Blue shells are capable of dragging up both the light and dark side of human emotions, on the one hand they can produce a feeling of joy that makes an evil smile slowly cross your face as you send them on their way to take out the player who’s leading the race, which can be particularly satisfying when that player’s one of your friends who fancies themselves as a bit of a Mario Kart legend. On the other hand when you’re in the lead and you’ve broken away from the rest of the pack whilst heading towards almost certain victory, the sound of a blue shell rushing towards you can cause you to take some drastic action whilst screaming a long list of profanities at the screen, which in the majority of cases is utterly futile.
Whenever I’ve picked up Mario Kart games in the past, I’ve always jumped straight into the single player to try and grab all the gold cups, set ridiculous records in the time trials, and most importantly to unlock extra characters. Playing against the computer can be an infuriating experience as you’re hit with weapons and knocked further from the lead time and time again, but in the long run this teaches you to handle situations in different ways and you become a better player. One of the weapons that can be particularly useful to get the hang of, especially when you’re having a run of bad luck, is the blue shell.
Before you use a blue shell you need to assess the situation, otherwise it’s likely that you’ll tip the balance of the race in the favour of one of the other drivers. The abilities the blue shell possesses have increased with time, when first introduced in Mario Kart 64 they were tied to the ground and would zip past the other racers to take care of whoever was in the lead. Now they posses wings to get to their target even quicker, at which point they cause an explosion that can take out anybody who’s chasing the leader too. What this means is that holding onto a blue shell can be a game winning tactic, particularly if you manage to take out everybody in front of you in one fell swoop. You’ll need to make sure that you don’t give away your advantage too soon though because these little power ups are incredibly rare, so chances are you’ll only find one per race. Also, once the first player’s across the finish line, don’t assume that you’re safe because blue shells will attack whoever’s in the lead and yet to cross the line, so if you’re in second place and you hear that sound coming towards you, you’re in trouble!
When you jump into a multiplayer race the tactics for using blue shells don’t really change, well that is until somebody really ticks you off! Once a rivalry has built up between you and your friends it’s highly likely that you’ll single them out, at which point you’ll be happy to patiently wait until one of them coasts into first place so that you can send a nasty little present their way!
It’s rare to be able to protect yourself when you’re being pursued by a blue shell, but it’s not impossible, although escaping from one is more a case of luck than skill. Some people have suggested that waiting just until the point of impact and jumping out of the way yields results, but having attempted this myself on numerous occasions I’m not sure that this is worth bothering with. Managing to make it into a canon that fires you across the environment just in the knick of time does however seem to work in the majority of cases, but then again how often do they crop up in a level! Another sure fire way to save yourself is to activate a star, providing you’ve picked one up on your travels. There are supposedly other ways as well, which you can find after a quick internet search, but you’ll need to try them out in order to discover whether they’re effective solutions, or a load of rubbish.
It’s undeniable that blue shells have a range of uses, although it’s a shame they can’t be used defensively like the red and green shells, however more often than not you’ll find yourself using them to exact revenge on your friends in cruel ways, which’ll probably cause your living room to be filled with the sound of laughter and crying in equal measure. I’m sure you’ve got your own stories about when you’ve been “blue shelled” and we’d love to hear them, so feel free to jot them down below.
First published on Dealspwn (22 January 2012)