The Spiny Shell, also sometimes referred to as the Blue Shell, is an item that debuted in the second Mario Kart title, Mario Kart 64, and has been in every Mario Kart game since. Although the Spiny Shell has taken on many different forms and variations throughout the series, its main objective has always remained the same: to target the leader in the race.
In its 1st appearance, the Spiny Shell is just a blue variant of the more common red Spiny Shell in the previous Mario games. Any racer besides first place can obtain it, but it is the rarest item in the game. Once obtained from an Item Box and fired, the Spiny Shell travels in a straight path for a few moments. Much like a Red Shell, if the Spiny Shell hits a wall, itis destroyed (although it has better corner-careening powers than the Red Shell). After this, the shell locks on to the first place racer, traveling in the middle of the road and bowling over any racers in its path. Any gaps in the track aren't a problem for the Spiny Shell; they can simply glide right over them. Once the first place racer hears the siren sound, they're knocked over in a violent crash.
The actual use of this item is clear when you look at it from the general perspective: The first racer can block shots from red shells, fire flowers, and whatever the rest of the pack has to throw. The only item that will always affect the first-place racer, aside from the blue shell, is the lightning. However, lightning can be dodged simply by picking up a star that is dropped on the track. This huge gap can be shrunk by the blue shell, which allows for that gap to be obliterated, as the leader simply is completely stopped, and the pack starts to catch up.
Additionally, this early variant has the option of being dragged behind a player's vehicle, much like a Banana or Green Shell. Utilizing the Spiny Shell in this way creates an almost impenetrable defense, as the shell can never be broken by racers or any Item besides a Starman.
This item can be obtained by any racer regardless of their position if they can access the special item box hidden inside mushroom cup, one at the mountain of Koopa Troopa Beaches, and one tied at Luigi Circuit's giant balloon.
By far the weakest version of the Spiny Shell, it acts very similarly to the Mario Kart 64 version, but it can't fly over gaps or holes like the other one. This is a serious deficiency in the effectiveness of the weapon, as many tracks have open areas in them. It is also one of the reasons why first place racers rarely have to worry about them in this game. In addition, even if a Spiny Shell connects with a racer, the damage done is only slightly better than a normal shell.
The Spiny Shell can still be dragged behind vehicles in this game, and they still are nearly unbreakable when in this configuration. Also, very similar to the Red Shell in this game, a Spiny Shell can be shot backwards to remain in place on the track. Once the first place racer comes near it on the next lap, it will immediately home in on them. This strategy works very well, as it's almost a guaranteed hit every time as opposed to forward throwing. However, it will only work if there's one more lap.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! greatly increased the power of the Spiny Shell from the last game. This is the first version to have wings, which make it fly in the air. Now, although this means that racers 2nd-8th are all clear, it also means that the Spiny Shell now has outstanding speed, and 1st place reaction times or strategies are cut very short. It's also the first one to be hexagonally separated on the blue carapace, which continues from here forth. Once launched (by only 4th-7th place), the shell will hiss through the air, skipping over all gaps and obstacles (which means that hitting a wall isn't a problem for it anymore). And once it reaches lead driver, it hovers over them for a second, the dives down on them causing a cataclysmic explosion that throws up their vehicle (and as a bonus, anyone else near them) into the air. This causes massive amounts of lost time.
Although the ability to drag or shoot the Spiny Shell from the back has been lost, it also has a new feature that allows it to go after the highest place racer that hasn't crossed the line yet. So, if 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place have already finished, 4th place will be targeted. This ability will remain with every Spiny Shell version afterwards.
Mario Kart DS
Because of the effectiveness of the previous Spiny Shell, Mario Kart DS does not add or take away anything from the Mario Kart: Double Dash!! version. It still is very rare and can only be obtained in places 4 through 7.
Mario Kart Wii
Like Mario Kart DS, not much at all has changed with the Mario Kart Wii edition of the Spiny Shell, though player count is up to twelve, now allowing 4th through 8th place to obtain the shell.
New to this game, the Spiny Shell now is available for use in Battle Mode, targeting the leading opposing team member with the most Balloons or most Coins. However, the rarity of the item is greatly increased, as it only appears when there's a huge difference in team scores. In addition, since friendly Items can not hit friendly racers in VS (or Battle Mode), a player in first can throw a Spiny Shell to hit the highest-positioned member of the opposition.
The Spiny Shell no longer flies, but keeps most of its speed, making it a much more noticeable threat to first-place racers. However, once the Spiny Shell reaches 1st, it will rise from the ground, hovering from a bit, and then dive downward with an explosion. Instead of being tossed up into the air like the previous three versions, the 1st place racer will roll sideways, potentially falling off the track.
Racers who are very far ahead (or are just lucky enough to be missed) don't have to worry, as this version of the Spiny Shell only has a set range. Although the range is still extremely high and almost always unavoidable, if it goes past it, it will disappear.
Mario Kart 8/Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
In Mario Kart 8 and its deluxe version, the Spiny Shell, slightly lighter in color, behaves almost identically to the previous version. It's only slightly faster, but the main difference is that the explosion only stops players dead in their tracks, no longer rolling them to the side.
Due to the revamped item system, any racer besides 1st can obtain the Spiny Shell, depending on how far away from first place they are.
Mario Kart Tour
In the latest game of the series, Mario Kart Tour, the Spiny Shell maintains it's appearance from Mario Kart 8, and behaves similarly to its predecessors. Similarly is used to define this because in Mario Kart 8 (and its Deluxe version), you could outrun it on 200cc, but in Mario Kart Tour, the Spiny Shell will always be faster than the driver in first place.
There are new ways to dodge the Spiny Shell in Mario Kart Tour, which includes invincibility frames, the newly added Frenzy Mode, and surprisingly, dropping out of first place. Unlike the other games, where dropping out of first while the Spiny Shell is locked onto you renders useless, if you time it just right, the Spiny Shell will glide its way to the new lead driver instead, blowing them and their dragged items up in the process.
Additionally, the Spiny Shell can be dragged, just like it could in Mario Kart 64 and Super Circuit, but it's not completely invincible. Getting the shell hit by drivers will cause it to take damage. It'll explode behind the carrier if a third driver hits it or if it collides with another item; even a simple Banana can destroy a dragged Spiny Shell.
Mario Kart 64: The Spiny Shell can't be dodged in this game, but can get destroyed if it hits a wall. Boos and Stars can prevent first place racer from taking damage.
- In Mario Kart 7, the Spiny Shell was originally going to have wings again (just like it's 3 predecessors) as shown in the item roulette from the demos of E3 2010 and E3 2011 however in the final version of the game, it was replaced with its wingless form.
- In Mario And Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, the Spiny Shell is mentioned by Tom Phan.
- In Mario Kart Tour, if used in first place (if brought there, which is difficult at times), the Spiny Shell will not target the driver and will act similarly to a Green Shell, heading forward in a straight line, but exploding on contact with a wall or other item.
- Although this item is called the Spiny Shell or the Blue Shell, it is not to be confused with the red variant that Spinies wear or the Blue Shell that blue Koopa Troopas wear.
Probabilities of Obtaining the Item
Mario Kart 64
Mario Kart DS
Mario Kart Wii
Mario Kart 7
Mario Kart 8
To see the Spiny Shell image gallery, click here.