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The Spiny Shell, also known as the Blue Shell, is a type of projectile weapon that can be used in Nintendo’s racing video game series Mario Kart to attack and impede the racer leading in the first place. Due to its high success rate and game-changing ability, the item has gained much notoriety as a major source of frustration and rage among the fans of the game.
The spiny shell was first introduced in Mario Kart 64, which was originally released for the Nintendo 64 console in Japan on December 14th, 1996. In the game, the shell target the person in first place, making them immobile for a few seconds after being hit. In Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, released for the Nintendo GameCube on November 7th, 2003, the shell was given wings and the ability to fly to the racer in first place to skip any obstacles along the way.
On March 10th, 2004, Urban Dictionary user Toadster submitted an entry for the blue shell. On March 6th, 2005, the spiny shell appeared in a sketch from Season 1 Episode 3 of the animated television series Robot Chicken, in which the video game character Mario uses the blue shell against a racer while the character Wario explains its function (shown below).
On June 16th, 2008, the video game blog GamesRadar listed the blue shell as the “worst part” of the Mario Kart video games. On August 23rd, 2009, Robot Chicken featured the blue shell in another sketch in which the shell destroys the video game character Toad while he is driving a getaway car for a group of bank robbers (shown below).
On March 9th, 2011, the video game blog Kotaku published an interview with Mario Kart producer Hideki Konno, who claimed the shell was introduced to the series to make the games more unpredictable. On May 11th, 2012, YouTuber CorridorDigital posted a video titled “Art of the Instakill,” which included the spiny shell among other video game items that kill players instantly (shown below). In the first two years, the video gathered upwards of 7.2 million views and 31,000 comments.
On August 17th, Redditor oh_rotanes submitted an image macro featuring the spiny shell superimposed over a screenshot of actor Liam Neeson from the 2008 action film Taken to the /r/gaming subreddit (shown below). Prior to being archived, the post gathered more than 7,900 upvotes and 85 comments.
On March 6th, 2014, it was announced that people who lived in Europe and Australia could pre-order a limited edition of Mario Kart 8 and receive a spiny shell statue. Later, the offer was made available for people buying the game from the Nintendo World Store in New York City.
On April 30 2014, the new “super horn” item for Mario Kart 8 was revealed, which sends out a shockwave that flips other racers and destroys items, including the spiny shell. After being announced, many fans reacted positively to item’s ability to destroy the powerful spiny shell.