Rainbow Road (N64)
Rainbow Road is the longest race course in Mario Kart 64 at 2,000 meters 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 path and with star-shaped rails running throughout the 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 section of the track. Roving Chain 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 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, racers behold the flashing neon portraits while run through a pigtail bridge, following then towards another shallower drop. Racers turn around a corkscrew to reach a hairpin bend, and then a twisting stretch to go back to the checked line finally.
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.
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.
Mario Kart 8
One of the biggest 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 night sky background from the original, presumably taking place above Toad City from N64 Toad's Turnpike and Toad Harbor. The road is now formed by colorful tiles with a bronze-colored frame, as opposed to the slightly transparent 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.
Another change is the addition of the goal ring at the finish line; once players nearly reach the end, the gear-like goal ring will change its shape by expanding its star-shaped appendages wide and closes 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 few star rails the course now has are designed after Launch Stars. Another visual feature includes a train with Toads (which was absent in the original), 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.
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, lies on the left side of the circuit instead of on the right side. The spiral path in the middle of the course now goes the opposite direction. At the gentle uphill stretch, which succeeds the steep slope, the rainbow ring has been replaced by an anti-gravity panel. 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 and the Chain Chomps in the 3DS Rainbow Road roll on the moon and bounce up and down. Boost Pads and Launch Stars have been added.
Similar to Rainbow Road from Mario Kart 7, it is split into three sections, instead of three laps, and the final turn has also been shortened, in order to cut down the length of the original. It is the first and only retro course to do this.
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 Chain Chomps, but there are deadly minefields on certain sections of the track.
Wii U version
Names in other languages