Best Nitro Rainbow Road Courses

The Top Ten
1 GBA Rainbow Road

At number one, we might have one of the most underappreciated tracks in the entire Mario Kart franchise. GBA Rainbow Road from Mario Kart Super Circuit was the reason I made this list to begin with.

You might've noticed, if you've been on my channel for a while, that whenever I've brought up this game, I've always been oddly positive about it, no matter the situation. Why is that? It's a question for another video, but the main reason is that no one remembers it. In my opinion, it's the most underrated game in the series because there are so many good things about it that people simply don't notice. Rainbow Road in this game is probably the best example.

Everyone dismisses it as just another flat track. One of the main purposes of this video is to shine light on the best Rainbow Road ever made. This track... I don't even know where to begin. It's such a unique rendition that was innovative in so many ways, both mechanically and atmospherically, that unfortunately haven't been revisited in the newer tracks.

For one, almost the entire track is surrounded by jump pads. Yes, not guardrails or empty edges, but jump pads. You can choose to play safely, or you can try your luck with mushrooms and cut massive corners. It even encourages you to do it, as there's a shortcut road with just boost panels meant for cutting half the track.

The atmosphere is unique beyond words. Most Rainbow Roads can be divided into two groups: the beautiful ones and the epic ones. They may be in the middle, but it's usually one of the two. But this one has a completely different vibe that I can't quite put my finger on. It's beautiful, but there's also a deeper feeling - nostalgia.

Wii and N64 Rainbow Road have musical themes that feel like an ending to their games. GBA Rainbow Road's theme feels like an ending to childhood, especially the part where it suddenly becomes quiet. This feeling is further exemplified by a lone castle floating in space. For me, this... more

2 GCN Rainbow Road

For the longest time, Mario Kart: Double Dash's version of Rainbow Road was my favorite. I've always had a soft spot for this particular game. Double Dash was the first Mario game I ever came into contact with, finding out about it on YouTube. So anything that has to do with this game, I've always had a bias for. That feeling became even stronger when I got it myself, having beforehand played Mario Kart DS.

Everything about it felt like an improved and more complete version of said game, and the Rainbow Road is where I felt that the most. Holy crap, is this track legendary. Let's just start off with the music. I don't think I've ever heard a song that's quite as climactic, epic, and beautiful at the same time. It's not just at the same time, but each of these features is perfect in this song.

So how about the map layout? Remember the DS and Wii renditions? Well, this is that on steroids. A lot of sections from those tracks were originally inspired by this track, and it definitely did them the best, mostly because the music was actually made for this layout to begin with. It feels like an adventure, even without the section-gimmick. Honestly, it's kind of hard to put into words just how mind-blowing this course really is. And it's still not the best Rainbow Road.

3 3DS Rainbow Road

Alright, lower your pitchforks, please. I know you're probably not too happy to see 3DS Rainbow Road only at #3. Mario Kart 7, for all the undeserved hate it gets, does have one area that's been rightfully praised: the Rainbow Road. This is by far the most loved rendition in the entire Mario Kart fandom. I dare you to find anyone who doesn't put this in first place... well, aside from me.

This course is brilliant, and while it's not my personal favorite, it's the most ambitious one. Nathaniel Bandy once said this isn't just a track. It's an adventure. To this day, this is the only original Rainbow Road track divided into three different sections rather than looping it thrice.

It starts off nice and simple, with a couple of turns here and there. But then it progressively becomes more unique, as you glide across the rings of Saturn, make sharp turns, and then drive on the moon! Not only is this a cool idea, but they even changed the music to sound quieter and the gravity to be lower. Then there's the final lap, as you glide across a meteor shower, with an epic remix of the N64 Rainbow Road theme. My goodness, is this special.

So why isn't this any higher, when it's a full-blown adventure? Excluding the fact that the GBA and GCN tracks are even more atmospheric for me, while 3DS Rainbow Road has incredibly high highs, the lows are a bit lackluster. You can't really tell me the first section was anything special. Oh wow, I really liked that part where you did those wide turns, that was really special. Yeah... I guess it's so that the next two sections feel more special. But the top two tracks on this list manage to be just as epic without the flaw this one has. Let's find out!

4 Wii Rainbow Road

And finally, the sub-par Rainbow Roads are out of the way. Unfortunately, that was more than half of the list, but hey, now we reach the top four. If I were to show a newcomer to Mario Kart what Rainbow Road is, I'd probably choose one of these four. They're the most iconic renditions that check all the marks, whether it's the massive difficulty, the breathtaking atmosphere, or maybe even something more.

So which is the weakest of these four? The GBA, GCN, Wii, or 3DS? Believe it or not, for me, it's Wii Rainbow Road. Calm down, everyone! Remember what I just said? Wii Rainbow Road is amazing. Actually, scratch that. It's Kingly! The best thing you can say about something.

This was my first Rainbow Road ever, so it holds a special place in my heart. Even disregarding my nostalgia, it's difficult to see how this could not be the most iconic Rainbow Road ever. It's gorgeous! Atmospherically, it's a little more mellow than the other versions, with its soothing credits-styled music, but it's absolutely crazy design-wise. Split roads, sharp turns, massive gaps, 90-degree slopes, shooting stars, and even obligatory half-pipes. To say this track is crazy is an understatement.

Unlike the other ones I've discussed on this list, this one doesn't really have any flaws in the sense that an integral piece is missing. It's got everything. It's just that the top three are even better.

5 DS Rainbow Road

As you might've guessed if you've been on this account for a while, I'm not the biggest fan of Mario Kart DS's rendition of Rainbow Road. I wouldn't say it's a bad track, but it's definitely one of the most basic Rainbow Roads in the series.

From the moment you start playing, you notice that there's just something missing. It feels like it could be great, but it's not complete. That's how I felt. Then a couple of weeks later, I tried out Double Dash's Rainbow Road and instantly knew why. DS Rainbow Road is, in a nutshell, a watered-down version of the GameCube's rendition. A lot of sections are very similar, the music is suspiciously similar, and even the length is much shorter than usual.

However, it's a bit unfair to put all the blame on the limitations, because while I do have GameCube bias, this one still has some distinct features. Yeah, the music isn't the best, but it's still got a unique vibe to it. It's not a grand finale like GCN or 3DS Rainbow Road, but it still feels like a satisfying conclusion, especially when you go through the loop and corkscrew. Yes, Mario Kart DS kind of introduced Anti-Gravity long before 8 did with this track.

Again, even though this track isn't too distinct, it's still got quirks. Overall, DS Rainbow Road is not the best, but certainly not a bad track.

6 Wii U Rainbow Road

Wii U Rainbow Road, despite being the newest one, is also one of the worst ones. But I bet none of you were particularly surprised by this. This one definitely has a bit of a spicy reputation, and I can't say I don't understand. Is it a bad track? I guess not. But it's not really good either.

To understand my disdain for this track, you have to know why I love Rainbow Roads to begin with. The answer is their magical atmosphere. Space is pretty big and scary, but these tracks manage to make it feel beautiful and magical. Unfortunately, this one is pretty much the opposite.

Remember when Rainbow Road was like... you know, a rainbow road? Well, how about a man-made road instead? Yeah, there's not a single rainbow in this entire track. Instead, the entire course is just a massive space station with metal roads jutting out. Nintendo, I play your games because I want to experience new fantasy worlds, not to be reminded that humanity is slowly poisoning those worlds with technology. And even though the roads in this track are colored like a rainbow, it doesn't even look much like one. Everything is just boring grey.

However, I don't think it's an awful track. Even if I dislike the atmosphere, the layout itself is okay to drive on. It's a bit short and underwhelming compared to other Rainbow Roads, especially because this is the newest rendition, but it's not awful. The ending section with the split roads you can jump off is pretty cool, especially since this game is otherwise strict about what counts as out of bounds. Otherwise, this is definitely one of the blander Rainbow Road tracks out there.

7 SNES Rainbow Road

Next up, we have SNES Rainbow Road. Now, this is a classic. This was the first Rainbow Road ever made, and as a result, it's much simpler than all of the other ones. However, it still managed to not be last since it's actually playable.

The thing that made this so special when it was first released is the fact that it was the only track in Super Mario Kart that didn't have multiple variations. Instead, it was just this one, at the end of the final cup. While it may seem underwhelming today, it was pretty cool back in the old days. It was the ultimate test: no guardrails, super-thwomps, incredibly sharp turns. This was the jam back in the day.

Atmospherically, it wasn't as beautiful as its successors, as the main purpose was to be a final battle. However, the music is still relatively epic. There's just one massive problem. My eyes cannot tolerate these colors alternating so quickly. The remakes it spawned definitely outdid it in that regard.

Yeah, I'm clumping all of these in the same spot since they're really the same track, just with minor differences. The GBA version has no enemies, but the flooring is at least nicer on the eyes. The 7 version is the same as the original but with ramps here and there, and the 8 version is the same as 7 but prettier.

If I had to rank all of these four individually, this would be it. Overall, SNES Rainbow Road isn't perfect, but I'd much rather play this any day of the week than waste six minutes of my life on a track that doesn't even lead anywhere.

8 N64 Rainbow Road

The worst Rainbow Road starting off the list might be a bit of a controversial choice because, for me, the weakest one is none other than N64 Rainbow Road in Mario Kart 64. This is one of the most polarizing tracks in the entire series. Some people love it, and some people hate it. I've always been in the middle. I can see what makes it special to some people, but without the nostalgia goggles, it's really just not that good of a track.

Rainbow Roads are the last tracks you play in the game, and as a result, they combine feelings of difficulty, beauty, and satisfaction. These are the three key ingredients in making a good Rainbow Road, but one of those is missing in this one: the difficulty. The entire track is surrounded by guardrails, so it's impossible to fall off or test your skills.

Maybe it's interesting in spite of that? No, not really. A chain chomp comes every now and then, but otherwise, it's just a boring road with a couple of fireworks in the background. Is it short enough? Oh, were you wrong. It's the longest track in the entire series. To complete just one lap takes 2 minutes. Tackle the fact that you circle it three times and it takes six minutes to complete an entire race! WTF!

The only thing I can really say about it is that it's pretty damn beautiful, with the fireworks and credits-ish music. But even in that regard, other Rainbow Roads do it way better and with way more going on. Without a doubt, N64 Rainbow Road is the worst one and one of the only Mario Kart tracks that I actively try to avoid playing, unless I have to.

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