Mario Kart 64 is the Louis CK of 90s nostalgia; it’s universally hailed as transcendent, yet is undoubtedly deserving of the ridiculously high praise it consistently receives.
Given that people will probably scroll through this to reconnect with their favorite levels, I’ve decided to rank them in order. The rankings thing is merely an excuse to talk about Mario Kart (seemed like the best way to get people to click), and is by no means scientific. It’s still technically a ranking however, because we all know that Mario Raceway was terrible. In fact, Mario Raceway was so bad that I intentionally made this a 15 item ranking so Mario Raceway wouldn’t make the cut.
Below, a proper summation of each level; what made it great, or what made it more annoying than an overly loud chewer. Hopefully, the questionable nature of these rankings will spur a nice, more #crowdsourced one in the comments.
15. Luigi’s Raceway
Never really got behind this one. Generic, no cool shortcuts, and that one tunnel was way too easy a place to shell people.
14. Yoshi’s Valley
Some people loved the mystery aspect of Yoshi’s maze, but it very much reminded me of what Inception would’ve been like if Christopher Nolan hadn’t done it; overambitious, way too complex for its own good, and a giant egg of mystery with a terrible payoff.
13. Rainbow Road
I imagine there will be a strong majority of people who vehemently disagree. I’m not asking you to agree with me here, but I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks Rainbow Road was vastly overrated. Because if we’re keeping up with movie analogies, Rainbow Road was like Pirates Of The Caribbean 3; hyped up and supposed to be great, but ultimately 5 hours too long.
Not to mention, the length of Rainbow Road meant that by the last lap, people would often be way too spread out to keep things interesting.
12. Royal Raceway
Was simply too #onbrand. Limited by the restrictions of Mario Kart advertorial, don’t think this level was really ever able to get out there an explore its true artistic voice.
11. Sherbert Land
Great name, kinda annoying level.
10. Bowser’s Castle
Bowser’s castle is most definitely a solid level, and was actually 9th in these rankings. The only reason why it’s 10th is because I thought it’d be weird to have the 2 snow levels back to back. And the only reason why it’s not higher is because this level is way too frustrating. Back in the days when I used to show emotion, my 10 year-old self once got so upset at this level that he threw his controller and broke it.
9. Frappe Snowland
A decidedly “pleasant” level. Not too dicey, not too simple. Can’t not respect a solid snow shower.
8. Moo Moo Farm
The music did a great job in making this level playable. Much like a terrible movie that comes on TV, you can’t help but seeing this one out. You’re in it, you might as well embrace it.
7. Wario Stadium
Was always great to utilize the sneaky shortcut here; a great litmus test for the future, when you’re figuring out which of your friends you can trust in a business venture.
6. Kalimari Desert
You gotta respect a level that’s a pun of a South African desert.
5. Banshee Boardwalk
Perhaps the most formidable level out there. Treacherous gauntlet of doom. Like a hated rival company that’s admittedly doing a really good job, you can’t help but begrudgingly admire.
4. Toad’s Turnpike
Couldn’t get enough of this level. Felt like a road trip in video game form. Only thing missing was the prolonged debate about which supporting character from Breaking Bad has the best chance to have a monster career.
3. DK’s Jungle Parkway
Pleasant scenery. You feel like you’re on vacation when you take a ride on DK’s Jungle Parkway. You also get reminded that you’re a shitty tourist every time you try to venture off and truly experience the jungle.
2. Choco Mountain
I hope the guy who composed the Choco Mountain theme music still gets considerable royalties.
In addition to being having the best jams hands down, Choco defintiely didn’t wait for anyone. A level predicated on crazed intensity. More bumps than Jordan Belfort.
1. Koopa Troopa Beach
Koopa Troopa beach had it all; solid scenery, solid music, enough difficultly, a great shortcut, a shortcut that was also predicated on strategic maneuvering, and a course that was short enough to always guarantee some real excitement.
The 5 tool player of Mario Kart level.