The Best (and Worst) Mario Kart Items

Do you think the flying Blue Shell is the best item in Mario Kart? Think again.

By James Stank. Posted 08/06/2010 08:00 5 Comments     ShareThis

Mario Kart DS Artwork

While there have been six games in the Mario Kart series, each release has come with new tracks, characters, and new items. In Mario Kart, the items can make or break a cup for you. To win, you’ll not only have to be good, but lucky as well. You could be in first place the entire race, and never see a blue shell. Or, you could be in first place most of the race, and get hit by a couple of blue shells, severely hurting your chance of winning the race. While some items have come and gone, here is a list of the best– and worst– Mario Kart items ever.

The Best

Star / Starman: The Star is the ultimate item in Mario Kart, and has been in every Mario Kart game. Not only does it temporarily greatly enhance your speed, it also gives you total invincibility. You’ll stop Bullet Bills in their tracks, and escape from that deadly flying Blue Shell unscathed. Unlike the Bullet Bill, you are in complete control, so you can drive off-road for shortcuts, and get yourself in good position for when your Star ends. While the Bullet Bill is faster, you aren’t in control, and from time to time will actually hurt you more than help, by ending at the edge of a cliff or right before lava. Even if you can’t make it to first with your Star, you can take out many opponents who are blocking your path, all while listening to that awesome Mario invincibility music.

Heart: The Heart was the special of Peach and Daisy in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. It was a protective shield that would surround the user’s kart with two hearts. Each heart would protect the kart once from every attack excluding a Star, Lightning, Blue Shell or a Chain Chomp. As an added bonus, if Peach or Daisy didn’t have any items when a heart was used, they would gain the item that the heart saved them from! Who wouldn’t like blocking a red shell to gain one?

Blue Shell / Spiny Shell (prior to Mario Kart: Double Dash!!): While the Double Dash Blue Shell can escape more obstacles and jumps because it flies, the reality is that it doesn’t help the user nearly as much as the old Blue Shell. The new Blue Shell only targets the first place racer, and may hit more with the blast radius. The old Blue Shell would hit almost every racer on its path of destruction to the first place kart. Hitting only the first place kart isn’t very helpful if you are in seventh place. Hitting everyone is. The user had to be careful, because if he used it while facing a wall, the shell would hit the wall and be lost.

Not only that, but the Blue Shell was also the best for defensive purposes. As with the other single-shells, it could be held behind you, but was virtually indestructible. The only things that could destroy it were a Star or another Blue Shell, which means if you were holding one in first place you never had to worry about Red Shells again.

Lightning: One of the most predictable items for this list, Lightning has always been one of the best items in the game. It too has been in every Mario Kart game. When used, it shrinks every one of your opponents, drastically cutting their top speed, while you remain at your normal size and either crush or push your opponents out of the way as you pass them. While there are a few ways to avoid it, most of your opponents won’t, and you are almost guaranteed to gain a few spots after using it.

Golden Mushroom: It is in almost every Mario Kart game, and perfect for shortcuts and gaining ground quickly. It is a like a regular mushroom, which will give you a short speed boost, but the Golden Mushroom can be used for a long time before it disappears. It can enable you to take optional jumps and drive through water and tall grass with no problem. Its ability to be used many, many times makes it one of the best of the game. It was the special of Toad and Toadette in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, giving that duo one of the best specials of the game.


Three Red Shells: While one red shell is good, three of them is great. In Mario Kart Wii and almost every other Mario Kart game besides Double Dash!!, the Three Red Shells are not only the best defensive item, but also one of the best offensive items. When a Red Shell is used, it will immediately lock onto the kart directly ahead of you, and home in on the opposing kart until it makes impact or the enemy kart falls of a cliff or is hit by something else. If you have three red shells, they circle around your kart, giving you a protective barrier. They will protect you from almost every attack, similar to the hearts, but once your shells are hit they will be destroyed, and you won’t get the item that they saved you from.

The Worst

Fireballs: Mario and Luigi’s special in Double Dash!! has to be one of the worst items ever in a Mario Kart title. When activated, the plumbers throw five Fireballs that branch out and hit opponents that aren’t too far ahead of you. The problem is that Fireballs like to bounce off walls, and have a tendency to bounce back and hit you. Compared to other specials in the game such as the Heart or Golden Mushroom, Fireballs leave much to be desired. It is called “Mario” Kart after all. Mario deserved better.

Pow Block: This was a new item introduced in Mario Kart Wii but it quickly turned into the worst item in the game. Getting rid of your opponent’s items and making them spin out was a pretty good idea. However, giving everyone an easy way to avoid it wasn’t. Right as a Pow Block is about to go off, all your opponents need to do to avoid it is either shake the Wii Remote or press their trick button. They will still spin out and lose their items, but they will not lose any of their speed. Therefore they will continue going in the direction they were going with the same speed. How does that help you? It doesn’t.

There really weren’t too many bad items that I could think of, but what do you think? Am I missing any? Let me know what your favorite items are in the comments below.

5 Responses to “The Best (and Worst) Mario Kart Items”

  • 360 points
    M. Noah Ward says...

    I particularly hate the thunder cloud. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    Thumb up 1
  • 1329 points
    Andrew Hsieh says...

    I loved that if you stood still in Battle Mode in MK64– you know, like if you were tending to your Block Fort guardian duties –you kept getting Starmen. It was great. And ridiculous.

    Oh, and to paraphrase xkcd– you can dodge Blue Shells, but it is deep magic. :)

    Thumb up 0
  • 30 points
    Lukeysounds says...

    Why like 20 Best items and only 2 worst?? The Splat item should def be on there. That weapon is crud. I would much rather have the bullet than the Golden Mushroom, and i ACTUALLY think that the item where you get bigger might stop the star.. I might be wrong, but I think I remember smashing someone when they had a star.

    Thumb up 0
    • 687 points
      Matthew Tidman says...

      Sadly the Mega Mushroom doesn’t. I used one during the game night only to be hit by someone wielding a Star. It was not a pleasant experience.

      Thumb up 0
    • 393 points
      James Stank says...

      There are only two bad items on the list because I couldn’t think of more that were negative in every situation. I forgot about the Blooper, which should be on the list. I’ve won multiple races with the thunder cloud, so it isn’t always bad, and the giant mushroom isn’t all that great either. It doesn’t last as long as a star and you aren’t invincible. The bullet bill and chain chomp are defnitely conditional, because they can really hurt you sometimes.

      Thumb up 0

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