With over 159 million copies sold, Mario Kart is one of Nintendo’s most successful franchises. The game collects many iconic Nintendo characters—from Mario and Luigi to Link and Isabelle—and has them compete against each other in an intense karts race. Amongst the many highlights of Mario Kart are the imaginative and colorful race tracks. In what follows, we list down five of the most exciting Mario tracks ever.
1. Rainbow Road (Mario Kart 7)
Unarguably the most iconic track of the series, Rainbow Road had to top our list. Ever since the first game in the series, Super Mario Kart, was released for the SNES back in 1992, a version of the Rainbow Road track has been included in every entry.
As the name suggests, these tracks feature rainbow-colored surfaces, which typically change colors as racers drive on them. While the Mario Kart 64 and the Switch versions are beloved by many, the Rainbow Road from Mario Kart 7 on Nintendo 3DS is especially remarkable.
In this track, the player finds three sections with the classic multi-colored theme. There are also plenty of ramps, drastic turns, and pits. At some point, it goes off-road for a spin around the moons and planets nearby.
2. Bowser’s Castle (Mario Kart 64)
Bowser’s Castle is also another staple in the Mario Kart series. The track is the residence of the Koopa King and his main base operations and it’s typically located in a volcanic world. In the Nintendo 64 version, players have to dodge devious Thwomps and the fiery breath of Bowser-like statues, which guaranteed a great deal of excitement.
Yet, the Bowser’s Castle track has never looked better than in the Mario Kart 8 edition. Players encounter an anti-gravity field and several dangers along the way, including Browser’s fiery moving statue, swinging spiked balls, and lava leysers.
3. Maple Treeway (Mario Kart Wii)
Vibrant yellows, oranges, reds, and falling leaves—Mario Kart fully commits to the fall season aesthetics through its Maple Treeway track in the Mario Kart Wii game. Taking place in a large forest, the track consists of racing on tree branches during this season. Maple Treeway is a stark departure from the lush green forests and pristine beaches where the races usually take place.
In Maple Treeway, players are tasked with avoiding obstacles such as piles of leaves and giant Wigglers.
This track also appears in Mario Kart 7, Mario Kart Tour, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
4. Airship Fortress (Mario Kart DS)
Inspired by the boss levels from Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, this track takes place both on an airship and a floating fortress. The highlight here is the Pipe Cannon, which shoots players out to the fortress through the air. What’s more, the Airship Fortress is the only track with Bullet Bills as hazards. These are shot from a Bill Blaster of the airship, causing players who touch them to flip over. Rocky Wrenchers, broken crates, and burners also represent threats to avoid.
The Air Fortress track reappears in Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart Tour.
5. Waluigi Pinball (Mario Kart DS)
This track pushes players’ karts at incredible speeds just to launch them like a pinball. With its green, pink, and yellow neon lights, flashy colors, slot machine, and Las Vegas-style, Waluigi Pinball’s track resembles a virtual casino where you’d play AustraliaInternetPokies, roulette, and other exciting games. And, of course, there are the pinballs, which come down on the track and have to be avoided at all costs through smart maneuvers.
Other versions of the Waluigi Pinball track have appeared in Mario Kart 7, Mario Kart Tour, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.