Here is a complete list of terms and techniques used by the community. They are presented in order from most basic to most complex.
SC: Shortcut. SL: Starting Lap. WR/SR/PR/PB: World Record/Site Record/Personal Record/Personal Best.
The green arrows on the ground. Gives higher speed.
SUPER TURBO PADS (STP)
Super turbo pads give a higher speed than turbo pads, but look identical. Those are in Cortex Castle at the last ramp, in Hot Air Skyway at the ramp after the spiral, in N.Gin Labs at the fourth turbo pad, as well as at the ramp before the last section, in Oxide Station at the ramp before entering the small tunnel, and at the big ramp in the space section, and at all of Turbo Track’s turbo pads.
A ramp is an inclined portion of the track where you can/have to jump, for example in order not to fall into a hole. Ramps can also have turbo pads or STPs on them.
The quarter circle indicator of your speed & acceleration in the bottom right corner of the screen.
The part of the Speedometer that indicates your speed at the moment.
The vertical bar next to the speedometer that fills up while you’re jumping. The three-digit number above it indicates the height of your jump. The bar is blue for jumps under 66, green for jumps between 66 and 99, yellow for jumps between 100 and 149 and red for jumps 150 or more.
When your jump is over 66 on the jumpometer, you receive a hang-time turbo, which is a speed boost for a small duration of time.
The little horizontal bar underneath the speedometer that fills up by sliding.
When you press R1 or L1 to jump, if you keep holding that button, you will slide in the direction toward which you are turning when you land. You won’t slide if you aren’t turning at the moment you land from the jump, and the slide will stop when you release the button. During sliding, you can press left or right to affect the direction of the slide.
When you slide, the turbometer fills up, first in green and then in red when it is halfway filled. When the turbometer is in the red, you can press L1 (if you slid with R1*) to make a turbo, which gives a small speed boost for a short duration. Making turbos while sliding is called powersliding. Once you make a turbo, if you keep sliding the turbometer goes back to zero and fills up again. When it reaches the red, you can make a second turbo. Repeat the same process to make a third turbo, after which the turbometer will no longer fill until you start a new slide. If you wait too long and the turbometer fills up completely without making a turbo, you don’t get any boost and must make a new slide for the turbometer to fill up again.
*or R1 if you slid with L1, but from now on we will assume you press R1 to jump for simplicity
When you press ‘X’ before the start of the race, you can notice the turbometer filling up. By holding and releasing ‘X’ with the right timing you can fill up the turbometer entirely. If you start with the turbometer full, you will get a fast start with higher speed of short duration.
‘X’ SPEED/BASE SPEED
The speed you have by pressing ‘X’. It’s the lowest base speed. Your exhaust pipes have white smoke coming out of them.
The slowest ‘fire’, so called because your exhaust pipes have red flames coming out of them when you have it (usually). It’s the speed reached by doing one turbo while sliding, or landing a jump with the jumpometer in green (66 to 99 jump height), or doing a fast start.
‘SECOND TURBO’ FIRE
This fire doesn’t have a name because it was recently discovered. Anyway, the fire you get from the second turbo of your turboslide series is slightly faster than green fire. Its speed is halfway between green and yellow fire.
The speed of finishing a triple turbo (a chain of three turbos within the same powerslide), or landing with the jumpometer in yellow (100 to 149 jump height).
SACRED FIRE (SF)
The speed of a turbo pad, or landing with the jumpometer in red (150+ jump height).
ULTIMATE SACRED FIRE (USF)
The speed of a STP. Note that the USF speed is much higher than what the speedometer indicates. That is because the max speed on the speedometer is lower than the max speed reachable in the game.
RESERVES OF TURBO
Reserves of turbos are a key concept of the game. You increase your reserves by getting hang-time turbos, making powerslides, having a fast start or driving over turbo pads and STPs. Making turbos with the turbometer bar full gives more reserves. Indeed, a full turbo gives twice the amount of reserves as a hang-time turbo or a turbo pad (STPs give even less reserves than turbo pads). A short turbo, made while the bar has barely passed to the red, will give almost no reserves. There is therefore a strong incentive to make full turbos!
Your reserves decrease over time, except while you are driving on a turbo pad. Once your reserves reach 0, you lose your fire and go back to the base speed. If you hit a wall or press the brakes, you lose all your reserves instantly. If you manage your reserves well, it is possible to keep a high speed (for example, Sacred Fire) during the duration of the whole course.
Note: You don’t get a lot of reserves from going over a turbo pad or getting a hang time turbo. Imagine you have no reserves at all and you want to gain sacred fire by driving on a turbo pad. You won’t have time to make a powerslide after the turbo pad and keep sacred fire, your reserves won’t last long enough. You need to start the powerslide before going over the turbo pad, or at the very least at the same time. It’s the same for hang time turbos: if you try to get yellow fire by landing with a jump above 100, but you have no reserves, it is better to make a mid-air to at least have some reserves when you land, or at the very least start the powerslide as soon as you land, and make a 75% full turbo (you don’t have enough time to make the full turbo before reserves run out), followed by a long turbo. If you land without reserves, and then jump and make a powerslide, it will be too late to keep yellow fire.
GOING UP AND DOWN THE FIRE LADDER
Note that while it is always possible to upgrade your fire (for example, going from green fire to yellow fire by doing 3 turbos), you cannot go back to a lower fire. For example, once you have SF, doing a single turbo will not give you green fire again. You will keep SF until you either gain USF or lose your reserves.
Except if you have USF. USF is the only fire that can be downgraded without losing reserves. This means getting any kind of hang-time turbo, turbo, or turbo pad will result in immediate USF loss. The first consequence is that when you drive on a STP ramp, you should not jump at the end of the ramp, unless you want to lose USF once you land with a hang-time turbo. The second consequence is that you cannot fill your reserves of turbo while you have USF, so you should make sure to have as much reserves as possible before attempting it.
The game has a built-in system to stop you from taking unintended shortcuts and breaking the game. If you skip a big part of the track, the mask (Aku or Uka) will take you immediately and bring you back to the last place you were allowed to be, which is usually just before the SC. In practice, the game lets you skip a certain percentage of the track (different percentage for every track), and any skip above that percentage will trigger the mask. How does the game know what percentage of the track you’re in? The checkpoint system.
Everytime you drive on a portion of the track that you haven’t reached before, you trigger the checkpoint for that portion of the track (think of it as the equivalent of the ‘C’ box in the original Crash trilogy, except instead of a handful of ‘C’ boxes per level, here we have an infinity of continuous checkpoints). The game keeps track of the furthest checkpoint you have triggered, even if you go back to the beginning of the track. When you do a SC which skips a big portion of the track, the game will try to update your furthest checkpoint, and if the new furthest checkpoint is too far from the previous one, the mask will take you. Now you understand why players continue into the track a bit and then turn 180° and go back to take some shortcuts instead of taking them directly (like in Slide Coliseum): they needed to trigger a checkpoint ahead in the track to take the SC without the mask grabbing them back.
The action of bouncing on the track by pressing R1 repeatedly. In order to get perfect bounces each time, you must hold L1 while pressing R1. While froggying, your speed decreases and increases much more slowly, which is good if you have a high speed and want to keep it, for example after a downhill (see later), but bad if your speed is low and you need to reaccelerate. Many people lose time by using froggy in situations where they are actually at a low speed, and fail to notice it.
Making a sharp turn by holding square + down while turning. Doing this will make you lose reserves, as you pressed square. It will also slow you down very fast, although the speed loss can be mitigated by doing the U-turn in combination with froggy (so holding square + down + L1, while turning and pressing R1 repeatedly). Froggying while U-turning can take a while to master, especially if you must change direction during the U-turn, for example during the famous ‘S’ turn in Turbo Track.
Note: some people have historically called the version without froggy Mega-Turn, and the version with froggy Ultra-Turn, but those terms are now deprecated.
Simply holding square while turning, without pressing down. Your kart will spin 180 degrees but you won’t actually steer the kart in any direction. This technique is mostly useless in Time Trial, although it can be used in Speedruns to do Polar Pass’s alternate Mega ShortCut.
Pressing X repeatedly while at stop or at very low speed and pressing left/right. Your kart will spin on itself. It is mostly useless, the only time it is slightly faster than a regular U-turn is if you’re starting the race and want to go immediately backwards. N.Gin Labs relic race and Papu’s Pyramid starting lap with Tiziano’s SC are the only times when you actually want to go backwards at the start, and can use this technique.
Sliding long enough while turning in the direction of the slide will make your kart spin out. It takes longer in PAL. Contrary to what you might think, spinning out doesn’t make you lose reserves. It is possible to jump while spinning out, but you don’t receive the hang-time turbo. Similarly, you don’t receive reserves by driving over a turbo pad while spinning out, so it is possible to keep USF after a turbo pad ramp that normally would make you lose USF. So far, the only use for this technique is to start the Hot Air Skyway lap with USF.
MID-AIR, MID-AIR POWERSLIDE (MAP)
The combination of a jump and a powerslide. Simply jump, and then bounce while turning and holding R1, and you will make a slide while in the air. Super useful for reserves, since you can combine turbos and a hang-time turbo.
When you have so much reserves, the reserve variable in the game overflows and goes into the negative. The flames behind your kart disappear and the white smoke appears, as if you had the base speed, except you keep the speed that you had before. The incredible thing is that your reserves stop decreasing over time, meaning you effectively don’t need to maintain your reserves anymore! Indeed, the code only decreases your reserves if they are higher than 0! This is very useful for a best lap, as you can spend the first lap building up reserves, get saffi fire, and drive the other 2 laps without worrying about reserves. You will only lose it if you crash, brake with square or make so much reserves they go back over 0 to positive numbers. Note that while you have saffi fire, being on a turbo pad will give you additional reserves of turbo per second equivalent to the reserves lost per second without saffi fire. Also note that saffi fire doesn’t affect fire, only reserves. All that was said before about fires therefore remains true here.
Getting saffi fire happens quite quickly for good players (45-80 seconds depending on the track), but if you make short turbos, or pause too long between powerslides, it can take quite a while longer. The best way to make it faster is to do 3 full turbos in a row when possible, mid-air whenever possible, and take turbo pads when possible. Just maximise your turbo intake per second, and minimise the time when you’re not getting turbos.
Another key concept of the game. By now you may have noticed that, when the track isn’t completely flat, the speedometer doesn’t always indicate a constant speed as you would expect from your fire level. For example, you go faster in downhills. An SG is extra speed above what you would expect from your current fire level. SGs can happen due to several reasons. Once you have an SG, you can froggy after it to keep the speed for longer, as the speed doesn’t decrease while in the air.
Driving on a steep downhill is the first, most basic way to get an SG. Note that you don’t want to start froggying while on the downhill itself, but rather when the ground becomes flat again. If you start froggying during the downhill, you will be slowed down immediately.
LANDING ON A DOWNHILL/CRESTING
The idea is that landing from a height into a downhill gives an even more powerful SG than simply driving on the downhill without jumping. You convert some vertical speed you acquired from gravity during the jump into horizontal speed along the track. The more speed you have from gravity (the higher you jump) and the better the angle so you can convert more speed, the faster the SG. Note that the speed of the SG is also affected by whether you land the kart with 4 wheels touching the ground (faster), or only the 2 back wheels (slower). Unfortunately, this appears to be random, and is therefore one of the main luck factors in the game.
FROGGYING ON AN UPHILL/PROJECTILING
Making a simple jump on an uphill slows you down. This is especially problematic if that jump is a big jump, because then you will be slowed down longer. To mitigate this, it is often useful to make the first jump right before the uphill, where you aren’t too slowed down, and then continue the froggy on the uphill until you reach the point where you needed to jump. This type of jump is often called a projectile jump, or projectiling. A projectile jump can be a double jump, a triple jump, or longer. This is for example used on the last hill of Coco Park: instead of a single jump on the uphill, you first make a double jump starting just when the uphill starts. In general, every time it is possible to do a projectile jump instead of a single jump at the end of an uphill ramp, it will be better to do so.
Besides, sometimes froggying on an uphill is actually faster than not jumping at all. For example, you can froggy during the last uphill of Crash Cove, which will be 0″05 faster than simply driving up it.
Projectiling, or froggying in an uphill, immediately followed by cresting, or landing on a downhill, is a very potent application of both techs. You do it by jumping over the crest of a bump or a hill on the road by jumping or double jumping at the base of the uphill, and landing the jump on the downhill, giving you SG. This can be done in many of the hills in Tiny Arena, or on the last hill of Coco Park.
It is possible to chain cresting and projectiling to gain very strong SGs, although the longer the chain, the more luck you need. TAS in Tiny Arena chains cresting and projectiling for the entire course.
Sometimes, depending on the characteristic of the uphill, froggying on it will slow you down and if that’s the case, you should stop froggying. But sometimes, you can get SG from froggying in uphills! That SG is called a propulsion. Many propulsions are done by froggying on a turbopad, for example the last turbo pad of Dragon Mines, or the first turbo pad in Sewer Speedway. Some however are done by bouncing on a very precise point in the uphill that gives SG, for example the propulsion after the bridge in Crash Cove. Always remember that this is a luck technique, and if unlucky with the bounces, it can also slow you down, in which case you should stop froggying.
Some people have speculated that some instances of propulsions are due to getting a 0 height jump, in which case the vertical speed of the jump would be transferred to the horizontal axis along your trajectory, thus giving you SG.
SEWER SPEEDWAY SG
Due to the curved geometry of the pipes in Sewer Speedway, sliding on them in the last section also gives a strong SG which is unique in nature to this track, and can be froggied after until the finish line and beyond if done well.
EDGE SG/CORNER SG
Landing on the edge of the track with only 1 wheel touching the track, the other 3 being in the air. With enough precision and luck, you will receive a powerful SG. This is the hardest SG technique, and it has a very high risk of falling off the track or losing reserves. This technique tends to need falling from a great height to work. (Note: the SG in the video above is quite weak, unfortunately I couldn’t get a stronger SG while filming)
TURBOPAD RAMP SKIP
It is possible to skip the turbopad on ramps with edges by driving on the edge of them. This is useful when you want to keep USF beyond a certain ramp with a normal Turbopad. The key is not to touch the turbopad with the back wheels, and to touch the ramp edge with the front wheels. This position is very hard (almost impossible) to maintain for a long time. However, sometimes, you only need to do a ramp skip at the beginning of the ramp to have enough height and speed to connect to the track after the ramp, so this strategy is viable for a human in this situation.
To increase the SG speed, sometimes it is judicial to stop and start the froggy. This isn’t really different in concept to cresting: you want to stop froggying (land) in a place where the slope goes slightly downhill. For example if you’re froggying on a flat and there’s a small downhill ahead, you would stop the froggy to drive the downhill and then froggy again. A famous example is in Roo’s Tubes’ second SG. Or, if you froggy in an uphill but reach a flat part, you can stop the froggy for a split second when you first reach the flat to get a momentaneous speed increase, then start froggy again. The famous example here is the top of the tunnel in Coco Park. The froggy stop doesn’t last very long by definition, as you would lose the SG by not froggying if you did it too long.
The fact that stopping froggy on a flat when you come from an uphill could increase the SG speed, if you stop really shortly, was discovered relatively recently, and is a concept that many people struggle with, that’s why I put it separate from the ‘froggying on uphills’ and ‘landing on downhills’ sections.
Alternating between pressing R1 and pressing left/right to get a cleaner looking froggy in a curved trajectory. What you want here is to stop turning while you’re touching the ground, and only turn while you’re in the air. This technique is extremely hard to execute correctly, especially if you’re froggying on an uneven ground, so your bounces are also uneven. The best places to do it are on flat curves that don’t turn too much, such as the froggy after the closed SC of Tiger Temple, or the froggy after the blue tunnel in N.Gin Labs.
DRIVING ON ICE
There are drivable ice paths in Blizzard Bluff and Polar Pass. The most interesting property about these is that the speed decreases slower while on ice, so you can keep SG for longer, even without froggying. One technique, for example, is to get an SG at the start of the ice, then make a powerslide, and only start froggying later when exiting the ice, which will increase reserves at a small cost for actual speed.
DRIVING ON HORIZONTAL WALLS
Some walls are horizontal enough they can be driven on. If that’s the case, your kart will actually hover above the wall in an oscillating pattern and you will lose the ability to brake (square) or accelerate (X). You will remain able to control the direction with normal turning and U-turn. Note that if during the low point of the oscillation, you actually touch the wall (which you can notice as sparkles will fly out of the kart), you will lose reserves. Most of the time you will lose reserves quickly, but it can be possible if lucky to ride an entire wall without losing reserves, for example Coco Park’s last SC before the finish line.
Some walls are quasi-vertical but can be bounced over with enough speed, such as Tiny Arena’s LinkZer SC.
Also note that when on a wall, you can get big or small oscillations, and which one you get is seemingly random, and is a big luck factor for every track where driving on a wall is necessary, since the amplitude of the oscillations affects your speed and your chance of taking certain SCs.
DRIVING UNDER THE ROAD
It is possible, though extremely hard, to clip under the road and start froggying while under it. You can then either go back above ground by froggying too fast, or fall down under the track if you froggy too slow. This technique can be used to circumvent certain visible or invisible walls, as those walls don’t usually extend under the track. This allows you to take certain SCs, for example. Note that this technique is very hard that there are currently no human applications. It is only used in TAS.
NO MAN’S LAND/NO MAN ZONE (NMZ)
This is the most mysterious technique in CTR, and it is not fully understood, though the most common assumption is that it is due to an oversight/act of forgetfulness by the developpers. All CTR tracks are textures divided into polygons. All polygons are assigned values so that the game knows if you’re allowed to drive on it or not, that’s the role of the aforementioned checkpoint system.
Some polygons however seem to have been assigned incorrectly, so that you’re allowed to drive on them in places where normally you shouldn’t be, because according to the checkpoint system, the mask should take you. We call these No man zones. Normally this doesn’t matter, because as soon as you exit the NMZ, the mask will take you, so most NMZs are useless.
One NMZ in Papu’s Pyramid is extremely useful because it is placed just before the finish line segment. Every time you cross the finish line, the internal lap counter will add 1 if you cross it going forward (or subtract 1 if you cross it going backward). Also note that you are always allowed to be on the finish line segment (the few polygons close to the finish line), the checkpoint system doesn’t affect these at all.
Now if you manage to go from the beginning of the track to the end without crossing the finish line (for example using the wall in Papu’s Pyramid), your lap counter will not change. But, since you’re now at the end of the lap, the checkpoint system will apply and the mask will take you and bring you back at the beginning, right? Yes, unless you only touch the NMZ. But as soon as you exit the NMZ, the mask will take you, right? Yes, unless the first thing you touch after you leave the NMZ is the finish line segment, which in Papu’s Pyramid, is right next to the NMZ! So doing that, you are able to finish the lap!
This discovery allowed players to make 6 seconds laps in Papu’s Pyramid by skipping the entire track. Luckily no other NMZ has been shown to be doable by a human yet.
Another recently discovered technique. This glitch is mostly beneficial on NTSC-U version. The main idea is to start the lap late by avoiding driving on the finish line segment of the track. This segment usually starts well before the actual finish line, however, so not driving on that whole portion of the track is not always possible, but sometimes it is, by going off-track while crossing the line, then going back in. The reason it only works on NTSC-U is that if you attempt to do it in PAL and NTSC-J, the lap will count anyway as you cross the line (or a few tenths of second after it) even if you are off-track or in the air. The only startline glitch that works on PAL and NTSC-J is in Papu’s Pyramid (and even that one is a bit worse in those versions, as explained in the track section).