For anyone that played Mario Kart DS online, they definitely remember seeing some racers who would seemingly zig-zag on the track and move forward at incredible speeds. At first glance, it almost certainly looked like a hacker.
No, there was no game-breaking or hacks at play. This was a display of snaking, now a common technique in competitive Mario Kart.
What is snaking? How is it useful? Can it be done in other games? We have the answers right here.
What Is Snaking?
Snaking is a technique where a player will continually drift back and forth on straightaways in order to get a series of Mini-Turbos. Normally, players will only think to get Mini-Turbos while drifting on turns, but snaking puts drifts to use in areas without turns on certain courses.
The name “snaking” comes from the movement the racer does while using the technique; because a player has to drift back and forth, the racer will be drifting all over the road the same way a snake slithers on the ground.
Snaking has been technically possible since Mario Kart 64, although Mario Kart DS is where it first saw widespread use. Games such as Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8: Deluxe have all had changes made so as to reduce the effectiveness of snaking.
How Do You Perform Snaking In Mario Kart?
Snaking requires a straight path to be most effective. Begin drifting until you get a Mini-Turbo boost and then as the boost runs out, begin drifting again in the other direction. Repeat this for as long as the straightaways go.
The reason you need to drift back and forth is because as soon as you begin drifting on a straightaway, you will head in one direction that slowly leads off road. By the time your Mini-Turbo is finished, you’ll want to drift in another direction so that you’re constantly snaking in a way that keeps you on the road.
It’s also worth noting that in games where you can pick karts, you’ll want a smaller, lighter kart that has strong handling and acceleration. These are the attributes for being able to effectively drift and control the snaking maneuvers.
There has been a notable critique of the technique by many players, particularly in how over-centralized snaking is in Mario Kart DS. There is a very clear cut gap between players who can snake and players who can’t.
There is also a focus on karts that can make the most of snaking versus other available karts. Normally, snake-heavy karts don’t have the highest speeds or the strongest drifts; however, the strength that snaking brings negates all of the drawbacks, making it a handicap to choose anything other than a kart that’s good for snaking.
Nintendo took note of the overpowered nature of snaking, and subsequent titles often have a set time that you have to drift before a Mini-Turbo can be triggered. The amount of time is small, but just enough that newer Mario Kart games don’t have snaking (well, they do, but it takes so long to get the Mini-Turbos that snaking is almost counterintuitive at that point.)
Snaking In The Mario Kart Meta
Snaking is still used to achieve world records and fast times in games such as Mario Kart: Double Dash and Mario Kart 64. However, the technique was rendered obsolete after it took over Mario Kart DS.
In Mario Kart DS, it is an essential aspect of the game if one wants to compete. The finals of Mario Kart DS at EVO 2006 all had players who had perfected snaking.
A fun closing fact: the best Mario Kart DS player for a long time was Super Smash Bros. Melee legend Azen Zagenite, who was featured in The Smash Brothers documentary.