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Mario Kart Month: Mario Kart's Best Weapon Isn't What You Think

Posted by Luke Taylor

Green Shells For Pride and Honour

Games in the Mario Kart series — including the forthcoming Mario Kart 8 — are usually referred to as racing games, but we all know that's only half the story — the other half is gladiatorial combat on wheels, battles fought between competitors using whatever Super Mario-themed objects of destruction they can find in the item boxes that litter the track, and the best of these weapons is the humble Green Shell. No, really.

Green Shells travel forwards in a straight line and cause any racer they hit to spin out, and it's their simplicity that's their great strength. Everyone knows how to use them, because they do one thing and they do it well while still requiring plenty of skillful input from the player to use to their full effect. So how do they compare to the other offensive weapons commonly available to you? Shall we find out?

Red Shells

The Mario Kart equivalent of a heat-seeking missiles, Red Shells are a weapon for people without the talent to score a direct hit. Plus, their homing capabilities have all the intelligence of a sack of rocks, meaning Red Shells often pose more of a threat to the walls of the Mushroom Kingdom's raceways than they do to the other racers.

Blue Shells

Even more dishonourable than Red Shells, Blue Shells aren't so much a weapon as they are a mechanism designed solely to generate spite and hatred in anyone who is hit by them. The world has plenty of spite and hatred already, thanks very much.

Bullet Bills / Chain Chomps

Aggressive, annoying and difficult to avoid, Bullet Bills and Chain Chomps are like those people who harass you with clipboards while you're out shopping, and no one likes them. If you want to play a racing game without actually having to race, maybe you should try breaking out the ol' Scalextric.

Fake Item Boxes

Treachery, plain and simple. Why not just stab your opponents in the back and be done with it?


Aside from being terribly unhygienic, having a squid shoot ink into someone's eyes is the height of rudeness. Are you really so desperate to win that you'll risk permanently blinding Princess Peach or giving Donkey Kong an eye infection? Also, it doesn't really seem to faze computer-controlled racers.

Banana Peels

There seems to be a law hard-coded into the Mario Kart games that you are infinitely more likely to hit a banana peel you dropped on a previous lap than for someone else to hit it, making them the only weapon in the game more dangerous to you than to your competitors. A case can be made, however, for the Banana Peel's superiority to the Green Shell, but only when thrown forwards - anyone who can master this technique for stunning other racers deserves all the kudos that can be bestowed upon them.


You only ever get the Thunderbolt if you're trailing right at the back of the pack. What are you doing all the way down in last place? You're never going to get better if you have to rely on shrinking people by electrifying them to win. Hang on, that's not how electricity works, is it?

It is clear that the virtues of purity, utility and good sportsmanship are well represented by the Green Shell. That last one is especially important, because Mario Kart is a game best played with friends, but they won't stay your friends for long if you keep using Blue Shells to smash them just as they're about to cross the finish line. That path leads to harsh words, broken controllers and the occasional smack in the mouth.

No one can stay angry at you if you win using the Green Shell to fight your way to victory, because it takes finesse. If the Red Shell is Mario Kart's homing missile then the Green Shell is the sniper rifle, and who can really feel bad about taking the Nintendo equivalent of a headshot from across the map? There's little to match the satisfaction of whacking Bowser with a perfectly-executed Green Shell bank shot and then blasting past him to take the chequered flag. You can even drop them behind you, so they're like two weapons in one!

In conclusion, Green Shells are truly the best weapon in the Mario Kart series. Unless you actually want to win races, in which case yeah, it's probably the three Red Shells. Carry on!

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User Comments (64)



TreesenHauser said:

Green Shells are awesome! They're also great defensively. I love holding onto them to prevent getting hit by another red/green shell.



Gridatttack said:

Yep. Always knew green shells where the most useful items. So deadly even you can hit yourself with them if you're not careful :>



FragRed said:

Interesting article, and I totally forgot about the fake item boxes. Did they only appear in Mario Kart 64? I don't recall them being in the others.



Falchion said:

I like the disclaimer in the last sentence. I think most people are trying to win the races...



Nintenjoe64 said:

There's nothing sweeter than pulling off a timed sniper shot with a long range green shell. I will probably use MK TV once to save the first good shot I pull off and then never use it again!



DespyCL said:

Triple green shells are the best imo. You can spam with them and hit everyone near you.



Gen0neD said:

Gotta agree. Smackin' someone in the neck with a green shell (backwards or forwards) makes me giggle with evil genius glee everytine and if I could take my hand off the controller, I'd pat myself on the back. The Fake Item Box "treachery" comment cracked me up.



Dr_Corndog said:

There's nothing in Mario Kart more satisfying than smacking a guy in front of you with a green shell.

Since it's been brought up, I'm glad they finally dropped fake item boxes. They never fooled anyone, and since DD you couldn't even block items with them.



Jazzer94 said:

Nothing more satisfying in MK then nailing three people in front with a green shell spread and taking first.



absuplendous said:

I haven't played Mario Kart in a while... as you able to deactivate certain items, a la Smash Bros.? Whenever I play Kart, I'm stuck in the mindset of the Super NES original, and find some of the newer items to be ridiculous.



memoryman3 said:

But we all know the BLUE SHELL is the most skilled item. I mean, what if you have it in first?



Vee_Flames said:

Haha! I remember an event that happened with a green shell while playing MKDS with my friends. I'm not really going to say it, but it's so hilarious.
Green shells are better than red shells. Although red shells have homing abilities, well... it's very 'dull'. I mean, it willingly hits a banana placed in front of it's path! Red shells in MKDD are the worst of 'em all. So... unintelligent. Green shells provide defense and are very useful in strategic racing.



Nik-Davies said:

Considering most of the time you should be in first anyway, Red Shell = Green Shell as when thrown backwards, it's not a homing missile and acts the same way.



ClassicJetterz said:

I have to agree with this article and here's why.

It's not red shells, blue shells, bananas, or any other item I generally have to worry about.

When I throw a green shell, it usually bounces off of a wall and hits me right back. I am my own enemy in the Mario Kart series.



Gold_Ranger said:

I loved Fake Item Boxes... I'd place them directly behind real ones! and make them overlap a little so it'd be very hard to notice...



Gold_Ranger said:

Back on SNES, The Big Square Battle Course...
My friend and I would play Battle Mode for hours on end.
We filled the course with, at the time, Non-Dying Green Shells!
It was so hard to maneuver... But it was the most fun!



MajinSoul said:

I really miss the Bowser Shell from DD, it was a slow, giant weapon of mass destruction. And I agree, the Green Shell is awesome.



chewytapeworm said:

I miss the fake item. Oh well, I miss the mega mushroom even more. Hearing THAT music while trying to outrun someone who's used one can be far panic-inducing than someone who's got a star!

See also, the Thundercloud. Probably the most hated item of all time, but guaranteed hysterics/falling out with a roomful of mates!



ACK said:

Uh, it's clearly the mushroom. Every expert Kart-er knows that.

The thing does it all: allowing for insanely effective, creative shortcuts; boosting into other racers to knock them off Rainbow Road; dodging blue shells; stealing balloons in battle mode... And, not to mention, is the indispensable key to the supreme mode in any Mario Kart - Time Trials.

Mushrooms are equally useful in basically any position and can save your race whether in first (blue shells begone!) or last (expertly timing their usage to nail massive shortcuts back into the race).



BakaKnight said:

Green shells are definitely the fairest weapon toghether with the peels.
Lots of skill needed for hit your desired target and if you fail those items have no loyalty; lost count of how many times I accidentally hitted myself in all these years >o>;;;

Althought... Am I the only one who got betrayed even by a RED shell? DX
I once tossed one against an opponent right in front of me... that damn red shell missed him, turned back for hit him, missed again and striked me instead @.@



ACK said:

@hosokawasamurai I'm with you. I adore this site, but the writing is hardly professional and now we are getting a preponderance of a cutesy, gag-inducing writing style that comes off as pandering.

I'd really like to see the standards raised a few notches, myself. Enough of the iffy puns and fluffy, fruitless articles... Dial back the content and up the quality. No more veiling poor writing behind a humor-ish tone that falls flat. It only detracts from the merits of this site.



Inkling said:

Earlier I was playing online on MK7, got 3 green shells and all three got a hit



ACK said:

@bassoongoon But... Dodging them (which is quite easy with a mushroom - boost after the shell stops in air and begins to drop down) and slowing down to take out a group of trailing rivals with you are two of the greatest joys of Kart racing.



JCnator said:

Yup, Mario Kart's Swiss Army knife came in form of green shell! I also love on how many victories I got by using the item, even when they seemed to be out of reach. I got to master its usage, especially because I often placed 1st in many many races.

Personally, Blooper is the most useless item ever conceived. Seriously, anyone who've played enough Mario Kart won't be affected, especially when there is a map. Blooper only becomes a real threat against newbies and computer players, with the latter swerving left and right that slow themselves down (assuming that MK8's AI behaves like those from MK7 and MKDS). It seems like that in the Wii U iteration, the ink only covers the center of the screen instead of all over the place. When we already have the Coin item taking out our precious item slot, Blooper's inclusion only seem to be more redundant considering its usefulness. I'm wondering why Nintendo continues to include it anyway.



chiefeagle02 said:

I've been hit by more Green Shells than anything else whenever I play an Online Match (pesky ricochet).



Yoshi said:

The ink from bloopers actually fazes computer players. They always slow down because of the ink, and in DS, the swerve back and forth slightly.



MrGuinea said:

I disagree. There is no "best" item. In mariokart you have to make the best out of any item you get.

And NintendoLife, the red shells in mk7 have a MUCH MUCH improved targeting system compared to mkdd and mk64 where they hit 95% of the time for me. (as long as you use them smartly) You can expect them to hit when there are thwomps or items in your way.



iphys said:

I only like green shells for defense. I almost never manage to hit anyone with one unless someone's right on my nose.



NintyMan said:

I agree that the green shell is the best item. There's been plenty of moments when green shells, bouncing off of every wall around them like a pinball, smack into me and hurt my chances at winning more than even a red shell. Red shells are dangerous, but sometimes they get botched and completely miss their mark. With green shells, it takes skill to land a hit, and it's always satisfying when it does. However, they are a terror on the track when there's a bunch of them bouncing off of walls, and that's when they become a danger to you as well as everyone else, so you have to use it carefully. And they are also good for defense, so they have plenty of good uses.



One-Winged-Pit said:

I always thought the green shell was great. I can hit people at far distances with them and unlike red shells, are not usually ruined by a banana peel behind them.



Shpongled_Mario said:

One of my favorite things to do with green shells was on the last bridge on Yoshi's Valley on 64. I would turn to the right and shoot however many green shells I had so they would be bouncing back and forth real fast and almost unavoidable. Also DK Jungle Parkway had a bridge I did it on too. I miss the green shells of 64 in general, their timing of release felt perfect compared to other games and I had a nasty shot forward and backward. I would even shoot off walls to ricochet them into opponents cause I knew their paths so well and how they behaved.



mystman12 said:

You forgot to mention that green shells also love to betray you. It happens all the time. You throw one, it misses its target, bounces around, and as you drive down the track, you watch bounce all a around before it come barreling back at you.



StarDust4Ever said:

Ugg, the bane of hitting my own green shells and banana peels.

Once I played the 100cc all cup tour in Mario Kart Double Dash. I had Diddy Kong and Bowser Jr in the bullet blaster. Crazy special items the giant babana and Bowser's Shell. Dino Park tripped me up as usual, placing 7th. No way to not get knocked off that narrow bridge by the heavywieghts. Anyway, the Koopas placed first in nearly every race unless I did, so it was tough as nails getting into the lead. During the final race Rainbow Road, I laid a giant banana peel on a hairpin turn, then hit it on my second lap. It exploded, spinning my cart over the precipie. Third lap, I hit two of the three peels left behind, spinning out twice. I though I was way ahead, but Koopa bros smashed me with a red shell. Ugg, I tried my darndest to make it into the lead again, but those darned Koopas made it into 1st place and I got the silver trophy, missed gold by one point.



Mario-Man-Child said:

I can remember the first time I fired a green shell that made contact with another racer. It was brilliant.



tsukipon said:

Green shells for the win. Nothing is more satisfying than aiming them perfectly and getting that racer in front of you, who was probably laughing that you have a green shell and believed you were going to miss.

I green shelled baby peach out of the way to victory right before the finish line in the MarioKart 8 demo.



FineLerv said:

I think a lot of people missed the point of this article...

Anyway, agreed! Real men use green shells!



FantasiaWHT said:

In the original SMK, my friend and I used to go park at opposite ends of a long straightaway and shot single green shells at each other. Shells at dawn we called it. You weren't allowed to move.



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alLabouTandroiD said:

Bob-Omb's best.
Edit: Okay, twitter convinced me that Green Shell ricochets hitting other drivers are the most amazing thing in the Mario Kart games. Keep going.



BulbasaurusRex said:

Isn't the low AI of the red shells a good thing? We don't want them overpowered to the point where they're almost a guarenteed hit, and it sometimes takes skill to get them to hit a wall instead of you.

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