Mario Kart 64 - You Shouldn. T Hate The Blue Shell
The blue shell is the most hated item from all of mario kart players from around the world have asked Nintendo to remove the blue shell from the game, and yet Nintendo hasn't, and that is because in 1996, the blue shell actually solved one of Mario Kart's biggest problems. Here's why Nintendo will never get rid of the blue shell: The original Super Mario Kart has some problems, namely that it doesn't feel very fair if you fall behind in a race, it can be really difficult to catch up, and it doesn't help that the computer characters have a huge advantage over you, the player.
Let me explain how Super Mario Kart's AI works at the start of a grand prix. The computer players are all given distinct roles to play, and they must follow them whatever happens. In other words, the outcome of each race is entirely predetermined. But what about you, the player? Well, you start right at the back and you have to force your way through that predetermined list, desperately trying to knock the characters off their set course.
It's not about how well you drive; it's about how well you disrupt the computer players from their set order. But those computer characters don't just sit there waiting to be overtaken. They use items to try and stop you, and this is where the game goes from unfair to downright cheating. If you see that the computer players have access to items that you don't like.
Princess Peach will throw these poisonous mushrooms onto the track, but there are no poison mushrooms available in the item panels. Even if you pick Princess Peach as your character, you can't use the poison mushrooms. But it gets worse. Not only do the computer players have access to items you can't use, they can use as many of those items as they want, whenever they want.
That's right, computer players can spawn infinite items even if they've never driven over an item panel, so it's no surprise that Super Mario Kart's computer players feel totally unfair; it's because they really do cheat. In spite of the game's unfair ai, Super Mario Kart went on to become a huge success for Nintendo, and so a few years later, developers at the company began working on a sequel called Mario Kart 64.
The developer's focus this time around was to fix the big problem with the original game; that if you fell behind, it was really, really hard to catch up again. Now there were lots of ways the developers tried to make sure that anybody could win a race up until the last minute, for instance, according to the game's director.
Hideki The enemy AI is so much better than before. Better now doesn't necessarily mean fairer. The CPU in Mario Kart 64 will absolutely still cheat. In fact, a YouTube channel called "Super Luigi Cart" ran an experiment to prove that the computers do cheat. Normally in Mario Kart, the camera follows you, the player, but in this article the camera is instead following one of the cpus, Luigi.
So when Luigi gets far enough away from the human player that he can't be seen anymore, he'll disappear. And look at what happens to his speed when that happens. Suddenly, he starts going much faster and navigating corners more tightly too. So, in Mario Kart 64, computer players only follow the same rules as the player when the player can see them.
As soon as the player can't see them, they can go faster and they can drive better. But this cheating, as you might put it, is all in service of the developers' goal to make sure anyone could win the race up until the final seconds. Unfortunately, there was one big obstacle in the developer's way: the Nintendo 64 console itself.
You see, Mario Kart 64 was a processor hog. Sure, Super Mario Kart might have pushed the NES to its limits, but Mario Kart 64 went well beyond them. The huge 3D courses, complicated physics, and lots and lots of character sprites really took their toll on the n64. So some sacrifices were made to get the game running, like the frame rate.
Super Mario Kart runs at a smooth 60 frames per second, while Mario Kart 64 only runs at 30. But add in a second player and the cracks begin to show. Certain graphical effects like snow had to be toned down a little to keep the game's performance consistent, and complex geometry like the train from Calamari Desert was simplified a little.
In this case, the five carriages were chopped down to just one. On the whole, though, the game kept itself running steadily and consistently. But Shigeru Miyamoto had a request for the programmers. He wanted them to add races with four different players. At first, he was told that it was impossible, but eventually the programmers managed to pull it off.
The frame rate was now down to 20 frames a second, the clouds in the background layers were all removed, the land had its titular snow taken out, the trees were gone, and the train from Calamari Desert now had no carriages at all. On top of all that, the game's music stopped playing. But even with all of these changes, the Nintendo 64 console couldn't pull off something really important.
According to the game's director, having eight racers on the screen all the time didn't work all that well, so because the processing power didn't exist, we weren't able to create the racing environment we wanted. In other words, the game's developers wanted to create races that were so close that anybody could win them, but the Nintendo 64 console had trouble displaying eight races on screen at once, which meant that close races were impossible, or were they.
You see, the solution to this problem was a little thing called the blue shell. If you don't know, the blue shell is an item that seeks out the player in the first place and attacks them with a huge explosion. If one player was lagging behind, they could use the blue shell to attack the first place player, helping themselves to catch up.
If a player was way out in front of all the other racers, well, the blue shell could drag them back into the battle. This item turned the races from the original Mario Kart, where if you fell behind you could never catch up, into races where anybody could win and no one was safe. In the words of the game's director.
Hideki Kono, it would enable even whoever was in the back of the pack to still want to continue the race, to still want to keep going, something that would allow them to still have that feeling. Ever since Mario Kart 64, the blue shell has been included in every single Mario Kart game that Nintendo has created, and it's become hated by a lot of players.
You're about to win the race, the finish line is in sight, and suddenly a blue shell comes along to crush your dreams. It's no surprise that some people find the blue shell frustrating, so why won't Nintendo get rid of it as well? In an interview. Don't take it from me. Let me read a quote from Kosuke Yabuki, the man who directed Mario Kart 8.