The Super Mario games are true labours of love. As Nintendo’s flagship franchise, the moustachioed plumber gets more attention from his developers than most and this results in games that have silky smooth controls, are beautiful to behold, and are a boatload of fun. Mario games are always questioning what is possible within a video game and have given us some of the most resilient innovations in the gaming industry to date. And yet, despite their polish, no game world is completely infallible. Dedicated players have spent countless hours pushing Mario’s environment to its limit and have discovered a huge playground of loopholes within the very fabric of the games.
As it turns out, the Mushroom Kingdom is rife with exploits, glitches and tricks, and all were discovered through hours of patient experimentation. Some of these exploits work within the game’s intended parameters and many don’t. More are being uncovered all the time, even in games that have been around for decades. Some of these tricks are useful for beating enemies or levels, while most are simply absurd or game breaking. Their numbers are staggering and we at TheGamer have assembled twenty-five of the most noteworthy. No matter their intended purpose (or lack thereof), these exploits add an extra layer of fun and mystery to already incredible game worlds, and are a testament to the gaming community’s love for all things Mario.
25 Walk Underwater In Isle Delfino (Super Mario Sunshine)
Isle Delfino is a fantastic place for a relaxing getaway, famous for its beautiful beaches and charming residents. Here, you can go for a swim, or bask in the glorious summer sun. You could that…or you could find ways to break physics and stroll across the ocean floor like you own the place (let's go for that one). To do this, you must go to the pool of water behind the Shine Sprite monument and simply press B near the pointed metal gate. If done correctly, Mario will fall through the basin to the bottom of the fountain below the Shine Sprite monument and will be walking underwater as if he was on ground. From here, you can stroll out into the open sea and explore the vacant blue underworld to your heart's content.
24 Infinite Coin Trick (Super Paper Mario)
Super Paper Mario is a game that shakes up the Paper Mario formula. What is usually a turn based RPG is now an action platformer and the game has an awesome gimmick that allows you to switch from 2D to 3D at will. The game encourages you to buy health items, attack boosters and Pixls, geometrical fairy creatures that give you new abilities. All these things cost money, but thankfully there is an exploit that allows you to become rich in mere moments. Buy three Catch Card SPs from Flopside, then head to chapter 5-2. Within the third room, you will find an Amazee Dayzee. Trap it within the Catch Card, then head out two rooms and return, and the enemy will have re-spawned. Do this as many times as you’d like, then head back to town to sell the cards for 300 coins a piece!
23 Morph The Hammer Bro Into a Treasure Ship (Super Mario Bros. 3)
Super Mario Bros. 3 introduced a few more mainstays of the series, such as the Super Leaf and World Map. The world map has wandering enemies that follow its path and can be interacted with on the levels they land on. One such enemy is the Hammer Bro and there is a trick you can do to transform him into a wealth-giving treasure ship, which are based off the mythical Baochuan ships from Chinese antiquity. To do this, you must finish a level in Grass, Water, Sky or Ice Land with a coin total that is a multiple of 11 and a final score that has a multiple of ten that matches that number (i.e. coin total of 66, score of 0235460). You must also take the score-giving timer into account (50 points per second). It seems strenuous, but the rewards are worth the effort!
22 Double Jump (Super Mario Bros. 2)
Super Mario Bros. 2 is a drastically different game from its predecessor. Jumping on enemies no longer dispatches them (you simply hitch a ride) and only carefully thrown turnips, items, or other bad guys can defeat them. One thing the game does retain, however, is verticality, but a simple jump can only take you so far. Luckily, there is a way to give your character a few extra hops. If you run towards an enemy and jump just as they graze your feet, you will be able to perform a double jump! Though not essential, this technique can help you reach higher platforms with ease and enables you to sail through levels at record speed. Later Mario games would return to the regular formula, but Super Mario Bros. 2 will always be remembered as one of the series most unique entries.
21 Anti-Gravity Fire Ball Room (Super Mario World)
Super Mario Galaxy would be the first game where Mario defies gravity, but Super Mario World gave players a tiny taste of what was to come with the anti-gravity fireball room. To find this mysterious place, you must go to Vanilla Dome 2 and ensure that you are in Super, Cape, or Fire Mario mode. You must then hit the P-Switch, which will turn all the square structures into coins. In front of you will be a swathe of coins, and you must collect the bottom two, then crouch and wait for the P-Switch to deactivate. After that, stand up, and Mario will be forced through the floor into a grey space where you can run about and your fireballs will never hit the ground. This curiously was sadly removed in the GBA remake of the game.
20 Save The First Mega Mushroom For Later (New Super Mario Bros.)
The New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS is a Mario game for a new generation. It features snazzy 3D graphics, an awesome soundtrack, and a plethora of new powerups, most notably the Mega Mushroom. This mad fungus transforms Mario into a giant and, with his newfound strength, he is able to smash through an entire stage. The Mega Mushroom is introduced in the first level of the game and there is a way to collect this particular mushroom instead of using it. To do so, you must release the mushroom from its block, then run forward and jump to hit the ? block above the shroom right as you grab it. Doing these two things in the same frame convinces the game that you have no room to grow and stashes the item in you reserve space for later.
19 Wall Climbing Trick (Super Mario Galaxy)
Defying gravity is a huge part of Super Mario Galaxy, but you always do so by the game’s rules. You fly between planetoids, are launched into the stars, and walk upside down, but all these events are a part of the games script. Wall jumping is also an important part of Super Mario Galaxy’s technique repertoire, and with a particular exploit you can “wall jump” up impassable slopes as if gravity were no longer an issue. First, backflip towards a hill so that Mario is facing down. Next, hold the control stick in the direction Mario is facing and repeatedly jump and spin, and you’ll be at the top of the slope in no time. This is handy for reaching higher parts of certain levels, and can be used to reach out of bounds areas as well.
18 Crouch-Walk Trick (Super Mario Land)
Super Mario Land was Mario’s debut on the Game Boy in 1989 and sold incredibly well. This eventually allowed for the creation of Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, which would eventually lead to gems such as Wario Land II and Wario Ware. Super Mario Land is a classic sidescroller and, like its forbearers, has Mario growing in size every time he collects a mushroom. There are certain passageways you can only access as small Mario however and it seems a terrible waste to have to injure yourself just to squeeze through a tight space. Thankfully, by continually pressing down while walking forward you can perform a crouch walk and slip through these small passages with ease, thus making Daisy’s rescue from the alien Tatanga a much more streamlined process.
17 Instant Boss Kill On Level 3-8 (Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island)
Yoshi’s Island is another game that shakes up the fundamental Mario formula and to great success. Instead of playing as Mario you play as Yoshi and have to patiently take care of the plumber when he's an infant. Every hit sends Mario off in a bubble of screaming hysterics, so to spare your ears, it’s best to eat enemies and turn them into eggs. Eggs can be ricocheted off walls to increase their damage output and this allows for some ingenious puzzle sections. A quick trigger finger can also get you out of facing the main boss of world 3. After falling down the pipes, jump on to the platform and stay on the far left edge, and throw an egg at the undeveloped Piranha Plant. The enemy will die instantly, prompting Kamek to fly in and exclaim “OH MY!!!” before the level finishes.
16 Swim Through the Loopdeeswoop Galaxy (Super Mario Galaxy)
The Loopdeeswoop Galaxy is one of the levels in Super Mario Galaxy that you don’t get to explore. Instead, after talking to the penguin at the beginning of the stage, you are immediately thrown into a race against time on the back of the sting ray and will undoubtedly find your death many times by flying into open space. There is a way, however, to swim through this watery stage without riding the stingray and get some awesome visuals along the way. To do this, simply ground pound on the penguin’s head, and tilt the control stick towards the raceway. If done properly, you will soar to the golden ring that signifies the starting line and from here can jump into the water and swim around. Be careful not to touch the ray however or the race will start as normal!
15 POW Block Tricks (Super Mario Bros. 2)
The POW block first appeared in the Mario Bros. arcade game and has been shaking things up ever since (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist). One of its most significant roles is in Super Mario Bros. 2. In this game, POW blocks are prevalent and can be used to enact several fun tricks. The first is the vegetable launch trick. To do this, simply drop the POW block and quickly throw a radish as it lands, and watch the vegetable fly much farther than usual. Next is the log reversal trick, which you do by throwing a POW block onto solid land while standing on a falling log. The log will reverse direction and fly off the top of the screen. Finally we have the shell surfing trick, which you do by kicking a shell, grabbing a POW block, and dropping the block while you’re riding on of the shell. Radical!
14 Make Delfino Plaza Invisible (Super Mario Sunshine)
This particular glitch is quite astounding and turns the usually bustling Delfino Plaza into a wasteland of floating blocks and absent textures. To reach this curious dimension, stand just to the right of the boathouse’s door and launch up with the rocket nozzle. Once you see the inside of the room, dive out of it, and you will fall for quite some time into the water below, and into an invisible Delfino Plaza. The place appears barren and lifeless and, if you look up, you can see the inside of the boathouse that you flew out of. This seems to be because Nintendo programmed the inside of the building to be up in the sky and when you launch out of it, you find yourself in an un-rendered hub world that was never meant to be explored.
13 Ride The Green Shell To The Top Of Tiny-Huge Island (Super Mario 64)
Tiny-Huge Island is one of the most original stages in Super Mario 64. Depending on which painting you enter, the island will either be massive or minuscule and you can travel between the two islands through pipes. Getting to the top of Huge Island is necessary for several stars, but this task is a nuisance, as you have boulders, skinny bridges and gusting winds to contend with. Thankfully, there is an easy way up and all you have to do is steal a koopas shell. This koopa can be found early in the stage on the steep sandy slope. Once you steal his shell, ride it up the hill to the right of the beach, continually jumping to maintain your ascent. You will soon find yourself on a grassy patch and from here take a left and continue up the mountain in a similar fashion until you reach the top.
12 Cat-Dive and Tanooki Suit Glitches (Super Mario 3D World)
Super Mario 3D World introduces yet another zany power-up: the Catsuit. With the Catsuit you can perform a dive mid air and if you cancel the dive before you hit the ground, jump, and repeat, you can build up momentum and achieve high levels of speed. Place a Tanooki Leaf in your path and your speed gives you the ability to float further than ever before. This can be used to great effect in the final Bowser stage. If you build speed then run into a leaf at the very beginning of the level, you can float across the entire stage and take on Bowser immediately. You can also use this trick at the top of World 1-3 and if you do so, you will glitch out the entire map and create a spiral of kaleidoscopic effects that can only be escaped when the stage’s time runs out.
11 Infinite Flutter Jump (Super Mario Galaxy 2)
In many critical opinion, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is an improvement on an already near perfect game. It has refined gravity-based platforming, a fun hub world, and introduces Yoshi to the intergalactic fray. Yoshi in Mario Galaxy 2 is a blast to play, but his flutter jump leaves something to be desired. Thankfully there is a way to exploit the game's mechanics and flutter indefinitely. All it takes is good timing and a close eye on Yoshi’s animations. To keep flying to the stars, you must interrupt his fluttering animation with a crouch before he has finished it and if done properly you will be able to flutter again immediately. This trick is great for getting to hard to reach places and for exploiting the game’s mechanics and environments even further.
10 Freeze The World (New Super Mario Bros.)
Haunted house levels are extremely common in the Super Mario franchise, but there is one game that takes the spook factor to a whole new level. In the ghost house of World 4 in New Super Mario Bros, there are spin dials that freeze the world while you’re on them. You can manipulate this state into being permanent by quickly jumping on the edge of these platforms, then right back off. Things get kind of bizarre at this point. Fireballs you throw will stick in the place you create them, blocks you break will remain in place as bunches of broken rubble, and '?' blocks dispense unmoving coins that you cannot collect. The world can be returned to normal by taking a hit from one of the stationary Boos or jumping back on the platform that started this whole mess in the first place.
9 Bowser Clone Glitch (Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island)
Yoshi’s Island is the game that introduces Bowser Jr. to the world. The final battle is against a young Bowser and after you defeat him in the nursery, Kamek casts a spell that makes Bowser huge and the fight reaches epic proportions. At this point you can glitch out the fight and turn the lumbering Bowser into a constellation of clones (yes, it's as insane as it sounds). To do this, flutter jump continually in the top right hand corner of the screen, so that you are not visible and let Bowser get as close as he can. When he begins to back up, he will be upside down, and as he continues backwards, you will see an entire grid of Bowser clones moving back with him. It's a surreal sight. Eventually he will run forward again to attack and the mad spectacle will end.
8 World 9 (Super Mario Bros.:The Lost Levels)
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels was not originally released in the West, but it introduced a series of innovations that would become mainstays of the franchise. Luigi’s classic higher jump and reduced traction are notable examples of this, as well as poison mushrooms. The game is also known for its notorious difficulty and featured a bonus 9th world that could only be unlocked if the player beat all 32 of the game levels without using a forward warp pipe. World 9 features mostly underwater levels, a nod to the -1 level in Super Mario Bros. and only gives the player a single life to complete all four of its stages. World 9 is the only world that does not have a castle stage, but instead a land based level that features Bowser and the distinctive castle level score.
7 Infinite 1-Ups With Shells (Multiple Games)
Koopa shells have been a part of numerous exploits in the Mario franchise, but the infinite 1-Up exploit is surely the most applicable. If you position the shells just right and begin jumping on them, you can rack up an infinite amount of points and max out your life supply. This trick first appeared in Super Mario Bros. and can be performed anywhere there are shells and stairs. Simply make a koopa go into his shell, and then jump on the edge of the shell so it continuously hits the back of the stairs. This trick is also possible in World 1-2 of Super Mario 3D World, where you can take a koopa shell into a small corridor and begin jumping on it, and watch the lives stack up. New Super Mario Bros. also lets you performs the trick, in much the same way as the original.
6 Jump To The Roof Of The Castle (Super Mario 64)
The roof of the castle in Super Mario 64 is a nigh mythical place. Conventionally, it can only be reached through a cannon that unlocks once you get all 120 stars. On the roof, you meet Yoshi, who delivers a thank you message from the developers and maxes out your lives. There is a way, however, to get to the roof with zero stars, though it requires serious skill. First, go to the far right side of the castle. You should see a spot where the bricks meet the hill. Jump towards the hill and on the third jump, kick off the green slope. At this point you will begin to slide down the hill and must jump as soon as you do to reach the roof. Yoshi will not be present at this time, though you can collect three 1-Ups, the wing cap, and serious bragging rights.
5 Use Your Hat As A Weapon (Super Mario 64)
In Super Mario 64, there is a glitch that makes Mario hold his hat in his hand, which prompts him to swing it like a weapon with every punch. First, go to Snowman’s Land and select the Snowman’s Big Head star. Once in the stage, run to the top and allow the snowman to blow you off, which will knock your off hat as well. Next, go to the nearby warp area and begin warping between the trees. Do this at least ten times, as the more you do it the more the game will lag. Once the game is sufficiently janky, go back to the place where you hat fell and you will see that it has duplicated. Creep towards it slowly, and once you touch it the game will stutter and you will be left with the hat in your hand instead of on your head.
4 Rainbow Road Shortcut (Mario Kart 64)
Mario Kart 64 just might be the ultimate party game. No matter your age or gaming background, a few rounds of Kart never goes amiss, for the game is easy to pick up, competitive, and a ton of fun. Since its heyday in the 90s, there is one trick that has been the bane of many players existence and the joy of those bold enough to pull it off. This trick is the Rainbow Road shortcut and can be pulled off mere moments after the race begins. Just before the big drop at the start of the course veer to the right, swerve left, then jump, and you should fly over the courses barrier towards another section of the raceway below. Succeed, and you’ll have saved tens of seconds off your time. Fail, and you’ll float into the abyss until a space-faring Lakitu fishes you to safety.
3 Kill Big Boo With A Butt Slide (Super Mario World)
Super Mario World is one of the most beloved Mario games around and for good reason. Playing it is platforming bliss and it is the game that brought Yoshi into our lives. Furthermore, it is Miyamoto's favourite Mario game, which is surely saying something. The game also features some seriously deadly and frustrating enemies, such as the Big Boo that chases you relentlessly across the haunted house stages. This wily foe, however, can be defeated with a simple butt slide down a set of stairs. The butt slide is a versatile weapon and it allows you to defeat other enemies that would otherwise destroy you upon contact. These enemies include the green bubbles that also appear in the ghost houses, and remarkably, the spinning blades that seem as though they could easily cut Mario in two.
2 Beat The Game With Zero Stars (Super Mario 64)
Beating Super Mario 64 with zero stars is a redundant, yet entertaining process and is one of the main strategies of speed runners. To do this, you must perform a series of glitches, some which are insanely difficult to pull off. First, you must glitch into the walls of the lobby from the basement stairs, then perform a backwards long jump while repeatedly tapping A to shoot yourself out the front door, then through the wall to the first Bowser stage. Upon defeating him, you can head downstairs, and perform another backwards long jump on the stairs that will send you flying through the 30 star door. From there, you can go to the upper levels of the castle, and use the backwards-long jump glitch again to bypass both the 50 star door and the endless staircase, allowing you to beat Bowser without collecting a single star.
1 World -1 (Super Mario Bros.)
One of the most famous glitches in gaming history, the mystery of World -1 blew players minds when it was first discovered. Sadly, there is no overarching secret to World -1. It appears as an endlessly looping clone of World 7-2 and exists due to a confusion of data when you access the warp zone before you’re supposed to. To get to World -1, you must go to the pipe that leads above ground in World 1-2 and break the second and third block away from the pipe, but leave the first. You must then crouch and jump towards the pipe beneath the block, and if done properly, you will phase through the wall to the warp zone. From here you can enter World -1 though the far left pipe and swim until Mario collapses from exhaustion or time runs out.