Mario Kart is a series that is marked with a lot of great moments of excitement, joy, anger, frustration and fun. A lot of those mixed emotions come from the various items, tracks and characters that get stirred around into a mixing bowl of unpredictable antics and entertainment.
This particular list will focus only on the major and most recognized items in Mario Kart that help facilitate said antics and entertainment, as well as contribute to all the wide range of emotions that burn through gamers as they zip past the finish line. Ranked in order from worst to best, you can check out the complete list of the items, some of your favorites and some of your most hated in Nintendo's Mario Kart series, below.
13. Blooper/Ink Stain
The Blooper item, also sometimes referred to as the Ink Stain, is a terribly useless item. It stains the screen of your opponents with ink blots. That's it. It's designed to impair the vision of other racers, potentially getting them to make a mistake on the track. However, it's very rare that Blooper will cause someone to crash into a wall and burn, or drive off track into a pond. It doesn't last long enough to really affect other racers and it doesn't obscure the screen enough to make it a hated or destructive weapon. The only thing most people think about when Blooper strikes is how annoyingly useless it is.
12. Thunder Cloud
One of the most annoying items ever. The Thunder Cloud is an item you pick up that hovers over your head. You don't activate it, it automatically activates and it's a debuffer. After a short while of hovering over the racer it'll eventually strike them with lightning and shrink them down to size. Sounds crappy, eh? Well, it is. There is a silver lining to the Thunder Cloud, however, and it's that you can pass it on to another racer if they're unlucky enough to bump into you. It's like playing hot potato with a reversed Lightning item, since instead of shrinking everyone else it shrinks you. There is no upside to the Thunder Cloud and it always induces groans and moans when someone picks it up because it never has a happy ending for whoever gets stuck with it.
The Ghost... what a strange item. In some incarnations of Mario Kart the Ghost (also referred to as “Boo”) will make you go invisible and steal a nearby item from an opponent. It's not the most useful of items, hence why it's ranked where it is on this list. However, the Ghost can protect you from some offensive items, and being invisible makes you impervious to any willfully malicious attacks by other players. The ability to drive off-track without being slowed down is a nice bonus. However, if you don't manage to steal an item when using the Ghost/Boo, you're just kind of left driving invisible for a short time and that's usually not very helpful when you're trying to move up a few places.
10. Fake Item Box
A strategist's item; that's what the Fake Item Box is. You can't just lob it at opponents and expect it to hit someone and you can just drop it and expect someone to run over it. Fake Item Boxes require careful placement or proper defensive usage. If someone is tailgating you it's best to just drop it behind you and let them run into it. However, offensively is where the real fun begins. Placing the Fake Item Box next to or inside other real item boxes can easily trick opponents into running into it and getting hit. If you place it down properly it can sometimes even cause an opponent to miss the item pickup. It's only useful in specific scenarios, but that's what adds to the charm.
Bananas are a difficult item to utilize properly on the track. You can't fire them like the Turtle Shells and you can't quite hide them like the Fake Item Box. Instead, if you get a group of Bananas you can place them down across the track to force opponents to weave between them. If you only get one Banana... well, it's mostly good for nothing. It is possible to throw Bananas in front of you, but they fly at an arc and it's tough to know where they'll land. Dropping them from behind is only good if an opponent can't dodge them. An alternative use for the Bananas is to have a trail of them out behind you and let the Turtle Shells and other nefarious items run into them as a meager means of protection. Sadly, Bananas are rarely useful for helping anyone win a race.
8. Green Turtle Shells
Decent, oftentimes inaccurate and always great as a shield against other pesky items, the Green Turtle Shells – whether you have just one or all three – usually work well in tight spaces as both offense and defense. Offensively, you can fire them in front or behind you to attack nearby opponents. Bouncing them off walls in a corridor area is also a surefire way to disrupt the flow of the race. Defensively, you can shield yourself from a variety of incoming attacks by firing the shells at hostile projectiles. You can also wear the the Green Turtle Shells as a protective shield and run over obstacles like Bananas or Fake Item Boxes without worrying about taking damage.
7. Blue Turtle Shell
With the only thing capable of stopping the Blue Turtle Shell being the newly added Super Horn, this devastating beast of an item is dreaded, hated, feared and always desired by anyone who isn't anywhere near first place. Basically, this heat-seeking item will search out and destroy whoever is in first place, no matter what. When it strikes, the explosion is big enough and dangerous enough to engulf anyone unlucky enough to be riding alongside first place, which oftentimes includes whoever is in second place. If you're in first, there's no where to hide and no where to go. Without a Horn you're screwed. If you're in second place? Just slow down and wait for the Blue Turtle Shell to do the dirty work before taking the lead. Works every time.
6. Three Mushrooms
If you need a quick boost to get over a jump, a lump, a patch of grass or a shallow bit of water, the Three Mushrooms are perfect: one for the boost, one to ride off the track as a shortcut and a third for an extra bit of momentum. It never fails... unless you get hit by the Lightning. The Three Mushrooms are a great way to either close the gap or create some separation. They're also perfect as recovery items. If you get hit, or spin-out or fall off the track, you can use the Mushroom individually to help get you out of the funk and back into the race. They're a great item with no real downsides... unless you get hit by Lightning or struck by a Turtle Shell while you're in the middle of boosting.
5. Red Turtle Shells
Ah, here they are. The Red Turtle Shells – while exceptionally powerful and always reliable – are skill-based weapons for sure. If you're in last place they won't do much to put you in first. If you're in first place they can't do much to defend you from people tailgating at a moderate distance. However, the Red Turtle Shells are perfect for anyone in the middle of the pack or when you're in second place and you're having trouble chasing down first place. The upside to the Red Turtle Shells is that they're heat-seeking, so they don't stop until they find a target... or unless they hit a wall... or unless they stop short on a corner... or unless they fall off the ledge while attempting to track an opponent. As I mentioned, you still need skills to rock the Red Turtle Shells, but they work well for most occasions and are usually reliable when it counts.
4. Golden Mushroom
Some of you are probably thinking “How can the Golden Mushroom be ranked above the three red turtle shells?” well, for a couple of reasons. The Golden Mushrooms are definitely skill based, but they also open up an opportunity for players – in the cool kids pack near first place as well as the not-so-cool-kids stuck in the back in the pack – to hit all the jumps, ride over water, go through the secret passageways or dodge a ton of obstacles in a hurry. You can just jam-spam the button to turbo through just about every segment in the track to catch up to the race leader. Or, if you're really crafty, you get into first place and then use the Golden Mushroom to create some massive distance from the rest of the group. The only downside to the Golden Mushroom is attempting to use it on Star Road. Huge no, no.
This has to be one of the most disruptive items in the Mario Kart series. The Lightning is less a power-up and more like a great big “Screw you!” to every single one of your opponents on the track. For those of you unfamiliar with the item (and only a blind, deaf, cave-dwelling hermit could be unaware of it) the Lightning shrinks all your opponents, no matter what position they're in, and it spins them out and it makes them slow. Worse yet (or better yet, if you're the one who used it) anyone who gets rolled over while shrunk by the lightning will get flattened and come to a halt. It's a wretched item if you're on the receiving end and a true blessing if you're the one doing the shrinking. The only downside to the Lightning is that it can't stop Bullet Bill, the Star, or players who are invisible. Still, it's a mighty useful tool for anyone who isn't rocking the pole position.
Next to Bullet Bill, the next major item you'll likely want to always keep on hand is the Star. The famous item transcends Mario Kart and is an iconic representation of invincibility and great speed throughout most of the entire Super Mario Bros franchise. The item grants racers with a brief period of acceleration and top-speed while also rendering them impervious to other items or racer antics. The only downside to the Star is that you're still susceptible to stage hazards, so you'll need to be careful not to mistakenly slip off Star Road or fall into the lava on Bowser's Castle. Otherwise, the Star is a tip-top item that's always useful and comes in handy whether you're near first place or in last place.
1. Bullet Bill
This may come as a surprise to many of you, but Bullet Bill is the one item that just seems way too overpowered for its own good. Debuting in Mario Kart Wii, the Bullet Bill item transforms players into a giant bullet, blasting through a stage on a set path, knocking any and everyone out of the way. The farther back in the pack you are the longer you stay as Bullet Bill. There are no downsides to Bill. You're fast, invincible and destructive. There are no counter-items to stop Bullet Bill and no stage hazards to hinder the item. If you see or hear someone coming as the Bullet, you just hope you can get out of the way in time. Bullet Bill is often considered a cheating power-up and that's because it is.
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