Everyone loves Mario and Mario Kart. Plain and simple. But what is the best Mario Kart track? Let’s explore it!
What are Mario’s overalls made of? Denim denim denim. Now that I have your attention, Mario is probably one of the most iconic characters in video game history since its release in 1981.
Of course, one of the games titles created from the Mario universe is Mario Kart. With Nintendo recently announcing DLC for Mario Kart 8, it’s safe to assume that the release date for Mario Kart 9 has probably been pushed back.
Despite all of that, we eagerly await its release with bait breath, so while we wait, here is a list of the Top 10 Mario Kart tracks of all time!
10. Donkey Kong’s Jungle Parkway
First appearing in 1996 on Mario Kart 64, DKs Jungle Parkway is a relatively safe and fun map. It is also one of the maps that gamers can destroy all competition on if they are experts at drifting; I thought I was initially good when I was younger until I went to my older cousin’s place. I was not ready.
There aren’t too many obstacles inhibiting you besides the occasional spikey fruit that comes out if you touch the grass. For those who don’t mind a cheeky minor glitch, there is a sneaky shortcut that can be found on the Nintendo 64 version of the game that, if hit just right, can allow you to finish a lap in about 13 seconds.
9. Yoshi Valley
Like DKs Jungle Parkway, Yoshi Valley first appeared in 1996 on Mario Kart 64, again in Mario Kart 8 in 2014, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in 2017. I was not too fond of this map growing up, probably because I had a lot of difficulties remembering the correct path. If you know, you know.
I had a love-hate relationship with this inverse catacomb potentially designed by a child’s scribble drawing race track. Yes, the partially barricaded ridges stressed me out but seeing others fall to despair in front of me as I sored past them compensated for that hugely. The brief moments spent out of the valley were all my heart needed to return to a healthy pace.
8. Mount Wario
First appearing in Mario Kart 8 in 2014, Mount Wario perfectly replicates Alpine Skiing by throwing you down a mountain summit and is one of 3 maps in these games where the map is divided into sections instead of laps.
Throw yourself out of some sort of hovercraft and make your way through the Wario-themed ski resort, trying not to fall off the edges. The linear style of this game makes it a lot of fun, and if you want to guarantee a victory, there are four shortcuts hidden on this map.
7. Maple Treeway
If Autumn is your season of choice, then Maple Treeway is your track. It has made three appearances in the Mario Kart franchise; Mario Kart Wii in 2008, Mario Kart 7 in 2011, and Mario Kart Tour in 2020. Taking place in a large, lush forest, racers must transverse treetops and branches while trying not to be too distracted by the orange leaves that litter the screen.
Try to hit the piles of leaves in hopes of discovering mushrooms, bananas, or even stars if you’re lucky. All while trying to dodge the Wigglers that call this map home, as running into one is more than likely to knock you back a position or two. If you do suffer such a run, use the three shortcuts found at different points of the track.
6. Coconut Mall
First making an appearance on the Wii in 2008, Coconut Mall kind of resembles the shape of the cleaning bottle that you use to get under the rim of your toilet bowl.
Located on tropical Isle Delfino close to the beach, this shopping mall race track is filled with water features to flip off, escalators and staircases to climb, and some shitty drivers who I think are trying hard to parallel park. Coconut Mall is a joy to play, and it turns window shopping into a speed-running event.
5. Donkey Kong’s Mountain
First appearing on the Gamecube in 2003 in Mario Kart Double Dash, DK Mountain is the second Donkey Kong race track to make it to the list. Fly down the ashen covered hillside of an active and very grumpy looking volcano.
The course is tricky, with several super tight turns and uneven ground that throws a banana into the works when attempting to get a boost from drifting. Banana, get it, Donkey Kong, never mind. Make sure you’re balancing your attention, though, as you have to be aware of the other racers and the boulders that fall and roll in unexpected ways.
4. Baby Park
Baby Park is the first game on this list to appear four times, Double Dash in 2003, the DS version in 2005, Mario Kart 8 DLC in 2015, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in 2017. This is a race track for babies; the design is super duper simple; it’s a small oval with no hazards.
Due to its size (apparently that matters), the track requires more than three usual laps to finish, but the exact number is inconsistent between the titles. In Mario Kart 8 and 8 Deluxe, it’s seven laps, whereas, for the DS version, it’s five laps. Regardless of the number of laps required to finish this track, it’s a lot of fun!
3. Bowser’s Castle
A Bowser’s Castle track has appeared in every Mario game; it’s a crowd favourite. Flying through the many track versions brings back distressful memories of trying to dodge 2D fireballs in Bowsers Castle in Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo Entertainment System when I was 7. That stuff sticks with you for life.
It has evolved quite a bit throughout its appearances, and while I would be excited to see if it develops further in Mario Kart 9, I would still love to see the version from Mario Kart 8. I really enjoyed the anti-gravity zone with the giant lava Bowser smashing the track.
2. Waluigi Pinball
Finally, a track from Waluigi. Though the map is called Waluigi Pinball, some elements are reminiscent of a casino, like the colossal slot machine face at the very beginning of the track. Heck, I didn’t know that Waluigi was a pit boss.
Appearing three times on Mario Kart DS, 7, and Tour, the track is incredibly colourful with many sharp turns and curves. As you race through the course, trying not to be blinded by the many distracting lights, make sure you try your hardest to dodge the pinballs, bumpers, and paddles.
1. Rainbow Road.
A Mario Kart game should never exist without a Rainbow Road course, and we’re hoping that Mario Kart 9 is not the first. It probably won’t be, but it’s good to pray just in case. There are ten different versions of this map, first appearing in 1992 in Super Mario Kart up to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in 2017 for the Nintendo Switch.
Though not overly complex, Rainbow Road tracks have been a joy to play. Even with several spots to fall from, it will always be my favourite, which is why it is number one.
If you look at all console games and mobile versions, there are 170 original tracks across the entire franchise. So, some of them would not make it to this list. Are there titles that we missed, or should some of these tracks be reordered? Let us know!