Items are crucial to success in Mario Kart 7. The series will always rely on a strong element of luck, but now more than ever strategic use of items can be the difference between coming first and missing out on a podium finish.
Here’s a look at every item available in Mario Kart 7 and some tips on when it’s best to use them.
Coins return in Mario Kart 7 as a currency to unlock new kit, but can also be used as a tactical item. Each time you get a coin, you’ll be given a small boost. An entire line of coins can be worth getting not only to unlock new kart options, but to give you a small advantage in a game where you need every ounce of luck. Your maximum speed also increases with each coin up until the total of 10.
Lucky 7 is a new item in Mario Kart 7 and gives the player 7 random items that circle around their kart. These vary but generally include a diverse mix. Like triple shells, opponents that come too close may be hit by items. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll spin-out. If they hit a star, for example, they’ll steal it and reap the benefits. The item at the front of your kart will be trigged by pressing the L-button. Make sure you look to see what it is before activating.
Super Leaf is another new addition to Mario Kart 7 and can be an effective defensive weapon or actively hinder your chances of success. Don’t simply use it as soon as you get it. Unlike a number of other active items, you will not be able to pick up new items until it is finished. While it can be used as an offensive weapon, it’s best used defensively late in a race to protect first place. It can deflect shells and knock back anyone who tries to boost past you. You’ll only have to contend with the possibility of a Blue Shell on the home stretch with one of these bad boys.
The Fire Flower is the last of the new items - somewhat surprisingly considering its prestige in the Mario Universe. It is a strongly offensive weapon that gives you a number of fireballs to hurl at opponents either in-front or behind you. It can be fantastic early in a race when more players are in a large pack to maximise hits.
The Green Shell is an old favourite that requires a semblance of skill to use. As it requires precise aiming, it’s best at short range so you can reduce the margin for error and give your opponent no time to escape. It can also be used defensively by holding it behind you, by holding down and not releasing the L-Button, without firing to deflect on-coming attacks. Green Shells are crucial in Battle Mode.
Triple Green Shells
Triple green shells act as a shield until you begin firing them. At close range they are also effective in collisions as they will hit an opponent and cause them to spin-out without the need to actually fire them.
Red Shells are a common item easy to use with or without strategy. The homing shells will lock onto the closet opponent and target them, but they can be evaded. Minimising the distance and avoiding objects in your path is beneficial, but it’s hard to go wrong with a red shell.
Triple Red Shells
Triple Red Shells are rare and to be treasured, harnessing the defensive capability of the shield design and the precision of lock-on targeting, they can be useful no matter what your position.
The mother of all items. It was easy to dodge in Mario Kart Wii, but you can kiss your chances of remaining first goodbye if one of these bad boys is on your tail in Mario Kart 7. Using them can be a little confusing. They will help the people in second and third more than the loser at the back who gains the item, but changing the dynamics up-field can assist every player. If you’re lucky enough to have one with the leader insight, be careful not to fire too late. You don’t want to be in the blast radius.
The banana can be a disappointment, especially in the last lap, but it is a useful defensive tool to block in-coming shells and can be one of the most annoying things in Mairo Kart if you hit one. Place them strategically, blocking either the obvious or the blind-sighted path.
Triple bananas are far more useful as they allow you to set a trap. While they can be used sparingly, the best banana traps are often when they are put in close proximity, leaving opponents nowhere to go on narrow tracks.
The mushroom can be used for a simple boost, to steal a balloon in battle and to reach otherwise inaccessible areas, as they can speed through areas that normally slow karts down.
Three mushrooms are more effective at gaining passage through otherwise inaccessible areas. One mushroom normally isn’t enough. Consider hanging onto them if you know of a potential shortcut within the lap. If not, use them individually or wait for a straight area. The last thing you want to do is boost off the edge.
The Golden Mushroom offers unlimited boosts until it expires. It can be used to boost through areas that would otherwise be detrimental to your speed, but more importantly is super effective at getting you back in contention from any position. Spam it as much as possible and ride your way back into the pack.
The Super Star not only gives you a considerable speed increase, it makes you temporarily invincible. That means you can avoid items, hit other characters and drive through almost any terrain. If you have a Star, things are probably looking pretty grim, so don’t hesitate to use it. You’ll need every second!
The lightning bolt will decrease the size of every other player and reduce their speed to a crawl momentarily. If someone has an active star, you might want to wait as they will be immune from the effects. Otherwise, don’t spare a second, as this could be your one chance to make a move.
The Bullet Bill returns in Mario Kart for the third time to take control of your kart and destroy anything in its path. Its duration depends on your position, making it more useful when you’re stuck at the back, which is where the item will be obtained. There’s no point holding onto this one. Use it immediately.
The Bob-omb can be difficult to use, and even detrimental if you accidentally veer into its path. It will explode after three seconds if deployed behind your kart, but will be triggered sooner by someone driving into its vicinity when thrown forwards. Only throw it forwards if there is a clear target and you’re sure of landing it in their area. Also ensure you have room to manoeuvre to avoid the blast radius. Otherwise, check your map for opponents behind you and leave it in your wake.
The Blooper returns from Mario Kart DS and Wii to cover the screens of racers ahead of the player with blinding ink. There’s no point holding onto this one and it’s not all that useful against A.I. players. It is clearly designed to be used against human opponents who will make unpredictable decisions when driving blind through narrow paths. It’s impossible to judge how useful it will be against friends.
The colourful item box is perhaps the most important item in the game. Driving through one of these bad boys will give you access to one of the above items, determined by your position. Unlike past games, there are no fake items boxes, so there’s no need to closely examine them on approach.