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I’m a big fan of Mario Kart 8, and with Crash Bandicoot and Sonic getting racing games this summer, I can’t help but hope for a Mario Kart 9 on the horizon. In no particular order, here’s nine tracks I’d like to see in the next entry.

1- Comet Observatory

A shot of the Comet Observatory in Super Mario Galaxy

Make sure to look both ways!

Super Mario Galaxy is one of the first real games I ever played and remains one of my favorite games of all time. In no small part due to the fact that I was incredibly into space as a kid, the Comet Observatory was fascinating to me: an incredibly tranquil, perfectly secure space station open to the sublime sky, populated by adorable star-shaped aliens, complete with a garden, fountain, and library. Of all the game worlds throughout my childhood, this captivated me the most. What better way to appreciate this beautiful and tranquil space station than to drive recklessly through it?

2- Mario Maker

Promotional art for Super Mario Maker 2

100% inspired by the Smash Bros. Stage

Super Mario Maker was a phenomenon. Aside from Little Big Planet and the recent Dreams, there aren’t many games with such a focus on User Generated Content. The recent Super Mario Maker 2 brought everything we loved from the previous game and added much more, so I say we celebrate it with a Mario Maker themed course. Imagine driving through the track seeing the road be built ahead of you, some sections of the track decorated in the styles of different games, shortcuts that change on a timer as they’re edited during the race. For maximum fidelity, add hidden blocks throughout the track for racers to run into.

3- Luncheon Kingdom

art of the Luncheon Kingdom from Super Mario Odyssey

I’ve always wondered if those rocks were edible…

Super Mario Odyssey was another recent success in the Mario franchise, and featured a variety of open kingdoms in which to run around and explore. Of all the kingdoms, the Luncheon Kingdom was the most unique and memorable for me, with a towering volcano used to cook soup and multicolored rocks that look like food. I think this could take the place of Grumble Volcano as its more colorful and charming replacement, and I can see this making a fun track with difficult shortcuts over lava and a gliding section over the volcano where we can get a nice view of the soup cooking over it.

4- World Map

a map of the mushroom kingdom, as seen in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

sizes probably not to scale

Looking through the course selection in previous Mario Kart games, many of them fit into three categories: tracks constructed to the liking of a major character (Mario/Luigi Circuit, Baby Park, Wario Stadium), places that represent areas from games (Dry Dry Desert and Bone-Dry ruins as World 2, Voshi valley as the setting for the Yoshi series), or new places modeled after other characters (Toad Factory/Harbor/Turnpike, Shy Guy Falls, Cheep Cheep Beach). Most of my entries on this list fit into none of these groups, but are reimaginings of places that appear in the actual games. This isn’t to say I think Nintendo’s approach is bad, I like at least 80% of the current course selection, but the Mario series has some iconic places and locations, and Mario Kart is such a good way to explore those places in a new context.

On that note, I think it’d be really fun to see Mario and friends drive around the entire mushroom kingdom like pieces on a board game. You’d start in the grassy world one and then rocket straight towards the desert, then the mountains, clouds, jungle, islands, and then eventually back to the start. Alternatively, if driving through the entire kingdom in one go is a little too overwhelming, the map could be divided into parts and compose an entire grand prix. I’d really like to see more themed sets of races instead of seemingly random tracks grouped together.

5- Wild Glide Galaxy

The Wild Glide Galaxy from Super Mario Galaxy 2

Tricky jump incoming, don’t fall!

This could be a more challenging course that focuses on the glide mechanic. On the ground, the course would be similar to Maple Treeway, but a good chunk of the race would be in the air. There’d be floating item boxes players could try to hit, and boosts they could try to fly through at risk of losing momentum. Certain power-ups could be devastating to the race with most players over an abyss, so no particular glide section should be incredibly long. The music should definitely be the Fleet Glide Galaxy theme, though, because that’s a way better song.

6- Paper Circuit

the city of glitz, from Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door

Running this course crashes Paper Mario Kart

This is more of an aesthetic choice than a location, but a pop-up book looking track modeled after the Paper Mario series would be wonderfully charming. Personally, I’d like to see a simple drive around a lake, paper cheep cheeps hopping out of the water, trees providing next to no shade, and Peach’s castle as a backdrop. A paper audience cheering you on as you race is a given as well. While the Wild Glide track above would be a challenging course for series veterans, this one would be a cute and easy track for kids.

7- Bowser

Mario, Luigi, and Toadsworth make dangerous and potentially life-changing alterations to Bowser's body

Ready… drill!!

Bowser’s Inside Story was a trip and a half, and also another of my favorite childhood games. It’s such a ridiculous concept, Bowser inhaling the residents of Peach’s Castle and them having adventures in his body, and it was made all the better by the colorful and creative locations you got to visit. I think it’s unlikely, but I’d absolutely love to see a track with the aesthetic of Bowser’s Inside Story, complete with all the odd characters within. I’d also love to see people who’ve never heard of Bowser’s Inside Story encounter this level and wonder where in the world they are.

8- Wiggler’s Garden

The wiggler's garden board from Mario Party DS

Don’t let the plant bite you, I don’t think it has its shots

Mario Party DS is sorely underrated. While I do prefer most of the GameCube selection, and DS entry is a bit smaller as it’s not a console title, I had a good time with MPDS and it’d be nice to see it make another appearance. The main gimmick is that Kamek shrunk Mario and friends down to the size of insects, so what would once be easily traversable locations become game boards to pass through. It’d be a lot of fun to shrink down the karts and have them race around a massive garden.

9- Blackbelly Skatepark

Blackbelly skatepart from Splatoon and Splatoon 2

Only cool kids allowed in. I’ll wait out here at the gate.

Mario Kart 8 introduced a number of tracks from other Nintendo franchises, namely Animal CrossingExcitebike, and The Legend of Zelda. This went hand in hand with new racers such as Isabelle and Link, but not all newcomers got a track for them. The stage is a bit gray by default, but it could be made plenty colorful for its inclusion in the game. While one of the battle courses is straight from Splatoon, the Inkling racers deserve a track of their own in a Grand Prix. Blackbelly Skatepark is naturally home to plenty of ramps for tricks and shortcuts, and I think it’d make a fun track for the Inklings to call their own.

That’s all of them! While I don’t think all (or even most) of these will make it into the next game, it was a lot of fun to look through the Mario series and imagine how different areas would translate into tracks. If you’ve got anything you’d like to see in the next Mario Kart game, share it in the comments below, and stay tuned for more listicles here at Sick Critic.

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