Rainbow Road on the N64 is the stuff of legends, so Nintendo set a high bar for itself when it remade the track for the Wii U. Many fans were dismayed by how much shorter it is compared to the original. But a new video from the brothers who hacked Mario Kart 8 makes a convincing case that the truncated version is a welcome improvement.
There have already been a number of great videos (see below) comparing the original 1996 version of rainbow road from Mario Kart 64 to the new "retro" track in Mario Kart 8. But the latest video from MrBean35000vr is the first I've seen to address the biggest issue longtime fans of the series have had with the Mario Kart 8 version: it's really, really short. Time trial racers can easily finish the thing in under two minutes. As one critic put it in a post on the forum GameFAQs in early June: "It ends right when it starts getting good."
Bean and his brother Chadderz put this criticism to the test by using their unprecedented modding abilities to make Mario Kart 8's version of the N64 Rainbow Road more like the original. I didn't realise this until watching their new video, but the main way Nintendo cut down the level was by demarcating three separate "laps" along a single run of the track. To revisit the original level, Bean and Chadderz removed these lap markers. Rather than make a single lap a self-contained race, therefore, they could then run through the entire track three times. Or, as Bean put it in the video's description: they made "a simple mod that removes the section lap counts from N64 Rainbow Road, making it a full length, 3 lap track, like how it was back on Mario Kart 64."
"A very simple mod to make, remove some start line triggers and set the lap count to 3," Bean wrote. He noted that this was a very popular suggestion that viewers had made after seeing his previous Mario Kart 8 hacks.
After testing it out, he concluded: "It's pretty obvious why Nintendo opted to shorten this to 1 lap, 3 laps takes…quite a while." Watching the video, you can see what he means. Finishing the race in under two minutes might've struck many gamers as slight in comparison to the original. But at the same time, racing alone for five minutes seems sort of...lonely?
Still, the video only shows a time trial race. Playing the game on Vs. or — dare I say it — battle mode would undoubtedly be more exciting because there are other racers to run up against. But really, I think the best possible option would be to give players the option to choose between whichever of the two retro Rainbow Road versions they prefer. Unfortunately, that probably won't be available anytime soon unless Nintendo signs off on it, since Bean and Chadderz don't want to release their Mario Kart 8 hacks to the general public lest they end up breaking the game.