In 1996, the gaming world was introduced to what many consider to be the father of all 3D platforming games. Nintendo did a fantastic job in crafting Super Mario 64, which set the bar incredibly high for any 3D platformers that followed. Although "dated" by today's standards, Super Mario 64 featured entertaining mechanics, solid controls, and excellent stage design. Its simplistic yet pleasing visuals have aged extremely well and still look great over 20 years later.
Super Mario 64 remains a timeless adventure, with many younger players experiencing it for the first time as a re-release on Nintendo DS. The original, however, is still beloved by all. It's not uncommon to see a nostalgia-seeking player fire up their Nintendo 64, or a speedrunner attempting to beat their personal record.
Because of its everlasting popularity, many players have stumbled across secrets and glitches over the years. It seems that developers packed Super Mario 64 full of hidden content, challenging players with secret stars, sneaky shortcuts, and expertly camouflaged extra lives.
Over 20 years have passed since Super Mario 64 was first developed, yet there are still secrets that players are just now uncovering. This prompted us to compile a list of some of these unique findings. Here is a list of 15 Awesome Things You Didn't Know You Could Do In Super Mario 64.
How many of these did you know about? Let us know!
15 Change Wet-Dry Word's Water Level
Wet-Dry World is easily one of the more annoying levels to conquer in Super Mario 64. Navigating this architectural labyrinth can be quite the headache and you'll need to battle your way through a series of annoying enemies and perilous pitfalls. If you fired up Super Mario 64 right now, this level probably wouldn't seem like much of a hassle, but it was downright torturous when we were children.
The most frustrating mechanic had to do with changing the zone's water level. Some stars were hidden deep underwater, while others were sky high. Raising and lowering the water level was the key to grabbing these stars and the only way to do so was by activating special prism switches hidden throughout the stage.
Thankfully, there is an easier way. The "starting" water level is dependent on where you enter the zone's painting. The higher you enter the artwork, the higher the water level (and vice versa).
14 Butterfly Roulette
Super Mario 64 is a beautiful game, even by today's standards. It's aged well, primarily due to smart design choices and excellent texture mapping. There are a slew of small visuals hidden in each level. One of these details comes in the form of happy butterflies wisping through the wind. You'll find these colorful insects in a variety of places throughout Peach's castle.
Surprisingly, these butterflies are much more than eye candy. By punching or swatting these insects, you can unveil hidden 1-up mushrooms. You'll need to be careful though, as some butterflies don't take kindly to being smacked. There's a chance (it's said to be 50/50) that your fluttering target will turn into a Mario-seeking cannonball, instead of a delicious life-giving mushroom. This can be a great way to farm 1-ups, if you're feeling lucky enough.
13 Sturdy Like A Rock
We were introduced to a lot of new and exciting mechanics in Super Mario 64. Sadly, not all of them were positive. This Nintendo 64 adventure marked the first time our red-hatted plumber would suffer from fall damage. If you managed to slip off a precarious ledge or misjudged the height of a jump, Mario would take considerable damage as a result.
This isn't a big deal if you have full health, but falling with a depleted health meter means certain death. Thankfully, there is a neat little trick that will help you escape these tense moments. If you can execute a ground pound maneuver right before you hit the ground, Mario won't take any damage. Timing is key to activating this "glitch," so you may need to practice a few times before you get the hang of it.
12 Life-Giving Water
Many of you probably know this hidden mechanic, but there are some out there who have no idea how helpful a quick swim can be. In previous Super Mario Bros. iterations, our portly hero would croak after one or two hits. Super Mario 64 introduces a health bar, making Mario sturdier than before. That said, there are many dangers in Peach's castle, and the Italian plumber can take damage from a variety of different sources.
To refill your health meter, you'll need to find coins and spinning hearts. You can also make use of a unique trick. By diving into deep water and resurfacing, you'll successfully refill your entire health circle. This is due to the fact that Super Mario 64 "shares" the health and breath meters, swapping them out whenever Mario enters deep waters.
This "secret" won't come as a shock to all of you completionists out there, but there are many players who've never had the fortune of collecting all 120 Power Stars. You only need around 70 stars to face Bowser in his domain, but collecting every possible star will unlock a unique interaction between Mario and his beloved dinosaur steed.
Once you have every star, a cannon will appear in the front castle courtyard. You can use this cannon to gain access to the castle roof, where you'll find a flying-cap block and everyone's favorite sidekick, Yoshi. Speaking to Yoshi will reward you with a thank you from the Super Mario 64 team, as well as 100 lives. Sadly, shorty after your talk, Yoshi will vanish into a nearby waterfall.
10 A Penguin Of Titanic Proportions
Visiting Yoshi isn't the only hidden gem that unlocks once you collect 120 Power Stars. Those of you familiar with Cool, Cool Mountain will most likely remember racing against a "world champion sledder." If you manage to beat this big penguin rival during a race down a slippery slide, you'll be rewarded with a Power Star.
What you may not know is that this particular race features a hidden difficulty spike. If you return to Cool, Cool Mountain after collecting all 120 stars, you'll notice something rather different about Big Penguin. It seems that it's put on quite a few pounds since your last meeting and will even remark how "out of shape" it is. Easily double in size, Big Penguin can effortlessly knock Mario off the side of the track, making this race much more difficult. Unfortunately, the only thing you'll win from this second battle is bragging rights.
9 A Speedrunner's Dream
Speedrunning has become a very popular "sport" in the gaming world. All across the globe, there are dedicated players vying for the fastest completion time on a variety of titles. A lot of retro games feature impressive speedrunning records due to their short campaigns and abundance of glitches. For this reason, it wasn't long until players started uncovering speedy ways to collect the Power Stars in Super Mario 64.
One crazy fast shortcut can net you a Power Star without much effort. All it takes is the right placement and a little practice, and you can successfully snatch this star through a solid brick wall. In Whomp's Fortress, there is an obstacle that must be blasted away with the use of a nearby cannon. However, you can grab this star without ever blowing up the wall if you know exactly where to jump.
8 Hidden Stars
Super Mario 64 features 120 Power Stars to collect. There are 15 stages to conquer, each with six different stars to unlock. Even if you manage to crack every puzzle in every stage, you'll find your self in possession of only 90 stars. That's because the Nintendo 64 adventure features an abundance of hidden Power Stars for you to find.
Each stage features a seventh hidden star that will show up after you've collected 100 coins within that particular level. This can be rather hard in specific zones, thanks to a lack of coins or precarious architecture. The remaining 15 stars are littered throughout Peach's castle. You won't need to enter any paintings to grab these glittering objects, but you will need to uncover some unique secrets on the castle grounds.
7 The Run Around
Mario will come across an abundance of wooden posts throughout his journey. Ground pounding atop these posts will send them into the dirt and reward you with a very satisfying sound. At first glance, these tall circular objects don't seem to do or offer much, but they actually house a rather useful secret.
If you run circles around these posts, they'll spew out coins for you to collect. You can perform this nifty trick on each post, making it much easier to refill your health in a jam or collect the necessary coins for each 100-coin Power Star. It is important to note that this particular trick will not work if you've already hammered the post downward (even a tiny bit). Coins are only awarded from posts that have been untouched by Mario's derrière.
6 Tick Tock Clock Speed
It's hard to classify this one as a "secret," because Toad will actually relay this information to you if you stop by for a little chat. Still, it belongs on this list due to the fact that a lot of players missed out on this cool and interesting game mechanic. Much like Wet-Dry World, it's possible to change Tick Tock Clock's zone behaviour by entering its painting at a specific point.
You'll need to pay attention to the "big hand" (minute hand) to unlock this level secret. If you enter the zone when the minute hand is on the 12, all of the moving objects inside will freeze in place. Entering at 3 causes them to slow down dramatically, while entering at 9 causes them to speed up. The most curious change occurs at 6, where all objects will speed up, slow down, and freeze at random times.
5 Collecting The Impossible Coin
There are many video game glitches and secrets that players stumble upon years after the title is released. This was the case with the "impossible coin," which was found stuck below the ground. There are 192 coins in Tiny-Huge Island, but one of them is strangely unobtainable. This isn't the only unobtainable coin in Super Mario 64 (Snowman's Land has one) but it's the one that resonated with fans the most. Dubbed the Impossible Coin, the internet began a journey to collect this glitched-out goodie.
It took 18 years for someone to finally crack the code. Youtuber pannenkoek2012 uploaded a clip of themselves wrangling in the tricky coin. It's important to note that they used tool assistance to locate the appropriate frames for this trick, but it should be possible to do it without TAS (although it might take a rather long time).
4 Firey Propulsion
It's hard to play through Super Mario 64 without setting your pants ablaze at least once. Some levels feature some rather annoying "enemies" that spit fire projectiles. If one of these flaming objects connects with Mario, it will send him into a panicked sprint. This mechanic can be annoying if you're close to an edge or near some enemies.
The good news is that you can control the direction in which Mario runs. You can even use this animation to your advantage. If you find yourself struggling to get up a steep hill, allowing yourself to be struck by fire can help you scamper up that tricky slope. Be careful though, Mario can pick up some serious speed and you may find yourself launching off platforms unintentionally.
3 A Truly Hidden 1-Up
There are many instances of hidden 1-ups scattered all throughout Super Mario 64. Some of these green mushrooms are awarded by completing odd tasks or reaching specific areas. Yet, there is one particular 1-up mushroom that is so well hidden, you'd only ever find it by accident. The extra life in question can be found in the Whomp's Fortress zone.
You may remember this level for its tall platforming section, which featured a painstakingly simple boss fight at the end. Once you manage to thwart the giant Whomp, you'll be sent back into the level to locate a different Power Star. From here, retrace your steps back towards the boss fight. After riding a small elevator upward, you'll notice an octagonal tower with platforms jutting outward. Punching a specific section of wall near the bottom of this tower will uncover the hidden mushroom.
2 Hidden Warps
There are many instances of hidden warp zones throughout the Super Mario 64 journey. It's unclear whether developers added this specialized warp points as a means to test the game or if they simply wanted to add something extra for players to discover. These spots are in rather random areas and many of them were simply stumbled upon by accident.
Players have located an abundance of these specific spots in stages like Wet-Dry World, Bomb-omb Battlefield, Tiny-Huge Island, Cool, Cool Mountain, Whomp's Fortress and Lethal Lava Land. Some of these warps are simply there a shortcuts, but others can be very useful. One Bomb-omb Battlefield warp can help you beat Koopa the Quick, and one located in Whomp's Fortress will place you close to the zone's second Power Star.
1 Beat Bowser With Only 16 Stars
This isn't a secret, so much as a glitch. The original quest forces you to collect 70 Power Stars before you can confront Bowser in his domain. There is a much faster way to reach end game, but to do it you'll need to master something called "the backwards long jump." This glitchy animation is done by performing a normal long jump in one direction and then quickly pushing the analog stick in the opposite direction before Mario hits the ground.
Youtuber A+Start does a fantastic job explaining all of the necessary steps a player must take in order to successfully face Bowser with only 16 stars. It can be quite tricky to perform some of these glitchy maneuvers, but with a little bit of practice, you'll find yourself battling the big guy in no time.