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Nintendo provided me with a copy of Mario Kart 7

blue shellI'd like to meet the person who designed the Spiny Blue Shell and hit them with it. Out of all the annoying and hard to play around items I've endured in a Mario Kart game, the Blue Shell is definitely the worst. Mario Kart 7 is loads of fun, but this blue menace is a serious problem.

The last time I played Mario Kart consistently, it was a common occurrence to hear people whine about how broken the feather was in Battle Mode. The item didn't seem like a big deal to me at the time, but I was also exploiting the hell out of it….

To me, Mario Kart is about creatively manipulating the mechanics just to annoy your friends. It's a chummy annoyance, as you aren't actively trying to ruin anyone's day by shooting a red shell at them at point-blank range, but sometimes it just…happens.

The Spiny Blue Shell changes everything. It's like a homing missile that any racer can launch against the player in first place. In Mario Kart 7, it causes a massive explosion when it hits and not only stuns the target for a while, but can knock out anyone else that gets near it when the item goes off.

The shell joined the series in Mario Kart 64, but was extremely uncommon. Where the new version hovers above the other racers before sinking down on the player in first, the original shot through all the characters between the origin and the destination, blowing them out of the way. Clearly Nintendo needed to balance just how powerful the shell was, but their solution wasn't much better.


Blue Shells are nearly impossible to avoid, and any of the tricks used in previous Mario Kart titles no longer apply in 7. You just have to take the hit whenever someone launches it, unless you have a star power-up.

I don't like complaining about items in Mario Kart after my experiences with the feather. I thought that was a completely useful and worthwhile tool, and the game randomly dispensed it! I wasn't rigging matches so I could always get the power-ups I wanted. I may be feeling like all my friends did in the '90s, but from the time I received my review copy of 7 to now, I have yet to use a single Blue Shell.


No, I'm not a pacifist when it comes to Mario Kart. I love and utilize items like a four-wheeled ninja.I simply haven't encountered any Blue Shells in the random items. I've put 10 or so hours into 7 at this point, and most of that time I've only gotten bananas and red shells. 

I thought this might be an issue with single player, and that was fine. I could gain enough ground on most of my opponents to make up for any precision strikes coming my way. What I didn't expect was the shell to torment me continuously in multiplayer.

I've won only one of the 39 multiplayer matches I've played, and I think that was an accident. Every other time I was either too slow, or I'd get blown out of first mere seconds after reaching it.I started dreading the ominous beep that foretold the blue shell's impact. Every time I saw it pop up in the race position list, my heart started to pound.


So, this is my official request for Nintendo to just drop the damn Spiny Blue Shell. It exists to even the playing field when racers are perpetually in first, but in my experience, it is only targeted at me when I finally inch forward. I don't like calling intentional gameplay decisions broken, but I'm beginning to feel that way about the blue shells in Mario Kart 7. I've never seen one appear in my items, but they're always around the moment I start doing well.

This is part one of two of my Mario Kart 7 review. The next part will be up on Thursday.