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Mario Kart’s almighty blue shell is the great equalizer

An ode to Mario Kart s almighty blue shell Kill Screen Videogame Arts & Culture


Mario Kart 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 Shell—officially known as the Spiny Shell—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 to—but not in—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 few choice remarks.

For people who study games frame-by-frame for weaknesses and advantages—that is, the professional gaming set—the blue shell takes Mario Kart 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.


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Why have the blue shell if it's so unfair? That's life.

Mario Kart Seinfeld combined gif tumblr imgur

That is a beautiful combined gif. 

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