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Tim Rogers on Mario Kart Wii

I generally consider Tim Rogers to be the poor man’s Erik Wolpaw, but this is good:

The Blue Shell: . . . well.

The Blue Shell is a sign of the times; it’s the first nail in the coffin of game design. Know that I come from a proud heritage of people who play Virtua Fighter 5 and genuinely enjoy losing because it teaches you something.

If you’re in a losing position and have been for a good amount of time, an algorithm behind the scenes kicks in and awards you a Blue Shell. Use it, and it rushes to the head of the pack and crashes into the person in first place with absolute certainty. Other drivers in the general area will also be decimated.

I’m sure that the general idea of the Blue Shell when it first appeared, in Super Mario Kart 64, was that a person in last place would obtain it, shudder with joy, and then be filled with the turgid urge to claw their way to the head of the pack and use it when within strategic range of the leaders.

In the current “videogame industry”, though, things like the Blue Shell are communistic concessions thrown to the people who Aren’t Getting Better. If my little brother, say, spent twenty hours a day doing something other than playing videogames — that is to say, if he sucked at videogames — the Blue Shell would be his “Best Thing Ever”: something to use when bitter and bored, to ruin the chances of the person who’s just so happening to win. The Blue Shell, simply described, is an easy way to strike back at the person who’s beating everyone, when you are the one losing to everyone. If that’s not heady, frothy communism in action, I really don’t know what the hell is. How is this a more family-friendly experience than killing hookers in Grand Theft Auto? If anything, the sugar-coating just makes the arsenic more dangerous, and it can’t be too hard to prove, from here, that Nintendo fanboys — big, sweaty, mouth-breathing — are actually individuals of scarier morals than most self-mutilating suicide-bombing terrorists.

read the whole thing


  1. Charles Joseph wrote:

    I think he’s just the YOUNG man’s Erik Wolpaw. Ba-zing.

    Monday, April 21, 2008 at 1:05 am | Permalink
  2. That’s a pretty funny review. He doesn’t mention the technique “good” drivers use: while in the lead of the race, get a green or red shell to spin around your cart so that the blue shell can’t nail you (or is my memory foggy?)…

    Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 3:27 am | Permalink
  3. Pretty sure you can’t block a blue shell like that, at least not in the DS version. Supposedly there’s some way to dodge, but I have never done it.

    Tim’s reviews crack me up. He speaks to some part of me that stopped growing at age 14. I won’t say what part that is.

    Wednesday, April 23, 2008 at 7:22 am | Permalink

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