A salutation to the most endearing, enduring and other ‘ings’ course in Mario Kart’s prestigious history. Every installment of the madcap franchise had Rainbow Road as a dramatic denouement, the final track of the final cup. In a series emblazoned with copious quantities of Nintendo’s patented garish colour palette, this was the brightest of all. Indeed, Boy George, avid gamer, remarked upon seeing it, “EGAD! That’s too much flamboyant colour!”
Except he didn’t. Even slightly.
While this track is indeed a technicolour cornucopia of epilepsy-inducement, don’t be deceived by the pretty neon madness. It is unerringly a strenuous test of your driving ability, exacerbated in single-player by the unwarranted bullying of the CPU. In the inaugural SNES installment, these guys were mean. Having arrived at this final test, you’d surely venture that you’ll be beset by shells to the face. Verily, it was so.
Should you succeed in clinging to your kart, as Bowser et al desperately propel turtle shells of pain into your delicate groin area, you must also prevail over a devious track design. It’s true that this first Rainbow Road is not the elongated, convoluted mess it would become in later games, but it’s no less fiendish for that. Its fleeting length is entirely bereft of rails, and remarkably narrow; allowing the more rotund competitors to send their rivals into the tenebrous abyss of space. Possibly with a cackle of schadenfreude and a swift middle finger at your blood-bleeding, broken body several million miles below.
This iteration of the track was selected for inclusion in the 3DS release Mario Kart 7, and appears to have retained its popularity. It garners many votes in online games, and is more enjoyable than ever with the subtle augmentations it has been given. I particularly appreciate the freshly chunkified Thwomps, replete with all the “Hey, dude! I’m going to crush your face in the face. Is that cool?” attitude they always had.