10) Rainbow Road (Super Mario Kart)
It's almost not fair to have a list of Mario Kart tracks and expect many of the flat tracks from both Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart: Super Circuit to not be overshadowed by their 3D contemporaries. Regardless, one track that is definitely memorable from the old school Mario Kart games is the original Rainbow Road. With no rails to speak of, electrified Thwomps, and a rainbow brick road, Super Mario Kart's Rainbow Road is an unforgettable, albeit extremely hazardous, ride. This old haunt returned into the spotlight in Mario Kart 7.
9) Airship Fortress (Mario Kart DS)
The airships were the final levels in each land of Super Mario Bros. 3. Our nostalgia senses got extremely tingly when we first stepped foot in Mario Kart DS' Airship Fortress. This track takes place in the air, on dilapidated castle wall pathways and onto-- you guessed it-- airships. Worrying about weaving in and out of the path of Bullet Bills being blasted in your face on the first stretch of track, dodging the Rocky Wrenches that pop up on the airship's deck, and then entering the cargo hold of the airship, trying not to get burnt to a crisp by the moving burners inside all made for a race that was certainly epic.
8) Baby Park (Mario Kart: Double Dash!!)
Baby Park's simplicity lures players into a false sense of security. Yes, it's an oval track with laps that can be completed in under fifteen seconds, but such an enclosed and small space leads to some pure item carnage. This seven lap affair starts out innocently enough, but once you get eight racers shooting and laying out items on the track, the manic craziness that is Baby Park is finally revealed. That music that plays only further makes for one heck of a humorous race, even when you're on the receiving end of the punishment.
7) Wario Stadium (Mario Kart 64)
One of the longest races in Mario Kart history is Mario Kart 64's ode to motocross, Wario Stadium. The track takes place in a dirt-filled stadium full of twists, turns, and hills. Of course, crafty players can finish the race in less than thirty seconds, pending they know how and when to leap over the wall at the beginning of the track. If you wish to play the track how it was intended (which we encourage since this track is really awesome), then be sure to keep your levels of endurance high. That moment when you use a lightning bolt at the jump near the end of the track, sending those who were trying to cross over falling down to the track below is always hilarious. Take that, racers! Now you must redo a whole section of track all over again! As Wario would say, "Mwahahaha!"
6) Yoshi Valley (Mario Kart 64)
Yoshi Valley is a track that differentiates itself from every other track in the Mario Kart series. That's because it features multiple pathways that loop and weave through the mountainous environmental structures of the track. There are so many paths that the game can't even tell you who is currently in which place. The fun in Yoshi Valley is discovering which path is the fastest and then taking it. We remember the optimal path to this day: right, left, right, left. No course after Yoshi Valley ever presented the player with so many possibilities on which way to go, and we hope that this track get a second chance in the sun as a selected retro cup track in Mario Kart 8.
5) Coconut Mall (Mario Kart Wii)
Coconut Mall is a popular Deflino Island vacation destination, and it's probably the only place on the island where you can buy clothing from American Eagle and Hollister. The teens absolutely love that. Regardless, Coconut Mall is a track full of escalators to run up and down, shops to cut through for those much desired shortcuts, and a parking lot full of cars driven by Miis backing up (and over racers) that need to be avoided. This bright and vibrant track is one that has multiple pathways to follow (e.g. upper or lower levels) and plenty to see and do.
4) Bowser's Castle (Mario Kart: Double Dash!!)
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! was the first in the series to feature Bowser's Castle as a Special Cup track, and goodness was it a doozy! Immediately you drive through a stone structure modeled after Bowser's mean mug, Thwomps crash down in the opening hallways, and then you are greeted with a piece of grated track suspended above a fiery pit. Bowser's Castle in Double Dash!! contains many dangerous perils not for the faint of heart. There's even a Bowser statue on the last stretch of track that shoots out large fireballs for drivers to avoid. A great Bowser's Castle track, but it's not the greatest.
3) Delfino Square (Mario Kart DS)
Delfino Square is a town track, and we absolutely love tracks where we can drive past city buildings and other structures, head down alleyways, and speed past the onlooking crowd. Delfino Square is double the fun because it takes place in a tropical setting. Careening through the city corners, speeding past the buildings in the alleyways, and taking either of two shortcuts, one across the ocean onto a dock and one through the mud-covered alley all make for a track that we absolutely adore. Both shortcuts can shave a fair amount of precious seconds off your final time. Delfino Square is a bright and colorful track, full of sites to see. Too bad you'll be blazing through the city streets too fast to stop and appreciate them fully!
2) Rainbow Road (Mario Kart 7)
Our favorite version of Rainbow Road comes from Mario Kart 7. Unlike previous installments of the track, this Rainbow Road does not follow the typical three lap pattern. Instead, you race through three separate and completely different sections of track. Mario Kart 7's Rainbow Road has you racing along the rings of planets, across the crater-filled and Chomp-infested surface of the moon, and gliding through the stars. Epic is an understatement to how spectacular this track is. The final section of track has you flying through rings or making jump after jump to avoid a date with a pit. Rainbow Road in Mario Kart 7 is the greatest version of the famous last Mario Kart track period, and we can't wait to see what Nintendo does with the track in anti-gravity form with Mario Kart 8.
1) Bowser's Castle (Mario Kart 64)
Like Rainbow Road, Bowser's Castle is one of those tracks that appears in some form in each and every Mario Kart game. Our favorite of these kinds of tracks is the Mario Kart 64 classic, full of sharp corners to turn past, Thwomps that do nothing but terrorize unsuspecting racers, and pits of lava that are most certainly not a good idea to take a bath in. Bowser's Castle's Nintendo 64 debut comes with a variety of hurtful hazards that can slow down even the most expert driver. From the courtyard to the halls filled with moving and sliding Thwomps, to the spiral tower preceded by a broken bridge, Bowser's Castle is our ultimate Mario Kart track.
There are so many wonderful tracks in the Mario Kart series that it makes selecting only ten a very difficult endeavor. We'd love to see your thoughts on which Mario Kart tracks you enjoy most. Drop us a line in the comments section.