Although widely used in most racing games, boost power as depicted in games is generally considered fictional; from a more technical point of view it is very hard to achieve a huge increase of engine output without sacrificing some of the machine's integrity or resources (the most similar real example to boost is Nitrous Oxide, in which the power gain doesn't come from the engine itself). However, boost power is a very useful technique in racing games, that has a variety of applications and in most games it is rewarded in exchange of something else , for example, energy.
Boost is not to be confused with turbo, though they are similar concepts. While a turbo may be a physical machine that increases engine output (see Gran Turismo series), boost is simply defined as the sudden increase in speed by the means of any physical input.
In terms of purely games related differentiation, the Burnout series is a clear benchmark for the concept of 'boost', whereas the Chase H.Q. games are the defining example of 'turbo'.
While a turbo does produce boost, boost is not the same as turbo. Also, turbo could be used in other games, such as sports games, to reward the player for good playing.
Boost power has a wide range of applications, that can vary depending on the game it appears. However, there are some basic functions it has in all of the games it appears in, which are:
- Increasing top speed by using the boost, generally in a straight.
- At the start of a race, use boost to maximize acceleration and gain an early lead. Rocket start is also considered a type of boost and so does Double Dash!! from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
- Use boost to open shortcuts through rough terrain, minimizing the speed loss and cutting sections of track.
- Overtaking easily without the risk of collision while doing so.
- Boost is very useful while exiting a corner; if applied with good timing it balances and straightens the vehicle, stops skidding and helps regain lost speed in the corner easily.
- Boost can also be used to generate and sustain long drifts, in order to take turns (mainly wide) with full throttle, cutting down the speed loss to a minimum.