With Mario Kart 8 a few weeks away from release, we're starting to get into the racing spirit. Nintendo’s franchise has entertained us for years, whether competing against AI opponents or having friends join in for some multiplayer fun. Which begs the question, what are the best Mario Kart tracks?

After doing some research (across several laps, mind you), we created a list of the 10 best Mario Kart tracks available across different games, from the classic SNES release to the most current Mario Kart 7 for Nintendo 3DS. 

Without further ado, let's count 'em down! 

10.) Tick Tock Clock (Mario Kart DS)

Fans of Super Mario 64 will certainly recognize the wondrous Tick Tock Clock level. You'll race through a complex stage filled with shifting and spinning gears, while also trying to avoid a giant pendulum that swings back and forth. This one can be tricky at first, but once you learn the layout, you'll master it in, ahem, no time.

9.) Waluigi Pinball (Mario Kart DS/Mario Kart 7)

One of the better looking courses from Mario Kart DS, Waluigi Pinball is a colorful, twisting track where you'll deal with tight turns and avoid large pinball bumpers while racing for the finish line. The design of this course is impeccable, and gives anyone a chance to win, even if they're in last place. This is one instance where you can trust Waluigi. 

8.) Wario's Gold Mine (Mario Kart Wii)

Like Waluigi, Wario's custom course is one for the record books. In Gold Mine, you'll race up and down hills and avoid renegade mine carts while swooping your way through tunnels and acquiring power-ups. With its unpredictable course design and Western style theme, it's easy to see how valuable this Gold Mine is. 

7.) Coconut Mall (Mario Kart Wii) 

The Coconut Mall level from Mario Kart Wii is quite exciting, with plenty of escalators to race over, booster mats to push you ahead and even a parking lot filled with consistently moving cars (with Miis at the wheel, no less). Why can't normal trips to the mall be this exciting? 

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6.) Koopa Cape (Mario Kart Wii)

Want to get away? Then Koopa Cape is the course for you. This mountainside track is extravagant, taking you across twisting peaks and up steep climbs – and at one point, underwater, where electrical traps await. This unpredictable yet exciting track continues to be a fan favorite – and for good reason. 

5.) Wario Stadium (Mario Kart 64/Mario Kart DS)

Fans of motocross will be revved up by this classic Mario Kart track. It takes place inside a stadium, where players have to race over jumps and across tight turns, while avoiding muddy areas that could easily bring their ride to a standstill. During your race, you'll view the action on a big-screen in the distance – a nice little effect for a game like this. Just don't lose focus! 

4.) DK Mountain (Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Mario Kart Wii) 

Donkey Kong finally got the track he deserved with the debut of DK Mountain, which takes place in a tropical resort like setting as you race through forests and down hills, while an active volcano explodes. For good measure, you'll blast through one of the series' most effective cannons, giving you the kind of sped boost you wish you had all along. Here's hoping this one returns for Mario Kart 8. 

3.) Airship Fortress (Mario Kart DS/Mario Kart 7)

Remember the Airship Fortress that first debuted in Super Mario Bros. 3? Nintendo went and perfectly translated this into one of the most challenging courses in the Mario Kart franchise. Filled with traps ranging from flaming cannons to Bullet Bills to gaps that could easily drive you over the edge, Airship Fortress is one of the best tracks you're likely to race in either the DS or 3DS games.

2.) Bowser's Castle (Mario Kart 64/Mario Kart Wii/Mario Kart DS)

If you think the Airship Fortress is something, give Bowser's Castle a try. This track is jam packed with traps, as well as dangerous, tight turns and plenty of short spaces that, raced the right way, could give you the chance to take the lead. That is, if you don't fall off one of the ledges or get hit with one of many obstacles. This one takes time to master – but it's worth it.

1.) Rainbow Road (Super Mario Kart/Mario Kart Wii/Mario Kart 7)

Was there really any doubt? Although the Rainbow Road tracks infuriate many a driver with their sudden drop-offs and tricky designs, there's no question they bring a certain magic to the games overall. Ever since its debut on the SNES, Rainbow Road has become one of the most revered – and challenging – race courses out there. To this day, it still remains a great deal of fun, even with all the sudden drop-offs. It's tremendous.