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File:Nitro Boost.jpg

Gas Tank + Fire-Breathing Diner = Nitro Boost!

"You got boost power!"
The Announcer, F-Zero X

Also known as the "Emergency Go-Fast Button", a Power-Up that makes you go really fast for a short period of time.

These come in three major categories:

  • "Dash Pads": Environmental features that accelerate the player on contact, often represented as arrows.
  • "Stored Nitro Charges": Items picked up and stored for later use, usually with an upper limit.
  • "Self-Regenerating Boost": Awarded at the end of every lap, or simply recovers over time, like a Sprint Meter.

In many of these cases, the speed boost cannot be shut off once started, and is usually limited to a brief burst of acceleration. Some more recent games give a supply of boost that can be used on demand, rather than discrete "charges" of boost. Note that this type of Power-Up is mostly associated with, but not exclusively used in, driving games. Flying games have their own equivalent - the afterburner in a jet engine, where fuel is injected into the exhaust to give a massive boost of power and to make some serious noise (it's also an excellent way of showing off if you've got a jet dragster or the Batmobile). A related concept is the Quad Damage, a power up for a combat game (FPS or other) that temporarily increases the power, ground speed, and/or weapon damage of a player. Sports games usually have a Nitro Boost button allowing the player to run faster at the expense of increased fatigue or increased risk of dropping the ball.

In Real Life, nitrous oxide is used to make a high-compression racing engine violate its power output limits temporarily. It serves as an oxidizer; allowing the engine to increase the fuel burned, and therefore the pressure generated, by each combustion stroke. The drawbacks are: extra heat generated, which can overwhelm stock cooling systems; extra load on pistons and cylinders, which can destroy an engine; and attendant stress on the drivetrain. It is usually dispensed from compressed cylinders, on demand, by an electric valve solenoid. Illegal in many areas, including most professional racing except drag racing (where some stock classes allow nitrous instead of a supercharger). The power up effect can also be achieved with turbocharged engines by increasing boost pressure, usually via a dial in the cockpit. The turbocharged F1 cars of the 1980s were fitted with overtake boost pressure buttons (before turbos were outlawed).

Modern-day Formula One uses a greener kind of power-boost mechanism, the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), in which the car's kinetic energy is converted into electricity by generators in the wheels whenever the brakes are applied, and is stored in a battery or supercapacitor bank, which is then discharged for a 6.7 second power boost equivalent to about 90 horsepower every lap. Additionally, Formula One also features the 'Drag Reduction System' or DRS wherein one car close behind another on a straight may open a flap in its rear wing to cut drag in exchange for losing downforce (which while critical for cornering, is not needed so much on straights), allowing a speed boost by way of aerodynamics and not mechanical power. The current cars in the Champ Car and A1GP series also have 'Power to Pass' buttons, perhaps inspired by video games, but these are merely ECU (engine computer) remaps allowing the engine to break computer-regulated performance limits, and not actually an external power boost.

It's worth mentioning that in actual racing, the term "nitro boost" is not used. Nitro refers to nitromethane fuel, also known as "top fuel" or "racing alcohol", as in "nitro-burning funny cars". The oxidizer compound that's only used in short bursts is referred to as nitrous or more rarely NOS (which is actually the acronym for the company that invented such systems).

See also Overdrive, Sprint Shoes.

May cause Explosive Overclocking. Compare Tim Taylor Technology.

Examples of Nitro Boost include:

Anime and Manga

  • The characters in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As make use of this for their magic. Comes in single shot, revolver and banana clip packs. And the characters are all named after cars to boot.
  • In Speed Racer , the hero uses two forms: completely normal nitro boost, and finally a special engine that's been around for ages, is much faster than the newest of the new engines, but is apparently so finicky that nobody else uses it. I guess there has to be SOME trade-off to keep people from using the best all the time...
  • Future GPX Cyber Formula has nitro boosts as the main function of the machines. And don't forget to call out its name when you use one.
  • Done right in You're Under Arrest; among other things, the girls' patrol car has been upgraded with a nitrous injection system. However, Miyuki rarely uses it, due to the inherent danger in controlling a very lightweight vehicle at very high speeds on Tokyo's streets.
  • A few characters in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's use one in their motorcycles.
  • Ransack and Crumplezone of Transformers Cybertron modify themselves with Nitrous injection systems to improve their chances in the final race for the Planet Cup. However, they don't pace their consumption and it runs out on the loop-the-loop section of the course, which is too steep for them to climb without the boost.
  • Red Line: JP uses the nitro several times through out the movie, most notably at the start and the end. The boost gained causes JP to bleed from the nose, the picture being distorted and the footage to go slow motion. Oh, and it makes the movie look awesome.


  • In Don Rosa's The Three Caballeros Ride Again (pictured above), when trying to drive off of a Runaway Train, Panchito shoves some Habanero peppers into the gas tank, which causes a rocket boost that just barely allows the trio to escape safely.


  • Spaceballs - Liquid Schwartz!
  • Back to The Future Part III, the three chemical bricks Doc puts in the steam engine. Each one makes it rapidly accelerate, the third blows the tank!
  • In The Rescuers, Luke's "mountain juice" is what gives the swampmobile the power necessary to escape.
  • In Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze's big stunt to jump the length of an arena over Six! Blackhawk! Helicopters! required him to fire off the NOS with pinpoint timing.
    • Speaking of Nick Cage movies, This Troper has three words for you. GO BABY GO.
  • In one Harold Lloyd short, Harold pours heroin into his car to make it go faster.
  • Mad Max The Road Warrior. The Humungus has nitro boost on his command vehicle.
  • Used in all of the The Fast and the Furious films.
  • Played straight in Cobra a popcorn action flick where Sylvester Stallone is a badass cop.
  • Taxi 3 features a pastis injection system that does the same.
  • The "Regentenschüssel" in Werner - Gekotzt wird später! has a nitrous system which includes a bottle welded into the middle of the hood. Mind you the car is (or used to be) a 1975 Oldsmobile 98 Regency, and the bottle goes the whole length of the hood.
  • Galaxy Quest

 Sir Alexander Dane: You don't hold the turbo down, it's for quick boosts!

Jason Nesmith: Oh, like you know!



Live-Action TV

  • In Top Gear Richard Hammond refused to use nitrous on a car they were upgrading on the grounds that it's dangerous:

 Hammond: Do you remember what happened to the first Stig?

Clarkson: He fell off an aircraft carrier.

Hammond: Because?

Clarkson: ...Yeah, we used nitrous.

    • The aforementioned incident? First episode of season 3. And yes, it was because of nitrous causing the car to go too fast.
  • In the Quantum Leap episode "Camikazi Kid", Sam rigs up a nitro boost to win a drag race.
  • In one episode of Home Improvement, the original proponent of Tim Taylor Technology equips a lawn tractor with a turbine engine and a nitrous booster to win a race for charity against Bob Vila. Hilarity Ensues as Tim promptly loses control of the tractor, resulting in a high-speed chase up I-96 with a police helicopter in hot pursuit...
  • In one episode of The Dukes of Hazzard the Duke boys put a nitro boost tank in their car in order to compete against the baddie of the week who was cheating even worse.

Video Games

  • The Atari/Amiga game Nitro from 1990 has turbos that are called nitros.
  • The Mario Kart series has the standard red-spotted mushrooms from its platformer cousins as a storable speed boost. In Double Dash, where two characters rode on a single kart (one to drive, the other to use items) the character in back simply shoves the Mushroom into the Kart's tailpipe to activate the boost.
    • Every Mario Kart game since the Nintendo 64 game has had mini-turbos in it (a technique to get boosts on corners through drifting).
      • The original Super Mario Kart did too, but they were undocumented, invisible, and hard to perform.
    • All Mario Kart games also had the zip arrows on many tracks, especially right in front of jumps.
    • Since Mario Kart 64, there is also the gold mushroom, which instead of being usable for a limited number of boosts is usable only for a limited amount of time--but within that time limit can be used as many times as desired.
    • The Stars could also be considered a Nitro Boost since you have higher top speed for a short period of time.
    • The Wii version also has bikes which can wheelie for a slight speed boost in exchange for the ability to get 2nd-tier mini-turbos. Of course, take into mind mini-turbos themselves had been nerfed quite a bit in the transition to this installment. (Although admittedly, it was often regarded as too easy to get said 2nd-tier mini-turbos in previous installments.)
  • Crash Team Racing also had a myriad of speedup items, and by far the best was the Triple Gas. It's essentially just layering boosts on boosts, and god help you if you hit a speed pad.
  • Driver San Francisco didn't have nitro per se but Tanner gains the ability to (presumably, thanks to the coma dream) telekineticly boost a cars acceleration, to put in the words of Tanner: "Who needs nitrous?". You can have the boost last longer/regenerate faster by buying the respective upgrades at a garage store.
  • Diddy Kong Racing had a 3-level upgradeable boost item, and 3 types of dash pad, that accommodated the various vehicles (floor pads for Kart and Hovercraft, Arches for Planes and Hovercraft, and rings for Planes). Releasing the accelerator just before using the Nitro Boost made it stronger.
  • YOU GOT BOOST POWER!! F-Zero initially had a boost charge system, with one rewarded per lap to a maximum of three, but all its sequels (sans Maximum Velocity for the Game Boy Advance, which played the same as the original game) let you boost whenever... but it draws from your energy meter, which is also your health. You also couldn't use the boost until after the first lap. The series also features some dash pads as well.
  • True to form as a "driving simulator", Gran Turismo 4 has a NOS system which works almost exactly like the real deal.
  • One of the first driving sims, Electronic Arts' 1990 game Indianapolis 500: The Simulation simulated a real racing engine's adjustable turbo boost dial, and even the increased engine stress and fuel consumption when running on maximum boost. Thus the player had to ration the boost like a real racing driver.
  • Battlefield 2's jet fighters have a self-recovering boost meter representing their afterburners.
    • Soldiers, too. Equipping lighter armor sacrifices protection for more sprint meter.
    • Battlefield 2142 takes from the jets and gives to the cars. Battlewalkers can also run, albeit indefinitely.
  • Pokémon has several moves that raise Speed or strike first (Quick Attack and Agility for example) and whilst these aren't strictly the same as this, there are three other abilities/moves that simulate NitroBoosts in a manner like racing games.
    • There's an actual move called Nitro Charge in the Japan games (Flame Charge, unfortunately, for everywhere else) that raises the user's Speed when it hits. The move Tailwind causes your team's speed to be increased for five turns, whilst the Ability Quick Feet raises your Speed when under a status condition, even Paralysis!
  • GTA: San Andreas has Nitro as one of the customization options available at tuning garages, available for purchase in limited bursts. The reward for completing taxi missions is infinite Nitro bursts in all taxis the player enters.
    • And a modded PC version allows you to put nitros on vehicles that do not normally accept the modification, such as buses and bikes. Try slapping one on a NRG-500.
  • Likewise, just as any other street racing scene game would have, all Need for Speed games after Underground feature a nitrous oxide system. The higher its level, the more boost you could use. The first game had one single fixed charge of nitrous, akin to real life; the second game has a nitrous tank refilled by pulling stunts, and the last two games (NFS Most Wanted and Carbon) have a nitrous tank that continuously and constantly refills itself. (Note for the unwary - you can't just call it NOS, because as The Fast and the Furious people found out the hard way, that's a specific company who will sue you. Most of the games feature both Holley Performance Products NOS and Nitrous Express NX as available systems.)
    • There are cars available for Need for Speed: High Stakes already that simulate Nitro Boost with a modified reverse gear. At the cost of being able to move backwards, the car seems to develop a power boost and increase both its acceleration and maximum speed dramatically.
    • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2010 has every car fitted with a race-spec nitrous kit. Racers build their boost by driving dangerously, such as in oncoming lanes, near misses, and drifting. Cops don't get any boost for driving in oncoming lanes, but instead constantly regenerate nitrous, somewhat faster at higher speeds. The biggest difference is that a full racer nitrous boost will last twice as along as a cop's boost, but has less power per second than the cop boost.
  • The Burnout games have a boost meter that keeps going up with the ever-increasing chaos you inflict. A takedown of an opponent's car completely fills the meter and just driving on the wrong side of the road will cause it to rise.
    • The boost actually worked differently in each game of the series, and it wasn't until Burnout Paradise that multiple boost types were available based on the car you choose. The main selection of cars use either Aggression boost (Burnout 3 style, scoring takedowns tops off the gauge and extends it up to 3 times), Stunt boost (get more energy from stunts), or Speed boost (Burnout 1 and 2 style, only usable when the boost gauge is full, but using it all without stopping causes a Burnout which partially fills it back up, and doing enough stunts while boosting makes the Burnout completely fill it up so you can keep boosting). One DLC car, the Carson Extreme Hotrod, has its own type of boost, Locked boost, which can be ignited when the gauge is half full or more, and it doesn't stop until you crash, slam the brake or spin 180 degrees.
  • The Pegasus Seeds of the The Legend of Zelda Oracle Games are a rare example of a Nitro Boost used on a humanoid.
    • In various other titles where you're given a horse, you can "feed" it "carrots" to get a boost of speed.
  • "Unreal Tournament 3"'s light support vehicle, the Scorpion, can give itself a massive boost while moving which regenerates over time. It can be used for kamikaze attacks.
  • Star Fox features a boost meter that can be used for various moves, including Nitro Boost. It recharges while no such move is performed. In Command, its length varies from ship to ship.
  • Somewhat surprisingly for a game all about speed, it wasn't until Sonic Rush Series (released 14 years after the original) that Sonic the Hedgehog got access to the tension gauge-powered 'Boost' ability. Before that, there were boost pads which remain to this day.
    • If you squint, the Super Sneakers power-up are sort of like dash pads. You smash an environmental object and you get a big boost in speed. And true dash pads that push you forward featured at least as early as Sonic 2's Chemical Plant Zone to get you through some loops.
    • From Sonic 2's Chemical Plant Zone, they moved onto Sonic 3's Hydrocity, and then Sonic CD's Stardust Speedway, and some variation of dash pads have been present in almost every Sonic game since then.
    • In Sonic R, Amy's car could boost its speed periodically.
    • The Speed Break and Sonic Boost moves from Sonic and The Secret Rings, Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Colors takes the Boost move from Sonic Rush Series and applies it to the 3D plane, for the same basic purpose. Unlike the Tension Gauge-powered Boost from the latter game, the fuel for the Sonic Boost is rings (Soul Pearls and White Wisps, for Secret Rings and Colors, respectively).
  • Several Mega Man X stages put your character on a Ride Chaser; pressing the dash button usually gives a burst of speed. Useful, but you can't dodge at the same time, so you're more likely to smack yourself into a wall. X8 has two Ride Chaser stages, one of which has more traditional Nitro Boosts (you have to keep picking up weapon energy to use them). The other gives you both dash and brake buttons — when an enemy jetbike comes up behind you, you can brake and watch it speed ahead and crash.
    • Let us not forget that all the playable characters in Mega Man X have "emergency acceleration" systems, commonly called dashing, available to give them a speed boost whenever they need to get away from something. Of course, since you can spam it indefinitely, it doesn't end up being used for emergencies so much as just finishing a stage in half the time. The same applies to Zero in Mega Man Zero, and most of the armor forms in Mega Man ZX.
  • Nitro boosts are a crucial element in the Ridge Racer games. Nitro tanks are refilled by drifting (the faster and longer you drift, the faster the tanks refill).
  • R/C racing game RC Pro Am on the NES had "zippers," a set of chevrons painted on the track that would give vehicles a short boost.
  • A strange take on this is in Final Fantasy XII — while riding Chocobos, you can feed them Gysahl Greens to temporarily speed them up. Their eyes light up bright red.
  • The Magic Candle has two variations:
    • The drelin mushroom temporarily raises your characters' overworld walking speed. They still move one tile at a time, but less in-game time elapses. Since your party is only as fast as its slowest member (probably a wizard) and time is of the essence in this game, drelins are handier than they sound.
    • The "Flee" command will move you two tiles instead of one. This is very hard on your party's energy, but if an enemy party is on your tail and you're not up to fighting them, this is often the only way to escape (enemy parties move no faster than yours, but they can move diagonally and you can't, so it's hard to shake them).
  • Wacky Wheels has speed boost sections on some tracks and a command-line parameter cheat that can give you unlimited turbo as long as you hold down the required key combination.
  • Death Rally has collectable turbo fuel on the track (and you always start a race with a full supply of it). Playing with weapons on allows you to buy the Rocket Fuel super version from the Underground Market. Cars using Rocket Fuel have a flame coming out from behind them and take damage while using turbo. And yes, the AI does occasionally buy it, too.
  • Cruis'n USA had a Nitro Boost as a hidden feature. You got one per checkpoint passed.
  • Cruis'n World takes this one level better. A wheelie gives you a slight boost in speed, but a Nitro Boost is available 1 per lap in Championship modes. The Nitro Boost gives a tremendous wheelie with flaming skid marks and a big speed boost for a while after that.
    • You can also get a Nitro Boost by timing your throttle on the start.
    • Little known trick is to use the Manual transmission, and in Neutral at a low speed, you rev the engine up and when it hits the "Orange" line (between yellow and red) you upshift into gear 1. You get a full on Nitro Boost this way, and it works at any time, not just at the start of the race. You need perfect timing, though, to get it.
  • Even Chrono Trigger gets in on this; the racing mini-game gives you three "boosts" you can use. For some reason speed doesn't actually seem to matter, though, as you and Johnny will continually pass each other every second or two no matter what you do. The reason to use one is to slingshot yourself over the finish line at the last second; just make sure you're not directly behind Johnny at the time.
  • The Motorstorm games have a heat gauge that fills as you boost. If you go over the maximum, your vehicle explodes, although this can be exploited to break a tie at the last second by literally exploding over the finish line.
  • In Eve Online the microwarpdrive module works like this. Activating it gives the ship a massive speed boost, but the downside is that it drains enormous amounts of energy and generates a lot of heat, so it's best suited for short a period of extreme speed (contrast to the afterburner, which gives a smaller speed boost but is actually sustainable). Essential for any large ships armed with close range weapons, as their low acceleration and top speed would make it nearly impossible to reach firing range without it.
  • Batteries in the Glider games.
  • The Wipeout games have blue squares that give you a considerable speed boost if you drive over them. They also have the turbo power-up, which gives a much stronger pulse of acceleration, such that even the camera following you is unable to cope for a brief moment.
  • Some multiplayer versions of Tetris have an item that boosts your opponent's speed. This is a Nitro Boost that you don't want to get, unless you're comfortable with high gravity.
  • In a non-racing game example, the Halo games' Ghost vehicles feature an indefinite speed boost feature which makes steering tougher but allows you to run over foes. Similarly, Halo 3's Choppers feature a short-term version with similar effects.
    • All Covenant vehicles except Halo 3's Prowler have this. Including their tank.
      • They all have their limitations, though. The Wraith tank's isn't continuous like the Ghost's is, and you can't fire the Ghost's weapons when boosting.
  • Excite Truck! uses the third version, which also recovers instantly during hang time.
    • In Excite Bike, running over arrow points keeps you from overheating when using turbo boost and water cools you off in Excite Bots. If you can't find either of these you will be forced to drastically slow down.
  • The Deuce from ~Brütal Legend~, otherwise known as the Druid Plow, is a mobile temple in the form of a badass roadster and is the incarnation of Ormagöden. It does not have a nitro boost. It summons a nitro boost.
  • Backyard Skateboarding has a Dash Pad in the form of a lightning bolt.
  • I can't believe Iron Man's Off-Road Racing hasn't been mentioned. You pick up nitro canisters as you race, and can also buy them at the store between races. It's not only useful, but in fact required in piles to beat the AI opponents. The last few races are practically unbeatable without buying 99 nitro packets and using virtually all of them.
  • Homeworld also had afterburners. On space fighters. Though it drained the fighter's fuel faster, Scouts on turbo could outrun missiles. Downside is, it didn't increase the pilot's maneuvering and shooting skills so in large swarms, Scouts had horrible accident rates caused by friendly fire and colliding with each other.
  • Blue Eco power-ups in Jak X: Combat Racing provide a Nitro Boost of the "Stored Nitro Charges" variety, filling up the car's turbo meter.
    • It also boosted both Jak's on-foot speed and his Zoomer's speed for a limited time in The Precursor Legacy among its other abilities in that game. Picking up more Blue Eco along the way would increase the time it was in use. Generic-looking speed boost pick-ups were also used for the stadium races in Jak II and the Wasteland vehicles in Jak 3 (the latter even including an unlockable option for unlimited turbo use). Seems Jak is very fond of zooming at high speed...
  • In another rare non-vehicle example, Banjo-Kazooie has the sneakers which speeds up Kazooie's 'Talon Trot' ability for a limited time.
  • In Escape Velocity, an afterburner was perhaps most useful for evading missiles.
  • In Half-Life 2 and Episode 2, the buggy and muscle car, respectively, have a built-in boost feature that makes the car significantly faster for a fixed period, at the cost of being nearly impossible to steer. The buggy's was used to jump a couple of gaps, while the muscle car's was mostly useful for beating DOG to White Forest.
  • River City Ransom had Karma Jolt, an item that boosted you...and then made you go really slow. It was probably a Shout-Out to Jolt Cola, with all the sugar and twice the caffeine.
  • Choro Q games have some of these. In one game, it's needed for an easy Time Travel process.
  • Carmageddon has several kinds. There are two turbo power-ups (turbo and mega-turbo), which simply make you go faster; and then there's hot-rod, which is basically a booster that increases your engine power so much most cars lift the front wheels off the ground.
  • Water Warfare has roller skates which temporarily boost your speed.
  • Blur has the Nitro powerup. Works as you might expect, but can also be used to airbrake to make very tight turns before a boost of speed. Your car can be upgraded with the Fan Nitro mod (every 500 fans you gain, get a free Nitro) or the Nitro Rift mod (fires a burst of energy to clear the way ahead when you use a Nitro).
  • The Road Rash games had bikes with a set number of nitro boosts per race.
  • Re-Volt has a battery powerup, which momentarily speeds up your RC car while making it glow with yellow electric energy.
  • In the Wii Ware Game FAST Racing League you can get a boost by matching the color of your car to that of the tracks on certain parts of the course, or at any time by shaking the Wii remote for the cost of five energy units.
  • Nitronic Rush has nitro boost as a default ability.
  • Battlestar Galactica Online has boosting as a default option for all ships, though you naturally get smaller boosts off the bigger ships.

Web Comics

  • Tom, in the web comic Misfile, installs one of these on his car. It almost gets him killed.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • In Tale Spin, the Seaduck used to be equipped with an Overdrive module that would deploy additional intakes on the engines, allowing them to take the plane to jet-like performance levels. Unfortunately, it was only good for a few seconds, otherwise "Boom-boom bye-bye." The module burned out in the last episode of the Pilot series, and was never repaired or brought up again.
  • In an episode of King of the Hill, Hank and his friends compete in a lawnmower race. Dale, in an attempt to beat Hank, decides to install a tank of nitrous oxide on his, resulting in him fucking his engine up (he still beats Hank because of another act of cheating).

Real Life

  • Turbonique, a hot-rod company in the early 1960's produced a jet driven supercharger that could double an engine's horsepower. They also produced a special rear axle that had a similar rocket fueled turbine attached directly to it, allowing a driver to engage a 1,000 hp turbine with the push of a button. These were obviously limited by both the auxiliary fuel supply and the amount of stress the engine could handle, but are probably the closest reality will come to the video game "Nitro Boost". You can read more here.
  • Ever hear the urban legend of the guy who strapped a JATO (Jet-Assisted-Takeoff) rocket to his car?
  • The GM-1 injector, designed for use in Luftwaffe aircraft. Stupid Jetpack Hitler at its finest. Even funnier as all modern nitrous oxide systems (from NOS, NX and a full panel of other producers) are directly derived from it.