Mario Kart 8’s decade-long life cycle is finally coming to an end. On June 12, Nintendo will drop the penultimate wave of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s Booster Course Pass DLC, adding another handful of retro courses to the already-loaded racing game. It’ll follow that up with one final update later this year, capping off a long post-launch cycle for one of the finest multiplayer games ever made.
While we wait to hear what Wave 6 will bring, Mario Kart fans are left with one final debate: Which classic tracks deserve the final few spots? There are only eight more courses coming, but there are still plenty of great tracks from the franchise’s long history that are worthy of a modern remake. From a SNES classic to one of the best iterations of Rainbow Road, we put together our own wish list of courses we’d like to see make the cut before Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s grand finale later this year.
Ghost Valley (Super Mario Kart)
Super Mario Kart tracks aren’t exactly great fodder for modern racing games. The SNES classic was very limited in scope, featuring a collection of flat courses with light set dressing. Even so, I always appreciate seeing Nintendo modernize some of the series’ most iconic courses. If any SNES track is going to get that kind of remake, my vote is for Ghost Valley. The sparse, but memorable series of tracks has players racing around an eerie, wooden area surrounded by Boos. There aren’t many tricks or twists, but it’s an atmospheric level that still sticks with me to this day. Considering that Ghost Valley 1 got a remake in Mario Kart Tourit’s not out of the question that Nintendo could bring that version over in Wave 6.
Luigi Circuit (Mario Kart: Super Circuit)
On paper, Game Boy Advance track Luigi Circuit doesn’t look too special. It’s a flat track that’s only visual claim to fame is a massive blimp floating in the distance. However, it contains a specific weather gimmick that makes it special. Races unfold under rainy conditions and the road is filled with puddles that can make karts spin out. That alone is a fun (and frustrating) challenge, but what I especially appreciate about Luigi Circuit is its use of tight turns that make it feel more like a real go-kart track. It’s not the most complex track, but it has the potential to be a high-skill course in the context of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe that makes good use of its drifting mechanics.
Koopa Troopa Beach (Mario Kart 64)
The Mario Kart 64 course Koopa Troopa Beach will always be one of my favorites despite its simplicity. It’s a memorable seaside race filled with jumps, crabs, and one of the series’ most elegant shortcuts. A glow-up wouldn’t be too far out of the question either. A remade version of Koopa Troopa Beach appeared in Mario Kart 7turning its hole-in-the-wall shortcut into a much bigger ordeal. A Mario Kart 8 Deluxe version wouldn’t have to do much more, simply letting players soak in some beach vibes as they drift around the shore.
Airship Fortress (Mario Kart DS)
If I had to pick only one course from this list to actually get a spot, my vote would probably go towards Airship Fortress. The Nintendo DS track is one of the series’ best, sending zooming racers in and around Bowser’s airship. It’s a multilayered course that’s full of gimmicks pulled straight out of Super Mario Bros. 3. Players dodge Bullet Bills, weave through Monty Moles, dodge flame bars, and blast out of the ship’s cannon into a destroyed tower. It’s a full-on Mario amusement park ride that could only stand to get more exciting with a modern reimagining.
Dolphin Square (Mario Kart DS)
As a Super Mario Sunshine apologist, I’ll always fight to see references to the GameCube adventure preserved in other Mario games. I don’t just want to see the Nintendo DS’ Delfino Square remade for nostalgia’s sake, though. It’s a legitimately strong course that has players drifting through the vacation city’s streets with finesse. After passing by some seaside fruit stands, the sight-seeing trip ends with a final jump over a raised bridge, capping off one of the series’ stronger city-based maps. Delfino Square has a warm, sunny vibe that feels like a natural fit for the Switch game’s peppy art style. And who wouldn’t want to hear the original’s pleasant accordion music reorchestrated?
DK Mountain (Mario Kart: Double Dash)
DK Mountain is one of those Mario Kart tracks that I don’t think I’ll ever forget about. That’s mostly thanks to its iconic gimmick: a huge barrel that blasts racers into the sky. That alone makes it a classic worth revisiting, but there’s a lot more to DK Mountain than its big set piece. The Donkey Kong track is a complex jungle gauntlet filled with exciting challenges. A downward race down a mountain opens up into a tough series of hairpin turns — a task made even harder as racers try to dodge falling rocks at the same time. It ends with a final trek across a long wooden bridge that tilts as karts ride across it. It’s an expertly designed course and the best Donkey Kong-themed one the entire series has to offer.
Bowser’s Castle (Mario Kart: Double Dash)
You could make the argument that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe doesn’t need another version of Bowser’s Castle and that the final eight spots should be reserved for fresher ideas. While I wouldn’t disagree, the GameCube version of Bowser’s Castle is so well-designed that it deserves a spot. The tricky race has players dodging all kinds of obstacles, from hallways filled with giant Thwomps to a fire-breathing Bowser statue that moves between lanes. Like Airship Fortress, it’s a great adaptation of the platforming series’ traditional “boss” zones. It’s a tough final challenge that I’d expect out of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe‘s final cup.
Rainbow Road (Mario Kart Wii)
While there are several iterations of Rainbow Road already in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, it’s only fitting that its final track be another incarnation of it. It’s a toss-up between the Double Dash and Wii versions, but the latter gets my vote. The excellent track gets the edge thanks in no small part to its Super Mario Galaxy theming, giving it even more star power than usual. Beyond that, though, the Wii’s Rainbow Road is a colorful space odyssey filled with boost gates, branching paths, shortcuts, and spectacular jumps. It’s not just one of the best versions of Rainbow Road, but one of Mario Kart’s best tracks period. If anything deserves the honor of closing Mario Kart 8‘s life out, it’s this.