Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the ultimate kart racing package. I decided to take a deep look into the game’s tracks, a major component of what makes Mario Kart 8 Deluxe so good, and rank them all. There are 48 courses in the game that range from passable to fantastic. None of them fill me with outright dread, except for perhaps the bottom two on my list. Most of the low-rankers on this list are bland in some form or another rather than blatantly offensive in their track design.
48. Neo Bowser City
One of the more frustrating tracks in the game, and an absolute menace on 200 CC. Lots of chaotic, short turns make drifting hard to pull off. The neon aesthetic is nice to look at, but otherwise, there is not much redeeming about this stage.
47. Super Bell Subway
Another hellish stage, and the last on this list that I will always vote down when it comes up during online races. Those damn trains nearly ruin the entire experience for me.
46. Mario Kart Stadium
Mario Kart Stadium simply does not have much going on. It serves fine as an introduction to the game and its mechanics, but revisiting it afterward leaves something to be desired.
45. Music Park
A fun stage with some satisfying parts and some annoying parts — I particularly like the long stretch with bouncing musical notes. The musical setting gives the track some extra personality as well.
44. Donut Plains 3
The constant turns make this a great track for drifting, and the oil slicks add an extra challenging element.
43. Mario Circuit (GBA)
Some of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe‘s GBA and SNES reimaginings are downright incredible, but this one is pretty bland.
42. Cheese Land
Cheese Land has a pretty wacky setting compared to standard Mario Kart fare, but the track itself is not a very exhilarating racing experience.
41. Mario Circuit (Wii U)
Who cares about three Rainbow Roads when you have two Mario Circuits? The gliding portion at the end where you serpentine through Goomba stacks is my favorite part of this track.
40. Bone-Dry Dunes
So. Much. Sand.
39. Piranha Plant Slide
A fast-paced track from Mario Kart 7 (which is still selling like bananas) with tons of tight turns and narrow jumps. Piranha Plants are the most annoying track hazards on Earth, but otherwise, this is a good time.
38. Water Park
Roaring in and out of the water is delightful, and getting that last glider portion just right is a great feeling.
37. Twisted Mansion
Twisted Mansion uses trippy visuals to its advantage with corkscrewing hallways, wavy track segments, and an underwater area that defies a bit more gravity than the game normally does.
36. Moo Moo Meadows
Moo Moo Meadows does a great job carrying on the spirit of Moo Moo Farm, a course I always loved in Mario Kart 64. Gopher speed bumps and roaming cows give an unpredictable edge to an otherwise peaceful stage.
35. Dry Dry Desert
Dry Dry Desert was a fine stage in Mario Kart: Double Dash, and now it has been spiced up a bit with an added oasis.
34. Dolphin Shoals
Dolphin Shoals has a few very satisfying drifts, and you can do tricks while driving on a giant Unagi. What’s not to love?
33. Shy Guy Falls
A pretty standard track, except you get to drive up and down waterfalls, which is one of the coolest things in the whole game.
32. Cheep Cheep Beach
Bright, sunny beach tracks are a series staple. Cheep Cheep Beach manages to bring some welcome variety with a boardwalk, the beach itself, and a long dirt road. The three zones vary in looks as well as in gameplay, with each area set up for different driving styles and skills.
31. Sweet Sweet Canyon
I have a sweet spot (get it?) for this level because it reminds me of my favorite Super Mario Galaxy area, the Sweet Sweet Galaxy.