Thursday, March 11, 2010

Top Ten Mario Kart Tracks

I recently have gotten back into Mario Kart Wii. Let me tell you, it's a lot more fair when you're playing teams. There's only six opponents that can screw you over instead of eleven! I've won many races without too many problems this way, and it's much more manageable to play for my older brother. For this reason, I've decided to count down my favorite Mario Kart tracks. Since the 3D tracks are much more intricate and detailed than their 2D counterparts, I think it's only fair that I rank the 3D ones. It wouldn't be fair otherwise. With that said, let's get to counting down my favorite Mario Kart tracks!

10) DK Summit (Mario Kart Wii)

The first of two Mario Kart Wii lists on the countdown, DK Summit is full of acrobatic opportunities, snowboarding Shy Guys, and heavy snow to slow you down. You start with a right turn, leading to a barrel cannon that sends you to the top of the ski village. It's all downhill from here with plenty of opportunities to pull of tricks, dodge the heavy snow, watch out for snowboarding Shy Guys, and try to come out with first place!

9) Mushroom Bridge (Mario Kart: Double Dash!!)

Traffic congestion isn't a big problem, but there are lots of vehicles to watch out for-- in particular, a bob-omb car that blows up upon impact and a giant green wiggler car. The track is a favorite of mine because of its surroundings. It's pleasant to look at, has a great tune accompanying it, and it has a fun shortcut at the end of the track. The course is relatively straightforward with little room for exploration. There's a hidden pipe one can enter for a double item box, a hill, that with a mushroom, one can boost over to skip a turn, and the most fun part, riding the final bridge's very narrow railings for free boosts. It's the perfect way to ease into the Mushroom Kingdom's traffic situation, it's Mushroom Bridge.

8) Toad's Turnpike (Mario Kart 64)

If Mushroom Bridge let you ease into the traffic of the Mushroom Kingdom, Toad's Turnpike will give you a PhD in dodging traffic! The track is a simple figure-eight. The problem? There's loads of moving cars occupying the track, giving you one bad crash after another that your insurance provider would quickly drop you over! This problem worsens in Mirror Mode where your karters are driving against traffic! It's hectic, it's crazy, and it's all loads of fun, it's Toad's Turnpike from Mario Kart 64.

7) Luigi's Mansion (Mario Kart DS)

This Mario Kart DS track has you racing through the haunted halls and spooky surroundings of Luigi's Mansion. First you drive up an S-curve hill into the mansion itself. After three sharp turns, you enter the ballroom before exiting into the wide-open cemetery. The cemetery leads you to the fear-inducing forest where walking trees and swampland water aim to slow you down. From the mansion to the cemetery to the swampland, this multi-tiered track shows the creative genius Nintendo has when they design their tracks.

6) Sherbet Land (Mario Kart: Double Dash!!)

This festive version of Sherbet Land has colorful flags hanging from it. The course starts with a quick S-turn to a patch of ice where Shy Guys merrily skate on it, hampering your progress if you get attacked by them. What follows is a cavern filled with twists and turns leading to the back stretch of the track. A few simple turns to navigate leads to another much larger frozen lake where Freezies inhabit. Hit one of them, and you're frozen for a brief moment or two. Salvage a way through this Freezie minefield, and you'll be at the finish for a well deserved cup of cocoa. It's much more intricately designed than 64's Sherbet Land is why I prefer Double Dash's version.

5) Rainbow Road (Mario Kart: Double Dash!!)

Now this one was a hard pick. Do I go with the Rainbow Road that's long but has that cool shortcut that lets you skip half the track, or do I go with the better designed and much more fun one? Fun conquers all with Mario Kart: Double Dash's Rainbow Road. With an awesome rendition of the Mario Kart 64 Rainbow Road theme, lots of elevated hairpin turns, parts of track without railing, and a cool look of a twilight city below, Rainbow Road is a track that's the best installment yet!

4) Coconut Mall (Mario Kart Wii)

A popular Delfino vacation spot, Coconut Mall is a shopper's paradise, but you won't have time to do window shopping as you'll be speeding through it! The track is filled with multiple pathways to explore, shortcuts through shops, a choice of two ways to go, the normal way or a giant leap to the parking lot where Miis driving cars love to back over unsuspecting karts. A bright, festive track, Coconut Mall is one of my two favorite courses in Mario Kart Wii.

3) Baby Park (Mario Kart: Double Dash!!)

A simple oval track that takes less than fifteen seconds to complete a lap is what Baby Park is all about. What could possibly be fun about that? Throw in eight karts, a bunch of items, and you have total and utter chaos in Baby Mario and Baby Luigi's track! Shells bouncing off the walls, across the median, bananas placed all over the track, and you trying to dodge each and every item with finesse is quite the challenge. Many laughs are had when you pull ahead of someone only to be wiped out by a gigantic spiny shell! It's a crazy race indeed, Baby Park is a terrific seven-lap endurance race.

2) Delfino Square (Mario Kart DS)

Take a nice ride through a Delfino Isle town. No time to see the sights, however, as there's a race to be won. The first part of this race is perfectly straight, leading uphill to a 270 degree turn around a fountain of a Delfino denizen. Then comes a jaunt through the town itself on the cobblestone paths opening up to one of two ways, left or straight. The paths converge where another choice can be made if one has a mushroom. One can boost off the course, over the bay, and onto a pier for one death-defying shortcut. Or they can wait and cut through a mud-covered alley for an alternative shortcut. One final boost across a drawbridge and an S-turn makes victory but a few yards away. I love city courses, so it's no doubt that this one ranks as one of my favorites.

1) Bowser's Castle (Mario Kart 64)

The number one track on my list is Mario Kart 64's Bowser's Castle, also available as a retro track in Mario Kart Wii. Bowser's Castle has appeared in every Mario Kart track, and are always full of tricks, traps, and tight turns. This track is no different featuring sharp turns, terrorizing Thwomps, and more. You first cross a bridge into Bowser's first courtyard where a giant statue aims to fry you if you get too close. Followed that is a turn into the actual castle itself where Thwomps slide and stomp their way through the first and second hallways. After a brief breather, you make a right turn into a room full of sliding Thwomps followed by a left turn into a narrow hallway culminating with a rail-free wooden bridge. Make a fall, and you're in for a lava-ly bath! A right turn sends your karter down a staircase into Bowser's second courtyard. After navigating through the cobblestone path, you cross another dilapidated bridge hanging over lava, ride up a spiral tower, and make two jumps over lava towards a final right turn where the finish line awaits. It's big, it's bad, and it's Bowser's home base, it's Mario Kart 64's Bowser's Castle, my favorite Mario Kart track yet.

And the racers cross the finish line with just a few seconds to spare. Some honorable mentions include Royal Raceway (N64), Dino Dino Jungle (GCN), Bowser's Castle (GCN), Bowser's Castle (DS), and Airship Fortress (DS). What are some of your favorite Mario Kart tracks? Let us know in the comments section!

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