When you drive through an item box, a flurry of questions cross your mind: what item am I going to get? Will it help me gain ground on those ahead? Will it protect me from those racing behind?
It doesn’t stop there, either. Every Mario Kart item’s value is dependent on where you are in the race, as well as where the other racers are and what items they have. The Green Shell you use to defend yourself in first place can be a weapon of salvation if you’re in fifth.
Taking into account how items can be used, both for and against the player, we have ranked every Mario Kart item based on how many net years you will lose from your lifespan. This list was compiled with logic, hard data, and my calcified soul.
Mario Kart Items Ranked By How Many Years They Take Off Your Life
17. Bullet Bill
Life couldn’t be much worse by the time you get a Bullet Bill, which makes it a welcome addition when you finally get one. This item takes the wheel and does what it can to guide you from the shame that is last place.
If someone behind you gets a Bullet Bill, you get ample warning to get out of the way (think of how you have to pull over when you hear sirens on the road.) It’s also a healthy reminder that some people have it worse off than you.
There’s the slight added benefit that when you use a Bullet Bill, you temporarily get to stop playing Mario Kart.
Years Off Life: +2 years (part of a healthy diet)
It gives you speed and it makes you completely invincible so as to say “nobody can hurt you anymore.” It can help to make a bad decision slightly better. And it’s not often that you get hit by someone using a Starman.
Unfortunately, the two players you were duking it out with at the bottom of the rankings both got Bullet Bills and are now long gone. The music and flashy colors will have to serve as a consolation for your poor performance.
Years Off Life: +1 year
15. Crazy Eight
The game has blessed you with a smorgasbord of items from Mario Kart and encourages you to use them all as quickly as possible. Starman, Bomb, Fireflower; the world is your oyster with Crazy Eight.
While you could try to be strategic by using the right items at the right time, let’s be real: nobody does that. That controller is getting mashed into a paste as we hope some item in the mix will carry us to the promised land. The end result is that you won’t end up in a worse spot than you started in, but you won’t be that much better. The health benefits/risks are akin to licking a piece of printer paper.
Years Off Life: +10 days (paper is good actually)
14. Blue Shell
“Blue Shell ruins friendships!” is what the lamestream media will tell you, and to the uncultured eye, Blue Shells are the worst thing that can happen to you in Mario Kart.
But you have to take a step back and realize that the Blue Shell is ultimately net neutral. If you find yourself in possession of one, you have been tasked with the great responsibility of resetting the established order. If you find yourself on the receiving end of one: what hubris do you have to take the lead with so much Mario Kart to be played? You deserve a humbling.
Whether it’s over the course of a race or a cup, the Blue Shell will always establish things as they should. No more and no less.
Years Off Life: Break even
13. Piranha Plant
This isn’t my favorite item. It doesn’t really do anything that will make me feel better about my place in the race.
The only benefit is that it can ruin the lives of those around me. That’s probably not particularly healthy but eh, there are worse vices to have.
Years Off Life: -2 years
12. Golden Mushroom
You would think a Golden Mushroom would be a blessing. You can mash that button and gain enough speed to make up serious ground!
But if I wanted to make up a serious deficit, give me the Bullet Bill. The Golden Mushroom expects too much of me i.e thinking I can drive at this speed. The glory of the Golden Mushroom fades as soon as I smash into a corner and come to a near-complete halt.
Years Off Life: -3 years
You will never hit anybody when you use this item but it will always be there for you to devastate your life and plague your house.
The crushing of your momentum, not to mention inhaling the fumes post-bombing, are a surefire way to an early grave.
Years Off Life: -5 years
10. Fire Flower
You often get this item when you could opt for something a little stronger or something that would help protect you better.
The frustration boils up inside you, and you let the fireballs fly hither and yon, hitting people both in front and behind you. While you’ve done some damage to the other players, the increased blood pressure has done more damage to you.
Years Off Life: -6 years
When you’re on top of the world, this dangly thing is the only protection between you and the onslaught of items from players looking to dethrone you.
You would think a banana would be healthy for you, but when you see a Blue Shell flying over yonder, or when Lightning strikes you down, the last thing you want is this smelly peel.
It provides hope until it very well doesn’t.
Years Off Life: -8 years
After years of playing Mario Kart, I never would’ve considered the Blooper to be such a horrifying item. Who cares if there’s ink all over the screen if I’ve memorized the tracks?
But if you’re a new player, or playing some of the Booster Pass courses for the first time, this guy showing up can be as bad as it gets. Your driving skills are instantly reduced to that of a newborn, and even if you fare better in future races, the damage is already done.
Years Off Life: -15 years
7. Super Horn
When someone is holding this, you realize there is nothing you can do. Not even a Blue Shell can penetrate its soundwaves, and if you try to get close, you will get cooked.
Conversely, it’s the only item that can defend you from anything in the game, and losing it at any point can be catastrophic. It is the only item simply knowing that you don’t have it will cause endless anxiety.
Years Off Life: -22 years
The Mushroom can help you catch up to other players, give you enough boost to clear a shortcut, or cut across terrain to sneak into a higher placing at the end of the race.
These opportunities are the stuff of fantasy. What really happens is you use the mushroom while going across rough terrain and get hit by some type of shell or fireball, negating its uses. What follows is a long, slow drive back to the road where you can contemplate how your greed brought you here.
Years Off Life: -24 years
5. Green Shell
You need it to defend yourself but it will never be enough. An onslaught of Red Shells, fireballs, Blue Shells, Lightning and God knows what else will eat through that simple Green Shell.
Feel like using it to try and snipe somebody? That has literally never worked; that same Green Shell you just fired will find its way back to you and knock your ass out real quick.
Seldom does an item inspire as much hope and crush it just as quickly as the Green Shell.
Years Off Life: -30 years
Why did I get this item? Why not something to help defend myself more easily? Why not something to help me speed up? Why not something to help me reign chaos? Why does it take so long to use? Why does this item exist? Why do I exist?
Years Off Life: -46 years
Lightning is arguably the most devastating item in the entire game. It takes away everyone’s items that they were going to use to gain ground or defend themselves, and renders players small and slow. If you get hit by Lightning, all of your hopes and dreams are instantly zapped.
To wield this power is already sinful enough; anyone who would go ahead and use this item is filled with such bloodlust and hate that their heart will instantly turn to stone. You might win the race, but was the cost worth it?
Years Off Life: -52 years
2. Red Shell
We deal with Red Shells constantly in Mario Kart. For much of the race, getting hit by one is not the end of the world, and experienced players are often geared for dealing with them.
But the Red Shell will always find you, one way or another. When you have exhausted all your resources and desperately pray that nothing bad happen to you as you approach the finish line, the Red Shell will hit you at the final hour.
And the Red Shell’s cruelty knows no fence, as just after you’ve recovered from getting hit by a Red Shell and losing your top place finish, another one is on the way…
We have all been there: you’re in first place, you’ve grabbed an item box as you enter the last stretch of the race. You just need something, anything, that will defend you for these final moments.
The box turns…and turns…and turns…
And up pops the most useless coin in all of existence.
You instantly use this item, as the cheerful coin sound effect is the last moment of joy you will experience before an avalanche of Red Shells, Blue Shells and Lightning descend upon you.
Years Off Life: Instant Death + Eternal Haunting
(I have avoided ranking the triples of Red Shell, Green Shell and Banana, but one can assume the benefits from three of a kind of any item are equally balanced by the pain caused on the receiving end. Plus, it’s well known that triples is best.)
Bonus: New Booster Pass Items
While this list was made primarily for the standard item list, I have decided to look at the two new items included in the Booster Pass for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
You turn invisible, protecting yourself from enemy items, and you get to steal someone else’s item. Couldn’t be better, right?
Until it happens to you, and one of your more precious items is stolen by a ghoulish creature. Then you will be pining for the good ol’ days when players couldn’t do that.
Years Off Life: -5 years
The Feather is only available in Battle Mode, and allows you to jump over enemies and obstacles.
The type of people who are playing Battle Mode are outside of the confines of our analysis. They could be saints. They could be the worst people you’ve ever heard of. For now, they will remain hopping along for who knows how long…
Years Off Life: Indeterminate
We hope you enjoyed this list. Make sure to drive responsibly, or at the very least, go out with a bang.