The blue shell has become synonymous with the Mario Kart series. The feeling of losing your first place rank because someone in the back so happened to pick up an unstoppable blue shell really sums up the level of chaos that makes Mario Kart such a frustratingly fun social experiment disguised as a mascot racing game.
The blue shell’s iconic status makes it that much more surprising that Nintendo toyed with the idea of removing it from the game entirely.
“We have tried – or we are trying – to see what the game’s like without the blue shell,” said Yabuki in an interview with Eurogamer. “When we’ve experimented without the blue shell, actually it feels like something’s missing. Like there’s something not quite enough in the game. So, for now, we’ve kept it in.”
While some gamers may wonder how a single item that can undo nearly everything a first-place racer has done up until that point can possibly be considered fair, Yabuki believes that the definition of fair in this instance isn’t as clear as you might think.
“Something I personally really consider is the human emotion element of the play experience,” said Yabuki. “So for example playing Mario Kart – if you have something that feels unfair or makes you feel frustrated or makes you angry… Everyone is different in that respect. What you will feel is unfair might be different to someone else. As far as possible we want to avoid those feelings of frustration.”
Yabuki went on to remind gamers that “sometimes life isn’t fair.”
Given that Nintendo recently implemented a Mario Kart 8 patch that improved the distribution rate of high-value items to losing players, it appears that they are committed to the idea that those in the back should have access to game changing advantages. Whether or not the blue shell remains one of those advantages in future Mario Kart installments remains to be seen.