Relax Mario Kart fans; the portly plumber is making his karting debut on the Wii U in just a matter of weeks. But even if you think you're already a beast with a blue shell, or a marvel with a mushroom, new additions to Mario Kart 8 mean that even karting veterans could stand to learn a thing or two. Four of those additions take the form of new items, which sit alongside established classics like red shells and banana skins. While much fuss has been made about the blue-shell-nullifying abilities of the super horn, there's more to be had out of the boomerang flower, piranha plant, and crazy 8, which are great all-round power-ups that work on both a defensive and offensive level. Here's how to get the best out of them and clobber your way to victory in Mario Kart 8.
Like the green shell, the boomerang is a projectile weapon, only it flies back. That means even if you fluff your first shot, you might get lucky and catch your opponent on its return. You get three shots before it disappears into the ether, which gives you more chances to hit an opponent, but it can be a hindrance when you're desperate to pick up a boost mushroom and have to throw it three times before you can get rid of it. The boomerang also moves at a slightly slower pace than a green shell, which gives your opponent more time to dodge it, and you a harder time to line up your shot. If accuracy is what you're after, it's best to stick to short-range attacks with the boomerang where its slower speed is less of an issue, but at least if you just fire and forget its three shots and ability to hit opponents on its return mean you've got a better chance of landing a hit.
Yes, those irritating pipe-dwelling plants from Mario's platforming outings are now in Mario Kart, but they're a valuable addition, provided you're the one dishing out their own brand of competitor-gobbling goodness. Once deployed, the piranha plant is able to gobble up nearby coins, obstacles, and enemies as you drive near them. It's particularly good if you're stuck in the middle of the pack surrounded by opponents. You can charge through without worrying about bumping into anyone and losing speed thanks to the piranha happily chomping everything off the road. You're also periodically given a little speed boost as the plant chomps, making the piranha plant one of the most all-round useful offensive items in the game.
The Crazy 8
If you're sucking particularly hard in a race, every so often you'll come across The Crazy 8 power-up, which is much like the Lucky 7 power-up from Mario Kart 7. Rather than a new power-up in of itself, it's actually a collection of 8 classic power-ups like boost mushrooms, red shells, and invulnerability stars. Basically, it's the Mario Kart equivalent of Neo asking for "guns, lots of guns" in the Matrix, and becoming a walking arms factory. While you can select the order in which the power-ups launch, it's pretty tricky to do so during a heated race where you're desperately trying to fight off some aggressive competition. But if all else fails, launching all the power-ups in quick succession can wreak havoc on the opposition.
Yes, the super horn is the much-touted defence against the deadly blue shell. However, it's not exactly what I'd call a common pickup, with it rarely making an appearance. Even if you're blazing away in first place--where a blue shell typically hits you--you're more likely to pick up a coin than you are the super horn. Still, if you do manage to get the super horn and a blue shell attacks you, you can use its blast radius to deflect the shell's race-destroying powers. It has other uses, though. If you've got especially good timing you can deflect projectiles, or blast banana peels off the road. Or, if you're close enough to another competitor, you can also use the horn's localised blast radius to slow them down, giving you a chance to zoom past and take the lead.