11. Fake Item Box
The fake question mark box can actually mess your opponent up. It’s good for the row of boxes on Toad’s Turnpike. You can put one on the ramp on Koopa Troopa Beach. And you may be able to fool someone into blowing up on the other courses. But it is just not as powerful as other items and does less to catchyou up (or slow others down) so it gets the final spot on the list.
10. One Mushroom
One mushroom can give you quick speed burst after getting knocked down or help you on a shortcut (like the ramp at Koopa Troopa Beach). Just using one little speed burst during a regular part of a race is basically worthless.
9. Green Shell
One green shell can be powerful, but only if you’re a pro. Firing one of these backwards and hitting your opponent requires, basically, simultaneously watching your screen and his, then picking the right moment to fire. It ranks higher than the other remaining items because (1) hitting someone with a backwards green shell feels great and (2) it can protect you from one red shell your opponent fires, which can be important in shorter races.
8. Three Mushrooms
Three mushrooms provide a nice speed boost but nothing that can really make a difference. You can’t close a gap with three mushrooms because the speed burst happens so quickly. They’re good for restarting and regaining speed after you get knocked down, and maybe cutting a quick corner across some grass. Otherwise, they’re basically just a throw away.
7. One Red Shell
With one red shell, you can make one smart, strategic attack. On a course like Moo Moo Meadows or Desert Hills, sometimes one red shell is all you need to claim a late come-from-behind victory.
6. Blue Shell
Targeting the leader with a shell is a strong move. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually help all that much. The blue shell usually takes a long time to get to the leader, especially if you’re way behind. And it knocks the leader over, but you can’t possibly time it so it hits the leader at a crucial moment, like the narrow bridge on Banshee Boardwalk or before the jump in Wario Stadium.
5. Golden Mushroom
The golden mushroom is good but less practical than three red shells on a lot of courses. On Banshee Boardwalk, DK’s Jungle Parkway and Toad’s Turnpike, it’s generally more dangerous than helpful. It’s not particularly helpful on Choco Mountain, Sherbet Lane and most of Bowser’s Castle. And on Rainbow Road, the track’s too long for it to really help close any gaps. That’s seven of the 16 tracks where it’s not that usable. That being said… it’s still more useful than all of the items below it. The bursts of speed can be great for closing gaps on the other races, especially when you can use it to cut a diagonal across some grass, sand or shallow water (Luigi Raceway, Koopa Troopa Beach, Peach’s Parkway, Kalamari Desert, Mario Raceway, the end of Yoshi’s Island).
4. Three Red Shells
This may seem kind of high for three red shells but, across all 16 tracks, the three reds prove more useful than any of the items below. Three red shells are great for winning a race. They are direct, targeted attacks. And if you’re a good racer, you’ll get close enough to the people ahead of you to strategically use them to get into first place. Plus, having three of them rotating around you protects you from your opponents’ shells and banana peels, which, in some cases, can be just as useful.
The star is close to the lightning, but is ranked lower because it’s not quite as devastating. Yes, you move faster, can’t be hit and can knock out opponents. But it doesn’t do anything to slow them down… they can still run the race as they normally would. That keeps it from being the equalizer that the lightning is. The physics of Mario Kart 64 dictate that you going regular speed while your opponents go slow is better than you going fast while your opponents go regular speed.
You can only get the lightning when you’re behind, but it’s really an incredible equalizer. It shrinks and slows down your opponents AND makes it so they can’t perform a lot of crucial moves, like hopping over gaps, using mushrooms or making it across long jumps after ramps. You can also drive by and crush them. There’s no item that comes close to changing a race like the lightning bolt.
1. Bullet Bill
This is the “come from behind” king. Bill is there purely as a means to put those at the rear back into the race with a fighting chance. It’ll literally turn the kart into a giant bullet, ripping through the track with crazy speed and steering its way automatically through the course all the way up to the front of the pack. The player still has some minor swerving ability this entire time�making it possible to take out pesky karters doing their best to hide from its might�but ultimately Bill will do most of the work for you here and you can merely sit back and enjoy. It only shows up for those in last place, so don’t expect to see a whole lot of him if you have game skills.