Rainbow Road (Mario Kart 8)
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Rainbow Road is the fourth and final course of the Special Cup in Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Unique from its predecessors, this incarnation takes place in a space station presumably owned by Mario Kart TV or REXA, with its multiple satellites floating, satellite-formed bleachers with audience cheering, and the road given a new metallic design, as opposed to the transparent glass surface of previous games. It is located above the Earth's atmosphere, similar to that of Rainbow Road from Mario Kart Wii. One noticeable feature of the course is a space shuttle that resembles a Blooper which circles around the course, similar to how a flying train circles around N64 Rainbow Road. Due to the presence of the space shuttles and technological architecture, the course has a unique electronic and futuristic design, appearing like a stadium floating above the atmosphere.
The track itself, similar to Rainbow Road in Super Mario Kart, consists of colored square tiles, though the colors change like the Rainbow Roads from Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7. The rainbow patterns are similar to that of the Mario Kart: Double Dash!! iteration, which mainly consists of light pink, yellow, and turquoise, though the colors now appear to be shifting within a color spectrum, similar to Dash Panels of previous installments before Mario Kart 7. Several Toads can be seen floating around the starting line, wearing spacesuits.
This is the only Rainbow Road (so far) to have off-road terrain segments. The music also has a different feel to it, with more emphasis on electronic rock style. The game's producer, Hideki Konno, describes it as "really spectacular".
The course starts from the first space station with the rainbow-colored tiles. After a turn the racers drive through the first anti-gravity section, that is 8-shaped. A Glide Ramp is found after the anti-gravity section and leads to the second space station with a large imprint of Mario's emblem in the entrance. It contains conveyor belts with opposite directions that changes every 50 seconds, like Toad's Factory from Mario Kart Wii. At the end of the conveyor belts there is a slope with alternate Dash Panels (that turn on and off through time) and at the end of it are two Glide Ramps that lead to two intertwining anti-gravity sections. The gliding section consists of three Rings that resemble Launch Stars, and it acts similarly to a cannon, though racers can slightly control their gliders.
The anti-gravity paths alter in height, so if the player falls from the highest one, they can simply land on the other one. The player can see a Blooper-like spaceship orbiting around. Then the paths merge each other and the anti-gravity section ends. A 180° turn with some Dash Panels at the outermost part, like in Mario Kart Stadium, and another turn make the track loop end. At this turn the player can see a hologram projection that says "SPECIAL CUP" with its trophy logo, but only in single-player mode. The racers then return to the space station where the finish line awaits them and starts the next lap.
There are three 8-shaped sections in this course, referencing its game, Mario Kart 8. One is right away from the starting line after exiting the large space station, and the other two are formed by the two twisting paths in the descending anti-gravity segment.
Before the finish line, a screen can be seen displaying the course's map. Other courses containing their own map are Water Park and GCN Yoshi Circuit. The screens can also display the structure of the Blooper space shuttle.
Pink Gold Peach on the Comet bike with Slim tires and Super Glider is the staff ghost for this course. Rosalina on the Mach 8 kart with Blue Standard tires and MKTV Parafoil is the 200cc staff ghost for this course in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
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