Generally, most Mario Kart tracks are fairly good. You’ve got classics like Wario Stadium, Airship Fortress and Waluigi Pinball, you’ve got interesting new ones like Mario Kart 7’s Rainbow Road and Mario Kart Wii’s Koopa Cape, and generally most of the other ones will at least have some semblance of a fandom who think they’re among the best tracks in the series.
But unfortunately, some tracks just don’t measure up to the high standards expected of the Mario Kart series. Whether it’s through poor design, boring visuals or being plain broken, they’re just bad tracks that people just don’t find that fun. So here are the ten worst tracks in Mario Kart history.
Note: Not counting those from Arcade GP, due to their generally boring and fenced in designs.
1. Vanilla Lake (Super Mario Kart)
Any Super Mario Kart or Super Circuit player knows why, ice + ice blocks you can break by hitting them equal a miserable experience.
And the worst thing about it is that the distance between the ice blocks/cubes is tiny, so it’s likely you’ll be stuck in what’s basically a maze of breakable blocks as your rivals speed past unhindered due to their magic AI path finding skills.
Two mediocre courses, and two I really, really don’t want to see back in another Mario Kart game any time soon.
2. DK Pass (Mario Kart DS)
Also known as that one track which makes every mistake in the book (snow + slippery icy floors, bland design and nothing to do with the series), DK Pass is an infuriating track that practically no one wants to play in either Mario Kart DS or Mario Kart 7.
Not only do you have fairly sharp turns on ice covered floors that send you in every which direction, but you’ve got snow on the outside which slows you to practically a standstill. And let’s not even get into mentioning those annoying snowballs that roll down the mountain at random, the snowmen you’ll likely to smash straight into or the fact you can’t do the damn obvious and glide across the part before the finish line because Nintendo seems terrified of letting anyone actually use their initiative for once.
Did I mention it has nothing to do with Donkey Kong bar the name, and ‘robbed’ us of getting any sort of jungle level? Or that DK Snowboard Pass is literally this track done ten million times better? DK Pass is just bland as well as annoying.
And while it does have a nice ‘super item box’ which gives you Stars and Mushrooms, the track itself is just so boring, so annoying to play and so unexciting it’s pretty much the worst level in every game it appears in.
3. Yoshi Falls (Mario Kart DS)
In third place is another track from Mario Kart DS in the form of Yoshi Falls. Why is it here?
Well to be honest, it’s just a plain boring track with very little to keep it interesting, and only serves as yet more tedious luck based racing after the equally dull Figure Eight Circuit. Yes it’s themed after Yoshi and has a giant Yoshi egg in the middle, and there are waterfalls, but nothing here really stands out as interesting, with the track just being a simple loop.
Yoshi Falls is just another dull track with no real redeeming features, and hence it makes the third spot on the worst tracks list.
4. Shy Guy Beach (Mario Kart Wii)
No, I didn’t make a mistake and definitely did mean Mario Kart Wii here. Yes I know Shy Guy Beach originated in Mario Kart Super Circuit, but do you know why that game isn’t the one listed?
Because in Super Circuit, Shy Guy Beach was a bearable track. Why? Well in Mario Kart Super Circuit, going off road didn’t slow you to a crawl, karts had fairly even stats that meant certain vehicles weren’t ludicrously overpowered in certain tracks (such as the Magikruiser on this and Sherbet Land and karts with the Red Monster tyres on Neo Bowser City from 7). And karts could far more easily jump the watery parts of the track.
In Mario Kart Wii however, all balance went out the window and this track just become a mess. Now going in the water was guaranteed to slow you right down, to the point most high speed vehicles were practically useless here. And high off road ones like the Magikruiser could cut straight through everything without slowing down in the slightest.
This track makes the list because it’s broken. If you play using the Magikruiser, enjoy your easy win. If you’re playing with a low off road vehicle or on automatic, enjoy a likely hopeless loss.
5. Sherbet Land (Mario Kart Wii)
Same reasoning as above here, because like Shy Guy Beach, Sherbet Land was a fun track in its original game. But the changes in Mario Kart Wii just make it unplayable.
What changes? How about the fact the entire track is counted as off road, so any kart with a high off road stat will probably win by about five seconds a time. Or how about the fact some karts have poor steering and have no way in hell to get around this track without slamming into every wall and giving the driver a dangerous case of whiplash. Seriously, the likes of the Aero Glider and Torpedo/Spear have no possible way to navigate this course at top speed without smashing into at least one wall or obstacle. True, the former doesn’t have much chance at navigating any course without hitting something due to practically non existent steering, but Sherbet Land is still a very poorly thought out course in Mario Kart Wii if certain vehicles can’t really navigate it properly.
Sherbet Land from Mario Kart 64 was an okay track, but the Mario Kart Wii version was a disaster and that’s why it makes the list.
6. Any starting track (all games from 64 onwards)
Yes, all of them. Luigi Raceway, Peach Circuit, Luigi Circuit (both ones), Figure Eight Circuit, Toad Circuit, they’re all tracks I think are pretty terrible. Why? Well there are two things I think make them bad.
For one thing, the point of Mario Kart is to be a racing game set in the Mario universe with Mario characters. None of these dull tracks seem like they’re based on the Mario franchise, they could easily be shoved in any realistic Formula 1 or NASCAR racing game on the market with only the background and some minor decoration needing to be changed. That’s not what I play Mario Kart game for, and I think it really ruins the whole ‘racing in the Mushroom Kingdom’ feel of the game to have a bland, real world style racing circuit as the first level.
The second issue is that unlike realistic simulation racing games, Mario Kart is not purely a game of skill. Would a basic track with no obstacles be a good show of skill in one of those or real life? Maybe. But Mario Kart is not like that. Most races take place in local or online multiplayer, where random items make a large part of the game. And because you don’t need any real skill to get around one of these basic tracks, it means the one person who gets lucky with items will win regardless of skill level. Chased by a Blue Shell? Can’t dodge it without luck in every game bar DS and maybe 64 since you’d need a lucky timed Mushroom to get out the way. Lightning? No one can really fight against the effects, because you can neither fall off or use a cannon to dodge the blast or hope the difficulty of the track holds back your opponents. It just makes the luck based element of Mario Kart super apparent, and it makes these tracks not in the least bit fun to play.
7. Choco Island 2 (Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart DS)
Yet another track with annoying off road elements, Choco Island 2 is aggravating simply due to how overpowered the off road terrain is. Seriously, put just one wheel in the mud here, and your kart slows right to a crawl like it was going through quicksand. Then when you add in how tight the corners you have to turn are here, you realise how annoying it is to play.
The other problem with the track is simply that it’s one of the most boring ones in the series visually. What colour is everything? Brown. With a bit of orange here and there to make it look even more bland. Sure that’s what a desert is meant to be like, but just look at the screenshot, it’s so damn uninteresting as to drain your will to live.
Choco Island 2 is just a disaster of a track, with poor design, bad off road driving mechanics and a visual look that holds no appeal for anyone whatsoever.
8. Wuhu Island/Mountain Loop (Mario Kart 7)
Next on the list are two mediocre tracks from Mario Kart 7 that honestly shouldn’t have even been included in the Mario Kart series. Wuhu Island may look nice in Wii Sports Resort, but it has nothing to do with Mario and just does not belong in a Mario game.
Miis are fine, including whole levels based on the bland Wii games is just an insult to the Mario franchise.
And the tracks are broken as heck! Remember how both Wuhu Island Loop and Wuhu Mountain Loop had at least one game breaking glitch shortcut each? Yeah, not only did Nintendo decide to include tracks with no connection to the Mario series, but they then didn’t bother to test them properly and caused them to be spammed to death online for months until a patch was implemented. Thanks for that. Thanks for making it so Mario fans who already hated the tracks had to play them every other race so talentless hacks could get cheap wins by using glitches online.
Wuhu Island Loop and Wuhu Mountain Loop are terrible tracks, and I hope they turn out to be the last ever Wii Sports themed tracks in the series.
9. Yoshi Valley (Mario Kart 64)
Long tracks aren’t bad, but this level is just ridiculous. For one thing, it’s a freaking maze! Yes, a maze in a racing game of all things! And what’s worse, it’s a pretty annoying maze that’s extremely easy to get lost in and doesn’t even take up more than half of the race course.
It’s a pity, I liked the look of the level and the theme, it’s just not a particularly fun track to race on because of the unorthodox layout and and almost marathon level feel that never means it never seems to end. Yoshi valley is a good idea executed very poorly, and that’s why it makes the list.
10. Lakeside Park (Mario Kart Super Circuit)
Finally, at the last spot on the list is Lakeside Park. This track’s theme was of a volcanic raceway next to an open lake, and while it’s not particularly broken or luck based, it seems like it’s designed to troll the player more than anything.
For example, at about halfway round, it’s extremely easy to mess up and fly over a fence to an earlier point, ending up about half a lap before your opponents. That’d already be bad news in a game like Mario Kart 7 with decent controls and physics, but in Mario Kart Super Circuit where the gameplay feels like it’s on ice? It’s just plain annoying.
Add that to falling volcanic debris like that in Mario Kart Wii’s Grumble Volcano and tight corners that need to be taken with a high level of precision, and Lakeside Park is just an annoying, incredibly cruelly designed track in general.
So those are the ten worst tracks in the Mario Kart series! Here’s an extra one from Arcade GP for good measure (it was barred from the main list due to how dull the game’s track designs are in general)…
11. Rainbow Road (Mario Kart Arcade GP)
What makes Rainbow Road memorable other than graphics and music? Difficulty? Chance of falling off? Shortcuts? Well Mario Kart Arcade GP has none of this. Not only is its version of Rainbow Road entirely fenced in (making it impossible to mess up or try and skip any of the track), but it’s just so slow and boring, and it doesn’t even make a full circuit! Here’s a video:
Above: No launchers, no jumps, no loops or corkscrews and no chance of failing. What a dull Rainbow Road.
It might look nice, but it just doesn’t seem that interesting when you can’t really mess up or try anything new. And without even the Chain Chomps from the Nintendo 64 one, Arcade GP’s Rainbow Road seems like a hollow, empty experience.
Agree or disagree with the list for whatever reason? Think I forgot a really terrible Mario Kart track or listed one of your favourites? Comment away, we’d love to hear your thoughts on what Mario Kart tracks are the worst!
And check in soon for a list of the twenty best Mario Kart tracks!