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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Blue Shell Rage

Image by Letter Q

From the very beginning, Mario Kart has always been a chaotic racing game. When you throw Mario and friends on a race track and have them try to run each other off the road with Banana Peels you know you're in for a server case of road rage. Turtle shells have had a long association with the Super Mario series, and this was carried over to the Mario Kart games. It started out with just two colored shells, red and green. Green Shells could be shot in a straight line to bounce off walls when fired while Red Shells acted as homing missiles, locking on to the racer that was in front of you, which would assure you that you'd be able to seal their position (assuming you weren't playing Super Mario Kart where the AI would cheat and pull a Cape Feather out of thin air, causing you to miss). When Mario Kart 64 came around, a shell of a different color was added, the Blue Shell, an item any Mario Kart player undoubtedly has seething hatred for.

The official name is Spiny Shell, but everyone calls it the Blue Shell. I'll tell you what it really is: death. The Blue Shell homes in on whatever unfortunate soul is in first place and hits them like a ton of bricks. In truth, the Blue Shell wasn't that bad when it first appeared in Mario Kart 64. In fact, there were chances that it would hit an obstacle and end it's pursuit of the racer in first. And if you happened to be the racer in first and the shell was coming, you could easily avoid it. Just stop long enough to let someone else take first place and the Blue Shell has a new sucker to hit. Problem solved.

It wasn't until Mario Kart: Double Dash!! that the Blue Shell's method of operation was changed significantly,  making it the item all Mario Kart players loath to this day. Some genius on the development team thought it would be a good idea to give the Blue Shell wings so it could fly around the track, find the racer in first and hit them with for force of a grenade. It doesn't matter how fast you're driving. Have a Banana Peel or a Shell dragging behind you to defend from attacks? Doesn't make a difference. If you're in first place and you hear a siren you'll immediately be filled with dread because you know a Blue Shell is coming after you and there isn't a single thing you can do to stop it. And once it reaches you, it's death from above.

Peach is about to make someone's life
miserable. Probably yours.

Items are one of the main reasons Mario Kart is such a fun and hectic kart racer but turning the Blue Shell into an unavoidable weapon of mass destruction was one of the biggest mistakes Nintendo ever made. It's like you're being punished for kicking all the other racer's butts. I've been playing Mario Kart 7 for a few weeks now and even on 50cc, I've been blasted with that freaking Blue Shell more times than I care to count. I've heard that this was a major problem with Mario Kart Wii and after playing that game for a short while, I see that the complaints I heard about the constant Blue Shell attacks were very much valid. Pity that the problem persists in Mario Kart 7. I thought I'd be protected from the Blue Shell's wrath during the gliding segments, but no such luck. Land, sea or air, that shell will always find a way to hit you. If you're playing Mario Kart 7 and you make it through a race without seeing that shell, it's nothing short of the miracle. Unfortunately you spend more time getting hit with that thing than you do not seeing it, and it really makes my blood boil.

Guy knows he's screwed. 

100cc races are much more competitive than 50cc, but I already knew that going in. I'm practically painting a target on myself whenever I'm in first place because the odds of a sucky racer getting that Blue Shell are astronomically high. When I hear that siren, I sigh in defeat because I have no choice but to assume the position and just take it. It's even worse when I get hit during gliding sections over pits. I not only lose my place, I lose some coins and sometimes insult gets added to injury when other jerks drive by and hit me with their items. They say the version of the Blue Shell in Mario Kart 7 is a mix of it's wing and wingless forms. I think the thing always has wings to ensure I get hit with it whenever I'm doing too well.

I love Mario Kart games. One of my favorite ways to pass the time. But nearly 10 years after Double Dash!! and Nintendo still hasn't gotten the hint that gamers HATE that Blue Shell! If it could be avoided, it wouldn't be so bad, but as it stands, if you're in first, there's bound to be a Blue Shell that has your name on it.


Chalgyr Vokel said...

You have a lot of people in your corner. For whatever reason, I've never really raged out on the blue shells. I probably should, I'm in the upper half of my friends in terms of how I finish out my races in Mario Kart, but I just enjoy the games in the series so much that the shells are usually more groan-inducing than anything.

dste said...

Cannot stand the blue shells, pretty much removes the skill from the games and turns them into pure luck as to whether you can pull off quick enough to stay in first.

Should never have been put in.

Reggie White Jr. said...

@Chalgyr You're a much better man than I.

@dste If the Blue Shells returned to the way they used to be in Mario Kart 64, it wouldn't be so bad, really. In that game, there were numerous ways to avoid it. The winged form of the Blue Shell cannot be evaded at all and 9/10 times, that's the version of the Blue Shell that I see in Mario Kart 7.