#8: Mario Kart 8
This course really misses the mark. It looks more like a space station than a colorful road in outer space. In fact, that’s its main problem; looking at the track as it appears in the overview, the severe lack of “Roy G. Biv” makes it feel like it’s not meant to be a Rainbow Road at all.
As a huge fan of Mario Kart Wii, I love the nod to the Super Blooper, but, to be honest, I’d rather have seen that easter egg someplace else. The only redeeming factor for this course is the awesome guitar track playing in the background. Otherwise, this is very off-brand for Rainbow Road.
First of all, to me, the music doesn’t really fit with the other Rainbow Road themes. This soundtrack is a bit more ominous than the others, making the music feel like it might be better suited for Bowser’s Castle.
While I love the moon and clouds in the background, Bowser’s ship (though cool-looking) feels a little awkwardly placed. I’d love to see this one get redone to see what the modern era of Mario Kart can add to it, but right now, despite fitting the general theme, this course feels a little out of place
#6: Super Mario Kart
Being the earliest version, this course set a precedent for its time for sure. Something had to make adding this course in a tradition, right? It might be the bright colors or the impressive use of obstacles… the problem is, I do not like these obstacles. Similar to the one in Mario Kart Wii, this Rainbow Road has a huge hole in the middle, which feels awkward and inorganic.
If my character is going to fall into the oblivion of space, can it at least be off of the rail-less side of the track? Also, what’s with the thudding Thwomps– don’t they have work to do at Bowser’s Castle?
#5: Mario Kart 7
I’ll say it: I hate the craters. The sluggish feel of this part of the track is enough to make this course a nuisance instead of a fun addition to the list. As one of the longest courses on the list, it feels like this version of Rainbow Road needs to be a lot more captivating. The soundtrack is really fun, and I like the planetary design, but I can’t get over the lack of playability.
This one is a classic. It fits the Rainbow Road aesthetic perfectly, marking it as a textbook example of the course. That said, it doesn’t really stand out too much. As mentioned before, the giant holes in Mario Kart tracks feel distracting and awkward.
It becomes frustratingly easy to fall into oblivion in this course with strategically placed boost pads, but the course’s many ramps and jumps make it still fun to play. Overall, it could be the nostalgia, but this course still makes me smile every time I play it.
This soundtrack is so wholesome, upbeat, and nostalgic that it skyrockets this course toward the top of the list. The twists and turns make it fun, and I love that the focus is on them, which makes this course feel like an exhilarating roller coaster. I like that this course lacks other obstacles because it prevents distractions that are a poor excuse to fall behind. This one is all about drifting, which I personally enjoy.
#2: Double Dash
Surprisingly, floating over the city really blends well with the space theme. Although random, I love how the giant objects floating on the map are loving tributes to some of the items in the Mario games! I also love how these objects match the track– which, by the way, is animated with floating clouds and is very pretty to look at. There’s also the pipe that “Mario Kart” written on it, cleverly placed around a spiral in the track. Overall, this one is fun to play, and fun to look at, and it fits the Rainbow Road standard perfectly.
#1: Mario Kart 64
Who doesn’t like a fireworks show? Between the nostalgic feel of the soundtrack and the fact that it’s the characters of this series represented across the sky, it’s so easy to feel the love that was put into the course. The track is fun to play on, but there’s just enough stability that the charming feel of the environment is able to speak for itself. Especially considering that this is from one of the earlier titles, this course is truly impressive on so many levels. It has truly earned the number one spot.
What are your favorite courses? Let us know in the comments.
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