“What's more fun than a barrel full of monkeys? How about Diddy and Dixie in a barrel?”
Barrels are weapons that Donkey Kong used against Mario in the Donkey Kong arcade game. Since then, barrels have shown up in many other Donkey Kong, Mario, and miscellaneous games comprised by the universe. Regular barrels can usually be heaved and used to attack enemies or destroy thin and not so strong walls and surfaces. However, this is not the only role played by barrels; they can also be found in other stances: as immovable obstacles or mere platforms. Their physical appearance might change slightly from game to game (e.g. the number of hoops rimming the barrels, their tints and colorition, their size), but these are mostly aesthetic and do not modify the gameplay.
In the Mario universe, barrels do not differentiate at all from those in the Real World. A barrel is made of several vertical convex staves (fourteen in the latest appearances) bound to form a pseudo-cylindrical vase, which is the barrel itself. Four gray steel hoops (only three in the New Super Mario Bros. games, and two in Wario Land 3) circle the staves: two of them are each placed at one of the barrel's base, while the other are donned on the barrel's bigger circumferences. Usually, barrels do not contain anything, as they do not leave anything when broken.
Donkey Kong series
In Donkey Kong, the first threat Mario ever faces is from a blue barrel that Donkey Kong tosses in level 25m. When this blue barrel rolls into the Oil Drum at the start, it will spawn a Fireball. Donkey Kong mostly throws brown barrels at Mario which the hero could jump over - once successfully passed over, a barrel will roll further and it won't represent a peril for Mario anymore (also, with every dodge, the player is granted 100 points). With the aid of a hammer, the chubby carpenter can smash the barrels, and this is going to award him 500 points.
Donkey Kong Circus
In Donkey Kong Circus, Donkey Kong is forced by Mario to balance on a barrel that acts as a circus ball. He has to dodge Fireballs that fall from the Oil Drums above, and juggle pineapples, all while riding the barrel.
Donkey Kong '94
The first four levels of the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong is an almost exact imitation of the classic arcade game, which means that barrels appear once again in the 25m stage. The ape foe whom Mario pursues throws them and tries to hinder the plumber. When he jumps over one, he is awarded 100 points, just like in the original game. Nevertheless, the player only earns 300 points upon destroying a barrel with a hammer, unlike in the arcade Donkey Kong; later in its Game Boy remake, when the adventure of Mario starts to take a more extended shape, Donkey Kong still uses barrels occasionally, so as to down the hero. When a rolling barrel encounters an edge and falls down to the platform underneath, Mario needs to perform a handstand right under the falling barrel and stop it with his feet. The barrel will then land upright, and can be picked up and put to good use - Mario has to hurl the barrel back at Donkey Kong in order to harm him. Barrels can only be picked up when they are standing, otherwise Mario cannot stand one. Sometimes, it is not necessary for the plumber to do the aforementioned procedure, whereas barrels can stop automatically. But in certain battles, such as in the final one with the overgrown Kong, barrels slip from platforms and fall off the screen, and Mario has to handstand beneath the barrels to stop them.
Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong Land series
The game Donkey Kong Country introduces Regular Barrels - and also some other types - as weapons used by Donkey Kong in combat with enemies. They appear frequently in many levels throughout the game. When Donkey Kong picks up a barrel, he lifts it above his head by using his powerful arms. This can be done if the player presses on the SNES controller when the ape hero is next to the barrel. However, Diddy Kong, the second hero, is not as strong to lift the barrel up, and only carries it in front of his body; nevertheless, this is a good technique used to protect himself from hazards. The barrel can then be hurled by releasing the button. Regular barrels are necessary to destroy tough or well protected enemies, including Zingers and Krushas, and are sometimes needed when having to take down bosses, such as Queen B., Kreepy Krow or Baron K. Roolenstein. In the battles where the enumerated bosses are present, there are certain methods of acquiring barrels, shown in the enumeration's respect: they can either spawn repeatedly without the player's input, appear after defeating a living Mini Necky, or falling from the ceiling after the player pulls some pipes.
The mechanic of a barrel is simple: after it gets picked up and thrown, it will start to roll on the ground until it hits a wall, and it breaks afterwards; every enemy who withstands this mighty weapon will be overthrown and downed by it. Later in the game, Donkey and Diddy Kong encounter abominable orangutan-looking foes called Manky Kongs, which, much like Donkey Kong in the original Donkey Kong, toss dangerous barrels at the heroes. These barrels only break when they hit a wall, and oddly enough, when Rambi bumps into a barrel thrown by a Manky Kong, the wooden weapon will not shatter its staves, but instead will simply fall off-screen.
After Donkey Kong Country, throughout the other many adventures of the Kongs, barrels still have the same function as they had in the aforementioned game. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest's barrels do not sport any apparent change, and so they remained in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, Donkey Kong Country Returns and its remake, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Apart from the Donkey Kong Country series, barrels also make appearances in the Donkey Kong Land games, and retain the exact same function. While Donkey Kong Land 2 and Donkey Kong Land 3 are full of barrels, the first Donkey Kong Land features a very small amount of normal barrels, three to be more precise, each in the following levels: Jungle Jaunt, Freezing Fun and Tricky Temple. In this game, barrels are smaller and take the form of wooden kegs.
In Donkey Kong Country 2 and Donkey Kong Country 3, Dixie Kong can lift barrels over her head with her ponytail. Also, exclusively in Donkey Kong Country 3, Kiddy Kong's method of holding barrels is the same as Diddy Kong's.
There are some barrels in the first Donkey Kong Country which do not display steel hoops, but instead weaker-looking, greenish ones. When these are thrown, they will roll on the ground just like common barrels, yet they are so fragile they will break when hitting an enemy. Barrels in Donkey Kong Country 3 function the same, although these do not sport any change in appearance from generic barrels.
Not only the ape heroes use barrels, but also other enemies are shown to possess or find the helpfulness of these objects. As stated above, Manky Kongs use barrels from an unlimited supply as weapons and always toss them towards the player. Kannons from Donkey Kong Country 2 wield small bombards that shoot barrels, obviously serving as projectiles here, and can be destroyed by a stomp or by hitting a wall. Klobbers, also from Donkey Kong Country 2, hide inside barrels and can be easily mistaken for normal barrels; however, these enemies prevail and start ramming into the player once he or she approaches them. Therefore, Klobbers use barrels as shields against the player, and also as outfit to improve comical effect. In Donkey Kong Country 3, very similar foes called Knockas use barrels in the same manner, only that now these are painted green with an obnoxious smile, and they feature a slit above this smile to allow the enemy inside to see outside. Thus, the Knockas' barrels can be distinguished from regular barrels with no difficulty. Belcha, the first boss of Donkey Kong Country 3, is itself a large, animated barrel. It "spits" barrels from a hole that serves as a mouth. These barrels contain yellow Knik-Knaks, that will only reveal when the player jumps on the barrels and breaks them.
Donkey Konga series
The first game of the series, Donkey Konga, reveals a story that shows how Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong found a lone pair of small barrels while strolling on the beach. Later on, when asked by the two what these barrels are supposed to be - supposing they are meant to be a cunning trap from K. Rool -, Cranky Kong explains they are magic bongos that can be played on.
All three games from the series are centered on playing the barrel bongos in the rhythm of several musical compositions. A set of such bongos even comes bundled with the game in real life, which serves as the controller for the game, and the player has to physically strike them in order to make Donkey Kong do the same thing behind the screen.
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
In Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, small barrels are used to transport Donkey Kong to different kingdoms. Every barrel has a letter in front of them, with each letter spelling out the initials of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. The D Barrel links to the Banana Kingdom, Orange Kingdom, Watermelon Kingdom, and Apple Kingdom. The K Barrel warps the player to the Strawberry Kingdom, Pineapple Kingdom, Lemon Kingdom, and Grape Kingdom. The J Barrel goes to the Cherry Kingdom, Peach Kingdom, Melon Kingdom, and Durian Kingdom. The B Barrel introduces the player into the Pear Kingdom, Lychee Kingdom, Chili Pepper Kingdom, and Star Fruit Kingdom. Completing all the kingdoms in each barrel allows Donkey Kong access to the next barrel.
The heads-up display of the game permanently features a large barrel, lying horizontally in the upper left corner of the screen. On this barrel stays written the number of bananas Donkey Kong has collected in the level he is currently in. As a matter of fact, the ape hero uses this barrel to transport the bananas.
In DK: King of Swing and DK: Jungle Climber, barrels are mere harmless obstacles the Kongs can find in their way. They can be broken if the player charges into them. Upon destruction, they reveal bonuses, such as bananas and medals. Before getting destroyed, barrels can be stood on, just like on ground.
Likewise, only in King of Swing, the player can store the first 50 bananas collected throughout the game inside a barrel, which is shown on the bottom right corner of the screen as an icon. The bananas can be consumed by the Kong to gain invincibility, and if the player has less than fifty banans left afterwards, the barrel will disappear and make room for four or less bunches of ten bananas.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong series
Just like in the Game Boy remake of Donkey Kong, barrels can be used by Mario as improvised artillery against Donkey Kong in Mario vs. Donkey Kong. They are relatively common, and most of them can be found lying on the ground in Donkey Kong Jungle. Once picked up, they can be carried by the player to any accessible place and either tossed at enemies, or put convenably to serve as helpful platforms for Mario to reach very high knolls. Likewise, they can be placed on spikes. The only boss battles where Donkey Kong uses the common wooden objects against Mario are 3-DK and 3-DK+. They can be deflected with a handstand.
The last battle with Donkey Kong before accessing the "Plus" worlds, the one where Mario needs to free the Toads, has the ape roll a spiky "variety" of barrels towards the plumber, which damage him easily. They cannot be stopped - not even with a handstand. Big tuns, labeled "DK" on the side facing the player, are also thrown by Donkey Kong, and cannot be braked either, unless Mario liberates all three Toads. Once these large barrels take off the screen, the Toads quickly appear with them back, transpoting and placing them safely in the center of the bottom platform. The "DK" tuns are the only weapon against the main foe in this fight. Whilst this fight has no normal barrel, the very last battle of the game contains them. They are plummeting from the sky, along with other potentially dangerous objects, once Donkey Kong, who controls a large mecha robot, pounds its fist on the ground.
Super Mario series
Super Mario Bros. Special
Super Mario Bros. Special marks the second time barrels are used in the Mario series. In this game, barrels are not called as such, but rather credited as Tarusar. They are introduced in World 3-4 and continue to appear occasionally throughout the game. These obstacles did not change since their latter and first appearance in Donkey Kong; they just roll continously towards the hero, either on castle stairs or on steep mushroomy platforms. Here, barrels apparently spawn and plummet from high areas, and their source is nowhere to be seen. Mario's simple stomps cannot destroy the wooden hazards, although the game features the hammer, whose head can crush everything, not to except barrels.
New Super Mario Bros.
In New Super Mario Bros., large, horizontal barrels can be found buoying above the surface of water. Mario or Luigi can use them as platforms to skip over Skeeters and, eventually, avoid swimming. However, these barrels cannot float on the water and sustain the respective hero at the same time, and so they will sink continuously until he liberates them from the pressure. Under the effects of a Mini Mushroom, the hero can prevent the tuns from going down when stepping on them, and thus staying afloat they act as normal platforms. The barrels can be found in the level World 8-2.
Super Mario Galaxy
Some Octopuses, which are Octoomba foes from Super Mario Galaxy, prefer to stay inside barrels and shoot their projectiles from there, making those barrels act as warfare trenches. Besides this aesthetic purpose, barrels do not serve any other function.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Barrels are placed throughout deserts and haunted mansions in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, this time as handy items. They can be toted and thrown by the player in order to defeat certain enemies, just like in Donkey Kong Country. However, they can also harm other players if they get hit by one. Broozers can punch barrels to make them roll and use them as obstacles against the player. As seen in World 2-2, barrels can easily break when in contact with a spiked ball, whether they roll into them or stand still.
Along with the barrels that can be carried, the game features the tun-sized variety from New Super Mario Bros., which float on the water and sit horizontally. They respect the same physics as in the mentioned game, and appear in World 4-2.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
With the return of Octopuses from Super Mario Galaxy, barrels reappear in the successor of this game. They are used in the same manner as in the previous game. Octopuses inside barrels can be seen in Shiverburn Galaxy and Grandmaster Galaxy. Likewise, in the game, there is a boss character named Prince Pikante who drives a small tank, whose body is composed of an armored barrel.
Super Mario 3D Land
Barrels appear in Super Mario 3D Land. In the final boss battle with Bowser, there is a point in the battle where Bowser throws barrels at the hero, a reference to the original Donkey Kong arcade game.
New Super Mario Bros. 2
The barrels that buoy on waters, whose first appearance was in New Super Mario Bros., make another appearance in New Super Mario Bros. 2, with no change overall to their physical behavior when in contact with the player. They are only present in World 3-1.
New Super Mario Bros. U / New Super Luigi U
Barrels reappear in New Super Mario Bros. U, and act just as in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. In this game they are less common, only appearing in some Ghost Houses with Broozers. Barrels return in New Super Luigi U as rare items, only found in the level Broozers and Barrels.
Mario Kart series
In the Mario Kart games, barrels are scattered around various courses; should a player bump into one of these with his/her vehicle, the barrel will break and free an aleatory item, which can help or hinder the player. In these games, the general appearance of barrels is much more realistic - appearance that was also approached in the Donkey Kong series - than that from the New Super Mario Bros. games.
Regular barrels and DK Barrels, the latter functioning the same as the former, are scattered respectively in Wario Shipyard and DK Jungle, two racetracks from Mario Kart 7. The players can interact with them the way described above - however, unless they wear the power of a Super Star or use external forces, such as fireballs or Bob-ombs, their kart will decelerate significantly upon bumping into a barrel, which makes it risky to destroy such object just for the sake of the items found inside. With the return of DK Jungle in Mario Kart 8, DK Barrels reappear. Regular barrels are found on the airship section of Cloudtop Cruise, and also on the boardwalk part of Wild Woods. Toad Harbor features barrels decorated with flowers, which are found on both the actual racetrack and among the audience, along with large, wooden boxes. Despite their slightly changed appearance, they are, technically, the same as common barrels. Additionally, in Bone-Dry Dunes, some decorative barrels are stacked up together and placed under the tents surrounding the finish line.
Mario Party series
Mario Party 6
A minigame in Mario Party 6, titled Blooper Scooper, has the characters trying to avoid getting pulled by an oversized Blooper into a water vortex. They are surrounded by many objects from their shipwreck, which they have to dodge (otherwise, they will be brought closer to the giant creature). Some of these objects are barrels that reveal nothing when getting broken, even though they have mysterious stars textured on their lids.
Mario Party 8
In Mario Party 8, some barrels are scattered through the market located near the starting point of Goomba's Booty Boardwalk. More of them can be found sticked together in small groups on the same board, either next to other wooden objects (such as crates and chests), or near the pier that leads to the end of the board, or in the vicinity of DK Spaces.
Mario Party 10
Slot machines that take the form of barrels appear in Mario Party 10, on Donkey Kong's amiibo board. Here, apart from being miniatural, barrels have golden hoops. There are three Event Spaces on the board from where the player can access these barrel slot machines, and there are three of these corresponding to each space. The only jackpot one can earn from a barrel slot machine is composed of coins that come in different amounts. Once the player's amiibo hits every barrel, the number of coins won from each one will sum up with the others and the prize for the player shall be the total amount of coins.
Mario Baseball series
Each of the games from this series, Mario Superstar Baseball and Mario Super Sluggers, contains a stadium that represents a homage to the Donkey Kong games. The stadiums are Donkey Kong Jungle and DK Jungle. Both feature Barrel Cannons out of their bounds, which shoot large barrels. These roll on the stadiums' fields and hinder the baseball players from getting the ball if they stand before them. Barrels roll continuously until they slam into a wall, in which case they will crumble and de-spawn.
In the Mario Superstar Baseball version of the stadium, a minigame called Barrel Batter takes place. In this minigame, the batter has to launch the ball with his bat into rows of colored barrels that stay right in the front of the player. The more barrels of the same color hit consequently, the more points the player gains.
The Mario Super Sluggers version of the stadium hosts another minigame, titled Barrel Basher. The batter is given a small wall in front of him/her which serves as a shield against the many rapid barrels (and also powerful Bob-ombs) that come from several Barrel Cannons. Despite the protection granted by the shield, the safety of the player is still precarious, as the barrels can damage the shield upon bumping into it. The target in the minigame is to destroy as many barrels as the player can and prevent the wall from falling apart. If not broken in time, the barrels may successfully uncover the player by destroying the wall, leaving him or her exposed to other dangerous barrels. Upon breaking a barrel, the score of the player increases; some of the barrels are shiny and are more worthy than regular barrels.
Other appearances in the Mario series
Among the many objects Wario puts on Mario's head to cover his sight in the Japan-exclusive game, Mario & Wario, there is also a barrel. Since every object is changed depending on the theme of each world in the game, the barrel whom Mario wears is seen in Kumotori Yama, the third world.
In Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, the Sunken Ship contains large piles of barrels. They help maintaining the old ship scenery, but also help Mario climb high walls, as they are grouped and formed in stairs. Later in the game, one of the puzzles hosted by Dr. Topper inside Bowser's Keep had the player guess how many barrels are stacked up in a large heap seen from the usual in-game perspective. In another area of Bowser's Keep, Mario confronts a Chained Kong that stands atop a high place in a lofty room and hurls barrels down several stairs, whom the hero must dodge; this is a homage to the classic Donkey Kong.
Super Smash Bros. series
Barrels also appear as items in Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Melee, where they contain one to four items and can roll along inclines. They also sometimes explode when broken. They return in subsequent Super Smash Bros. games, alongside Crates. In these games, barrels change appearance depending on the stage in which they appear. For example, they turn into Present Barrels on the Yoshi's Island stage; though the effect of the barrels remains unchanged.
Wario Land series
“Tote those barrels and heave 'em through the hard pink blocks.”
Additionally, in both Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 and Wario Land II, big-sized barrels are present as handy platforms, and they are always staying vertically. They can be mostly found in maritime areas, like the Rice Beach or the SS Tea Cup.
Barrels briefly showed up in a microgame from WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!, called Donkey Kong. This microgame is based upon 25m, the very first level of Donkey Kong for the arcade. The microgame has Donkey Kong constantly tossing barrels at Jumpman; the character needs to dodge them while he stands still. Likewise, in WarioWare: D.I.Y. Showcase, barrels are featured in an extremely similar microgame, again named Donkey Kong, in which the player must protect Jumpman - who continuously walks on the girders and clambers ladders - from the barrels thrown by the simian foe.
Barrels appear during the battle with Captain Skull in Wario World. They can be destroyed by being thrown or by any of Wario and Captain Skull's various attacks, and may contain Coins, Garlic, or nothing at all. They can also be used as weapons against Captain Skull, as they will knock the captain out if hurled at him. Throwing either a barrel or Captain Skull's bombs at him is required during the second half of the battle, when he becomes immune to Wario's punches.
Types of barrels
In many of the games of the Mario universe, mostly in the ones from the Donkey Kong series, a handful of barrel variations, derivated from the classic barrel, appear. Each fulfils a unique functionb that may or may not help the heroes. Oddly enough, DK Barrels, Auto Fire Barrels and Barrel Cannons are actually more oftenly found by players, than regular barrels. Below is a list with all types of barrels:
Official profiles and statistics
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U
Names in other languages