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F**k You, Blue Shell: 20 Classic ‘Mario Kart’ Items Ranked

F**k You, Blue Shell: 20 Classic ‘Mario Kart’ Items Ranked:

Mario Kart is the great equalizer in video games. Any player with a modicum of skill can pick it up, play it, and place in a race against more experienced players. And the reason for this is the pickup items, which are powerful enough to make a last place loser a winner—or vice versa.

The items add a signature whimsy to the experience. This is not just a race—this is a Mario race. You can throw a Green Koopa shell at the racer in front of you, or use a Super Mushroom for a brief speed burst. The Mario Kart franchise pulls off the rare balancing trick: helping out novice players, while not making advanced players feel like the game is “cheating” to the point that they rage-quit. Here are Mario Kart’s 20 greatest pickup items, according to me.


20. CRAZY EIGHT
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart 8’/Wii U
We love getting triple items in Mario Kart. Three Red Shells. Three Banana Peels. Well, how about eight Items, all circling your Kart? In Mario Kart 7, this was known as Lucky Seven. Now, it’s Crazy Eight. What will it be next time? Nasty Nine? Terrific Ten? It might look a little silly, but it’s a straight up game changer.


19. DIZZINESS VIRUS
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart Arcade GP GX’/arcade
One of the coolest Items in the Mario Kart arcade franchise is the Dizziness Virus, which temporarily blurs an opponent's’ vision. And here’s the best part; if you bump into another player, you can pass on the virus. Communicable disease has rarely been this fun.


18. BOOMERANG FLOWER
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart 8’/Wii U
Even the best weapons in Mario Kart are a one-shot deal. If you miss, you’re out of luck. But if you miss with the Boomerang Flower? You can still hit the opponent on the comeback. The above video is truly impressive: a single, lucky Boomerang hits its opponents on both of its flight paths.


17. Fire Flower
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart 7’/3DS
The Fire Flower’s sheer volume makes it awesome. You get ten fireballs to throw forwards or backwards; it’s time to get the place lit, quite literally.


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16. SUPER LEAF
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart 7’/3DS
Your Kart sprouts a large raccoon tail, which you can use as both an offensive weapon (to swat your opponents) or as a defensive shield (to swat away Shells). The Super Leaf is as kawaii (read: “cute”) as a box of kittens.


15. BOB-OMB
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart: Double Dash!!’/GameCube
Most projectile weapons in Mario Kart are precision-based—single projectiles hitting a single, tiny target. But the Bob-omb allows for a blundering fool to win; any racer in the mushroom cloud’s range gets blown to kingdom come.


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14. MEGA MUSHROOM
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart Wii’/Wii
This Item gets by on pure intimidation factor. The Mega Mushroom turns you into a massive, screen-big Mario, and he flattens every adversary in his path. It turns out that size does matter after all.


13. BOWSER SHELL
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart: Double Dash!!’/GameCube
The regular Green Shell usually doesn’t connect, because it’s so small. The Bowser Shell solves that concern handily; I mean, just look at the damn thing. How can you possibly miss?


12. FAKE ITEM BOX
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart 64’/N64
The Fake Item Box is the thinking man’s Item. It looks almost exactly like a real Item Box until your opponent get up close, and by then, it’s usually too late. For maximum schadenfreude, stick the Fake Item Box in a row with regular Item Boxes, or place it around the bend of a blind turn.


11. GOLDEN MUSHROOM
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart 64’/N64
Having a Golden Mushroom is a balancing act. One one hand, you want to get to the front of the pack, and so you’ll boost your rockets as many times as possible. But if you do this too much, you’re likely to lose control and boost yourself into the nearest pit. Use in moderation.


10. CHAIN CHOMP
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart: Double Dash!!’/GameCube
A massive, metallic, angry “dog” restrained by the weakest of chains; it’s every mailman’s worst nightmare. Plus, you can’t beat that sound effect. “Arf Clank! Arf Clank! Arf Clank! Arf!!”


9. LIGHTNING BOLT
Debut Game: ‘Super Mario Kart’/Super Nintendo
The Lightning Bolt was extremely rare in Super Mario Kart, but that was a good thing. It shrunk every opponent to miniature size, and it lasted for what seemed like minutes; practically an insta-win for whoever threw it.


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8. GIANT BANANA
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart: Double Dash!!’/GameCube
The Giant Banana serves the same function as the Bowser Shell; it’s simply too big to fail. And once an opponent slips on it, it splits into three smaller Peels, so that the hijinks can continue. Just be careful, or you’ll end up slipping on them yourself.


7. SUPER HORN
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart 8’/Wii U
The Super Horn is a defensive catch-all. Its soundwaves are all-powerful, taking down fellow racers and destroying nearby items. The Super Horn can even destroy the dreaded blue Spiny Shell. And thanks to this innovation, the Internet no longer has anything to complain about.


6. BULLET BILL
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart Wii/Wii
This item is idiot proof. You turn into a massive, self-guided, sentient bullet and blast your way to the front of the pack. It requires no skill whatsoever—just the wherewithal to push the trigger button.


5. POTTED PIRANHA PLANT
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart 8’/Wii U
At first glance the Piranha Plant appears similar to the Chain Chomp. Both sit on the front of your vehicle. Both bite everything in reach. But the Piranha is actually superior to the Chain Chomp, because every time that it bites something, it gives your Kart a small boost in speed. I’ve heard of eco-friendly energy before but this is ridiculous.


4. BLUE SHELL
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart 64’/N64
Eight console games deep, and this is still, bar none, the most controversial, divisive item in the history of the Mario Kart franchise. The Spiny Shell targets the leader, and up until the advent of the Super Horn was unblockable. The Blue Shell was also a favorite for hackers, who would give themselves infinite Blue Shells and turn *Mario Kart multiplayer into a hair-pulling slaughter. Check out the video above. It’s okay to laugh now, but it wouldn’t be so funny if it was happening to you.


3. RED SHELL
Debut Game: ‘Super Mario Kart’/Super Nintendo
Here’s the original, best projectile: a heat seeking missile capable of bending around the track to strike an opponent. The only thing better than a Red Shell is a Triple Red Shell, which either can take down three opponents or just a single unlucky one three times.


2. STARMAN’
Debut Game: ‘Super Mario Kart’/Super Nintendo*
The Starman makes you move faster, spin out any racer you touch, and knock over every obstacle in your path. The flashing colors and the pounding music make you feel indestructible. Just listen to the video above, which features over two decades of Mario Kart Starman music. It’s like you’re rolling at a rave, with a totally different type of Super Mushroom.


1. TANK
Debut Game: ‘Mario Kart Arcade GP GX’/arcade
Mario Kart Arcade GP GX has a co-op mode, and if you or your partner collect the Fusion power-up, you merge into a massive Megazord Tank. One partner steers the tank and the other partner works the turret, which shoots unlimited Green Shells in any direction.

The Starman may grant you invincibility, but the Tank? It’s a freaking tank. And that makes it the #1 item on my countdown.


Wing-Man has written about video games and popular culture since 2013, and has been published in multiple online and print publications. Follow him on Twitter to learn more.


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