Top 10 Mario Kart 8 Tracks - ArticleEvan Norris , posted on 26 April 2015 / 12,789 Views
With the last eight tracks for Mario Kart 8 finally available for download, it seems like the perfect opportunity to rank the game's ten best courses. With a total of 48 tracks, ranging from underwater coral reefs to futuristic cities to an imposing stone-and-iron fortress guarded by a giant molten turtle, Mario Kart 8 has it all, and then some.
Not all courses are created equal, however. Some are forgettable. Some, conversely, tower over the competition like a Mega Mushroom among Mini Mushrooms.
Here's a look at the ten best tracks from Mario Kart 8.
10. Twisted Mansion
Part "Luigi's Mansion" from Mario Kart DS, part "Curien Mansion" from Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, "Twisted Mansion" is a scary, serpentine ride through a haunted house. Along with some spooky music and excellent production design, "Twisted Mansion" excels by providing players with several different hooks, all of which flow naturally together. Whether it's an undulating carpet, a combination underwater-antigravity section, or a hanglider ride across a moonlit courtyard, "Twisted Mansion" never fails to please.
9. Rainbow Road (N64)
In Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7, retro courses featured few changes, if any, from their original designs. In Mario Kart 8, however, many of the retro courses are given a complete facelift. This is especially true of "Rainbow Road (N64)", which represents a significant improvement over the original. Like "Rainbow Road" in Mario Kart 7, this version is split into three sections, instead of three laps. That alteration, along with the removal of star rails and the addition of anti-gravity and gliding sections, makes this interpetation of the N64 "Rainbow Road" far less tedious.
8. Thwomp Ruins
The fourth and final track in the Mushroom Cup, "Thwomp Ruins" stands as one of the early gems of Mario Kart 8. It contains a nice mix of indoor and outdoor driving, along with branching paths, anti-gravity wall driving, and a couple of neat shortcuts. Throughout each race, a Raiders of the Lost Ark-esque rolling stone barrels down the track, eventually paving the way for a gliding pad. This provides a good amount of mayhem on the course and makes careful timing all the more important.
7. Big Blue
The highlight of Mario Kart 8's second DLC pack, "Big Blue" is a loving tribute to one of the most famous courses in Nintendo's futuristic racing series F-Zero. "Big Blue", like "Rainbow Road", is a three-section love-it-or-hate-it affair that gives players a single long lap to race across. With plenty of sharp turns, dips, and boost pads, "Big Blue" captures perfectly the sense of speed that defines the F-Zero series. The track also includes plenty of conveyor belts and high-speed flume rides sure to punish any inattentive racers. Try it on 200cc for a truly wild ride.
6. Sunshine Airport
The first course in the godlike Star Cup, "Sunshine Airport" is Mario Kart 8 in a nutshell: creative, crazy, and full of spectacular sights and sounds. Starting innocently enough in an airplane terminal, "Sunshine Airport" soon spills out onto the tarmac, over a conveyor belt, across the body of a plane, and finally takes to the skies. Gliding skyward in a go-kart as a jumbo jet flies above is one of the great thrills of Mario Kart 8. It's a testament to the design team at Nintendo EAD, which made Mario Kart 8 both a joy to play and a joy to watch.
5. Hyrule Circuit
Inviting non-Mario characters, tracks, and vehicles into the Mario Kart mix could have turned into a gimmicky mess, but the brains behind Mario Kart 8 avoided any potential pitfalls when they created several tracks based on beloved Nintendo franchises Excitebike, Animal Crossing, F-Zero, and The Legend of Zelda. The best of the bunch is "Hyrule Circuit," a track designed around the mythology and tropes of the Zelda universe. With plenty of fan service - rupees replace coins and Deku Babas replace Piranha Plants - secrets, and shortcuts, "Hyrule Circuit" satisfies both the Zelda fan and the racing fan.
4. Dolphin Shoals
One of the most polarizing tracks in the history of the series, "Dolphin Shoals" is a track you either crave or curse. Some fans criticized it for being almost entirely underwater, for featuring unforgiving turns, and for having unfair AI in 150cc. Sure, the track can be difficult and, yes, driving underwater affects the grip, speed, and manoeuverability of each kart, but a challenging course is not necessarily a lacklustre course. In fact, with a combination of ramps, rings, bubble-blowing pipes, and, the pièce de résistance, a giant eel, "Dolphin Shoals" stands as one of most spectacular and thrilling tracks in Mario Kart 8.
3. DK Jungle (3DS)
One of the best tracks from Mario Kart 7, "DK Jungle" makes an encore appearance in Mario Kart 8. Whereas many retro tracks were given a comprehensive overhaul, "DK Jungle" remains relatively unchanged. If it weren't for updated graphics and lighting, and an added anti-gravity section inside the temple, the track would be virtually identical to the one in Mario Kart 7. Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. "DK Jungle" might not have as many bells and whistles as other tracks, but it's a lean, efficient course with a smart risk-reward ratio that's incredibly fun to play.
2. Cloudtop Cruise
Borrowing from Mario Kart tracks "Sky Garden", "Mushroom Gorge", and "Airship Fortress", "Cloudtop Cruise" is one of the more visually stunning and thematically diverse tracks in Mario Kart 8. Players race over a giant beanstalk, across fluffy clouds, through an airship, and, finally, into the heart of a storm cloud. With branching lanes, precipitous paths, and random lightning bolts, "Cloudtop Cruise" is a hazardous course. It's also a beautiful, dreamlike course that, thanks to music lifted from Super Mario Galaxy, transports players to another world.
1. Mount Wario
Wario might take a backseat to Mario in the hero department, but when it comes to Mario Kart tracks, he tends to reign supreme. That's certainly the case with "Mount Wario", the best and most exciting course in Mario Kart 8. As with "Rainbow Road" and "Big Blue", "Mount Wario" eschews three laps in favor of one single lap divided into three sections. Of all the three-section tracks "Mount Wario" is the most successful. Why? Because the designers at Nintendo EAD gave the course a dramatic arc, complete with music which underscores that arc.
The course begins, dramatically, with racers dropping out of a large helicopter. The music is bouncy and cheerful. Then it's down a frozen mountain, over a raging river, and across the face of a hydroelectric dam. The music speeds up. Then a snowy forest. A frenzied violin solo. Then a slalom. Then moguls. The music swells. Then a final downhill ski to the winner's circle. The end result is an invigorating, surprising, perfectly-paced track that somehow manages to tell an audio-visual story. It's an instant classic.