- “Be patient, drivers! If you tap the screen too early, you'll fail the Rocket Start and be at a disadvantage.”
- – Lakitu, Mario Kart Tour
A Rocket Start (also referred to as a Turbo Start, Boost Start, or Head Start) is a technique used in the Mario Kart series. It is a powerful burst of speed that occurs at the beginning of every race, which easily accelerates racers to top speed from standing still. Rocket Starts are featured in every Mario Kart title, the first being Super Mario Kart, which reused the technique from the first F-Zero game. Likewise, Rocket Starts have appeared in every F-Zero game. Rocket Starts are common in racing games in general, especially if their gameplay is based on the Mario Kart series. The Diddy Kong Racing series and Donkey Kong Barrel Blast are the only other Mario-related racing games to feature Rocket Starts. The vehicles in the F-Zero series move a lot faster, meaning that Rocket Starts were slowed down for the Mario Kart series and the Donkey Kong racing games.
Aside from racing titles, the Rocket Start briefly appears in Paper Mario: Color Splash, where it is used by Luigi in his Standard Kart before he transports Mario and Huey up the rainbow to Black Bowser's Castle near the end of the game. It uses Mario Kart 8's chimes.
In the F-Zero titles, a Rocket Start is when the pilot starts a race with a burst of speed by revving up their engines. Upon a successful start, the pilot very quickly loses speed, roughly in the range of 250 and 300km/h. Each machine is different to how fast they can rev up their engine, how much they decelerate, and how quickly they lose speed. In F-Zero: GP Legend, the lowest speed is around 600km/h. In F-Zero Climax, the negative effects are much less.
In F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, F-Zero: GP Legend, and F-Zero Climax, it is possible to overheat at maximum revving, causing the engine to backfire and speeds to drop much more drastically (as indicated by the announcer saying "Fire!"). All overheated Rocket Starts behave in the same way. Compared to a successful Rocket Start, this decelerates a machine down at a faster rate. The slowest speed is a near-crawl. This effect lasts for about five seconds before the thrusters recover. The negative effects are immediately negated if the pilot collides with a Mine or runs over a Dash Zone.
In F-Zero: GP Legend, the Engine Settings affect how quickly a machine can rev up.
Mario Kart series
A Rocket Start is executed by holding the acceleration button at the correct time in the starting countdown, with each game having different timing to do so, although the general timing of the technique in most games is to press the button sometime when the number 2 or equivalent appears onscreen. If the player holds the button too early and over-revs when the final beep sounds, the player's vehicle will backfire and stall for a few seconds at the beginning of the course (sometimes known as a Dud Start or Fail Start). Alternatively, a Rocket Start can be executed right when the countdown timer begins at 3, then releasing the acceleration button at 1, and then holding it down again right when START/GO! appears onscreen.
In Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, there is a unique type of Rocket Start called the Double Dash, which can only be performed only in the co-op play mode, and it is named after the game's subtitle. Both players must press at the same time when the light on Lakitu's starting signal turns green to perform this technique, which launches the kart at a higher speed. Blue flames follow the kart, indicating that the technique was performed correctly.
Since Mario Kart DS, the strength of the Rocket Start depends on the power of the rev at the moment before START/GO! appears onscreen. For example, if the player starts to rev the engine when the countdown reaches 2, depending on when the player started to hold down the acceleration button when 2 was onscreen, the duration of the technique can be roughly between 0.5 and 2.0 seconds, indicated by the flames coming out of the exhaust pipes of the vehicle (ink when the player drives the Inkstriker or Splat Buggy, magic when the player drives Kamek's Zoom Broom or its variants, and soda when the player drives the Combo Cruiser). In other words, if the player starts to rev right at the moment the countdown reaches 2, the resulting rocket launch from the grid would be longer than if the player started to rev half a second after the 2 came onscreen.
In Mario Kart Tour, in addition to the technique from previous games, releasing the tap when GO! appears onscreen (due to auto-accelerate permanently enabled) results in the Rocket Start being longer and awarding more points than usual, with the character's "item success" animation indicating a longer boost. A bonus challenge called Ready, Set, Rocket Start grades players on how many points earned for the Rocket Start, but it appeared only in the game's beta test, the New York Tour, and the Tokyo Tour.
To perform a Rocket Start, drivers must press and hold the corresponding acceleration button when the race is about to begin. How and when to use it depends on which installment in the series and which control scheme the player uses.
Mario Kart series
|Super Mario Kart||Hold||Right as the beep sound from the first light stops||The kart's tires do a burnout, and it accelerates slowly at the start.|
|Mario Kart 64||Hold or tap it three times in sync with the lights||When the light turns blue||The kart's tires do a burnout with no forward movement.|
|Mario Kart: Super Circuit||Hold||Halfway between the second yellow light and the green light||The kart accelerates slowly at the start.|
|Mario Kart: Double Dash!!||Hold or tap it in time with the lights||When the light turns green||The kart's rear wheels do a burnout, preventing movement for a few seconds.|
|Mario Kart DS||Hold||When the number "2" starts fading||The kart's engine backfires and stalls for a second or two.|
|Mario Kart Wii||With Wii Wheel or Wii Remote –
With Wii Classic Controller –
With Nintendo GameCube Controller –
With Wii Remote and Nunchuk –
|Mario Kart 7||Hold or||When the number "2" fully appears|
|Mario Kart 8||With Wii U GamePad/Wii U Pro Controller – , , or (tilt forward)
With Wii Wheel or Wii Remote –
With Wii Remote and Nunchuk –
|Mario Kart 8 Deluxe / Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit||With Joy-Con (sideways) –|
|Mario Kart Tour||Hold finger on the screen and release before "GO!" appears||Before or as the number "2" fully appears|
- Mario Kart Arcade GP – same as in Mario Kart: Super Circuit and Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
- Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 and Mario Kart Arcade GP DX – pressing down on the accelerator when "1" appears on the screen
Donkey Kong franchise
|Diddy Kong Racing||Press||As soon as the words "Get Ready" have almost completely faded||The vehicle accelerates slowly at the start.|
|Diddy Kong Racing DS||Press||As soon as the word "Go!" appears onscreen|
|Donkey Kong Barrel Blast||Shake and simultaneously||Right as the word "Start!" appears onscreen||The player may either accelerate slowly or jump by accident.|
Mario Kart 64
- Instruction booklet: "When you start, if you press the Button when the signal changes from red to blue, you can make a dash start at maximum speed (called a "Rocket Start"). But if you press too early, the tires will spin and you will start even slower, so be careful."
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
- Instruction booklet: "If you press the button at just the right moment before the light turns green, you'll start the race with a huge burst of speed."
- Electronic manual: "When the race is starting, if you press on the accelerator after the second signal flashes--and with just the right timing--you will perform a Rocket Start and shoot off the starting line."
Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
- Instruction booklet (Rocket Start): "If you press just as Lakitu's start signal turns green, you'll perform a Rocket Start."
- Instruction booklet (Double Dash): "In co-op play you can get an even better launch if both the front and rear perform a Rocket Start at the same time. This is called a Double Dash."
Mario Kart DS
- Instruction booklet: "During the countdown to the start, hold down with the right timing to rev up your engine and give yourself a burst of speed off the starting line."
Mario Kart Wii
- Instruction booklet: "Press and hold at just the right time during the countdown to rev up your engine and give yourself a burst of speed off the starting line."
Mario Kart 7
- Electronic manual: "If you press and hold or at just the right time during the starting countdown, you will launch off the starting line much faster than normal."
Mario Kart 8
- Electronic manual: "Get off to a Rocket Start! To launch from the starting grid at a high speed, press and hold at just the right moment during the countdown."
- Guide: "Timing a perfect Rocket Start can determine the whole nature of a Grand Prix race's first lap, and this technique is essential for posting record-breaking Time Trials. When Lakitu begins the countdown, start accelerating when "2" is on screen and the second red light is lit. If this is well timed, you'll have a perfect Rocket Start."
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- In-game manual: "Get off to a Rocket Start! To launch from the starting grid at a high speed, press and hold at just the right moment during the countdown."
- Guide: "Timing a perfect Rocket Start can determine the whole nature of a Grand Prix race’s first lap, and this technique is essential for posting record-breaking Time Trials. Pay attention to Lakitu’s countdown, and begin accelerating immediately after the “2” appears onscreen, accompanied by a tone. Properly done, you’ll rocket off the line with a Mushroom-like boost. If you begin accelerating too soon, as the tone sounds and the 2 appears, rather than just after, you’ll stall at the starting line."
Mario Kart Tour
- Tips & Tricks: "At the race's start, tap the screen and hold on 2, then release at GO to take off with a Rocket Start! The closer you are to GO when you release, the longer your dash will last and the more bonus points you'll get. But be careful... You'll stall if you tap too early!"
- FYI! (From Ready, Set, Rocket Start): "Tap and hold the screen when the countdown reaches 2, release at GO for a Rocket Start!"
List of appearances
|Title||Release medium||Year of release|
|F-Zero||Super Nintendo Entertainment System||1991|
|BS F-Zero Grand Prix||Satellaview||1996 / 1997|
|BS F-Zero Grand Prix 2||Satellaview||1997|
|F-Zero X||Nintendo 64||1998|
|F-Zero X Expansion Kit||Nintendo 64DD||2000|
|F-Zero: Maximum Velocity||Game Boy Advance||2001|
|F-Zero GX||Nintendo GameCube||2003|
|F-Zero: GP Legend||Game Boy Advance||2004|
|F-Zero Climax||Game Boy Advance||2004|
|Title||Release medium||Year of release|
|Diddy Kong Racing||Nintendo 64||1997|
|Diddy Kong Pilot (2001 build)||Game Boy Advance||Canceled|
|Diddy Kong Pilot (2003 build)||Game Boy Advance||Canceled|
|Banjo-Pilot||Game Boy Advance||2005|
|Diddy Kong Racing DS||Nintendo DS||2007|
|Donkey Kong Barrel Blast||Wii||2007|
Donkey Kong franchise
Names in other languages
|Dutch||Superstart (Mario Kart 7)
|Italian||Partenza a razzo||Rocket Start|
|Portuguese (Brazil)||Saída turbo
|Portuguese (Europe)||Inicio a Jato||Rocket Start|
|Spanish (Europe)||Doble Carrera||Double Dash|
- Mario Kart: Super Circuit instruction booklet, page 26.
- Mario Kart: Double Dash!! instruction booklet, page 13.
- Mario Kart 64 Brazilian instruction booklet, page 19.