As many of you may already know, Super Mario Kart recently turned twenty years old from the time of its Japanese release.
Released on the Super Nintendo, Super Mario Kart represents the first entry in the racing branch of the venerable Mario franchise. Known for its daft combination of kart racing and cartoonish combat, Super Mario Kart would become a massive hit, eventually selling over eight million copies worldwide and firmly establishing the “kart racer” as a sub-genre of racing games. The 2009 edition of Guinness World Records named the game as the greatest of all console titles based on its initial impact and legacy, which has endured across several other Nintendo platforms and even in the arcades.
But enough of the pleasantries; let’s get real.
For all the felicity surrounding Super Mario Kart, there remains a seed of iniquity sown deep in the bowels of its coding. When found, it sprouts into a hell flower of a road course, suspended in darkness yet paved in bright colors. People, this track might very well be the path of evil itself.
That track is called Rainbow Road.
AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!! Pic comes mariokart.wkika.com
Rarely has such ebullient nomenclature been labeled on something so harrowing. Rainbow Road sounds like a children’s show, one that would likely include talking cars and smiling suns. But there’s none of that here; Rainbow Road is anything but welcoming. Paved in tiles reminiscent of the disco floor in Saturday Night Fever, Rainbow Road hovers in a dark corner of the cosmos that even Brian Greene wouldn’t traverse. If you fall off the grid here, you fall into the abyss.
And you will fall. Rainbow Road has no guardrails, so you’re either going to stay on the track or meet the black. You can be driving along, knuckles white with fear as you’re just trying to stay in next to last place. Then suddenly “POW!” someone bumps you off the road and there you go, sailing into nothingness while being lapped.
It would have been merciful of Nintendo to leave Rainbow Road in the past, left with high-top fades, Skip-its, and British Knights. Oh no, that would have been too much like right! Rainbow Road came back. Again. And again. And again. In fact, there is no incarnation of Mario Kart that doesn’t contain a version of this tortuous track!
Happy Anniversary Super Mario Kart! And my prayers go to all who drive on that Road of Wiles…Rainbow Road.