Feature: What Are Your Favourite Mario Kart Tracks?
With the release of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch, we thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss our favourite Mario Kart racing tracks over the years. Ever since Super Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo, the multiplayer mayhem has been delivered on pretty well every major Nintendo console since. Many gamers have fond memories of the racing series; throwing blue shells, getting hit by blue shells, and making severely dated blue shell references.
I loved Mario Kart Double Dash!! to bits, but I loved DK Mountain the most. There had been tracks with some gradual inclines and declines in the past, and they were fine and all, but DK Mountain was something else.
At the starting line, it was a snaky turn that tested your drifting skills, racing to a *giant DK barrel cannon* that shot you through the sky to the top of the mountain. From there you had a rollicking rally ride over ramps, a bumpy road, snaking paths avoiding rolling boulders and precarious edges, and finally a rocky bridge back to the starting line to do the whole thing over again.
As a kid I’d do this over and over, the bouncy kart physics of Double Dash made rolling down the mountain unpredictable and exhilarating – no other track matched it. Perfecting the drifts around the penultimate section, narrowly avoiding the edge and oblivion.
DK Mountain was great.
My favourite track in Mario Kart is probably one of the most obscure ones, or at least it’s one I never hear about being popular.
That track is Ribbon Road from Mario Kart: Super Circuit, it was truly the only track I have ever properly mastered as well. I spent hours upon hours getting what I thought was a pretty good time in time trial on it. Then I eventually got the internet and just saw how far away from the world record I was.
Getting a good time in Ribbon Road is all about bouncing around at the right time and taking the right shortcuts. If you get it right you can skip most of the laps and perfect it. The Rainbow Road in Super Circuit was very similar, I wasn’t nearly as good on that one. Come to think of it, I really love Super Circuit – it never gets enough love.
There is, of course, an awesome remake of Ribbon Road in Mario Kart 8 – it’s pretty nice, but the original still has my heart.
Mount Wario gets a bit of love from the Discord channel below, so I won’t bang on about it too much. It is a joy to race on every time, with a grand sense of scale and dynamic progression. Driving out the back of an air carrier feels like something you would see in the Fast and Furious movies, not a Mario game – it feels pretty damn cool.
However, one track I will happily engage in some self-indulgent drivel about is DK Snowboard Cross (Or DK Summit for the Americans out there). When I was studying at university, I lived in a residential college in Adelaide. Think of some of the frat-house dormitory-type stuff you see in American cinema and you’ve got a decent idea of what it was like at times. One of the fantastic things about living there was the active gaming community. Mario Kart Wii was by far the most popular game wheeled out on high rotation – we went through a period where it was almost a nightly event. How we got any study done is beyond me. As you may imagine, these nights were a highly competitive affair filled with vicious sledging; it was not uncommon to get the odd noise complaint from fellow boarders or even neighbouring residents during particularly close races.
We would always play four-race Grand Prix, with each course individually chosen by the racers. Whenever I needed to catch up on points or wanted to secure victory, DK Snowboard Cross was my go-to. I had practised until I could navigate the half-pipes more efficiently than anyone else. Even if I had the misfortune of receiving the arse-end of opponents’ items via the random-number-generator (RNG), I had it sealed by the end of the third lap. It is important to note that “RNG” was spoken in such tones reserved for holy deities as if the fate of the race was determined by the RNG gods. It felt that RNG may have overtaken Lutheranism as the main religious denomination of the college for a while.
Upon reflection, this, in addition to our gaming sessions often punctuated by Daft Punk’s then-recently released Random Access Memories cranked to 11, it’s no wonder the neighbours got cranky with us.
The lively Vooks Discord Community drifted straight into responding with their preferred tracks – along with some of their most hated.
Lunick was very fond of Mario Kart Wii, along with a handful of the portable circuits.
Fellow Discord user Blues was quick to back Lunick up, stating “Grumble Volcano is the worst!” before adding their favourites,
“I like Wuhu Island Loop, Melody Motorway, Piranha Plant Slide, Wuhu Mountain Loop, DK Jungle, N64 Kalimari Desert, GCN Daisy Cruiser and Wii Koopa Cape from 7“
Gabe (presumably not of the Valve variety – although it could be him scouting out the possibility of Half Life 3 as a Switch exclusive) also liked the Wuhu Mountain Loop, especially when paired with the Lakitu glitch that allowed the player to skip portions of the track. Gabe also listed their favourite races across the series, with some notable inclusions.
SNES: Bowser Castle 3 – only ever played it on an emulator and had a save state mid-race in first which had coins in my item slot on lap 3, but I would always lose and it took me about 10 reloads for me to actually win the race.
64: Banshee Boardwalk – the level design was seriously cool, it wasn’t until MKDS that I truly appreciated its beauty
GBA: Sky Garden – would time trial this stage to death, even if I was bad.
GCN: Baby Park – my brother and I used to do endless 1v1s on Baby Park with 10 laps and frantic items. Try it for yourself! My favourite was Diddy/Bowser Jr for Giant Banana and Bowser shell mayhem
DS: Waluigi Pinball – :waaahhhhhh:
Wii: SNES Mario Circuit 3 – I can’t remember losing a race on here online, for an original track though, Maple Treeway
7: Rainbow Road – you got to drive on the moon. THE MOON
8: Mount Wario – just listen to the music, i know it’s a snow level but its construction is fantastic. Start off a cargo plane going through woods and a slalom into a ski jump? That’s cool.
Lvaneede fired off the definitive statement about the Double Dash!! circuit we all know and love:
Baby park > all
“All” is a pretty big call, but it’s not unreasonable to consider Baby Park to be superior to anything that has and will come to the universe. Lvaneede also liked Electrodome from 8, with its music a decent factor.
Fellow Vooks writer, Oliver Brandt, also chimed in on Discord to praise the cuteness of 8‘s version of Moo Moo Meadows, while Troy Wassenaar added another vote for Mount Wario.
What is your favourite Mario Kart course? Was there a track you totally owned? Rainbow Road tickle your fancy? Comment here or on the Vooks social media channels, and be sure to join the Discord group to join in on the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe action!
Speaking of Rainbow Road, please enjoy this gem of internet culture: