Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Favorite Video Game Music, #37: Rainbow Road

#37: Rainbow Road
Mario Kart 64

The high-octane awesome that is Rainbow Road has been a Mario Kart staple since the original SNES classic. On the SNES, Rainbow Road was a bitch. No retaining walls anywhere, so the slightest misstep sent you plummeting out of the race, and it was manned by special glowing Thwomps that would not just impede your progress, but would send you spinning. Got a mushroom? Great! Good luck using it without sailing off into the long night or smacking into one of the hyper-Thwomps. Conquering Rainbow Road, and then being able to do so consistently, marked you as a Mario Kart expert.

In Mario Kart 64 it's the exact opposite.

Don't get me wrong; Rainbow Road in Mario Kart 64 is awesome and remains my favorite Rainbow Road in the series. It's very, very long--much longer than the second-longest track, Wario Stadium, which itself is nearly twice as long as the rest of the tracks--and there are giant chomps wandering around to dodge, but after the wackiness that was Yoshi Valley and Banshee Boardwalk, that was a welcome relief. And the track was 100% covered by retaining walls, although there was a gigantic jump where, if you angled it just a little cockeyed, you would sail into oblivion. Difference being that the track was so long you had plenty of time to catch up. Also that if you practiced it a lot--and here "a lot" is defined by "as much as I did when I was a teenager"--you could use the ramp as a massive shortcut. Not that it mattered; the computer guys would run like bats out of hell and catch back up in about a lap anyway.

Yeah. Rainbow Road on Mario Kart 64, like Mario Kart 64 itself, was a lot more fun than I just made it sound. But that might be mostly because of the music. It's damn fun. And it's easily the best Rainbow Road music yet seen.

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