Some love for the blue shell

Ah, the blue shell—gaming’s most infamous power-up. It makes grown men cry. It gives the worst player in the room a fighting chance. It punishes the skilled. And it’s pretty darn funny. On the eve of Mario Kart 7 Weekend, I’d like to stand up for the poor, misunderstood blue spiky thing (no, not you, Sonic) and show some appreciation for the weapon everyone hates unless they happen to be wielding it.

No one likes to be blue-shelled two yards from the finish line and suffer a humiliating, unfair defeat at the climax of an otherwise perfect race. Particularly when it’s accompanied by Yoshi’s annoying taunt as he flies past your somersaulting wreckage.

BUT…picture the other side of the coin. How many times have you been approaching the finish line in fourth place, staring hopelessly at the closely-packed leaders, figuring you have no chance…and then you hear the familiar, approaching whoosh. You see your salvation heading for the pack. And you smile, quickly adjusting your racing line to take full advantage of what’s about to happen. And you laugh as you leave tire treads on your once-smug adversaries and zoom across the finish in a blaze of glory.

Appreciation of the blue shell requires long-term memory. Keep that in mind the next time you’re about to throw your controller (or 3DS) against a wall. Your turn will come.

There’s certainly a difference here between single player Grand Prix and multiplayer; the implementation of blue shells in Mario Kart Wii’s 150CC single player mode was pretty brutal. But, in multiplayer, it’s highly effective at keeping the pack close together so that the crazy onslaught of item deployment and player taunting remains intense right through the final lap.

Remember, Mario Kart is as much a comedic brawler as it is a racer. And keep these Blue Shell factoids in mind:

1) If you’re far enough ahead, no blue shell (or two) is going to rob you of a win.

2) It’s completely possible to escape a blue shell with a well-timed boost. This requires perfect timing. I’ve only managed it twice.

3) The Thunder Cloud, POW block, and Mega Mushroom were nearly as aggravating, and they’ve been removed for MK 7.

4) The time will come when you’re actually praying to receive that little blue cupid from the next item box. The only one hating the blue shell is the driver in first place.

Mario Kart is not a game of pure luck; skillful driving greatly increases your chance of winning a race—it just doesn’t guarantee it! You need to laugh—however feebly and forced—when fate deals you a cruel blow in Mario Kart. Losing with grace in the face of total unfairness can be good for you; it’s a life lesson. Sorta.

So, as you race around those awesome new tracks in Mario Kart 7 this weekend, remember that Nintendo usually knows what it’s doing with these games. Imagine what recent Mario Karts would be like without blue shells–Pretty sweet, right? Okay, on second thought, don’t imagine it. Just kick back and enjoy the chaos. And the next time Donkey Kong steals victory from your grasp close enough for you to actually tumble across the finish line in 8th place, thank Nintendo for the continuing exercise in perspective: It’s just a game, and your turn will come.

21 Responses to Some love for the blue shell

  1. Hitokiri_Ace says:

    So true! Many a match has been lost this way. 🙂 It’s fun, and it gives less skilled players hope! How much fun is it to suck at a game, but still destroy the top player? There has been times I’ve play with some people who just camp on an item, and blue shell/lightning, etc it up. lol It gets crazy, but, it’s fun ;).

    Also, go vote for Zelda in the battle of the games at g4tv (Link is in my user name. ) lol

  2. frstOne says:

    I’m ok with the blue shells. But the Thunder Cloud, man, what were they thinking. I hope it never returns to any Mario Kart in the future.

  3. Grimreaper says:

    I usually don’t mind the blue shell until the last lap at the finish line only a few feet to go (this has actually happened to me) I get hit by a blue shell then 3 red shells then hit by a star, (or a bullet bill I don’t remember it was a blur to me) knocked off the side of the stage.

  4. Grimreaper says:

    I wrote back english, but you get what I mean.

  5. deepthought says:

    the weapons everyone hates… unless theyre in second place at the moment…

  6. Jagsrock says:

    I personally love items like this, sure it’s annoying but it keeps things exciting. Without items like the blue shell or lightning(from n64) or even star power, bullet bill etc things would get boring, with the same results occuring every race. I remember on the n64 on the wario stadium course getting lightning suddenly turned any race on its head because all it took was a well timed blast right when the other players reached the big ramp. The best part of the situiation was everyone got anxious and excited for they knew it was coming and had to hope and pray they couldd avoid it. And the satisfaction of seeing your buddy slowly fall to the bottom never gets old, and when it happens to you sure you may scream NOooooooo! But remembet it’s all in good fun and what keeps mario kart such a great game.

  7. Tyler says:

    The thing is it doesn’t give the worst player a chance. If you’re far enough back to get one it doesn’t do you any good. It just serves to spite whoever is winning.

  8. Caleb says:

    The worst with the blue shell is when you’re in 2nd or 3rd and just close enough to get caught by it.

  9. Blake says:

    “Appreciation of the blue shell requires long-term memory.” Words of wisdom. Great post.

  10. Dusty says:

    Screw the blue shell. That thing sucks.

    Unless I’m in second place. Then bring it on.

  11. Yellow Bear says:

    i dont mind the pow block, its actually quite helpfull for you if you know how to avoid it

  12. baelnic says:

    I can’t be the only one that doesn’t race in first for 98% of the race. I prefer to hang back and blast people for most of the race and then try to steal it out the end. The Wario-way.

  13. baelnic says:

    Moreover, I’d get banished from Nascar if I was allowed to race there because I’d be the one spinning people out by tapping them in the rear quarter panel. In a race where you have all the advantage racing from behind why would you ever try to be out in front?

  14. gojiguy says:

    Uhh just saying, Infendo… Xenoblade Chronicles is coming to NA. Kinda figured that’d be front page news here…

  15. Skotski says:

    @gojiguy

    Haven’t you heard the podcasts? Infendo could care less for Operation Rainfall or JRPGs for that matter. 😉
    (I’m totally pumped that news, btw)


    “What podcasts?” says a child…
    “Well, child, there was a time before yours when Infendo did a beautiful ritual called podcasts…”

  16. Holly says:

    Here’s my best blue shell experience. I would tell you how it ended, but that would ruin the joy of reading it: http://nintendolifeline.blogspot.com/2011/05/my-latest-video-game-adventure.html

  17. Richard says:

    Awesome, Holly! BTW, N64 Bowser’s Castle is one of my favorites! (Bwa-ha-ha!) Great website, too!

  18. Ben says:

    Ah, the blue shell…either your worst nightmare…or your saving grace.

    I have had experiences with both of those situations. Consider yourself lucky if it helps you win a race, but if you do get hit, call it a bad turn of fate or bad luck, and move on. There’s nothing you can do about it. Kinda reminds me why everyone (except me) turns off items in Smash Bros.

    BTW here’s how to start an argument online…
    1) Say something.
    2) That’s about it…

  19. wrackune says:

    Mario Kart 7 looks great and all, and I’m of course getting it, BUT, I seriously want Nintendo to make Mario Kart more like Smash Bros.

    I want Link and Samus as racers. I want to drive through the Lost Woods or the Dark World or jump off crazy ramps through the Chozo Ruins.

    There’s so much untapped potential if the series shed its “Mario” name and let some other mascots take the stage.

  20. Richard says:

    @wrackune:

    That’s a really interesting idea. The only danger I can imagine is in the game losing its focus and suddenly feeling like Sega All Star Racers. Smash Brothers doesn’t face this issue, as it’s always been about Nintendo’s whole universe.

    Yet, bringing in the Miis hasn’t hurt the series one bit. And I’d pick Link and Samus any day over the last two drivers they announced for Mario Kart 7.

    If they need a great new twist for Wii U’s Mario Kart, mulit-franchise characters may be the way to go. As long as the Mushroom Kingdom remains the focus, it could be awesome. Maybe they could add a third unlockable series of cups, so we’d have 16 new Mario tracks, 16 retro tracks and 16 Nintendo Universe tracks.

    Oh, cripes, now I’m imagining Pikachu in a Pokeball cart.

  21. Grimreaper says:

    If I have a blue shell after me, and I’m playing with a friend that is in second I usually slam on breaks let it collide with us both I do that some times when I’m racing alone.
    I hate that thunder cloud one it seems like everyone disappears when you get one I usually get one in first place.
    When I get one when I’m in first on the last lap I feel like nintendo is saying f___ you.
    My wife got one on the last lap while in fourth, and she said screw it she headed for the finish line, and didn’t bother with anyone she made it to second because I had already crossed the finish line I think she would’ve passed me if I hadn’t already crossed it.
    If anyone has watched the episode of naruto where he was at a sports event, and he had to race, but he has been trying to get to the toilet all day, but couldn’t so when he raced he was lightning fast that’s what my wife reminded me of.
    Sorry for the ramble.

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