Mario Kartâ€™s almighty blue shell is the great equalizer
J Thoendell stashed this in Video Games
Mario KartÂ may be incredibly popular and well-known, yet it's never held the attention of the system-breakers, wave-dashers, and pixel-perfect automatons who rule professional gaming. Why? You can sum it up in two words: Blue Shell.
The Blue Shellâ€”officially known as the Spiny Shellâ€”is an item that's been a part of the series since its N64 incarnation. Weapons and boosts for kart drivers are distributed semi-randomly from crates placed at intervals on the track. The blue shell only comes to those in second place or worse, because it auto-targets whoever's in first. In a sense, it's the game's great equalizer, but also a perverse incentive to stay close toâ€”but not inâ€”first place. The blue shell gets fired off from the back of the pack, zooms up to the front, and just before it blows the leader sky high, does a little zig-zag just to make sure you know what it's telling you: "I'm here to take your lead." At this point, if you had been in first, you might spike the controller or drop a fewÂ choice remarks.
For people who study games frame-by-frame for weaknesses and advantagesâ€”that is, the professional gaming setâ€”the blue shell takesÂ Mario KartÂ off the table. There's nothing you can do to decrease the likelihood that your opponents will get it, there's no way to dodge it, and it requires no skill for your opponents to use beyond pressing a button.
THE WINNER DOESN'T ALWAYS DESERVE TO WIN.Â