From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
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Shell Toss is a move used in many platformer games in the Mario franchise. To use it, one must grab or carry a shell and toss it. Koopa Troopa shells are the most common type of shell, although Buzzy Beetle shells and upside-down Spiny Shells are also common.
Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, and Toad could first use it in Super Mario Bros. 2. The Red Shells could be obtained in the grass and thrown at will. The shell would speed across the ground, knocking over any enemies.
Later, in Super Mario Bros. 3, the Shell Toss can be used to hit blocks from the side and gain the items contained within them. Bricks can also be broken to gain access to other areas. This is also possible in most later 2D Mario games. In some games, such as Super Mario World and Super Paper Mario, enemies may also throw shells at the player. In a few games, such as Super Mario Bros. 3, shells can even be used to collect coins or other items.
In the Paper Mario series, various Koopas and Buzzy Beetles, including Mario's party members Kooper and Koops, use this attack by going inside their shell and launching themselves at enemies in battle. This attack can only hit the enemy on the ground in front. For Kooper and Koops at normal rank, the attack does 1 damage without the Action Command and 2 with it; this changes to 2 or 3 damage at Super Rank and 3 or 5 at Ultra Rank. The Action Command for Shell Toss differs slightly depending on which Koopa is using it. Also, Koops's version includes Stylish Moves.
Kooper and Koops can also be launched by Mario outside of battle, which can used to grab faraway items, activate switches, or do a first strike on an enemy. A first strike with Kooper always fails the Action Command, while a first strike with Koops always succeeds.
The term 'shell toss' can be used to describe any attack wherein an ally or foe uses its shell to attack by launching it forward.
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