Our favorite Mario Kart tracks
- The basics
You've got to have a few basic things for a game of Mario Kart: at least one player, a character, a kart... and a track. Over the years, tracks have appeared and disappeared, old favorites are recycled for new games, and we keep falling off of Rainbow Road. As we prepare for the excitement of Mario Kart Wii, we collected memories of some of our favorite tracks across the franchise's games. Slide into the passenger seat and come with us as we race through some of the best tracks in Mario Kart's long history!
- Striking gold
Wario's Gold Mine is one of this blogger's early favorites from Mario Kart Wii, and is surely the closest that Mario Kart has ever come to feeling like an actual rollercoaster. Cheek-flappingly fast, and some magnificently steep drops. Watch out for those minecarts!
- This volcano is mad at me... can I turn around?
There's no doubt that DK Mountain is a great track. We're glad to see it reduxed in Mario Kart Wii, but let's not forget its roots. We won't lie -- Double Dash was probably our least favorite in the Mario Kart series. The tracks were pretty good, though, especially this one. We loved shooting through a barrel into the face of an angry mountain, then avoiding boulders on our way down.
- A total square
From Super Mario Sunshine to Mario Kart DS, we've watched Delfino Plaza evolve into a square -- and one of the franchise's most fun tracks. Now it's been revamped for the Wii, and we can't wait to cruise over the cobblestones to victory.
- Don't fall off that cliff
The best part about Yoshi Valley was inviting your friends over to play Mario Kart 64, and then completely owning them in this stage because only you knew the fastest route. Cheap? Yes. But fun, nonetheless. Also, what the heck was with the giant egg at the end?
- A battle of wits and shells
The simplest of Super Mario Kart's battle tracks but also the hardest to master, Battle Track 4 is the arena that separated the men from the not-men.
Packed with corners, each match here is filled with magnificent escapes and near misses, almost every popped balloon from a point-blank shot. Even when you're down to one balloon while your opponent still has three, making a comeback in here happens more often than not. It's the battle track of champions.
- Edwin Starr's "War" played through the Mario Kart clock radio
Since it's just, you know, a radio, you can't really pick which track this clock radio will play to rouse you, but if we could pick, it would be the awesome "War."
Well, okay, you could plug an MP3 player into the wall with an FM transmitter attached, play the song on a loop, and then have the clock radio tuned into the transmitter's frequency. But that's a long way to go to make this joke work.
- The ultimate Mario Kart shortcut
Ghost Valley 1 is listed here purely for the satisfaction that can be had by pulling off one of the most famous Mario Kart shortcuts of all time. Grab a Cape Feather, line yourself up correctly, and hop to it. Use it well, and clocking fourteen-second laps becomes totally possible!
- But our victory is in another castle
There are few things more iconic than in any Mario title than the sinister realm of Bowser's Castle. In Mario Kart, that means lava, Thwomps, and bad news for our hero in the way of difficult tracks. and by difficult, we mean awesome.
- Battle on the beach
It's hard to pick a favorite Battle Mode stage, since many of them are ridiculously fun. We have to give extra props to the beach stage (Course 2) in the original Mario Kart, though. This may seem lame by today's standards, but we remember how cool it was at the time to jump into the watery bits with a feather. Also, if you hit someone with a shell at just the right time, you could send them flying into the ocean and laugh as Lakitu fished them out. Awesome, indeed.
- Driving in a winter wonderland
The first half of DK Pass is hectic -- a claustrophobic tunnel, crowded lanes, and cliff corners keep you alert. The second half, however, defines this Mario Kart DS course. It was this track, and not our defeatist attitude, that earned us the nickname "downhill specialist."
A slight shortcut leads into the descent, and after a quiet corridor, giant snowballs bounce beside you, threatening to flatten your chances of making it to the finish line. After a huge ramp sends you back to the bottom of the mountain, the track ends with a hairpin turn littered with snowmen. Brilliant!
- Flipping out
Fact: Mario Kart multiplayer is at its very, very best when one manages to rob late, wholly undeserved victories, and Waluigi Pinball (Mario Kart DS) is one of the finest tracks for this. Those two giant pinballs that bounce randomly around the track towards the end of the circuit are key in this respect -- we've lost count of the number of times we've both stolen and lost victories by being flattened by the accursed things on our last lap. The sound of your opponent cackling evilly as they coast through the final set of huge flippers to their unmerited triumph is as harrowing as Mario Kart gets. Incidentally, also a great setting for a track. Racing around a colossal pinball table? Brilliant!
- Gotta keep moooo-ving
Moo Moo Farm in Mario Kart 64 (as well as Mario Kart DS, which is pictured) is one of the more tame tracks around, but certainly not void of fun. With several different obstacles occasionally popping up to block your way, it can turn from a peaceful drive into a very tense one in a matter of seconds. We can't wait to see the track's upgrade in Mario Kart Wii.
- Forget ghosts, we're afraid of the trees
Who can forget the memorable Luigi's Mansion stage in Mario Kart DS? We sure can't, as our dreams are still haunted by those darn evil moving trees. It seems like they just lock on to us and have the time of their lives. The rest of the stage ain't bad, either!
Image source: IGN
- The left lane is for STAYING ALIVE
Forget passing slower motorists, we were just trying to make it out with our life intact when playing Toad's Turnpike in Mario Kart 64. Whether it was dodging cars or those gigantic buses, every time we played on this track , there was some surprise waiting for us.
- The Mario Kart Slot Car track
This is a real, high-quality slot-car set from Carrera, featuring an exciting-looking banked turn. It's all the fun of Mario Kart without the annoying bits like having the TV on and steering. The best part? Nobody's going to throw a turtle shell at you while playing. And if they do, you can justifiably throw them out of the house.
- My god, it's full of rainbows
Whatever your skill or ability, it's likely that, if you've ever really played Mario Kart, you've fallen off the track in Rainbow Road. This iconic track is always gorgeous and as brutal as being bashed in the head with a hammer. Rainbow Road in Mario Kart Wii looks to be more beautiful than ever, but just as punishing. We're already swearing in anticipation.
Head back to Wii Fanboy!