items after doing all three laps then ouch.
It later came back in 8 cut down to just one lap, but with just as much majesty and a fancy gold train…for some reason.
3. Bowser’s Castle (Mario Kart 8)
Sure we may have Metal Mario but this track proves Bowser is the most metal. Okay that’s a bad joke but the point still stands. There’s lava everywhere, a heavy guitar based soundtrack and a giant freaking Bowser statue punching the damn track. Yep it’s pretty metal!
A tricky but satisfying track where timing is key. Whether it be dodging boulders, fireballs or laser beams you’ve got to bring your A game. A fittingly tough track for Mario‘s greatest villain.
2. Koopa Beach 1 (Super Mario Kart & Mario Kart: Super Circuit)
Listen to those relaxing steel drums and look out across the sun drenched crisp blue waters. Paradise. Though plenty of hazards line the track with the various greenery, Cheep-Cheeps and deep waters ready to catch you out if you stray too far from the racing line. Hit a line just right, however, then you’ll zip over the sand and through that shallow water to victory.
Its use of sandy seaside terrain made this track and Koopa Beach 2 really stand out in the SNES title.
This one is pretty special to myself. It served as the arena for time trial supremacy with my mates, so yeah pretty biased choice but a correct one!
1. Toad’s Turnpike (Mario Kart 64 & Mario Kart 8)
The switch to 3d felt like such a huge leap forward in gaming and Mario Kart 64 was one of those games where that transition from 2d was keenly felt. Now we didn’t just have flat tracks but ones that felt alive, and Toad’s Turnpike was a perfect example of this. I mean it wasn’t just another track it was on an actual motorway for goodness sake!
Don’t let the simple track layout fool you the added vehicles really spiced things up. Avoiding the traffic whilst trying your best to pass your opponents was always a fine recipe to put you on edge, in the best possible way. I’m sure we can all remember those incredible moments where you just miss a lorry while a mate on your tail get’s clocked right in the face by it, and never the other way around.
Toad’s turnpike really felt like a step up for the franchise. This track showed there is so much more you can do with Mario Kart than stick to a traditional circuit format and it has been running with that ever since. Proof of this was when it returned in 8 showing off the latest innovation of the series with anti gravity driving up the walls, which added a whole new dimension to the Toad‘s course.
The best track, bar none. 100% fact.