A Barrel (樽), also known in some games as the DK Barrel (ドンキーコング 樽), is relatively common obstacle in the later Mario Kart games, a Special Item available to Donkey Kong in the first two Mario Kart Arcade games, and an open "availability-to-all" special item in Mario Kart Arcade GP DX. The banana eating DK can use this wooden cylinder to bash other racers either in front of him or behind him, making it an extremely useful Item. In all 3 arcade games, the Barrel falls under the same category as Prize Items, meaning it will have to be unlocked.
Mario Kart 7 first introduced the Barrel as a troublesome obstacle in two courses, Wario Shipyard and DK Jungle. Running into one won't necessarily harm your racer, but it WILL completely start them over in the Acceleration process. However, there's the possibility of a Mushroom popping out of a smashed Barrel, but this would only cancel out the earlier collision. Plus, there's actually the possibility of a BANANA coming out as well.
In Mario Kart 8 and Mario kart 8 Deluxe, Barrels make a return in the Nintendo 3DS-originally 3DS DK Jungle, as well as Toad Harbor, Cloudtop Cruise, Wild Woods, and Bone-Dry Dunes. Their slowing-own effects and internal contents are pretty much the same as they were in Mario Kart 7.
OffenseBarrels in Mario Kart Arcade GP and its successors have a much more devastating role. In the first two games, Donkey Kong can pick these up from an Item Box. Then, he can choose whether to throw it forward or backward (which is uncommon for the arcade version Items).
The added bonus of being able to release the Barrel from behind DK (or any other racers in Mario Kart Arcade GP DX) makes it a very useful Special Item in protecting against enemy Items. However, because of the lack of a rear view mirror or holding availability, excellent timing should be in your skill set to perform this stunt.
Now, if you're on the opposing side of the DK Barrel, don't worry, there's still some tactics to employ to avoid it. Remember not to directly tailgate DK when you see a Barrel in his hand, and a Star deployed at the right hand is an insurmountable defense against the Barrel.
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The Barrel can be crucial in 1v1 contacts, as the Barrel shoots Banana Peels forward. These come at a rapid rate, making it easier to hit the opponent in front.
The Barrel can also be crucial in defensive plays. Even if the item throws Banana Peels forward, it can still be used to create a Banana Peel wall with small gaps for you, making it hard for the opponents behind to not get hit by a Banana Peel.
The Barrel can be easily protected against, but only if you have an item. If you have an item, you can just shoot at the Banana Peels and create a gap for yourself to go through. If not, you just have to find an open and try to pass through it. If the person with the Barrel is behind you, then it is best to keep the item behind you until the Barrel is gone. If your item gets hit, then you just have to try and predict the moves of the Barrel.
- Barrels can have differing appearances depending on what game/course they are in. The Barrels from DK Jungle are distinct in that the red "DK" logo is plastered across them, and the barrels from Bone-Dry Dunes are more decorative then the basic black banded wooden Barrels. However, the basic effect remains the same.
- Similar obstacles to a Barrel include the Crate and Vase... both of these slow down karts tremendously and release Items when broken.
- The Banana Cup trophy is often depicted with a Banana sitting on a Barrel.
- The Barrel Train from Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Kart 7 seems to have been inspired from the DK Barrel.
- In the Donkey Kong series, Barrels can be used as both weapons and Item carriers... very similar to their use in Mario Kart.