Bowser's Castle (course)
Bowser's Castle (also called Bowser Castle in some games) is a common race course found in the Mario Kart series. The course takes place in the castle of Bowser and its surroundings, usually featuring hazards such as lava pits, Thwomps, fireballs and sharp turns. In Mario Kart: Super Circuit and its succeeding games, Bowser's Castle is the penultimate course of the Special Cup. However, in Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart: Super Circuit, there were multiple new versions of this track, similar to the Mario Circuit courses in Super Mario Kart.
 Super Mario Kart
In Super Mario Kart, three Bowser Castle courses appeared in the Mushroom, Flower and Star cups. The stages had the same appearance and features such as lava pits and Thwomps. The later Bowser Castles have more obstacles and turns than the first Bowser Castles.
 Mario Kart 64
In Mario Kart 64, the course features Thwomps that block drivers from preceding to further areas. Near the beginning of the course, there is a green Thwomp locked in a cage with yellow teeth, who will shake and laugh if the player goes near it. This laugh can also be heard by the normal Thwomps throughout the course. In further corridors there are pictures of Bowser and large stone statues that shoot flames from their mouths, but they are harmless. At the end of the track racers will race on the roof of the castle. On the last lap, or when the player gets too close to the Bowser statue at the start of the track, Bowser's famed laugh plays. Thwomps are the main obstacle in this course. Most of them will move around the room and try to crush the racers, some are stationary, and some slide across the room. It is the second Bowser's Castle not to be in Special Cup, following Bowser's Castle 3 from Super Mario Kart. The Bowser's Castles in later Mario Karts are all in the Special Cup.
This course reappears as the fourth and last course of the Lightning Cup in Mario Kart Wii. Many changes have been made. In this version, lava columns spring out from the pits to cause the drivers to bowl over, specially when racers attempt to jump. The green Thwomp present in the Nintendo 64 version is no longer there, instead it is replaced by a normal thwomp that looks no different then the rest, however it will shake and make an angry expression when a player comes near, and also laugh. The flame-shooting statues are still harmless. Bowser's laugh is still heard on entry on the final lap, or when the player gets too close to the Bowser statue at the start of the track. It is the longest track, taking around one minute per lap, and one of the most difficult tracks in the game.
 Instruction Manual Description
Surprisingly, the Bowser's Castle has been transformed into a race ground! Because it's inside the building, most of the corners are tricky right angles. However, the most difficult part of the course is where the Thwomps are. They will block your path, and if you run into one, you will spin out. Should you be stepped by one, you'll find yourself squished flat as a pancake.
In Mario Kart Wii, a tournament occurred on this track, which had players race against Dry Bowser, who utilized the ability to attack with fireballs. This tournament took place as the second tournament for March 2009, and it was restricted to karts. It was later repeated as the second tournament of June 2010, but without any restrictions. It was repeated for the third time as March 2011's second tournament, and the karts only restriction returned.
 Mario Kart: Super Circuit
 Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Racers start out outside of the castle and enter through a large doorway shaped like Bowser. As they precede through the hallway, Thwomps will try to spin them out or squish them. Racers will then travel over a pit of lava and through a circular room filled with Podoboos. During the final stretch of the course a statue of Bowser will shoot fireballs at oncoming cars. If the players have any trouble, Bowser's famed laugh will emit. Escaping the castle by a jump only leads to the front of the track again for the second lap.
 Course Layout
The race starts in a quite straight dirt road that leads into the castle, past a drawbridge and into an opening that is shaped like Bowser. The players can then see that the path splits, but it results in two identical paths that also have the same obstacles: Thwomps. Past that, where the path meets again, is a 90 degree turn to the left with leads into another straight path with Thwomps. In split screen mode, the Thwomps in this lane are absent. After the Thwomps, there is another turn left that leads into a room with lava on the ground.
In the room with the lava on the floor, the players drive over a chain link bridge with a square in between. In single player, Podoboos will fly out of the lava and try to burn the players. Falling off the chain link bridge results in falling in the lava. After the chain link bridge is a ramp with boost panels in it. Past the ramp is a long curve that spirals upwards into a nearly complete circle. Succeeding the curve is another circular room, this time with fire balls that orbit a pillar in the center. The players can see portraits of Bowser Jr. on the walls of this room.
Past the circular room is a short path that turns to the left in a 90 degree angle, which also leads to another 90 degree angle turn. It leads outside and the players can see the start of course on this road. However, if players attempt a shortcut here, the game will consider it as falling off the track and place the racer back on the track. The road has two somewhat steep ramps that aren't exactly straight, but they don't slow down the players. Past the ramps is a U-turn that leads to a straight road. The road then curves to the left, then makes a U-turn that leads into another interior.
In this room, there is a giant Bowser Machine that shoots one fireball at a time to the players. Despite that, the road is straight. After that is a turn left and a curve right that leads nearer to the Bowser Machine. The players then makes a left turn that also has the Bowser Machine's fireballs, but it isn't getting directly shot at the players. The road is straight and there is a ramp that has boost panels in it. After the ramp is a curve left and the finish line.
There is one notable shortcut in this course that does not require the use of a Mushroom. It is in the room with the Bowser machine. Before the curve that leads the players right, one can notice an opening in a wall, directly where the Bowser Machine belches out fire from. The players can drive over that, but must steer quickly or risk falling into the lava just after making the ramp. The players also have a risk of getting burnt by a fireball just before the jump, making the players also fall into the lava.
 Official Descriptions
 Mario Kart Arcade GP and Mario Kart Arcade GP 2
Bowser's Castle also appeared in Mario Kart Arcade GP and its successor as the first course in Bowser Cup, appearing before Castle Wall. Racers first enter the castle through an opening that resembles Bowser's head, not too different from Mario Kart Double Dash!!. They go through a hallway and end up in Bowser's throne room, covered with lava. After this area, racers can see Thwomps and a hallway with medieval armor for Koopa Troopas. Bowser Jr. can be seen, standing on his throne and cheering at players. The racers eventually leave the castle and arrive back at the starting line.
 Mario Kart DS
In Mario Kart DS, the Bowser Castle is the penultimate track in the Special Cup, before Rainbow Road and after Peach Gardens. The tan stone of the Bowser's Castles in Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart: Super Circuit have been replaced by grey bricks, and stone paths have been replaced by metal grates and platforms. There is an absence of statues and the many Thwomps in other Bowser's Castles (this track only has 4) and there is much less danger of being hit by things like lava spouts like in Mario Kart 7. In the background is a forest consisting of dead trees and scary-looking mountains. The sky seems to be on fire. It features few gimmicks, but some of the gimmicks include a spinning cylinder bridge and a spinning room. The entrance to the castle is very similar to the one in the previous game. Bowser in the Hurricane is the Staff Ghost for this track.
 Course Layout
The players start by passing through a metallic doorway with a bust of Bowser above (which plays his laugh on entry), similar to to Bowser's Castle in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. They then pass through a hallway with Thwomps. After climbing a set of stairs they cross a thin bridge, which has barriers so players cannot fall back down to the hallway below. Next, they enter another circular room. However, this one doesn't have a Firebar; it spins instead. It is a large metal circle that spins counterclockwise, while the racers are going clockwise. A hallway with a Thwomp follows. This Thwomp actually moves horizontally out the window, then comes back into the castle. After a right 90° turn and then a left 90° turn, there is a spiral path. If racers aren't careful, they can fall a long way down into lava or back to the beginning of the spiral. It is possible there to use a Bob-omb on opponents through the tower's windows. Racers will then encounter a metal spinning log which they must cross, or they will fall into a garden and lose time. This log has small bumps that do not affect driving. The garden below is barren with several patches of grass and lots of pavement. The grass slows down racers, who may fall behind if other racers are crossing the spinning log successfully. The final stretch consists of moving platforms that must be driven across, allowing racers to take a right turn to the finish line. The metal platforms move from right to left but do not really cause much of a risk, as far as falling into the lava goes. Heavy racers can push lighter racers off; however, some of the path has barriers preventing them from falling. The path from the platforms to the finish line is a metal grate. Fortunately, the lava does not shoot up through the holes in the grate. After several turns, the racers will find themselves at the finish line. There is one significant shortcut in this track. If players go all the way around the circular room, they will take a shortcut. However, the shortcut has several Rocket Engines and a moving Thwomp.
Also, Bowser Castle 2 from Mario Kart: Super Circuit appears. It is enhanced for the DS look, but retains the same layout and structure. It is the first of three Bowser Castles from that game to appear as a retro track in later games.
 Mario Kart Wii
Mario Kart Wii's Bowser's Castle resembles the Mario Kart: Double Dash!! castle track. It has Thwomps and the same entrance design to the castle (Bowser's face) and also has Bowser's famed laugh playing on the entry to the castle.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit's Bowser Castle 3 and Bowser Castle from Mario Kart 64, also reappear with changes in term of gameplay. GBA Bowser Castle 3 now has mud on some place while N64 Bowser Castle features lava geysers in some places. The first part of the music in this course is a slightly remixed version of the music played in the castle levels in Super Mario Bros.
 Course Layout
The race starts out in a straight road that leads into a bridge that curves downhill and uphill, which has boost panels in it. The player may perform a trick to gain speed. After the ramp is the entrance to Bowser's Castle. On the entrance, the player hears Bowser's laugh. If the player doesn't take the ramp straight then a danger of landing on the mud off the track near Bowser's Castle entrance, causing them to reset before the ramp again. After the entry is a wavy hall, filled with pillars and item boxes. The player can perform tricks on the wavy hallway, since this sends the player in the air a little.
After the wavy hallway is a 90 degree turn left and another turn right. After the turn is a road that leads straight to the lava unless the player turns left to avoid falling into it. In this area, the player has to avoid Thwomps constantly pounding the ground, smashing any player who gets caught underneath their blows. After that is a turn left and a ramp with a boost panel in it, which leads to a room full of lava with a large straight path over the lava.
In this room, the road is very straight. However, there is a giant Bowser machine who spits out large fireballs towards an area where there are explosion marks, to show the area where the ball will explode. After the explosion mark is a mud covered area. The player must use the left and right half-pipe ramps to avoid the mud in order to keep them from slowing down. After the player gets past that, they will see another area covered in mud, but there is a ramp near the beginning of the mud, in the center. Taking that ramp is a risky maneuver, however, since the large fireballs bounce off this ramp as well. Another option is to take the half-pipe ramps again, which is safer, but adds more time. The path splits into two, left and right, in this part, but both are identical, just the directions are mirrored. Both paths lead to three spinning firebars that can burn the player on contact. After the firebars is a ramp with a boost panel in it. The player may use it to speed up and perform a trick on it. The path merges again after this part.
After the ramp is a short straight road until a large curve to the left. The player can see that the tighter area of this curve has fire pillars coming out of the road, so the player may take the path to cut time when there are no fire pillars present. If players turn too sharply, to the extreme right of the fire pillars, they will find themselves in the lava. After this area, the path is still curving and there are more Thwomps in this area. After the large curve upwards, there are three Thwomps that are hovering over the path. The left and right ones slam down at the same time while the center one will be still hovering in the area while the two slam the ground and vice versa. After the three Thwomps is a very large firebar that the player must avoid while using a ramp with a boost panel in it.
After the firebar part is the exit of the castle and a turn to the left. Here, there are lava pillars erupting from the ground, with a small hill around them for the player to perform a trick. However, the lava pillars may mess up players while they are performing a trick and slow players down by flipping them over. After this part is the starting line again, which starts the cycle and another lap again.
The second tournament of August 2009 took place at Bowser's Castle. It was a time trial race containing several hazards, such as Swooper swarms, more lava springs, and scattered boxes. Thwomps were also placed at different spots, preferably spots that were more likely to hinder the players. The spinning firebars also moved faster than before. The player starts out with a set of Triple Mushrooms. The tournament was later repeated as the first tournament of July 2011 and the second tournament of September 2012.
 Mario Kart 7
In Mario Kart 7, Bowser's Castle course seems to have the structure of a Haunted Mansion. It has cobwebs, lava pillars, Thwomps, and stairs. This track, as some previous others, is the third race in the Special Cup. This track starts off on a separate platform with a ramp to glide into Bowser's Castle. There are two entrances, an upper level and a lower level if the upper level is missed while gliding. The two levels have a set of stairs with Thwomps and inclining slopes that lead into one room filled with lava pools and sharp turns. Past that room is a wide wooden rotating tunnel that ends by a lake filled with water, some pipes pouring lava, and lava-filled edges. Afterward, racers return to land on a mountain side pasing by lava waterfalls as the races drive up the mountain. At the end of the mountain is a sharp wide turn that ends with a ramp and drivers will glide down on the finish line platform to glide again to Bowser's Castle entrance or drivers will glide off the mountain, pass the finish line while in air and land on the entrance to continue the race.
 Names in Other Languages