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Mario Kart 64 tracks, ranked (top eight)

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A continuation of “Mario Kart 64 tracks, ranked (bottom eight),” here are the top eight Mario Kart 64 tracks on Nintendo 64:

8. Bowser’s Castle

Brutal course. Besides Banshee Boardwalk, it may be the toughest and most frustrating in the game. Bowser’s Castle is not for the faint of heart.

The hallway Thwomps just suck. There’s nothing redeeming about them and you’ll be lucky to get through all three hallways without bouncing off of one. If you’re really unlucky, you’ll get smashed by one. This is the time to use your star, but you need to time it right so you don’t lose control at the bridge part and fall in the lava.

There’s also the possibility of getting lightninged at the jump towards the end which will send you into the lava as well. A true kart strategist will make sure to hang on to their lightning just for this occasion. Beginners will get destroyed on this level, but luck plays a massive role in who ends up in first among experienced karters.

7. Mario Raceway

Not one of the most memorable Mario Kart 64 tracks, but very underrated. This ranking is more of a testament to how many great kart tracks there are rather than the inadequacies of Mario Raceway. There are no water hazards or snowmen or chain chomps, but this is not an easy course. If you’re someone who boosts (advanced Kart strategy), then this is a course you’re going to like as the turns are sharp ad frequent. Also those big flower things on the side of the road can really f*ck you up.

6. Yoshi’s Valley

I still don’t know which is the best way to go on Yoshi’s Valley (there are like four options), but I respect the difficulty of this course. The main thing you will remember about this course is that it doesn’t tell you what place you are in. It’s just a bunch of question marks racing around the track. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t know what place you are in. YOU ALWAYS KNOW.

The infamous canyon part is quite harrowing and a well-placed banana or trailing red shell can send you into the abyss. Strategists will make sure to hang on to those red shells and use them at the perfect time. I don’t appreciate that a giant egg can crush you at the very end, but it’s a rather rare occurrence unless you drive straight into it. The end stretch makes for some great action as a leading racer may get upset by a trailer using a star or fire mushroom to streak across the grass and to the finish line. Also that bridge leading up to the grassy knoll is the perfect time to unleash a backwards green shell. Shooter’s touch.

5. Royal Raceway

One of the most superbly designed Mario Kart 64 tracks. It takes some very controlled driving to avoid the water hazards of Royal Raceway. It’s not an uncommon sight to see beginners get lapped here as they probably missed the ramp and ended up wandering around no-man’s land off to the side or decided to take a detour to Peach’s castle. The jump off the ramp is a great touch and the ensuing stretch is the perfect place to use your star or mushroom to boost across the hills and towards the finish line.

4. Koopa Troopa Beach

A beginner’s course that is hardly for beginners. It’s not a difficult course by any means, but it’s the only track in the game with seemingly “intentional” shortcuts. There’s the easy beginner’s short cut where you have to drive off-track to the right and through some shallow water and crabs. Forget that one. The game-changer is the shortcut through the waterfall cave off the ramp.

Experienced kart professionals can hit this shortcut without a mushroom or star and with a perfectly timed right trigger jump. There’s nothing like the devastation of coming up an inch short on the jump and smashing into the bottom of the cave. Hitting this shortcut all three times can easily lead to a well-deserved victory. Missing it once can completely f*ck you.

3. Toad’s Turnpike

This is probably a bottom five track on most people’s list because this is the general reaction when I select this course:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31g0YE61PLQ

For whatever reason, people have a major problem not driving into the back of automobiles. I love this place though. I’ve just had too many memorable races here not to love this place. I’ll admit that the reverse mode of this course when the cars are driving at you is rather difficult, but in the normal mode you’re driving WITH traffic. It’s like you’re driving in real life except:

  • You’re driving faster than everyone else (may not be any different).
  • You sometimes have to try to drive in between two semi-trucks (again, may not be any different).
  • You have to make pit stops in order to get items (this is like getting gas, except in Kart you might get popped by a fake “?” box here).
  • And you may get hit by a shell, bounced over the guardrail, and that cloud dude who usually only shows up when bad sh*t happens will have to come put you back on the track (this has happens rarely in real life).

Other than that, it’s just like real-life driving.

2. Sherbert Land

F*ck penguins. There is no hazard in the game more frustrating than the penguins of Sherbert Land.¬†They are everywhere in this level. There are just so many goddamn penguins sliding around with absolutely no regard for humanity. Morgan Freeman should narrate this entire track there are so many penguins. The worst ones by far are the ones at the end. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen these guys mess up somebody’s race by bumping them into the ice water.

But these are also the best penguins because there is NOTHING like the triumph of winning a race after your opponent gets bounced into the ice water by a rogue penguin as he’s about to cross the finish line. It’s pure ecstasy. In most cases, the pain of losing generally trumps the ecstasy of victory, but not here. Winning via penguin is one of the best feelings in the world.

1. Wario Stadium

The Great Pyramid of Giza. The Lighthouse of Alexandria. The Temple of Artemis. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia. The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. The Collossus of Rhodes. Wario Stadium.

If there were eight wonders of the world, Wario Stadium would be the eighth. This place has it all and is the undisputed king of Mario Kart tracks. Let’s look past the fact that it’s the perfect course to race at because it is. It’s just the most race-able track in Mario Kart. Jumps, hills, bumps turns, and it’s a STADIUM! There’s a crowd and thousands of pictures of Wario on the stadium walls! Without the outlying factors that make it even more epic, it is the best course out there. Let’s get to the good stuff though.

First, there are two not so intentional shortcuts that take years (15 minutes) of practice to perfect. There’s the major one where you can hop over the wall right out of the gate and skip like 2/3 of the course.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVQXMSiJuBw

You can also do this same thing at the wall towards the finish line, but the basic Mario Kart etiquette stipulates that “shortcuts” or “no shortcuts” needs to be designated prior to the race. Real men play without shortcuts because the full-length Wario Stadium track tests a man’s courage and strength and determines one’s general worth in society. Those who suck at Wario Stadium don’t succeed in life. FACT.

Then there’s the jump. This jump has ruined friendships. People have probably been murdered because of the actions taken on this jump. When playing Wario Stadium, don’t trust anyone. Your so-called “friend” will stab you in the f*cking back. There is no bigger “f*ck you” in the game way of life that is Mario Kart than using a lightning while your opponent is making THAT jump.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNl_w9YZccQ

Do this though. Do this every time. This is the most ruthless, Mario Kart-like thing to do in the world. Any time I witness somebody betray someone else, I always refer to it as “being lightninged at the jump at Wario Stadium.” When LeBron left Cleveland for Miami? Oh, he lightninged the Cavs at the jump to oblivion there. On all three f*cking laps. A wam, bam, thank you ma’am. Three in a row.

Wario Stadium is the best.

Hope you enjoyed my little series ranking the Mario Kart 64 tracks. Now go play some Kart.

-Divac

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About Author

Divac is the Editor-In Chief of The Schmozone and founder of Leaveit2divac.com. He is a fantasy sports maniac with terrible gambling habits and has a strange, irrational obsession with everything that is NBA legend Vlade Divac. Divac will be posting his outrageous commentary on daily sports topics in "The Daily Flop" section and one day dreams of being re-born as a mediocre Eastern European NBA journeyman.