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Boost Pads (also called Dash Panels, Boost Panels, Boosters, Zippers, Nitro Ramps, Rainbow Ramps, Dash Zones, Turbo Tiles, and Turbo Plates) are special panels that appear as a stationary power-up in the Mario Kart series. The appearance of these panels has changed throughout the series' history. Boost Pads give powerful bursts of speed for the player's Kart and are often used to achieve maximum speed on big jumps and slopes, as well as to gain advantage over opponents. If the player uses a Mushroom or a Mini-Turbo on any of these pads, nothing will happen; however, the player will go faster if he/she slipstreams over one.
Mario Kart series
Boost Pads are one of the main road elements in Mario Kart games, appearing in almost every title in the series. However, their design varies from game to game.
Super Mario Kart
In Super Mario Kart, Boost Pads appear as yellow arrows and are very rare. They appear in seven courses: Bowser Castle 1, Mario Circuit 2, Ghost Valley 2, Bowser Castle 2, Mario Circuit 3, Bowser Castle 3, Ghost Valley 3. CPUs never use them, so the player can easily get to the first positions by using them. In Mario Circuit 2 the boosters are used to make a large jump and are mandatory. Except in Mario Circuit 2, Boost Pads are removed for Time Trials, but remain intact on Match Race.
Mario Kart 64
In the Nintendo 64 title, Boost Pads are set in two courses, Royal Raceway and DK's Jungle Parkway. They appear as yellow and red scrolling arrows, used to launch racers over large gaps (similar to the cannons that appears in future Mario Kart courses like DK Mountain and Airship Fortress). The ramps in Koopa Troopa Beach are also red and yellow, but the arrows look different and they don't have Boost Pads on them.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
In Mario Kart: Super Circuit, they also appear as yellow and red arrows, but smaller and square-shaped. Unlike in previous games, they are fairly common, appearing in fourteen courses: Riverside Park, Mario Circuit, Boo Lake, Cheese Land, Bowser Castle 2, Cheep Cheep Island, Sunset Wilds, Snow Land, Ribbon Road, Yoshi Desert, Lakeside Park, Broken Pier, Bowser Castle 4 and Rainbow Road. They again provide a burst of speed like in Super Mario Kart but are often used to make large jumps off ramps. Rainbow Road has the most Boost Pads of all the courses. With the exception of Mario Circuit 2, all extra courses had their Boost Pads removed.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
In this game, they are designed as a flashing rainbow-colored panels and rectangle-shaped. In this game, Boost Pads appear in half of the courses and are noticeably more powerful, about as fast as using a Mushroom.
Mario Kart DS
In Mario Kart DS, Boost Pads once again appear as rainbow-colored panels, but this time they scroll forwards, rather than changing colors over time. In this game, Boost Pads are slightly more common, appearing in ten nitro courses. They appear less in Retro Courses, with only GCN Luigi Circuit and GBA Bowser Castle 2 having Boost Pads. Courses from games older than Mario Kart: Double Dash!! keep the original booster design (like in GBA Bowser Castle 2).
Drifting or braking when driving over a Boost Pad will cause the tires to slip and screech.
Mario Kart Wii
In Mario Kart Wii, they have a similar design to the ones in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, but in most courses, the color only changes from red, orange, yellow and back to red through the color spectrum. Every nitro course in the game features a Boost Pad, a tradition that would happen in later Mario Kart games. Many retro courses from games older than Mario Kart: Double Dash!! that contain Boost Pads keep the original design (two examples are DK's Jungle Parkway and Mario Circuit 3).
Mario Kart 7
In Mario Kart 7, with the new feature of gliders, Boost Pads are color-coded:
Mario Kart 8 / Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
In Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Boost Pads are still color-and-shape-coded and have pixelated animations of their shapes and colors like the ones in Super Mario 3D World. Like in 7, orange panels are normal boost pads. Blue panels, however, will do one of two things:
In some courses, some boost pads become inactive under certain conditions:
In Cloudtop Cruise, Bowser's Castle, and Super Bell Subway, players can carefully drive on the boost pads that are in contact with hazardous obstacles, but they cannot get a boost.
Diddy Kong Racing
Objects that behave similarly to a boost pad in the Mario Kart series appear in Diddy Kong Racing, where they are known as Zippers. Owing to the different types of vehicles available, there are three types of Zippers: grounded ones shaped like arrows, aerial ones shaped like rings, and waterborne ones shaped like half a ring (with the flat side on the water's surface). Hovercrafts and planes can use all types of Zippers, but cars can only use grounded ones; concurrently, some Zippers do not appear if no player is using a vehicle that can reach them.
Mario Party series
Mario Party 9
Boost Pads (known in this game as Dash Zones) appear in Mario Party 9 in the minigame, Speeding Bullets. They are used to accelerate the character's speed when they are used. These Boost Pads are orange in color and are arrow-shaped. In Time Attack mode, the bonus challenge for Speeding Bullets is to not miss a single Dash Zone.
A Boost Pad also appears in Snow Go to help the players crossing thick snow. In Time Attack mode, the bonus challenge is to use it in all ten laps.
Mario Party: Island Tour
In Mario Party: Island Tour, Boost Pads are present in two minigames: Gyro for the Gold and Mr. Blizzard's Snow Slalom. In the former, they are used to cross gaps between the platforms of the obstacle course. In the latter, it has the same look from recent Mario Kart Boost Pads and is used to launch the character's snowball at Mr. Blizzard.
Super Mario 3D World
These objects make their debut in the Super Mario series in Super Mario 3D World, for the Wii U. This time, they are square-shaped and feature a pixelated diamond animation. Once a character runs on it, it will blink and give them a boost. Boosted characters cannot stop running or crouch (and so cannot long jump), and cannot make direction changes any sharper than 90 degrees without first being in the air. All characters run at the same speed when boosted. Jumping will slow boosted characters down slightly, especially if an ability such as floating is used, but they'll immediately return to full speed upon landing if the boost has not yet run out.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Boost Pads return in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker keeping their appearance and function from Super Mario 3D World. They appear in Magma Road Marathon, where Captain Toad is forced to use them in order to advance and to not get hit by Charvaarghs, and in Drop-Road Dash.
Boost Rings are a rare variant of the Boost Pads, appearing in Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8. These rings appear floating in mid-air and provides a speed boost whilst jumping or gliding. In Mario Kart 7, they appear only on Rainbow Road, while in Mario Kart 8, they appear on four courses; Dolphin Shoals, Mount Wario, N64 Rainbow Road, and Big Blue. Boost Rings have unique sounds when driven through.