Go to the practice mode whenever you need to figure out the best strategy on a particular stage. There are a total of eight stages that you can choose from, with different features. Bouncy Forest, for example, features a bunch of mushrooms that can bounce you way high in the air, possibly either slowing you down or speeding you up depending on how you use them.
Stumpy Slopes is a fairly straightforward stage, without many distinguishing features. Thorny Scrub features frequent patches of thorns. When you run through these thorns, they will slow you way down. Speed meadow, in contrast, provides plenty of speed strips, so be sure to run them over so that you don’t get caught with your pants down when your opponents hit them.
Hasty Hills, oddly enough, features a ton of the bouncing mushrooms AND a ton of the speed strips. Essentially, it’s just a way to mess with your head. Forest Falls is about the same, with the added bonus of a ton of super steep falls, and jumps off of ramps that go for 10 seconds at a time due to a speed strip being placed right behind a jump.
High Ropes has a few speed strips here and there but not much in the way of obstacles, or anything else for that matter. The laundry line overhead will stop your jumps short, though. Cannon Town, as mentioned back on page 2 of this article, is the stage with all of the cannon jumps. Use them to your advantage.
Stay as airborne as possible no matter what level you are currently on. The ground contains all kinds of hazards, such as buzzsaws running back and forth, bear traps and jack in the boxes that you can hit, and falls. The higher that you are, the safer that you are, as you’ll be impervious to more obstacles, especially the buzzsaws.
Stay on the ground any time that it’s running downhill, though, because when you are going downhill you are building up momentum and speed. When you are going uphill, the momentum and speed wane and you start slowing down. Jump over as many uphill runs as you can, while keeping the momentum going on the downhill.