The original Mario Kart for the Super Nintendo managed to create its own sub-genre of video games. “Kart Racer” is the term used to refer to a light-hearted style of racing game, with cartoony characters, gimmick vehicles, and a selection of items that can be used by the players. Mario Kart was a pioneer in using items as a means of making a racing game more interesting. You had the mushrooms & stars, which could help you move across the track, and you had the shells to help you smite your opponent.
We are here today to look into the items that will make every other Mario Kart player hate your guts. These are the same weapons that the A.I. will use to screw you out of winning the 150cc cups. From the fake item boxes, to the common banana peel, to the blue missile of pure hatred, here are the 15 Most Hated Mario Kart Items!
15. Fake Item Box
The usefulness of the fake item box in the Mario Kart series tends to differ from game to game. Fake item boxes have appeared in multiple entries in the series, but they looked different each time.
Fake item boxes are meant to look like the regular item boxes from a distance. If you run into one, then your kart will spin out, as if it had been hit by a shell or a banana. In each of its appearances, the fake item box has had varying degrees of resemblance to the real item boxes. The Mario Kart 64 fake item box looks almost identical to the real one, with the main difference being that the question mark inside it is now upside down. In Mario Kart DS, they look nothing like the real deal, due to the fact that they lack a question mark, they don’t spin, and they show up as red on the minimap.
The more realistic versions of the fake item box are by far the most annoying, as it gives more experienced players a distinct advantage over newcomers. If you know where the item boxes spawn on a map, then you can plant a fake item box to trip up a player who is new to the game.
14. Banana Peel
If you are any good at Mario Kart, then you can expect to see a lot of these.
One of the ways in which the Mario Kart games balance out the races is through the items. The player’s current ranking in the race will determine what items they can possibly find in a box. This means that the players who are lagging behind will have access to more powerful items, in order to help them catch up.
If you are in first place of a Mario Kart race, then most of the items you find will be bananas. The creators of the game have determined that they are the most useless item of all, which is why you will be given hundreds of them. When you play the single player mode of Mario Kart, the 50cc and 100cc tournaments tend to be really easy. This means that you will be seeing lots of bananas before you finally face some more challenging racers.
13. Green Shell
If you spend a lot of time in first place during a Mario Kart race, then you will also become very familiar with the green shell.
The green shell is a common item that can be fired directly in front of you or can be flung behind your kart. One of the most annoying aspects of the green shell is its ability to bounce off of surfaces. If the green shell hits a barrier, then it will reflect off and move in another direction. You might think that you can pull off some cool Captain America style shield bouncing with the green shell, so that you can bypass the enemy racer protecting themselves at the last second with a banana or shell of their own. Chances are this won’t happen, unless you happen to be a master of geometry. Instead, you will most likely be hit in the face with your own green shell.
12. Yoshi/Birdo Egg
Yoshi’s egg appears in two different Mario Kart games and is equally annoying in both of them.
In the original version of Mario Kart for the Super Nintendo, the computer was a straight up cheating bastard. There are many reasons for this, but the most significant is the fact that there are items in the game that only CPU players can use. The egg is notable for the fact that an A.I. controlled Yoshi can throw an infinite amount of them at you.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! added character specific items to the game. When you played as Yoshi or Birdo, their item was the egg. Not only did this item totally suck compared to every other unique item in the game, but it dropped other random items on the field. There was a chance that you could hit an enemy with the egg… only for you to run into a wall of green shells that flew out from it.
11. The Chain Chomp
The Yoshi/Birdo egg is the worst unique item in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! by a wide margin. There is another item in the game that is more annoying, however, due to how it breaks the balance of the game.
In recent years, the Mario Kart games have done away with unique items. One of the reasons for ditching the unique items is to do with the Chain Chomp monster. If you play as either Baby Mario or Baby Luigi, then they will have access to the Chain Chomp, who can be summoned onto the track. The Chain Chomp will destroy everything in its path as it takes up most of the track with its bulk. As it moves, it will drag the babies behind it (which effectively makes the kart A.I. controlled for a brief period of time). When the duration of the item ends, the babies will be separated from the Chain Chomp, which will keep moving forward until it hits a barrier.
The Chain Chomp is by far the best item in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and its presence in the game managed to remove any semblance of balance. There is no reason not to play as Baby Mario/Luigi, as they have the awesome Chain Chomp.
10. The Driver Virus
Of all of the items on this list, this is the one you will most likely have never heard of, as it was exclusive to Mario Kart Arcade GP. This was a game that was created as part of a co-venture between Nintendo, Namco, and Sega, who worked together on an arcade system that was based on GameCube hardware. This was meant to allow compatibility between GameCube and Nintendo arcade games, with Arcade GP being connected to Double Dash.
The most annoying item in Mario Kart Arcade GP is the Driver Virus. You might recognize this creature as the blue virus from the Dr. Mario games. When a player is hit with the Driver Virus, it will cause their kart to start slowing down for a short period of time. If another player runs into you during this time, then they will be inflicted with the disease. The Driver Virus can be thrown backward, which means that a player in first place can significantly increase their lead if the illness spreads to the other players.
Collecting coins that are found strewn across the track is something that appeared in the original Mario Kart for the Super Nintendo. In this game, you could collect a maximum of ten coins at once. If you managed to acquire ten of them, then your kart would receive a speed boost. The problem with coins is that taking any sort of damage would cause you to lose some. This meant that keeping hold of ten coins was damn near impossible. It was possible to find item boxes that contained coins, but these were little more than a waste of time, as acquiring any other item would have been more useful to you.
The coins returned to the series in Mario Kart 7, where they became a central mechanic to the game. In the later Mario Kart titles, any coin you collect after the tenth will give you a speed boost, which means that keeping hold of ten coins is vital at all times.
8. Poison Mushroom
The poison mushroom first debuted in the original Super Mario Bros. 2 (which is often referred to as The Lost Levels in the West). Super Mario Bros. 2 was intended to be a much more difficult expansion to the original game. One of the ways in which it was made harder was with the inclusion of a poison mushroom, which looked very similar to the super mushroom, except it damaged Mario if he touched it.
In the Mario Kart series, you will occasionally see a mushroom laying on the ground. Running into it will usually provide you with a speed boost. In the original Mario Kart for the Super Nintendo, you might accidentally run into a poison mushroom instead, which has the effect of shrinking the player. What makes this item so annoying is that only the computer can use it. The only character who can drop poison mushrooms is a CPU controlled version of Princess Peach. She also possesses an infinite supply of them.
7. POW Block
The POW Block is one of the oldest items in the Mario Kart series, as it debuted in the original Mario Bros. arcade game. It was introduced in the arcade Mario Kart games and would later appear in Mario Kart Wii, where it was used to show off a gimmick.
In Mario Kart Wii, the game introduced the ability to perform tricks. You can do these when coming off of ramps and they will give you a boost of speed when you hit the ground. To do the trick, you need to shake the Wiimote when you go up into the air.
The reason that the POW Block was brought from the arcade games into Mario Kart Wii was so it could be used in conjunction with the Wiimote. It is possible to perform the trick when the POW Block is used, in order to alleviate its effects. You will still lose your items but you won’t lose speed. The POW Block was dropped from the console Mario Kart games from 7 onwards.
6. Super Leaf
The Super Leaf was first introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3, as the means by which Mario could fly through stages. When Super Mario 3D Land was released for the 3DS, it hyped the return of the Super Leaf as a usable item in the game. As Mario Kart 7 was released around this time, it was only natural that it should return here as well.
When the Super Leaf is used in Mario Kart 7, it adds a tail onto your kart. For a few seconds, you can use this tail as a melee weapon against other racers and as a shield against projectiles. The problem is that you have to drive right next to another racer in order to hit them with the tail. This leaves you wide open for a counterattack, as almost every weapon in the game is ranged/can be dropped behind you. The protection aspect of the Leaf isn’t great either, as you need to time the spin of the tail correctly to stop the projectile from hitting you. Any player who finds a Super Leaf is going to be disappointed, due to how useless it is compared to most of the other items in the game.
5. Thunder Cloud
One of the best parts about the older Mario Kart games was the fact that they could be enjoyed by anyone. It didn’t matter how skilled you were at the game, as the items could still screw you over.
As time went on, the skill gap between players became more of an issue in the Mario Kart series. The reintroduction of the coin mechanic played a huge part in this. A few of the items also favored more skilled players, such as the Thunder Cloud in Mario Kart Wii.
When a player finds a Thunder Cloud in an item box, it will activate automatically. Whilst the Thunder Cloud is in effect, the player will gain a huge speed boost. After a certain amount of time has passed, the player will be struck by lightning and shrunk. You can pass the Thunder Cloud off to another player at the last second if you hit their kart. This item became open to abuse by more skilled players, as they could reap the benefits and pass the negative effect off onto someone else.
The Boo ghosts have been appearing in the Mario Kart series since the first game. Back then, they appeared in the background of the Ghost Valley stages. In Mario Kart: Super Circuit, the Boos can actually harm players if they drive too close to them.
In Mario Kart 64, a Boo became a usable item in the game. Boo is basically a far superior version of the star. When used, the Boo will turn the player invisible and intangible. This makes the player totally invincible for a time, as other items will pass straight through them. During this time, the player will not be slowed down by driving off the road. What makes the Boo even more frustrating is that it can steal items from another player and give them to you.
The vast majority of the items in the Mario Kart series will only affect a single player at a time. If you throw a shell, then it will only hit one player before it breaks. The trap items (like the banana and the fake item box) will also be used up after taking down a racer. This often turns the race into a series of small encounters between players who are near each other on the track.
There is one item that exists only to screw every player at once – the lightning bolt.
When the lightning bolt is used in a Mario Kart game, it shrinks all other players on the field in size. This means that the user of the lightning bolt can run everyone over, as they make their way to the first place position. Anyone who uses the lightning bolt can expect a beating from the other players in real life. This is especially true for anyone who was jumping over a ramp at the time, as the lightning bolt will halt their momentum and cause them to fall.
Like the POW Block, the Blooper item was introduced to the series due to a hardware gimmick. When Blooper is used in a race, it will spray ink over all of the players that are further in the lead. This will cause huge black blotches of ink to appear on the screen, which makes it very hard to see what you are doing.
Blooper was first added to Mario Kart DS. The reason for its inclusion was to make use of the new dual screen aspect of the Nintendo DS. When you are covered in Blooper ink, then you can just look at the bottom screen and follow the map. The problem is that Blooper was added into the home console versions of the later games, where the map is a lot smaller if it is on the screen at all. What started out as fun gimmick item eventually became a major pain to deal with. Blooper was also made worse in Mario Kart 8, as the ink will mess with the handling of your kart.
1. The Blue Shell
Mario Kart 64 was created by Hideki Konno, who has also worked on numerous other Super Mario titles, as well as games in the F-Zero and Nintendogs series. The day he passes away will be a sad one for gamers everywhere. All of the major gaming publications will mourn his passing, as well as discussing his many achievements in the world of video games. Hideki Konno will be having the worst day, however, as he will not be led into the gates of Heaven by angels wearing sexy Samus Aran costumes. Instead, he will discover that Beelzebub has a devil put aside for him, and when it opens its many mouths, it will sound like the tortured screams of a gamer, who was struck by a blue shell whilst only a few feet away from the finish line.
Hideki Konno is responsible for creating the blue shell (also known as the Spiny Shell) in Mario Kart 64, which has gone on to appear in almost every single Mario Kart game released since. When a player finds the blue shell, they will be able to use it to attack the person in first place. This makes Mario Kart a far more chaotic and unfair game, as a player who spends the entire race in the lead can find themselves struck by a blue shell in the final lap and will be unable to recover. The presence of the blue shell will often force experienced players to purposely spend the entire race in second place, in order to escape from its wrath.
There is no more agonizing moment in gaming than to see your Mario Kart dreams flushed down the toilet by an errant blue shell. It is for this reason that it belongs at the top of this list.