Rainbow Road (N64)
Rainbow Road is the final track in Mario Kart 64 and the last course of the Special Cup. It is the longest race course in Mario Kart 64 at 2,000 meters (2 kilometres) and requiring around two minutes per lap, making it the longest in the whole series. The track differs from the other Rainbow Roads in that it has rails throughout the track. The track features a transparent multi-colored glass path and with star-shaped rails running throughout the entire course. Neon-light pictures of the eight playable characters, plus a portrait of a Boo and a Mushroom in the distance, float in the void. Moreover, a big three-dimensional smiling star lies in a curved section of the track. Roving Chomps slide through the course in reverse, tossing into the air any driver who touches them. The course returns in Mario Kart 8 as a heavily-revamped retro course, as the last course of the Lightning Cup.
The twisting course starts with a huge drop followed by a gentle uphill stretch, passing through a rainbow ring. After the ring, there is a wide loop with constellations of Mario, Peach and Luigi on the loop's outside. Following the loop is a steady downward road that crosses over the steep drop where a Mushroom constellation can be seen. After the bridge is a corkscrew loop with a large star in the center and a Boo constellation at the corkscrew's outside. Racers turn around a corkscrew to reach a hairpin bend, where constellations of Donkey Kong and Yoshi are seen. Shortly after the hairpin bend is a short straightaway followed by a smaller drop and small uphill stretch. A Toad constellation can be seen after the drop as well as a wide right hand turn. A straightaway follows with a Wario constellation present, then follows a final looping section, where a Bowser constellation is seen. After the loop is a final straightaway to the finish.
Although this track may easily be both the easiest and longest Rainbow Road track due to the railings and length, racers can perform a large shortcut by making a timed hop to the left (or right, during Extra) during the drop at the beginning.
Mario Kart 8
Rainbow Road from Mario Kart 64 returns in Mario Kart 8, appearing as the final course in the Lightning Cup, which is similar to SNES Rainbow Road in Mario Kart 7. Unlike most Retro courses in this game, it has the largest amount of changes compared to the original appearance, making it look more like a Nitro course than just a revamped Retro course.
One of the prominent changes is the setting; just like Rainbow Road in the single-player mode of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, it now takes place above a brightly lit city near a coast at night instead of a background from the original. The road is now formed by colorful rainbow tiles laid out diagonally in a golden frame, as opposed to the slightly transparent glass stripes from the original version, which is very similar to Rainbow Road from Super Mario Kart, while the starting area has a bronze diamond mosaic pattern. The tiles are made up of LED lights, based on its appearance and lighting.
Another change is the starting banner from the original being changed into a mechanical, rotating star-shaped ring; once players nearly reach the finish line, the gear-like goal ring will change its shape by expanding its star-shaped appendages wide and closing in upon itself. Also, there are now some nods to Super Mario Galaxy, such as the stationary star icon that appears in the original being replaced with a giant rotating Grand Star and the star rails are designed after Launch Stars. Also, most of the rails have been removed, adding that to the challenge. Another visual feature includes a flying train (that's based on an 0-4-0ST Porter Saddle Tank), with Toads riding them, who throw coins at certain areas, passing around the course. There are now fireworks around the course, with some that form the six playable characters that have been present since Super Mario Kart (Mario, Princess Peach, Luigi, Yoshi, Toad, and Bowser) that replace the neon-lit signs of the eight playable characters in Mario Kart 64 (the aforementioned six, Wario and Donkey Kong), and portrait of a Boo and a Mushroom from the original. Some of these fireworks take their appearance from stamps in Super Mario 3D World, though Yoshi's firework is based on artwork from Yoshi Topsy-Turvy.
The other big change is that the course has been altered to incorporate the game's hang-glider and anti-gravity mechanics. From a view above the course, the loop, in the middle of which sits the Grand Star, inclines on the left side of the course instead of on the right side. At the gentle uphill stretch, which succeeds the steep slope, the place where rainbow ring is has replaced with an anti-gravity panel. The dip after the large U-Turn is now a full turn. Plus, instead of going through the course in a zigzag pattern in the original, the Chomps now bounce up and down, creating a wave on the track that can be used to perform tricks, which is similar, from Mario Kart 7, to how the Thwomps in SNES Rainbow Road create a wave on the track. As the Chomps land, the section they create a wave on will flash. Along the course, Boost Pads now has been added and comes in the form of small Launch Star-shaped rings that spins everytime a racer passes through.
Similar to Rainbow Road from Mario Kart 7, it is split into three sections, instead of three laps, and the last part before the finish line has also been slightly shortened, in order to cut down the length of the original, and on the final section, the chorus of the music now starts to play, instead of the beginning of the music. It is the first and only retro course to do this. The music of the course is also remixed, in a similar instrumentation to the Mario Kart 8 intro theme, with its main emphasis on trumpets, string sections, and saxophones, with a guitar solo in the chorus. This song, as with the entire soundtrack of Mario Kart 8, is live-recorded.
A map of the city, mentioning Toad Harbor, Moo Moo Meadows, and Wario's Gold Mine, can be seen in Super Bell Subway. Thus, this Rainbow Road is set above the first two, while in the case of Wario's Gold Mine, due to its location it's likely that the headquarters of the company running it are found in this city instead of the actual mine. Many of the companies whose advertising signs can be seen in the various tracks have their headquarters in this city. The railway lines that can be seen from this Rainbow Road, according to the map in Super Bell Subway, connect this city to many other places where tracks of Mario Kart 8 can be found.
F-Zero X has a track that imitates this version of Rainbow Road, having the same map of the track, and following it basically. It is described as a "Psychedelic Experience". Parts, though not all of it, are rainbow-colored. Unlike the original, it has no barriers in certain areas, and the neon Mario series decor is missing - instead, it just has a plain black background with a watery blue bottom to which careless drivers may fall. In addition, when racing the track with the 64DD expansion features, the background song is a rock version of the Rainbow Road song heard in Mario Kart 64. There aren't any Chomps, but there are deadly minefields on certain sections of the track.
Mario Kart 64 Instruction manual description: This course can be described in a word -- LONG, very long. It is simply the longest of all the courses. As the name indicates, the road is made of rainbow and it has a fantastic view of neon sculptures twinkling in the distance. The final course of the Special Cup, it is definitely worth seeing. It is advisable to slow down to avoid the Chomps that will attack.
Wii U appearance
Names in other languages