Mario Kart 8 Items Guide – How To Effectively Use and Counter

Mario Kart 8, like its predecessor, features a large arsenal of items (20 to be exact) which can be found during races to put you an advantage against rival racers.

For more help on Mario Kart 8, read our Character Stats, Cheats Secrets and Unlocks Guide.

Mario Kart 8 Items

Old Mario Kart players will immediately notice some returning items from Mario Kart 7 along with a bunch of novel items. In this guide, I’ll be explaining what each item in the game does along with its effective usage.

Items are picked up randomly from racing tracks from roulette in the upper-left corner of the screen which can be stopped on player’s will. Furthermore, note that each character is only allowed to use one item at a given time.

Furthermore, probability of getting some items is tied to your position in the race. For instance, probability of getting Triple-Bananas is higher for top four racers than the rest of them. However, this is just an educated guess since last place players also receive Triple-Bananas.

Coin Item
Collecting Coin Item provides you with two additional coins, but only if you aren’t on 10 Coins already.

In addition to this, if you check my Speed Boost Tips and Tricks Guide, I have mentioned that how getting Coin Item increases your top speed momentarily. Therefore, it’s good to always collect them even if you’re on 10 Coins.

Banana Item
After collecting a Banana, there are a couple of things you can do with it. You can either throw it behind your kart, in front of your kart, or attach it behind your kart.

Any rival racer driving over Banana Item will turn turtle and spin out, but you need to careful as the same can happen to you.

Banana Item is very useful in many different ways. For instance, you can throw them at narrow/blind turns where it would be difficult for your opponents to spot them. You can also place them at top of the ramps which works great most of the times.

Another decent place to throw Banana Item is behind an Item Box. Most racers will most likely get to the Item Box and find themselves slipping. And lastly, attaching a Banana Item behind your kart will ensure that you’re not pursued by drafters.

Triple Bananas Item
As the name suggests, with this item, you’ll receive three bananas revolving around your car, saving you from most attacks. However, each banana can only sustain only one hit.

When it comes to their use, Triple Banana Item works exactly like regular Banana Item that it used to spin out the rival racers. With the three of them, you’ll be able to throw them in an alignment near ramps or narrow/blind turns.

The best way to use Triple Banana Item is to ram into other racers which will immediately spin them out. You need to be careful though, as one of your bananas will disappear after a hit.

With only two bananas in your barrier, you’ll be vulnerable to different attacks from various sides.

Green Shell
Green Shell is a very important item as it is used to turn over rival’s racers’ karts. A Green Shell will keep on running on the track until it hits a racer or falls into a pit. Its ability to bounce off walls is ideal for hitting targets from sideways.

Although it requires practice and extremely precise timing, but directly hitting a rival kart with Green Shell will put you on a huge advantage.

An easy way out is to launch a Green Shell in narrow areas where it will bounce off walls and will eventually hit a target. You can also throw them backwards at drafting opponents, just like Banana Items.

As for getting rid of them, you need to have Banana Item at your disposal to effectively avoid them. Also keep on dodging it by driving sideways until it hits another kart.

Triple Green Shells
Just like Triple Banana Item, this item will surround your vehicle with 3 Green Shells unless you hit something or drop them off. Each Green Shell will only be able to sustain one hit.

With Triple Green Shells around your vehicle, you can bump into rival karts and turn them over. You can also aim at your target by rapidly firing them which will give your target less time to react.

Finally, you won’t be able to attach them to your vehicle, but you’ll still be able to throw them in any direction.

Red Shell
Red Shells work identically like Green Shells in the sense that they can be thrown in any direction and can also be attached behind your vehicle to keep away drafters.

When we talk about differences, unlike Green Shells, Red Shells will go and zero in for a direct hit. However, these shells are automatically destroyed after hitting a wall or any other objects, meaning that they cannot bounce.

With the exception of Defensive Items (Banana Items or Green Shells), there is no way one can avoid/dodge Red Shells. Other than this, you can also position your kart in such a way that incoming the Red Shell hits a wall.

One of the best ways to use Red Shells is to aim them at opponents who are in the air which will instantly send to pit below.

Triple Red Shell
This can be one of the most amazing or frustrating items in the game, depending upon who’s using it.

Triple Red Shells work identically like Triple Green Shells, except that Green Shells are replaced by Red Shells. That’s it!

Blue Shells
Returning Mario Kart players will instantly recognize Blue Shell from Mario Kart 7.

When launched, Blue Shell travels directly to the rival racer in first place – knocking down every racer in its path – before finally hitting the first racer with a blast. Furthermore, anyone caught in the blast radius will also get turned over.

A word of warning: If you’re on first place and you use a Blue Shell, it’ll explode on you. Furthermore, you won’t be able to thrown Blue Shells in backward or attach them to your kart.

The best way to use Blue Shell is to save it unless you’re close to first racer. Otherwise, it won’t do you any good. Your opponents will most likely give you place to move ahead seeing a Blue Shell at your disposal since it cannot be blocked by a Banana Item or any other shell.

If you see a Blue Shell coming for you (being in first position), immediately slow down to give the first position to some other racer so don’t get caught in the impact.

Super Horn
If Blue Shell is the worst nightmare of every racer, then Super Horn is the worst nightmare of the Blue Shell. This horn basically sends out a sonic wave (having an insanely large blast radius) for a couple of seconds which not only flips over every racer, but also destroys Banana Items, Green, Red and even Blue Shells.

The best way to use Super Horn is behind a crowd of rival racers. Simply get behind them and honk your horn for instant crowd control. The only bummer of Super Horn is that it can be used only once.

Being in first position and having a Super Horn at your disposal is the best thing you can ever get! However, it’s pretty hard to get your hands on this item at first positions.

Fire Flower
Fire Flowers is another item that has returned from Mario Kart 7. After picking up a Fire Flower, a countdown will start running on top of your screen. This timer will keep on running regardless of Fire Flower usage.

However, if you’ll use Fire Flower, the countdown will run a bit fast. Fire Flower basically sends out a fireball in forward or backward direction.

Throwing a fireball deducts a chunk of seconds from the countdown. These fireballs from the Fire Flowers are like Green Shells in bouncing through the walls and getting destroyed by Banana Items or other shells.

The best way to use Fire Flower is to send a continuous stream of fireballs towards your target, hoping that one of them will hit the target; which usually does.

As for avoiding Fire Flower, drive sideways and get behind other racers. Having a Banana Item or other shells can also help you get rid of the fireballs.

Boomerang Flower
Boomerang Flower works identically like Batman’s Batarang (I’m guilty, poor reference). When equipped, you can thrown this item forward (it travels a considerable distance) and after hitting a rival racer, it will return to you; hitting anything in its path.

Although a Boomerang Flower can only be used thrice, you’ll have six chances of hitting rivals racers. Just like Fire Flower, you can also throw it in the backward direction, but hitting a target will require a lot of practice.

Boomerang Flowers can easily be avoided as they travel and return in a straight line from its thrower. You can change your position to get rid of it.

Another good technique to use Boomerang Flower is to use it twice and just as it about to return you, get another item to maximize its efficiency.

Bob-omb works somewhat like Banana Items as you can throw them in forward, backward, or attach them to your kart. The large exploding radius will turn over any kart in its path.

While sending them forward or backward, you need to be careful as you’ll be vulnerable to its blast radius. This, however, doesn’t mean that you’ll be caught in the blast radius while dragging it behind your kart.

You should never draft a racer with Bob-omb in his inventory. Also, Bob-omb make a particular sound before exploding giving you some time to adjust your movement and avoiding it.

Piranha Plant
Piranha Plant attaches itself at the front of your vehicle with a countdown bar (Just like Fire Flower).

Every now and then, this plant lurches forward and turns over your rivals’ karts along with eating up items like Banana Items or different kinds of shells.

In addition to this, every time Piranha Plant lurches forward, you’ll get a small speed boost. Piranha Plants are great to gain a small speed boost, but you need to be careful with Triple Shell Items as they can be a problem for you!

As for avoiding this plant, you should try and stay out of its range. It is even better to stay behind and don’t try to overtake it. Although Piranha Plant will protect a rival car from front, it’ll still be vulnerable to direct hits.

Blooper is another returning item from previous Mario Kart games.

When used, Blooper will fly up to every racer on the track and spray an ink on their windscreen which will disrupt their vision for a specific amount of time.

In addition to this, these racers will also have reduced grip and turning karts will become more difficult. While playing against AI drivers, you’ll have no problems in taking them over. As for other human racers, they would still be able to use a Mushroom to get rid of its effect.

When targeted by a Blooper, you should try to reduce your speed and wait for the effect to wear off. You can also use a Mushroom to remove ink and move forward.

With Mushroom, you’ll get a speed boost and go offroad without slowing down. And like I have mentioned above, with Mushroom, you’ll be able to remove ink from a Blooper.

Mushrooms are a great way of avoiding all kinds of Shells including Blue Shells and taking shortcuts to get ahead of your opponents. Rival racers with Fire Flower at their disposal won’t be able to hit you even with consecutive shots.

To maximize the efficiency of a Mushroom, you should never use it on a straight-road or where there are no shortcuts available. Another use of Mushroom is the increased ramming power! Under the effect of a Mushroom, you’ll be able to ram heavier vehicles with relative ease.

Triple Mushroom
If it isn’t used properly, this item can be more beneficial to others than you. When activated, three Mushrooms will start circulating your kart like Triple Banana or Triple Shell items.

However, if you hit an opponent racer under the effect of a Triple Mushroom, that opponent will gain instant Speed Boost, but you’ll not lose that Mushroom.

Triple Mushrooms should be used to take long offroad shortcuts, but once again, don’t ram into anyone! Other than this, all effects of single Mushroom apply here.

Golden Mushroom
Golden Mushroom can be considered as one of the best items in Mario Kart 8. After acquiring Golden Mushroom, a countdown timer will start which won’t go faster upon using it, like Fire Flower.

With Golden Mushroom, you’ll be able to get unlimited effects of a Mushroom until the timer expires. With this item at your disposal, you’ll be able to take longest of offroad shortcuts, increased ramming power, and speed boosts.

Just keep on mashing the item button as soon as you get the Golden Mushroom.

With a Star at your disposal, you’ll gain a consistent speed boost along with gaining invincibility. While on the track, you’ll be able to ram into other racers without worrying about spinning off.

Furthermore, items like Banana Items, Green Shells, Red Shells, and even Blue Shells will not have any effect on your kart. For its best usage, you should try and opt for offroad shortcuts to gain an advantage over your opponents.

Or you can also ram into other racers and waste their time while you move ahead of the pack. Two racers under the effect of a Star will bump into each other like normal racers.

Make sure to avoid anyone under the effect of a Star! Just drive sideways or even reduce your speed to let him pass to minimize the damage.

Bullet Bill
Bullet Bill basically transforms you into a bullet which will be out of your control and will flip over any racer in its path

Bullet Bill can be considered as a variant of Star in the sense it will grant your invincibility, but you won’t be able to control it or take any offroad shortcuts.

It is a good idea to use Bullet Bill as soon as you get it. As for avoiding it, you should try to drive sideways! Since Bullet Bills always travel on a straight path, it is not hard to avoid them.

With Lightning, you’ll send a small shockwave to other racers in front of you which will flip them over and reduce their speed.

The best time to use Lightning is near a ramp. Since it reduces other racers’ speed, they won’t be able to make the jump and will fall into the pit.

As for avoiding Lightning, there is no way you can do it (if you’re in the front) other than having Star or Bullet Bill at your disposal.

Crazy 8
Returning fans will instantly notice this item as a variant of Crazy 7 from Mario Kart 7. Under the effect of this item, 8 items (Coin, Banana, Green Shell, Red Shell, Bob-Omb, Blooper, Mushroom, or a Star) will start circulating around your kart.

Tapping the item button will automatically equip an item (the one in front of your kart at the time of pressing the button). You can refer to the guide above for more information on these 8 items and how to use them!

Share your own tips and strategies with us in the comments below!

Haider is a freelance contributor, who loves video games, playing guitar, and aviation. He is a competitive FPS player and also enjoys exotic RPG games like Diablo and Xenogears (his favorite game of all time) ...