The tracks or courses are the locations in Mario Kart on which races are held. Many have been revamped or featured in retro cups.
Types of courses
Throughout the series, courses come in many forms depending on its theme;
Circuits and Stadiums
Circuit are the most basic form of racetracks. As its name implies, these courses resemble typical go-kart circuits with less gimmicks and little to no obstacles. It is usually found on Mushroom Cup and Flower Cup. In most games, circuits usually shares the same theme music.
Stadium are less common than circuits and made its debut in Mario Kart 64. These courses usually contain several gimmicks than circuits and often ramps to make jumps. Stadiums are mostly featured in Star Cup or Special Cup, although the one in Mario Kart 8 is instead the opening of Mushroom Cup.
This is the most common, recurring theme throughout the Mario Kart courses. Off-road courses vary depending on the game, ranging from simple, circuit-like track to complicated, challenging courses with lots of gimmicks and obstacle. Most courses are in off-road form, and is usually found in across all cups, at least one.
Beach-themed courses appear since the original game and as its name implies, it takes place on a shore or near the coast. The water usually serve as a hazard where racers could fall into. There are some exception in Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8 where racers can drive underwater.
These courses are basically off-road tracks taking place in a snowy weather. The tracks' surfaces are usually slippery and can make karts spin out if driving carelessly. It is also more difficult to drift in these tracks.
Every game except Mario Kart: Super Circuit has four cups with new tracks. Its fifth cup, the Lightning Cup, is actually the third cup in that game. In Mario Kart DS, these are known as Nitro Cups.
Mushroom Cup is the easiest Grand Prix cup, with the easiest tracks to complete. It is the first cup in every game. The courses of this cup consists only of simple layout without much gimmicks.
The Flower Cup is the second cup in every Mario Kart game. The courses are a little more difficult than those of the Mushroom Cup and features few gimmicks and challenges. All games feature a Mario Circuit in this cup except for Mario Kart DS, which had its Mario Circuit in the Star Cup instead.
The Lightning Cup was only used as an original cup in Mario Kart: Super Circuit, in addition to the standard four. It is the third cup out of five in the game. DS onwards would reuse the Lightning Cup as the final cup of the Retro Grand Prix.
|N/A||Cheep Cheep Island||N/A|
The Star Cup is the second to last cup in all Mario Kart games. It contains more gimmicks, obstacles, and challenges than the previous two. Most games feature an ice/snow course in this cup.
The Special Cup is the final trophy in all Mario Kart games, featuring, unique, long and challenging courses with lots of gimmicks. In all but the first two games, the second to last course is Bowser's Castle. In all games, the final track is the Rainbow Road, the track to end all races.
Mario Kart 64 is the only game in the series in which the Special Cup is unlocked at the start of the game.
Original Battle Stages
The original battle stages are arenas filled with certian obstacles, such as off road sections, walls, and hazards, like Crabs. These obstacles can lead to being hit by items. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is the only game to have unlockable battle courses. Mario Kart 8 is the only Mario Kart to have tracks as battle courses.
- *=Grand Prix track playable in battle mode
Games from DS onwards feature four retro cups and a retro section in battle mode. Retro courses and arenas are recreations of those found in older games. Colored squares indicate the original game for each course and arena in this section. Note that the Lightning Cup was first and only used as an original cup for Super Circuit.
The structure for the tracks used in each Retro cup, based on the originating game, is as follows:
- Mario Kart DS: As the fifth installment in the Mario Kart series, each retro cup in this game features tracks from the four previous titles in chronological order: Super, 64, Super Circuit and Double Dash!! Retro battle courses, however, are limited to one stage from 64 and another from Double Dash!!
- Mario Kart Wii: Each retro cup features one track from 64, one from Double Dash!! and another from DS. The Shell Cup and Lightning Cup each feature a track from Super, while the Banana Cup and Leaf Cup each feature a track from Super Circuit. Contrary to the DS retro cups, the track order for each Wii retro cup varies instead of being in chronological order (the only constant pattern is that any cup with a Super Circuit course has it second). For battle stages, one from each of the five previous games is available.
- Mario Kart 7: Each retro cup features one track from DS and another from Wii. Every cup except the Lightning Cup features a 64 track. The only Super Circuit retro track appears in the Shell Cup. The Banana Cup and Lightning Cup each feature a Super track. Finally, the Leaf Cup and Lightning Cup each feature a Double Dash!! track. Cups with a 64 track always start with that track. The order varies for the other tracks. Battle stages are from Super Circuit, 64 and DS respectively.
- Mario Kart 8: Every cup features an N64 course. All cups have a course from 7 except the Shell Cup, which instead has the only course from Super Circuit in the game. All cups have a DS course except the Banana Cup, which instead has the only course from Super in the game. The Shell and Lightning Cups each have a Wii course and the Banana and Leaf Cups each have a Double Dash course. The course order once again is random, however all the cups have their 64 course last except the Banana Cup which has it third instead. Retro battle courses are not actually courses initially used for battle; however are retro Grand-Prix courses in the game that have been slightly adjusted be more suitable for Balloon Battle. The course from Super, both the courses from Double Dash, one of the two courses from Wii, and two of the four courses from 64 appear as playable battle stages in this game.
Overall, nine courses from Super Mario Kart, fifteen courses from Mario Kart 64, eight courses from Mario Kart: Super Circuit, twelve courses from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, eleven from Mario Kart DS, six from Mario Kart Wii, and three from Mario Kart 7 have been returned, for a total of sixty-four retro courses.
However, only ten battle courses have been remade as retro battle courses; one from Super Mario Kart, three from Mario Kart 64, two from Mario Kart: Super Circuit, two from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, and two from Mario Kart DS. None from Mario Kart Wii or Mario Kart 7 have returned.
|■ SNES||■ GCN||■ N64||■ Wii|
|■ N64||■ DS||■ GBA||■ GBA|
|■ GBA||■ SNES||■ Wii||■ DS|
|■ GCN||■ N64||■ DS||■ N64|
Most tracks in the Banana Cup debuted in the Flower Cup. Many, however, originated in the Mushroom Cup: the first track in DS, 7, and 8, the second track in Wii and 7, and the last track in DS. Sherbet Land and Royal Raceway come from the Star Cup. DK Jungle and Donut Plains 3 come from the Special Cup.
|■ SNES||■ N64||■ N64||■ GCN|
|■ N64||■ GBA||■ SNES||■ SNES|
|■ GBA||■ DS||■ Wii||■ N64|
|■ GCN||■ GCN||■ DS||■ 3DS|
The Leaf Cup also gets most of it's courses from the Flower Cup. However, the second course in Wii, 7, and 8 as well as the last course in 7 come from the Star Cup of their game. Another pattern is that the first course in DS, and 8 as well as the last course in 8 come from the Special Cup. The only Mushroom Cup course to appear in this cup is Kalimari Desert. Luigi Circuit came from Super Circuit's Lightning Cup.
|■ SNES||■ DS||■ N64||■ DS|
|■ N64||■ GBA||■ DS||■ GCN|
|■ GBA||■ N64||■ GCN||■ 3DS|
|■ GCN||■ GCN||■ Wii||■ N64|
From DS onwards, the Lightning Cup is used as a retro cup. The majority of tracks were originally featured in the Star Cup. However, the second track in DS, Wii, and 7 and the last in 7 and 8 originate from the Special Cup. Also, the first track for Wii is Mario Circuit 3, which was originally found in the Flower Cup. Lastly, the third track in DS is Sky Garden, which was initially in Super Circuit's Lightning Cup.
|■ SNES||■ SNES||■ Wii||■ DS|
|■ N64||■ DS||■ GCN||■ 3DS|
|■ GBA||■ GCN||■ DS||■ Wii|
|■ GCN||■ N64||■ SNES||■ N64|
Retro Battle Stages
Ten battle stages have been remade throughout Mario Kart DS, Wii and 7. In Mario Kart 8, six retro tracks were adjusted to be more suitable for Balloon Battle. The retro battle courses are no different from last time they appeared, having the same course layout as before, but in a different look.
|■ N64||■ SNES||■ GBA||■ Wii|
|■ GCN||■ GBA||■ N64||■ GCN|
|N/A||■ N64||■ DS||■ SNES|
|N/A||■ GCN||N/A||■ N64|
|N/A||■ DS||N/A||■ GCN|
- *=Grand Prix track playable in battle mode
In Mario Kart 8, there are four more cups, combined into 2 packs. Each pack costs $7.99 while buying both costs at a discounted price of $11.99. These are the DLC cups. Over half of the DLC courses feature other game series, such as the Legend of Zelda series, the F-Zero Series and the Animal Crossing series. It also brings back a couple of retro courses, making them the first cups in the entire Mario Kart series to combine retro and nitro courses.
The Egg Cup is a cup that appears in Mario Kart 8 as part of the The Legend of Zelda × Mario Kart 8 DLC pack. The emblem of the cup is a green Yoshi Egg. None of the tracks in this cup feature any underwater sections. It features a retro course and three new courses, making it the first cup in the entire Mario Kart series to combine retro and nitro courses.
The Triforce Cup is a cup that appears in Mario Kart 8 as part of the The Legend of Zelda × Mario Kart 8 DLC pack. The emblem of the cup is the Triforce from the Legend of Zelda series. It features two retro and nitro courses. It is the first and only cup so far to feature a Rainbow Road course that is not the final race. Along with the Egg Cup, none of the tracks in this cup feature any underwater sections.
The Crossing Cup is a cup that appears in Mario Kart 8 as part of the Animal Crossing × Mario Kart 8 DLC pack. The emblem of the cup is the leaf from the Animal Crossing series. It also features two retro and nitro courses.
The Bell Cup is a cup that appears in Mario Kart 8 as part of the Animal Crossing × Mario Kart 8 DLC pack. The emblem of the cup is the Super Bell from Super Mario 3D World. It also features two retro and nitro courses.
In Mario Kart: Super Circuit, there are Extra Cups, which are ports of Super Mario Kart tracks, which are unlocked by having the gold trophy in the Special Cup of that Engine Class, playing the cup again, and getting 100 coins in the respective cup. For example, upon completing the Special Cup, a player goes back and plays the Mushroom Cup and collects more than 100 coins, they will unlock the Extra Mushroom Cup.
Each extra track has not been scaled up from Super Mario Kart, remaining the same relative size; this results in the old system of 5 laps instead of 3. Additionally, most hazards have been removed, including pipes and Thwomps.
Extra Mushroom Cup
|Mario Circuit 1|
|Donut Plains 1|
|Ghost Valley 1|
|Bowser Castle 1|
Extra Flower Cup
|Mario Circuit 2|
|Choco Island 1|
|Ghost Valley 2|
|Donut Plains 2|
Extra Lightning Cup
|Bowser Castle 2|
|Mario Circuit 3|
|Koopa Beach 1|
|Choco Island 2|
Extra Star Cup
|Vanilla Lake 1|
|Bowser Castle 3|
|Mario Circuit 4|
|Donut Plains 3|
Extra Special Cup
|Koopa Beach 2|
|Ghost Valley 3|
|Vanilla Lake 2|