Cannon (Mario Kart series)
A Cannon or Launch Cannon is a track feature seen in various tracks in the Mario Kart series. It is a somewhat uncommon feature that appears in a few courses throughout the series. It launches racers at very high speeds to another section of the course. Cannons take on different forms, such as pipe cannons and the more common barrel cannons. In Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Mario Kart DS, and Mario Kart Wii, all cannons make racers immune to all items, including Lightning Bolts, POW Blocks and Spiny Shells, while in Mario Kart 7 onwards, players are no longer immune to any items. In Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart 7, cannons start with a Dash Panel.
Cannons make their first appearance in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! where they are featured on three courses: DK Mountain, Daisy Cruiser, and Rainbow Road. In DK Mountain, the cannon takes the form of a barrel cannon, most likely to suit the Donkey Kong theme of the track. In Daisy Cruiser, the cannon takes the form of an orange exhaust pipe. In Rainbow Road, the cannon takes the form of a long, vertical tube going straight upward.
Cannons return in Mario Kart DS, having two appearances; one in Waluigi Pinball and another in Airship Fortress. In Waluigi Pinball, the cannon takes the form similar to that of a pinball launcher. In Airship Fortress, the cannon takes the form of an actual cannon rather than a barrel cannon seen in many other courses.
In Mario Kart Wii, cannons are a bit more commonplace, as they appear in three Nitro courses (DK Summit, Maple Treeway, and Rainbow Road) and one Retro course (GCN DK Mountain). Also, in the retro track N64 DK's Jungle Parkway, the Dash Panel acts like a cannon. Both DK Summit and Maple Treeway use a barrel cannon, both of which are located near the beginning of the tracks, while Rainbow Road uses a Launch Star design, to fit the Super Mario Galaxy theme of the track. In DK Summit and GCN DK Mountain, the cannons have the initials "DK" on the sides, while in Maple Treeway, the cannon has no designs on the sides.
In Mario Kart 7, cannons don't appear in any of the new courses, due to the introduction of gliding. However, the returning DS Waluigi Pinball, Wii Maple Treeway, and DS Airship Fortress all retain their cannons, though now use gliding panels. When a player goes through one of the cannons, they are unable to steer while gliding. The pipe in GCN Daisy Cruiser no longer works as a cannon but only as a simple trick ramp, making Mario Kart 7 the first game in the series to remove a cannon from a retro track.
Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe use cannons occasionally. Mario Kart 8 is the first Mario Kart game to add a cannon to a retro track (in this case, replacing the Long Route in N64 Yoshi Valley with a Cannon). Aside from the aforementioned retro track, Sweet Sweet Canyon uses a doughnut themed cannon near the beginning of the track, while Cloudtop Cruise uses an actual cannon to launch racers into the clouds, similar to that of Airship Fortress.
There are additional gliding segments that work like a cannon as they launch racers at a high speed and the gliders can barely be controlled: they include the first gliding section in Sunshine Airport, which launches racers off the runway and onto an anti-gravity platform; the second gliding section in Rainbow Road that takes racers off the second satellite; and the gliding segment in Big Blue transitioning racers from the second to the third segment. Unlike previous games, it is now possible to perform Tricks while being launched.
Cannons also appear in some Dream Events in the Mario & Sonic series, commonly in the events taking place in Mario Kart locations. One appears in Dream Ski Cross, which takes place in Mario Circuit and another in Groove Pipe Snowboard which takes place in Mushroom Bridge.