Timothy Moore
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Top 5 Best Mario Kart Wii Courses: A Definitive Ranking

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yoshi - mario kart wii

Yoshi giving you the peek-a-boo

Mario Kart Wii may have come out nearly ten years ago in 2008 (this sentence has already made me feel old), but it is still my favorite version of Mario Kart, which originally launched in 1992 (and now I’m ancient) for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Since Mario Kart Wii’s arrival on the scene, Nintendo has subsequently released Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8. While I have played both (Mario Kart 8 quite regularly) and enjoy elements of each, Mario Kart Wii still holds the most special place in my coin-shaped heart.


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Who knows, maybe Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which comes out for the Nintendo Switch, on April 28, 2017, will fling a blue shell right at Mario Kart Wii and earn its rightful spot at the top of my list? But until I actually play it (and cough up the cash for the Switch, which I’m potentially going to do nearer to Christmas), I’m going to remain the Yoshi-loving, Mario Kart Wii-playing fanboy that I am.

This, however, led me to the ultimate question—what are the best Mario Kart Wii courses, and why?

And so I did what any good journalist should do: research. I sat down recently with one of my best friends and the game I love, and together, she and I tackled every course in order on Mario Kart Wii. I, of course, played with Yoshi on the Mach Bike, and she chose Luigi (not my go-to, but he’s a solid contender), also on the Mach Bike. The important thing to remember here is that no one, absolutely no one, played as Peach. After my extensive research (and quite a few beers because, like any true Mario Kart player, we treated several of the courses as Beerio Karts), I have developed a definitive ranking of the five best Mario Kart Wii courses*.

*Like a true professional, my decisions were not influenced by alcohol.

Top 5 Best Mario Kart Wii Courses (Plus Bonus Honorable Mentions)

Mario Kart Wii - Maple Treeway

Maple Treeway, cleverly featuring Diddy Kong behind the wheel

5. Maple Treeway

Mario Kart Wii’s Maple Treeway course takes racers through actual treetops in a forest, set in the autumn (though it would be extra awesome if you could select a season manually like you can for Animal Crossing in Mario Kart 8—or if it could sense your current season based on your location and update accordingly). You’ll race through piles of leaves—some hiding mushroom boosts or banana peels—and through giant centipede things, called Wigglers, that look eerily similar to the Disney Channel cartoon Rolie Polie Olie.

mario wiggler rolie polie olie lookalike

Wiggler on the left, Rolie Polie Olie on the right…see what I mean?

Why I like Maple Treeway: This course is completely new to the Mario Kart series in the Wii version and is one of the lengthier ones. Aesthetically, it’s rather pleasing, and it’s got lots of good opportunities for passing (the Wiggler area, some of the large tree branches, and the descent at the end of the course).

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Mario Kart Wii - Rainbow Road

Rainbow Road with Waluigi

4. Rainbow Road

No ranking of the top Mario Kart courses could really be complete without mention of Rainbow Road. Of all the Rainbow Roads in existence, the Mario Kart Wii Rainbow Road is my favorite—or at least tied for my favorite with the one from Mario Kart 64. Like most Rainbow Road iterations, this version contains almost no railings. It’s also got a giant descent right at the top of the race, and really requires several good weaving maneuvers to avoid faling off.

Why I like Rainbow Road: Rainbow Road is certainly one of the most challenging courses for Mario Kart Wii, though Wario’s Goldmine gives it a good run for its money. I also like the particular views that this Rainbow Road offers, which makes for a pretty ride—though you should never take your eyes off the road when it comes to Rainbow Road.

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Mario Kart Wii - Coconut Mall

Coconut Mall with the titular Mario Kart character

3. Coconut Mall

For a guy who hates shopping, I sure do love Coconut Mall in Mario Kart Wii. You’ll have to go up and down escalators to get ahead, and racers can ramp over fountains and weave through traffic outside the mall in a much more enjoyable way than courses like Moonview Highway and Toad’s Turnpike allow for. The music in this course is also pretty catchy.

Why I like Coconut Mall: Coconut Mall has an upbeat vibe to it, and I like the challenge of the switching escalators each lap. The upward ramp near the end of the course also provides for some solid air time, which isn’t hindered by the addition of gliders, which came into play in Mario Kart 7. Don’t get me wrong—the gliders can be fun, but in retro courses where we were meant to enjoy the fast jumps, we now just glide along when playing those classic courses on the new versions of Mario Kart.

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Mario Kart Wii - Koopa Cape

Koopa Cape, featuring none other than Mr. Koopa himself

2. Koopa Cape

Koopa Cape takes you along a cliff side and down a river, with the water’s current actually adding to your speed; if they had let us play Koopa Cape in physics class, maybe I would’ve understood things a little better. After diving down a waterfall, racers drive through an underwater tube before being spat out near the finish line.

Why I like Koopa Cape: I’m not sure if my love of Koopa Cape comes from how much that aforementioned best friend loves it (it’s her favorite), and the fact that it makes me happy to see her so happy playing it. Or maybe it’s because it feels extra good to beat her on her favorite course, which rarely happens. All that aside, Koopa Cape is a fun course, with ample opportunities to get ahead and make some bold moves.

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Mario Kart Wii - N64 Bowser's Castle

N64 Bowser’s Castle, with Bowser at the wheel

1. N64 Bowser’s Castle

My absolute favorite course actually comes from the Nintendo 64 version of Mario Kart, Mario Kart 64, reimagined for the Wii version. This course is incredibly long and takes you down several twists and turns through the castle and outside it, leading to a climb up one of the turrets to the top of the castle, before jumping over the lake of lava.

Why I like N64 Bowser’s Castle: Frankly, I’m really good at this course and rarely lose, and that’s reason enough to like it. Aside from that, this course is really long, which makes it the kind of race where things can change dramatically, several times over. I also enjoy the spiral turret climb at the end for some reason, as well as the thrill of dodging all the thwomps.

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Mario Kart Wii - GCN DK Mountain

The angry-faced volcano of GCN DK Mountain

Honorable Mentions

Though they didn’t make my top five cut, the following three deserve a special shout-out:

  • Toad’s Factory: In the Mushroom Cup, Toad’s Factory is a true standout for its level of difficulty and innovative concept.
  • DS Peach Gardens: It’s true, I despise all things Peach. But she’s got some damn pretty flowers growing outside her castle, guarded by some pretty massive chain chomps.
  • GCN DK Mountain: I just love how angry the face on the volcano is. Nice touch by Nintendo there.

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  • Timothy MooreManaging Editor

    Timothy Moore takes his leadership inspiration from Michael Scott, his writing inspiration from Mark Twain, and his dancing inspiration from every drunk white guy at a wedding. When Tim is not writing about cars, he’s working on his novel or reading someone else’s, geeking out over strategy board games, hiking with his pooch, or channeling his inner Linda Belcher over beers with his friends. See more articles by Timothy.