Shells: The Ultimate Tool Kit Against Evil
An ode to the friendship ruining, control pad wrecking, humble shell.
Let’s start off with what many consider to be the weakest of the shell family; The green shell. These little babies have been used by, and against the Koopa Troopas since Super Mario Bros first appeared on NES, and have been a main stay of the series ever since. They played a major part in advancing Mario’s move set (i.e. being able to pick shells up) and eventually made their way onto the race courses of Super Mario Kart playing a major part in downing your competitors as (unlike the other shells) they can rebound off walls, causing havoc for anyone who would be foolish enough to step in their path. Say what you will about the humble Green Shell, but its storied history means it will strike fear into any Koopa in the great Kingdom of Mushrooms or any challenger that awaits you on Mario Kart . For its history and contribution alone the Green Shell deserves its place at the top table of Mario’s arsenal.
Now then, here we have perhaps the most infamous weapon In Mario’s inventory. The Red Shell is a byword for destruction. Many a time when playing Mario Kart with a friend you have looked at that item box and hoped, almost prayed that the item roulette did not bless them with a Red Shell. But when the inevitable happens, and your opponent lands themselves a Red Shell just before the last corner of the race, when you are practically neck and neck, the foreboding feeling of doom will wash over you. Look on in dismay, as the puny single banana you try to position yourself in front of, is bypassed completely and the mighty Red Shell smashes into the back of your Kart, sending you spiralling out of control. Feel the rage build up inside of you, as the poker face you try to keep crumples into an angry mess as six opponents all overtake you as you try to recover. Then remember that when the shoe’s on the other foot, and you have the power of a Red Shell to catapult you into first place, the feeling of pure joy and satisfaction that comes with wrecking your friends’ dreams in one cruel blow is like a drug we just can’t get enough of. Red Shells we salute you, don’t ever change.
OK so, if Red Shells are a byword for destruction, then a Blue Shell must surely be likened to all out Mushroom Kingdom Armageddon. These shells are extremely rare to find when compared with the other more common varieties, and offer Mario amazing abilities that truly enhance his power and that of Yoshi as seen in Super Mario World where they first appeared. Upon locating a Blue Shell in the later levels of said game, you may not notice anything too different about their ability. Sure they can be knocked away from the Koopa who occupies them and thrown at enemies wreaking havoc on the screen in front of you. However, their true blue value comes into effect when you have Mario’s prehistoric friend Yoshi with you. For, you see, they carry with them a mystical energy that enables the Green Dinosaur to fly! Yep, gobble one of these up and you will see Yoshi fly through the air with Mario on his back, locating secret levels and Keys that are essential to completing the full game; this is of course, only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the powers they possess. Let us return to Mario Kart. In this game they are literally the bane of existence, for anyone (un)lucky enough to occupy first place. For you see, these bad boys search out and destroy the race leader. In Mario Kart 64 they indiscriminately batter all who get in its way. The addition of wings in Double Dash make its accuracy even more devastating. Hearing a whooshing noise come up behind you, just as you are about to cross the finish line is an unexplainable feeling to all who have felt its wrath. They are the ultimate in troll weapon technology as usually, the person who gets a blue shell is too far away from first place to win the race anyway. The look on your friend’s face as it hits is worth the despair they cause every time their deadly strike knocks you from the lofty perch of first place. It is this love hate relationship that helps them seek out, find and obliterate a special place in our hearts.
There you have it. The lowdown on the most infamous Shells the Mushroom Kingdom has to offer. As you have just seen, they can be used to fight evil, and to fight each other. Either way, the fact remains; THEY ARE AWESOME!! Shells are easily the most iconic and instantly recognizable item in all video games. They have outlasted many inferior characters’ array of weapons and still stand head and shellders (sorry) above the machine guns and flamethrowers of the modern game world. They cause fear and joy in equal measure and, as a mainstay of the Mario series are not going anywhere anytime soon, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
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