Rainbow Road has become a staple in the Mario Kart series, appearing as the last track of the final cup in the game. With each entry in the series, players are treated to a race on the rainbow colored road as they conclude racing through all of the tracks, making for a very satisfying and nostalgic experience. All seven Mario Kart games have their own version of the classic Rainbow Road track, and each is unique in its own way.
Super Mario Kart
Despite its simple design, the first Rainbow Road was undoubtedly the most difficult. The course is just like any other track in Super Mario Kart; flat and simple. The colorful road and the space themed atmosphere make for a very memorable track, especially for one that starts the tradition of including a Rainbow Road in every Mario Kart game. The track features 90-degree turns and there are no rails guarding you from falling into the dark abyss. Star Thwomps are placed about the course, causing anyone that runs into them to spin out of control.
The classic track was later brought to the Gameboy Advance in Mario Kart: Super Circuit, along with all the other tracks from Super Mario Kart. This Rainbow Road was also remade in Mario Kart 7 as the last track of the Lightning Cup.
Mario Kart 64
Some call it legendary, while others find it to be a tad bit boring. Both are right, I would say, as the classic track is one of the most memorable by all Mario Kart players, despite its length and simplicity. The major obstacle here is the Chain Chomp that seems to be swimming through the road itself, heading right in the direction you are driving. Outside of that, the entire track is guarded by rails, making it difficult to fall off, and there aren’t too many turns or twists you should be worried about. The track is more of scenic track than a challenging one, especially with all the character constellations in the background.
Some other awesome things: the giant drop at the start, the major shortcut at the start, and the fantastic music.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
After 64’s toned down version of Rainbow Road, Super Circuit treats us with another challenging and hair pulling track. Guard rails are no more, and those deadly turns are back, some of which are the sharpest the series has seen. Shortcuts are found everywhere here, and with the right execution, cutting parts of the course is very common. And there is a pretty awesome nod to the floating castle from the original Paper Mario.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Lots of spirals and twists in this one. Guard rails are back, but only to restrict players from cutting sections of the track. We have some major turns and spiraling towers to drive through, with speed boosts located everywhere. This Rainbow Road is actually located above a city, presumably Mushroom City, unlike the past Rainbow Roads that seemed to take place deep in space. The giant pipe was an interesting mechanic that was never used before, and one of my personal favorite additions were the falling stars that would hit the track and present a useable Star to those who could snag it first.
Mario Kart DS
This Rainbow Road takes us back into space, leaving behind the cityscape from Double Dash. While this Rainbow Road doesn’t do anything too different from its predecessors, it does add two giant loops that players actually go and flip through. Besides that, you get your normal dose of turns, stellar music, and an eyeful of blinding colors.
Mario Kart Wii
After five different Rainbow Road tracks before it, the Rainbow Road from Mario Kart Wii brought together a track unlike any other. A giant drop, ramps, gaping holes, a Launch Star, Star Bits, wavy and curved roads, and more! The entire track is bursting with energy from start to finish, and there is never a dull moment. Super Mario Galaxy has a strong presence in this track, as Star Bits and a Launch Star can be seen and even used in the track. The main theme of Super Mario Galaxy can be heard in the music for the track, music that is truly one of the best in the series. This Rainbow Road is a personal favorite of mine, and it might just be the best Rainbow Road over all.
Mario Kart 7
If there was ever a Rainbow Road that changed things up, it would be this one. For the first time, players will actually be taken off the rainbow colored road and onto different planets that populate the track. At one point you will launch off the track onto a crater filled moon with rolling Chain Chomps, and don’t forget the part that has you riding on the rings of Saturn. The course is split into three separate and different laps, meaning that you will only pass each area once. Launch stars return, and new additions like multi-colored, bouncy mushrooms and twirling pipes make an appearance. To top it all off, the new gliding sections add even more to the track, and the Mario Kart 64 Rainbow Road remix will have your nostalgia levels at their maximum.