A new update distributed to the onboard computers of Tesla Model S cars earlier this week adds a fun tribute to the iconic Rainbow Road track from the Mario Kart series.
Despite being one of the best party games out there, the unruly action of Mario Kart is perhaps better confined to the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom than real-life highways. However, if you really need to combine the hit racer with your daily commute, you’ll need to purchase a Tesla Model S.
An update to the car’s OS released this week adds a new easter egg that directly references Mario Kart. Using a simple button input, drivers can see their autopilot display switch from its standard design to visuals inspired by the iconic Rainbow Road track.
For the uninitiated, Rainbow Road is a staple of the Mario Kart series, typically serving as the final track in each game’s most challenging cup. It’s usually one of the most difficult tracks in any given instalment, as large portions of the track are without barriers, and racers run the risk of falling into the vacuum of space.
To gain access to the Rainbow Road easter egg, drivers simply have to press the autopilot button four times in rapid succession. It’s not exactly the Konami code, but there’s a limit to how much Tesla designers can distract their customers while they’re in control of a vehicle.
This isn’t the first easter egg found in a Tesla automobile. Previously, the company included a portion of the settings interface referencing the iconic Lotus Espirit from Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me — a personal favourite of CEO Elon Musk, who purchased the vehicle used in the movie for $800K in 2013.
However, there are some claiming that the well-publicized easter egg is little more than a distraction tactic. Musk took to Twitter on Monday to draw attention to the Mario Kart reference — perhaps aiming to divert attention from the large-scale recall of cars that Tesla announced just hours later.
It remains to be seen whether Tesla will add more gaming easter eggs in future updates. The ability to drop banana skins from the back of your vehicle would be nice, but some sort of working powerslide-boost system is what most Mario Kart devotees will be waiting for.
If nothing else, this demonstrates just how deeply engrained in popular culture video games are as of 2016. Many of the engineers working on projects like the Tesla Model S are likely to have grown up with games like Mario Kart, so expect to see more nods and winks like this going forward.