Items are what make the Mario Kart series more than just racing games. By adapting the idea of Mario’s power-ups to racing, Nintendo added strategy to each race, but also chaos and random chance. It’s that magic blend of compelling elements that makes fans love the series. Let’s get into our ultimate ranking of the best items in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe!
How to Use Items in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch features 23 Items. By driving through an Item Box, you’ll gain a random Item. Some Item Boxes are Doubles, which give two Items at once. There are two categories of Items: Offensive, which allow you to attack or hinder opponents, and Utility, which grant your kart a beneficial effect. A few have elements of both categories.
The Item you gain from any Box is based on your placement in the race. The first place driver should expect to only get Coins, Green Shells, and Banana Peels. Those in the middle of the pack will likely receive Red Shells, Mushrooms, and Flowers. Anybody lagging behind most others will find powerful items like Triple Mushrooms, Bullet Bills, Stars, and Lightning. If you’re dead last, it’s only a matter of time before you get a Blue Shell.
Most of the Offensive Items can be either fired immediately with a tap of the L Button, or can be dragged behind your kart by holding the L Button down. This allows you to defend yourself, as Items shot at you will destroy your Item instead. You can also fire your items behind you by holding Down on the joystick before pressing/releasing the L Button.
All Items in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Ranked
With all of that in mind, let’s get right into our ranking of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s best items!
The Coin Item returns in MK8 after being absent since the original 16-bit Super Mario Kart. It’s probably the simplest of all the Items — activate it, and you’ll instantly gain two Coins. That’s it. They give you the usual tiny Boost and max speed increase, which is great. Not the most exciting or flashy Item, but still helpful.
Banana Peel (Offensive)
Banana Peels drop behind you on the road. If you hold Up when you use it, you’ll launch it ahead of you in a high arc instead. They’re basic but effective, and you should utilize clever placement to maximize their impact — blind corners and drops are excellent spots. Drop one on the other side of an Item Box make it a trap, or drop them on ramps or turbo pads to force rivals to take a risk to use them.
Green Shell (Offensive)
Green Shells launch forward at high speed (or behind with Down+L), and bounce around until they hit someone or something. They fire straight along your current trajectory, so steer to carefully aim your shot. Or, fire wildly for a ricocheting bit of chaos any nearby racers will have to contend with. Even if it doesn’t hit anybody, making your rivals panic can still be helpful. Just take care that a bad bounce doesn’t send it straight back into your own face.
Back for the first time since the Super Nintendo, the Feather is exclusive to Battle Mode. Using one launches your kart high in the air. This can be used to dodge projectiles and other Hazards, or leap from one section of a Battlefield to another. The Feather is powerful but easily misused, so make sure to practice.
Triple Banana (Offensive)
This Item is comprised of three Banana Peels that circle your kart. Let them spin around you for a kind of temporary shield, or use the L Button to drop them one after another. These can’t be dragged, but they can be thrown forward. Bump into enemies to use a Banana to wreck them. Not fancy, but it gets the job done.
Triple Green Shell (Offensive)
Three Green Shells encircle you until you fire them or they hit something. Fire each with L or fire behind you with Down+L. You can inject a ton of chaos into a packed stretch of raceway by firing all three. Just make sure to turn as you fire — if you shoot them off too quickly in a straight line, one can actually hit the next and destroy both.
Boomerang Flower (Offensive)
New to MK8, Boomerang Flower gives you three tosses of a powerful Boomerang. It’ll fly far out and return to you twice, and on the third throw, it’ll just keep flying. Each throw can hit multiple targets, and can destroy Hazards and Items as well. It’s quite a versatile Item if aimed well! One or all of your throws can be fired behind you with Down+L.
Super Horn (Utility)
The Super Horn triggers a small shockwave from your kart. Any nearby karts will get knocked back and spin out, which is great. Any Items or Hazards in range — including the Blue Shell — will be destroyed, which is really great. Powerful but limited, hang onto the Super Horn if you’re closing in on first. The shockwave only lasts an instant, so you have to be precise with your timing — wait until the Blue Shell is circling overhead to blast it.
The Blooper douses the screens of every racer ahead of you with black ink, blocking vision for several seconds until it wears off. If you’re on the receiving end of a Blooper’s inking, use a Mushroom, run over a Boost Pad, or drive into the water to end the effect early.
Fire Flower (Offensive)
The Fire Flower lets you blast fireballs ahead as fast as you can tap the L button, or fire some or all of them behind you with Down+L. Fireballs bounce if they hit a wall, making it easy to fill a section of track with chaos and destruction. Just be careful that your best shots don’t bounce back and burn you.
The Boo Item was last seen in Mario Kart DS. Activate it to take on a ghostly, see-through appearance that lets you pass through hazards unharmed. Boo will also seek out a nearby rival and steal whatever Item they might be carrying. Stealing someone’s weapon and turning it around to wreck them while you sail past unharmed is undoubtedly an underhanded technique, but is extremely satisfying nonetheless.
The quintessential Mario powerup gives the most direct benefit a racer could want — an instant burst of speed. Blast past rivals, take advantage of off-road shortcuts, catch way more air by hitting a ramp, and more. The only real consideration to make is deciding exactly when to fire it. Steering is minimal while Boosting, so don’t accidentally Boost yourself into a hazard or off a cliff.
Lightning causes a bolt of electricity to strike each racer ahead of you instantly. This makes them spin out, drop any item they may be carrying, and shrink. While small, karts have greatly reduced top speed, and can be squished by anyone who isn’t small. After Lightning strikes, be on the lookout for items scattered across the track. It could be clusters of danger where Triple Shells were dropped, or it could mean free Mushrooms or even a Star.
Piranha Plant (Offensive/Utility)
New to Mario Kart 8, the Piranha Plant Item sprouts a large version of the infamous Mario enemy from the front of your kart. It’ll stick around for a brief time, chomping every so often on its own, as well as every time you press the L button. Each chomp can wreck opponents, destroy Hazards and Items, collect Coins for you, and also give you a tiny Boost.
Red Shell (Offensive)
The Red Shell will home in on any rival in sight, accelerating until it catches up and wrecks them. Unless you’re far away or there are Hazards or Items that might block it, you’ll hit most targets with Red Shells, as they’re quite tough (though not impossible) to elude.
Bob-ombs launch forward in a big arc ahead of your kart when fired. When a kart hits it or a few seconds have passed, a massive blast will take out anybody in the area. You can also drop Bob-ombs to take out followers, but it’s risky to drag one since anybody behind you can detonate it with their Items.
Triple Red Shell (Offensive)
Three Red Shells spin around your kart with this Item. Fire them forward or backward (though there’s no tracking if they’re fired behind). Easily one of the most powerful offensive Items if used effectively. Just remember that karts have brief invulnerability after getting hit, so don’t aim them all at the same rival.
Triple Mushroom (Utility)
Three Mushrooms spin around you, letting you deploy three Boosts wherever you see fit. Other racers can steal one of your Mushrooms by bumping into it as it rotates around your kart, so make sure to use them before that happens.
Golden Mushroom (Utility)
The Golden Mushroom gives you temporary unlimited Boosts. Once you trigger it, a timer starts running (which you can see in the Primary Item Slot). Until it expires, you’ll get a Boost every time you hit the Item button. One of several items that can lead to that most exhilarating Mario Kart experience — the last-second, white-knuckled, against-all-odds ascension through the ranking, from way behind to triumphantly victorious. There’s simply nothing else like it.
Blue Shell (Offensive)
The Blue Shell, technically called Spiny Shell, is one of the most feared, hated, and memed objects in all of gaming. The Blue Shell fires off down the middle of the track, straight from whoever fires it directly to the racer currently in first place. Anyone unlucky enough to be in its path along the way will be wrecked, no Hazard can stop it, and when it reaches its ultimate target, it creates a massive blue explosion that will blast the current leader, and anyone nearby, sky-high.
Bullet Bill (Utility/Offensive)
This item turns your kart into a gigantic Bullet Bill, blasting forward automatically at high speeds for a few seconds. The duration is based on your position in the race — the further back you are in the ranking, the longer it will last. You’ll mostly fly down the center of the track, though you can still nudge your course slightly left or right. Anyone in your path will be blasted aside, so do your best to hit as many rivals on your way past as you can. While you’re in Bullet Bill mode, you’re also immune to all Hazards and Offensive Items, even Stars and Blue Shells. Just watch carefully and be ready to resume control at any time, as the effect ends suddenly and if you’re not prepared, that could leave you in a precarious situation.
Super Star (Offensive/Utility)
An easy choice for one of the top picks for best item in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The ultimate powerup grants karts many of the same effects it always did to Mario in his platforming adventures: temporary invincibility with rainbow flair, and the ability to knock any opponent away in a single touch. You also gain an overall speed increase and a significant Handling bonus while the effect is active, making the Star an all-around powerhouse easily capable of dramatically swinging the results of any race if used effectively. Cut through off-road sequences at full speed. Take every shortcut. Destroy all rivals in your path. With the power of a Star, all of this is easy…for a few seconds, at least.
The Very Best Item in Mario Kart 8: Crazy Eight (Offensive/Utility)
Find this rare Item and eight rotating Items — a Banana Peel, a Green Shell, a Red Shell, a Blooper, a Mushroom, a Star, a Bob-omb, and a Coin — will circle your kart. How could it not be the best? Hitting the Item button will activate whichever Item is currently directly in front of your kart. Like other rotating Items, the Offensive Items can block you from getting hit by Items or Hazards, and the Utility Items can be swiped by a rival if they bump into you before you use it. In the heat of a race, it might be tough to strategically deploy each Item. Try using the Star first at least, though, so you’ll be safe from the chaos you’re about to unleash.
Join the High Ground!
There you have it folks — our rankings of all the best Items in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. How does it match up against your personal ranking? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you can keep up with our Mario Kart 8 Deluxe guides and all of our other great gaming content.