The Spiny Shell, also known as the Blue Shell, is an item that debuted in Mario Kart 64, and has been in every Mario Kart installment 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.

Usage

Mario Kart 64

Artwork of the Spiny Shell from Mario Kart 64.

In this game, the Spiny Shell (also called Spiny's Shell in the instruction booklet) is a blue shell with spikes protruding from it and travels along the ground. Any racer in between 4th and 8th place can receive this item. Despite this, the Spiny Shell is one of the rarest items in the game.

When fired, the Spiny Shell travels in a straight path for a few moments. Much like a Red Shell, if the Spiny Shell hits an obstacle, it will be destroyed, so the player must be very careful with this item to avoid wasting it. After a few seconds, the Spiny Shell will then travel along the ground, following the track ahead of the driver who fired it. Any kart that the Spiny Shell hits will be sent into the air. Players can easily avoid this item by staying out of the way, as the Spiny Shell will only target the leading racer. As it travels, the Spiny Shell makes a distinct siren.

While the Spiny Shell normally travels along the track, it will take to the air if it needs to in order to continue the chase, going over jumps and gaps. On Banshee Boardwalk, a strange case of this happens when the Spiny Shell reaches the "WELCOME" sign and makes a corkscrew flight to get back on the track before entering the haunted house.

If the Spiny Shell strikes an invincible racer, it will be destroyed and the racer left unharmed. If the leader is invisible, the Spiny Shell will simply make another lap around the course and hit the driver afterwards. Unlike later installments, the Spiny Shell can be held behind the player and destroy any incoming item. It cannot be fired backwards.

If the player uses the Spiny Shell when they are in first place, it will simply turn around and hit the racer after its straight shot.

There are sideways Item Boxes on certain tracks that lets the player get a Spiny Shell each time, but there are only two of these. One of them is in Luigi Raceway, where just after the player enters the second lap, a hot air balloon with Luigi's face will dip down onto the track with a single Item Box beneath the basket. The second one is in Koopa Troopa Beach, where on the way back to the start, the player will see a large rock with a lone Item Box on top of it in front of a long, narrow ramp.

When these courses reappeared in Mario Kart 7, both of these sideways Item Boxes were absent. The one in Luigi Raceway is now a regular Item Box while the one in Koopa Troopa Beach was replaced with a Coin.

Mario Kart: Super Circuit

The Spiny Shell has the same function as in Mario Kart 64, though the shell is darker blue in color. Like before, it makes a distinct siren sound when traveling.

Another feature for this item is, just like the Red Shell, it can be dropped behind the player and will only activate when the leader passes by it.

Unlike Mario Kart 64, the Spiny Shell is a lot easier to avoid in this game. As such, if the player jumps over a wall or abyss, the Spiny Shell will either break or fall off the course.

Upon impact, the Spiny Shell makes the player stop and spin out where they were hit. This trait was used again for the POW Block in Mario Kart Wii and the Spiny Shell in Mario Kart 8.

Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

Artwork of the Spiny Shell for Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.

In Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, the Spiny Shell's appearance and function have changed drastically. It's a standard item that can be obtained by any driver in 4th place or lower.

Unlike the previous installments, the Spiny Shell now bears a pair of wings that allow it to fly instead of traveling along the ground, skipping over any obstacles that would've stopped it otherwise. The Spiny Shell makes a hissing noise when launched.

After being thrown, the Spiny Shell travels at high speeds to the leader, ignoring all of the other positions. When the leader is found, the Spiny Shell homes in on it, then charges straight into it. After doing so, the Spiny Shell explodes on impact and the leader is thrown into the air, making their kart backflip. In addition, the blast leaves the leader itemless. The blast itself is like a Bob-omb, but is blue and much bigger. This trait was kept for subsequent games.

If other racers get caught in the explosion, they, along with the leader, will get thrown up and left itemless. If they are caught within the blast radius, they will simply spin out.

While the Spiny Shell goes after the leader in every race, it then targets subsequent leaders until all the other racers have finished. For example, when the player in first has finished, the Spiny Shell will go after the player in 2nd place, and so on. Another rule is that once a player has a Spiny Shell, the other racers cannot get a Red or Green Shell until it has been used, which was also kept for later games.

There are many ways for the player to avoid the Spiny Shell. They can use a perfectly-timed Mushroom, a Star, or a Mini-Turbo when drifting, which will cause the Spiny Shell to go around the player and crash into a wall.

Mario Kart DS

In Mario Kart DS, the Spiny Shell has not changed since its redesign in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. However, this time around, racers between 4th and 6th place can obtain this, while 7th place can get this in single-player VS Races and 8th place for multiplayer VS Races.

When fired, the Spiny Shell flies over the road heading to the leader. Upon approaching, the Spiny Shell will fly over their target and drop down immediately, exploding on impact and throwing the driver into the air, making them drop their items.

As with Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, players can avoid the Spiny Shell using a Star, a Bullet Bill, or a Boo. Getting hit by a course obstacle, a Banana, or a Fake Item Box will also nullify the effects. Karts with high handling, such as the Dry Bomber, can easily avoid the Spiny Shell by performing a timed hop just after releasing the Mini-Turbo.

Mario Kart Wii

Mario Kart Wii artwork of Bowser holding a Spiny Shell while driving the Flame Flyer.

The Spiny Shell appears for the fifth time in Mario Kart Wii. It has the same function as its appearances in Double Dash!! and DS, and can be obtained if the driver is anywhere from 4th to 8th place (the middle ranked positions), with CPU drivers being able to obtain it in 9th place. Its rarity is on par with the POW Block, which is supposedly the rarest item in the game. Even if the racer is in first place and they drop out in courses like N64 Sherbet Land, the Spiny Shell will simply make a U-turn and strike the driver.

The player can avoid the Spiny Shell in this game with a Star, a Mega Mushroom, a Bullet Bill, or a well-timed Mushroom. They can also avoid this by getting hit by riding a Barrel Cannon, riding the Launch Star on Rainbow Road, or taking the wide ramp in DK's Jungle Parkway. It's also possible to drop a Banana at a very precise time during a drop, making the Spiny Shell ram into it and the target going free. Perfectly-timed Tricks can also make the player avoid the Spiny Shell.

If the player drops out of 1st place while the Spiny Shell chases them, it will still attack that player.

In Team Races, the Spiny Shell goes after the leading member of the opposing team, completely ignoring the leader on that member's team. For example, if a Red Team member fired the Spiny Shell, it will go after the Blue Team member in 3rd if the two racers in front of them are on the Red Team. For the first time, the Spiny Shell appears in the Battle Mode, going after the player who has the highest score currently.

Additionally, the Spiny Shell is signaled by a unique siren sound before it reaches the player it’s targeting.

Unlike the racing modes, the Spiny Shell is very rare in Battle mode and only appears when there is a large score difference between both teams.

Mario Kart 7

The Spiny Shell appears for the sixth time in the Mario Kart series in Mario Kart 7.

Unlike its previous iterations, the Spiny Shell is now wingless, like its appearance in Mario Kart 64. However, this incarnation has small hexagons on the carapace in a manner to the winged design.

Like its previous appearances, the Spiny Shell explodes on impact when it hits the leading racer, but it also hits players in the way since it travels along the ground in its original appearance. Being rare with the Lightning, players obtain the Spiny Shell in 5th to 8th place while CPU drivers can only get it from 5th to 7th.

The Spiny Shell's explosion is weaker than in Mario Kart Wii and dissipates quickly. This time around, it knocks players to the side, with the potential of them falling off the course, much like when the player gets hit by a Star or Bullet Bill. In addition, Barrel Cannons or similar objects no longer grant the racer immunity from the Spiny Shell.

As with being hit by all other items, the Spiny Shell makes the leader drop three coins, but they hold on to their items, except those being dragged behind at the time of the explosion.

Unlike Mario Kart Wii, the player in 1st can avoid the Spiny Shell by dropping out before the item is launched or falling off the course. However, the item is harder to dodge with a Mushroom, as the Spiny Shell explodes ahead of the targeted racer.

For the first time, the Spiny Shell can no longer travel further than a set distance. Upon doing so, the shell disappears.

It also has a new sound effect when launched, instead of the hissing noises from previous installments. The "incoming item" warning sound from Mario Kart Wii now only plays when the Spiny Shell or Bullet Bill is launched.

Mario Kart 8/Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

The Spiny Shell in Mario Kart 8.

The Spiny Shell returns in Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. While retaining its Mario Kart 7 design, the Spiny Shell has a brighter, royal blue color. Unlike its previous appearance, the Spiny Shell flies once more, but much closer to the ground and will strike any racer in its path.

Like the previous games, the Spiny Shell can be avoided with a well-timed Mushroom, getting hit with another item, outrunning it (which is possible on 200cc in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe), or using the Super Horn, an item introduced in this game that can destroy any Spiny Shell in their path.

As with Mario Kart 7, the Spiny Shell cannot travel farther than a set distance. If done so, the shell will simply disappear. As such, on N64 Yoshi Valley, the Spiny Shell can take a different path and can easily miss the player's path. It'll continue on its path and will not go another lap to hit the leading player.

The Spiny Shell isn't as powerful in this game as it was in previous installments. When hit, the player flips once in the spot they were last hit instead of twice. In the air, the player spins around twice, interrupting their flight. This is similar to its Mario Kart: Super Circuit appearance.

Due to the new distance-based item system, it is possible for any place other than 1st to get the Spiny Shell. The player must be within 5500 to 13000 units from the frontrunner. It's rarity is tied with the Super Horn, Blooper, and the Crazy Eight.

A model of the Spiny Shell is included with the Mario Kart 8 Limited Edition bundle as well as the game's disc.

Mario Kart Tour

In 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 Live: Home Circuit

The Spiny Shell reappears in Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit and returns to its winged form introduced in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, as well as functioning in the same way as it did in the game. The Spiny Shell, however, does not have wings while the player is holding it. The blast radius is also bigger.

Protection

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.

Mario Kart: Super Circuit: Watch this video to see how to dodge a Spiny Shell in this game.

Mario Kart: Double Dash!!: Watch this video to see how to dodge a Spiny Shell in this game. Spiny Shells can be dodged if performing a mini-turbo skillfully.

Mario Kart DS: Watch this video to see how to dodge a Spiny Shell in this game. Like in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, the Spiny Shell can be dodged if perfoming a mini-turbo skillfully.

Mario Kart Wii: Watch this video to see how to dodge a Spiny Shell in this game. It can be dodged by using a Mushroom.

Mario Kart 7: Watch this video to see how to dodge a Spiny Shelll in this game. It can be dodged by using a Mushroom.

Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Watch this video to see how to dodge a Spiny Shell in this game. Can be dodged by using a Mushroom or a Super Horn.

Trivia!

  • 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 the video game Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, the Spiny Shell is mentioned by Phantom in his song Phantom of the Bwahpera. A fossil of the Spiny Shell appears in the Ancient Gardens after the player completes the level. Beep-O jokingly states that once Mario and the others restore it, they'll spend the rest of their lives running from it.
  • 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.
  • The Koopa who owns the Blue Spiny Shell is unknown, since said Koopa isn't featured in any Mario games.

Probabilities of Obtaining the Item

Mario Kart 64

Rank
1st 0%
2nd 0%
3rd 0%
4th 5%
5th 5%
6th 10%
7th 10%
8th 15%

Mario Kart DS

Rank
1st 0%
2nd 0%
3rd 0%
4th 5%
5th 10%
6th 7.5%
7th 0%
8th 0%

Mario Kart Wii

Rank
1st 0%
2nd 0%
3rd 0%
4th 2.5%
5th 5%
6th 7.5%
7th 5%
8th 2.5%
9th 0%
10th 0%
11th 0%
12th 0%

Mario Kart 7

Rank
1st 0%
2nd 0%
3rd 0%
4th 0%
5th 5%
6th 10%
7th 10%
8th 5%

Mario Kart 8

Distance (units)
400 0%
1000 0%
2000 0%
3300 0%
5500 2.5%
8000 2.5%
13000 2.5%
26000 0%
999998 0%
999999 0%

Gallery

To see the Spiny Shell image gallery, click here.

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