The man behind the Mario Kart franchise has stood up for the series' widely loathed blue shell power up.

Hideki Konno, who has been in charge of Nintendo's hugely successful racer since Super Mario Kart hit the SNES back in 1992, told Kotaku that the power up, which automatically knocks out whoever is leading, is vital for keeping races unpredictable.

"You know, with [Mario Kart] Wii, at least you can avoid it. The timing is tough, but at least you can avoid it," he joked, before explaining why the item was included.

"Fundamentally we're always playing while we're making adjustments [to the games]. We usually have some sort of theme to direct what we're looking at. With Mario Kart Wii, it was to create a race where, up until the finish line, you didn't know. We wanted to create a race where everyone was in it until the end.

Konno went on to explain how that was an ethos Nintendo had set out to implement in the N64 iteration, albeit with limited success.

"With Mario Kart 64, we wanted to have the same thing where everyone was in it until the end, but some of the processing problems occurred that didn't allow us to do that. And what I mean by that is once you're in a middle of a race you'll get that natural separation.

"What we were trying to do was push them back together with 64, 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."

"Going back to the blue shell, it sounds like maybe you have some issues with it," Konno told the interviewer, before hinting that his team might address gamers' complaints with the forthcoming 3DS entry into the franchise.

"I think in our next Mario Kart, we'll be looking at the balance and I think we'll come up with some answers and some solutions to make the game fresh and exciting as we move forward."

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Fred Dutton

Fred Dutton

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Fred Dutton is Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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