Maybe The N64 Rainbow Road Isn’t As Great As We All Remember


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.


  • 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.Wow. Perceptive.

    But yeah, Rainbow Road 64 always sucked. It’s long and boring and long. And boring. Now Super Circuit’s Rainbow Road on the other hand… there’s a course you can set your watch to.

  • People have high praise for the N64 Rainbow Road version? It was incredibly long and the winner was determined shortly after the start of the match.

  • I distinctly remember my friends and I all hating Rainbow Road. We played the shit out of it because it was a spirit-breaker. Any dickhead can claim victory on Mario Speedway, but conquering Rainbow Road seperated the men from the boys.

    • N64 Rainbow road is probably one of the easiest RR’s in a Mario Kart game though. It’s a pretty straightforward track with no really tricky or tight corners, and you have a barrier on the edges of it a lot of the time so you can’t fall off.

      IMO, Double Dash’s RR is probably the hardest of the lot.

        • Well yeah SMK’s RR was hard as hell, but I suspect that was the case due in large part to the actual mechanics of the game rather than the track design.

          • The more I think about this the more I get confused 😛

            So if the track is hard because of the mechanics of the game, is that to say that it’s too impossible to control the karts well enough to make it around the track? But then if the track’s design is hard… then that means the shape of it is too difficult to navigate… which would come down to how the karts handle again, so it’s the same thing…

            I can’t brain this.

          • SMK made tracks that would ordinarily be fairly easy a lot more difficult due to the game mechanics.

            SMK’s rainbow road honestly wasn’t that tough of a track design. With modern mechanics the track is pretty straightforward, as evidenced when it reappears in MK7.

          • It’s not entirely a 1:1 comparison though. The track’s much “bigger” in MK7, there far more room for you to move around. Plus you don’t bounce off other racers as much (distance-wise) in the game so the potential hazard is greatly reduced.

  • Oh it’s too long. Pfft, that’s what made the track great. Much rather that over any of the tracks that see you shot through the air with no control which is more and more frequent in tracks.

  • Still, the video only shows a time trial race.

    The video I see at the top of the article looks like a standard GP race to me…

    I really don’t like how they changed the music though.

  • It’s only too short if you are playing against the computer in 150 cc. If the AI get’s lucky with items and mauls you around halfway through (which happens every. single. time.), there’s just not enough time for you to catch up before the race ends.

  • Rainbow road 64 was in my opinion great because it was the last race and the only one of it’s nature on Mario Kart 64. It was the endurance race to end all races, The credits race that celebrated all the characters and because of the shortcut…a cliff hanger race where people could gamble for glory.

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