Mario Kart 64 is one of the most iconic games of all time. On the great console that is the Nintendo 64, Mario Kart 64 provided many children in the 1990s and 2000s with hours of fun and excitement.

While 16 tracks may sound like a small amount by modern day standards, back in the 1990s, this was a huge amount. But not all tracks were equal, with each having their own intricacies. In this article, we rank all 16 tracks, starting from the worst and counting down to the best.

All of the videos used in this article come courtesy of YouTube user @DeafRetroVideoGamer – who we thank dearly for their uploads. Feel free to have a watch, and remind yourself of the good times.

16. Moo Moo Meadows

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This might be a somewhat controversial choice as the worst track on Mario Kart 64, but when it comes down to it, there just isn’t much going on in this track.

The wide meadow means there is plenty of track to play with, and in fairness, there is a risk-reward element due to the moles that jump out endlessly, but other than this, it’s a rather boring track!

15. Luigi Raceway

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Luigi Raceway, as the first race, is intended to ease the player in, providing a nice simple track that is in the classic figure of 8. It certainly does it’s job, but as the player tries other tracks, they find out that Luigi Raceway is rather boring!

With that said, it is an interesting track that lays the foundation for hours and hours of Mario Kart fun. Sadly, it doesn’t do much more than that.

14. Rainbow Road

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Again, potentially a controversial one, but Rainbow Road – all eight minutes of it – just goes on and on, and on again. It is the last track of all, and it is enough to make anyone stretch for the “off” button on the console.

The track is quite repetitive, visually hurts and the sharks going round is just about the only pitfall on the track. Future iterations of Rainbow Road were much better!

13. Kalimari Desert

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Kalimari Desert is another rather boring track. Having to avoid the train is always entertaining, but this only truly happens once per race. If it does happen again, you’re left cursing your luck, especially as it often coincides with the computer managing “by chance” to get the Ghost power-up.

There is the chance on a day where you are bored to neglect a race and follow the train tracks to discover a new part of the game, but this is about as interesting as it gets here!

12. Choco Mountain

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Choco Mountain is an interesting course, and rather unique. Being surrounded by chocolate, we weave around various corners. It is certainly a unique track.

What makes the course interesting is towards the end, where the player needs to avoid boulders, as well as falling down a hill onto a part of the track that sets you back half a minute or so.

11. Koopa Troopa Beach

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Koopa Troopa Beach is an interesting track. As the name suggests, we race around a beach, with trees, crabs and deep water to avoid. There is some enjoyment, as the course features lots of overtaking chances and quick corners.

The most exciting part is a hidden cave that you can attempt to jump into via a ramp. It normally requires a mushroom to get in, but if you are able to get one, it is worth holding onto ready for the cave!

10. Frappe Snowland

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The one snow-based course on this list – Frappe Snowland – comes in at number 10. This is an interesting course. If you drive on the snow off the main track, you are slowed down, whilst the cavern-like twisty tunnel near the end of the track is fun.

The upbeat music adds to the atmosphere, but the middle of the track shouldn’t be underestimated. There are a huge range of small snowmen on the track, and driving into one can ruin a race in an instant.

9. Wario Stadium

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Wario Stadium is the second-longest track on the game, and is based on a dirt-track like course. While some may complain about the length of the race, we get huge bumps, tight corners and wide tracks.

The most entertaining part is a jump that players have to do towards the end. Mistime the jump and you are taken back to an earlier point in the track. When on multiplayer mode, this brings an excellent chance for true Mario Kart skullduggery to come out; many of us would hold back, get the lightning power-up and then just as our brother was about to make the jump, use the lightning and put them back to an earlier point in the track.

8. D.K.’s Jungle Parkway

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We are getting to the business end now, with all tracks in the top half well-deserving of their places. Donkey Kong’s Jungle Parkway is a great track. There is a big jump early on, where your race can be ruined before it’s even truly started, if you aren’t careful.

Then we have weird rock-like hazards that bounce off of you if you dare drive onto the grass. There is a long bridge too near the end of the track, and then a final tunnel. There is a lot of variety on this course, and it will always entertain.

7. Banshee Boardwalk

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Banshee Boardwalk offers a rather unique course. It is one of the courses that require more skill – there are tight turns, narrow roads, and the darkness too. It is definitely different to any other track.

With its mysterious and dark music accompanying the above, it offers a true test for any Mario Kart aficionado. Its lack of popularity is testament to this!

6. Sherbert Land

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Sherbert Land is an interesting track. There are endless hazards in the way – with penguins all over the course, diving and running – ready to ruin any race. Fall into the large freezing water, and you come back as a block of ice.

The middle section of the track features a difficult tunnel, where skill is certainly required. It may not be among the most popular tracks on the game, but it is worth its place here!

5. Mario Raceway

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The iconic Mario Raceway comes home in fifth place. Mario is the main character across the franchise, and it’s only right that his home track is a true karting-style track.

There are tight corners, long straights to overtake competitors, and mushrooms abound too. While some may accuse it of being boring, it is a fitting track for the king himself, Mario.

4. Bowser’s Castle

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Bowser’s Castle is a true classic. It is a long course that has virtually everything – jumps, stairs, hazards, thwomps, lava, a courtyard and even portraits of Bowser himself!

Bowser’s Castle is great fun, and provides so much variety and is a tough challenge. Definitely one of the game’s best tracks!

3. Royal Raceway

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Royal Raceway is another long course, and involves more tight turns, plenty of power-up opportunities and general high-speed racing.

There is a lot of water, and towards the end of the track, we get to engage in the biggest jump on the game. Then for those heading off-track, they can go and discover the grounds of Princess Peach’s castle. It offers something extra!

Royal Raceway is certainly an excellent track, and with a lot of different elements to it – deserves a place in the top 3 on this list!

2. Toad’s Turnpike

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Toad’s Turnpike is an absolute all-time classic. A track like this was well ahead of its time. The course is set on a busy motorway, with moving cars causing hazards – causing utter chaos.

But younger versions of ourselves would always question – how are the computer’s drivers ending up with power-ups, despite never veering into the lay-by’s to get them. Ultimately though, this is just a minor blip!

Attempting this on mirror mode offers an enormous challenge, with even the best Mario Kart drivers falling at this course. If you’re truly unlucky, you may end up being hit by multiple vehicles in a row. Legend has it that some are still stuck in that vicious cycle.

1. Yoshi Valley

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But topping the list is Yoshi Valley. Multiple paths available, a range of hazards to avoid and a secret of the positioning that each player is, Yoshi Valley has it all.

The naysayers will argue that once you’ve driven the track enough, that you can tell where everyone is – but this isn’t always the truth, and there is always an element of surprise.

Without doubt, Yoshi Valley provides the player with everything they could want, and is full of excitement. It is deserving of its place as the best track on the game.

The Takeaway

Mario Kart 64 is truly one of the best games of all time. All 16 tracks provided hours of entertainment for millions of children, each presenting their own particular challenge.

Fortunately, the Mario Kart franchise has kept on rolling, with the Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo Switch all having their own versions. But there will always be something special about Mario Kart 64.