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Fake Item Boxes (JP) are items that have featured throughout the renowned Mario Kart franchise. They made their debut in Mario Kart 64. As their name implies, these traps are fake counterparts of regular item boxes and when obtained, they can be dropped on the track to serve as an obstacle. Hitting them causes the tricked driver to tumble over and lose momentum.

The fake item boxes have undergone a number of signficant graphical colours and styles in each of the games they have featured in. Sometimes they were coloured in a menacing palette of red and black, other times they appeared as close replicas of the multi-coloured item boxes. 

Their variable appearances has also meant that throughout the franchise, the fake item boxes had varying degrees of effectiveness to the gamers. It can be argued that the multi-coloured replicas were the most effective for the purpose, as their similar appearances meant that players could actually end up getting tricked and mistake them for genuine boxes.

During multiplayer modes, a common technique of strategically dumping fake boxes amongst a row of real ones was often used by players, as that way the fake box had the most chance of being hit by an unfortunate driver. Another good strategy is to drop the box right before the edge of a ramp, as collision with it will bring the opponent down the pit.

Since their inception in 1996, the fake item boxes have appeared in three further mainstream Mario Kart games until Mario Kart Wii, which marked their last appearance in the series.

Mario Kart series

Mario Kart 64

Fake Item Box 64

The game together marked the first appearance of both the real and fake item boxes as they would be known today, although it should be noted that they were both actually rendered as 2D diamond sprites. The fake diamonds replicated the same iridiscent look of the real counterparts, except for the inverted ? mark. 

Obtainable in every position, the fake diamond can be held behind the receiver, similarly to Bananas - but it can't be tossed forward. When hit the diamond explodes, throwing the unfortuante driver upwards into the air. One interesting property though is that the fake diamonds can be dropped in mid-air and stay suspended at that spot, seemingly defying gravity.

Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

Fake Item Box MKDD

After a hiatus from the Mario Kart: Super Circuit edition of Mario Kart, the item returns in Double Dash!!. Both boxes were given a design overhaul with proper cube shapes. The fake item box has been programmed with a minor yet interesting optical illusion; from afar it will look multi-coloured just like a real box, but upon approaching it will transition to deep red with an inverted ? mark, as a instant warning signal to avoid it.

The fake box can be obtained from first to fourth place; it can be held behind the driver, but it doesn't block shells coming through. Colliding with it causes the drivers to tumble over.

Mario Kart DS

Item Block Mario Kart 4

In this Mario Kart game, the fake item boxes have been redesigned as multi-coloured imitations of their real counterparts, akin to their first iteration in Mario Kart 64. The only differences included are the lack of a ? mark, and that the boxes don't spin around at their spot. 

Otherwise, the fake box behaves similarly as it did in Double Dash!!. It can be argued that this game has witnessed the most effective usage of fake item boxes as players can strategically plan out where to drop the boxes with ease, combined with the intentional design choice of making them resemble actual item boxes to trick drivers. However, there is a counter solution - the lower screen tracking the player's position marks the fake boxes in deep red, informing the player in advance to avoid it.

Mario Kart Wii

Fake Item Box - Mario Kart Wii

This game marked the final appearance of fake item boxes, which returned back to their red and black appearance seen in  Double Dash!!. In similar fashion, the boxes were programmed to display a multi-coloured look from a distance, only revealing their true colours up close.  In team mode, the fake boxes amongst other items receive a blue palette swap when obtained by the blue team. 

Trivia

  • The item was proposed to be included in Mario Kart: Super Circuit, but was scrapped in the final developments. It is accessible by hacking the game's files, but when activated it only spawns a banana due to unfinished coding. [1]
  • Fake item boxes can act as a buffer to the impact of Spiny Shell explosions. When the blue shell comes approaching, collide onto a fake box if possible - the driver will of course tumble over, but the fake item's explosion nullifies the shell's explosion. This is particularly effective in Mario Kart DS.
  • Fake Smash Balls are similar items that spawn in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. These resemble their real counterparts, but breaking one launches an explosion that hurts anyone within a few metres of the Smash Bomb's location. Fake Item Boxes only affect their target.
Names in Other Languages
Language Name Meaning
Spanish Bloque Sorpresa Surprise Block
French Fausse boîte à objets Fake Item Box
German Schwindel-Box Cheat Box
Italian Oggetto Finto Fake Item
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