By Sam Jarvis
You know that feeling you get when you turn on your N64 (after you wait, blow in the cartridge, turn it off and on again, unplug and plug it back in) and it finally shows you that gold Nintendo logo spinning on its axis like a dizzying beacon of god damn hope?
I’m a 90s kid, and as an adult I smoke marijuana so it should surprise ABSOLUTELY NO ONE that I own a Nintendo 64. And in my constant state of trying to advance feminism but realizing with every beauty blender I buy I’m holding it back, the only game I ever liked was Mario Kart. I’m a girl, I can’t help it. (Gloria Steinem please accept my apology!!!)
And because it’s the only game I’ve ever cared about, it holds a special place in my heart which I believe allows me to make extremely informed and accurate decisions on the game itself. (Now is probably the time to admit that I EXCLUSIVELY play with Bowser and have no fucking idea why. I just do. I like that he’s big and can run into shit and is fine.)
So here it is, after all of you BEGGED me to put together this list (no one asked at all), the definitive ranking of N64 Mario Kart tracks.
1) Koopa Troopa Beach
It’s everybody’s favorite, maybe because of the tunnel shortcut, maybe because of the little crab lane shortcut, or maybe because it’s on a fucking beach and all my beaches love me all my all my beaches love me. Nobody know why. It’s just the best.
2) Moo Moo Farm
This is where you begin to learn that I like things that are easy. Oh I’m sorry, are you a human of substance that appreciates a hard-earned goal? I’m more of a meh, that sounds difficult kind of human. Dodge the gofers and this course is smooth sailing.
3) Frappe Snowland
I’m a Chicago girl. I love snow. Not ice and penguins like in Sherbet Land (I’LL GET TO YOU MUCH LATER, SHERBET LAND) but snow and snowmen! I have a pretty good route worked out to get around the fucking land mine area, so I enjoy this course.
4) Wario Stadium
I know there’s a shortcut in this but I can’t FOR THE LIFE OF ME ever get it to work. I just launch myself into the fucking wall over and over again. But Wario’s got moguls and all kinds of fun bumps and turns and shit, so it seems to be a crowd favorite.
5) Luigi Raceway
I have literally nothing to say about Luigi Raceway besides I can win it so I like it.
6) Kalimari Desert
Kalimari desert is the middle sibling of Mushroom Cup. Ya, I said it. It’s like, FINE, the trains can be fun (particularly if you get past one but everyone else has to wait- HA!), but overall it kind of lacks an identity. But I give it credit because if you veer off the track your kart drives VERY SLOWLY so I feel like it’s teaching me a good life lesson.
7) Rainbow Road
You gotta be in it for the long haul here, no doubt about that. But once you’ve mastered its high-flying short cut you can’t NOT like it. Shooting red shells sucks a fat dick in this one but you can really terrorize a bitch with the green ones.
8) Toad’s Turnpike
We are juuuuust getting into the section of this list where it turns from good feelings to bad. Toad’s Turnpike can be loads of fun if, say, you get forty stars in a row but if not, I find myself fending off semi trucks and an anxiety attack. I don’t know why, but this is the only course that gives me actual clinical anxiety and after it’s over I feel like my fight or flight instinct is lit the fuck UP. (I have no fight instinct. Just flight.)
9) Yoshi Valley
This guy’s got so many fun things going on, I’ll give it that. You never have any fucking clue what rank you are so you constantly have NO idea which path is the shortest, there are ten billion ledges to fall off of, and to top it off a GIANT DINO EGG just randomly flattens your ass. It’s all kinds of weird and I sort of like it, but sometimes as I’m tumbling down, down, down the side of a cliff I think to myself, “Hello darkness my old friend…”
10) DK’s Jungle Parkway
Honestly this one wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the coconuts that blast you in the side of the dome if you drive off the course. I know they don’t make you crash or anything but they set off a particular kind of RAGE in me. You guys get me.
11) Mario Raceway
Mario Raceway is JUST FINE. That is why it gets a semi-shit rank. It’s actually kind of fun but leaves no lasting impression on me at all, so to pay it back I’m placing it this far down the list. The green little tunnel is cute but that’s like, really all it has to offer.
12) Sherbet Land
Fuckin’ penguins, amiright?? I hate this course and am notoriously terrible at it. I can NEVER get through the little cave of cult-y penguins dancing around poles (wtf is that though, really) without hitting one, and it’s upsetting. I rarely fall into the actual ice water, but the penguins honestly have something against me and I know that I hate it by the fact that I shout, “FUCK.” no fewer than five times each time I’m on it.
13) Royal Raceway
I don’t like Mario Raceway. I just don’t. There’s water to fall into, and on that last big turn before the finish line I always go into the trees and my kart drives SO slowly and I just don’t like it, okay? Not my fave. Everyone’s like “but the big jump!!” I don’t get off on big jumps. I don’t give a shit about a big jump.
14) Choco Mountain
UGH. Right?? Ugh. Every time you TOUCH the side of a mountain it makes you stop dead in your tracks. It makes me, in a word, incensed. I also fall off the side of the little cliff probably once every three laps because Peach or some other piece of shit put a banana on the track and man I get lit up about it. Hate Choco, fuck Choco.
15) Bowser’s Castle
Now this one is embarrassing, because as you know I play with Bowser 100% of the time. So you’d at first think oh they probably make the Bowser character slightly better at this course and also aw look it’s your castle, I bet you love it. I do not love it. I CANNOT get past those blue fucking squares with the frowny faces on them. I just run right into them like the moron that I am. It is insanity and I always finish in like, 6th place.
16) Banshee Boardwalk
I would have to be wearing legit night vision goggles not to fall off the edge of this course. Maybe it’s because I play on a projector (NBD, Mario Kart is the size of my wall), but I can’t see A GOD DAMN THING on this course. I’m literally blindly driving in random directions until I fall into the water and that sad fucking cloud has to rescue me. I don’t remember hating it this much as a child so it must be the lighting or something in my apartment because honestly everyone that plays it at my house just keeps driving off the fucking banshee boardwalk and into the banshee water. So yes, technically I shouldn’t be mad at the level and should adjust something in my life so that I can actually see the course but did I mention I smoke marijuana? It’s not happening. It’s just not.
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