It's been exactly a week (well... maybe more if you lived in Portugal, Paris, Spain or shopped at a Sears or any other place that broke the release date) since Mario Kart 8 hit store shelves, and since then we've all had the opportunity to volley shells, blast horns, and slip on bananas many times. But as we all know, games with multiple iterations can lose some fun tools and items between releases. Mario Kart has had a few characters and items that have seen the axe over the years, and with the advent of DLC and patches, it's possible we might see some make a comeback. So let's take a moment to talk about the old. Here are some of the items Nintendo put to the chopping block as the mustached kart racer has progressed:
The Cape Feather originally appeared in Super Mario World and made it's Mario Kart debut in Super Mario Kart. It gave racers the ability to hop nearly twice as high as usual, adding a spin flourish as the character jumped. The feather allowed players to exploit many gaps slightly too far for a normal hop, and even let a driver jump over some barriers and projectiles. The higher jump came at a risk, if you were unskilled you'd find yourself just short and falling out of bounds.
Boo's were a funny little item. They didn't affect an opponents racing directly like a banana, shell, or lightning, but would steal those sorts of items (when available) from the other drivers. It also granted temporary invisibility, giving invincibility from hazards and oncoming attacks. It made it's first appearance as a Mario Kart item in Super Mario Kart, and has appeared in every game since (except games that feature King Boo as a character) up until this latest installment. The only instance where it's functionality changed is in Super Circuit where the item also caused the race leader to slow and lose coins simultaneously. It's exclusion in Mario Kart 8 could also possibly be foretelling the appearance of King Boo as a possible DLC Character, or it could simply be that the inclusion of so many new items, older ones needed to be cut.
Fake Item Box
Fake Item Boxes were always one of my favorite items in the Mario Kart series. They made their debut with Mario Kart 64, and have been absent since Mario Kart 7. Racers would jettison themselves into these traps in hopes of a item only to end up sky high. The thing about them was that EVERYONE knew where the real item blocks on a course were, and only racers who weren't paying attention would ever run into them. You could even try to place them where item blocks usually were and they'd still stand out like a sore thumb. Despite it all, they were still fun to use, and came with the same emotional energy of slipping on a banana.
The Chain Chomp first appeared as a special item only usable by Baby Mario and Baby Luigi in Mario Kart: Double Dash, but never made any other appearances as an item. It lost out to Bullet Bill as the item that shoots racers forward at breakneck speeds. Personally, I think it's something that needs a unique redesign before brought back into the mix.
Here's a fun item that only appeared in a few recent titles. The Mega mushroom would do exactly what it did in the Mario platform titles that it appeared in, cause the racer to grow to massive sizes. While the behemoth racer careened down the racetrack, they'd squash others underneath and have other racers ricochet off as they collided. While under the effects of a Mega Mushroom, you'd be nigh invincible, only hits from players with bullet bill or stars could plow through, or using a lightning bolt would cause the player to return to normal size.
The Poison Mushroom did the opposite of the Mega Mushroom, making racers the same size as they would be with a lightning bolt (or the lightning cloud). Only two Computer-controlled racers could ever use this mushroom, Peach and Toad in Super Mario Kart, leaving them in wait to slow any other players that ran over them. I think these would be an fun item to reintroduce to the Mario Kart series, having them work in a similar way to fake item boxes, where they appeared normal from afar, but would become clear as a racer approached.
Interesting tidbit: The player can reverse the effect of shrinking (by both mushroom or lightning) by running into another Poison Mushroom.
I loved the POW Block in Mario Kart Wii, and really wish it'd make a return, not because it was a particularly powerful item, but because it was on of those items that with a little practice would be easily avoidable. Anything that makes stop and practice a bit to refine a skill is a plus. It worked simply enough, it'd appear and three earth-shaking-pows later, everyone in front of the racer would spin out, dropping items. But here's where a little skill can help out; hop at the right moment and you'll avoid it's effect completely! I wouldn't think that it's reintroduction into the Mario Kart universe would be as horribly unbalancing as the introduction of other old items.
The Super Leaf was a one-of item that only made it's appearance in Mario Kart 7, giving racers a tail that could be used offensive or defensively. For about 10 seconds, a racer would sprout a tail and hitting the attack button would cause them to do a spin, causing racers in close contact to spin out or deflecting red and green shells that might have hit. It took a little skill though, if you didn't time it right, you'd still get hit by the shell and just spin-out, losing the power altogether. It's one time appearance in conjunction with Super Mario 3D Land could mean that the Boomerang item will also be a one-of item in Mario Kart 8
The Lightning Cloud, was interesting. It gave characters a constant speed boost while they had it, even through rough terrain, and could be transferred by running into opponents. After a given period of time the final carrier with the cloud over it's head would be zapped by lightning, shrinking them down. They were fun and interesting, but racers would need to understand it's intricacies to take full advantage of it.
Comments and Discussion? Do you think Nintendo reintroducing these items as DLC would turn the immaculate Mario Kart 8 into something horribly unbalanced? Did I miss any items? (I hope not!) What items do you miss from the series?