Super Mario 64 is one of gaming’s most revolutionary entries. Generally considered to be the birth of true, three-dimensional gameplay, Super Mario 64 not only gave us gigantic, non-linear worlds to explore, but an unprecedented amount of control for the plumber-turned-hero.
While 3D platformers have more-or-less gone off into the sunset, at least for the most part, there’s a reason why so many people still continue to play and discuss Mario 64. There are even entire YouTube channels dedicated to picking apart every last technical detail of the game not just for speedrunning, but because of pure passion.
With that much depth in a game from 1996, it’s almost no surprise that even the most old-school fans still have yet to discover the entire catalog of nooks and crannies of the game and achieve true mastery. With our list of Super Mario 64: 25 Things Super Fans Never Knew They Could Do, we’re hoping to shed some light on at least some of the activities and experiences that have gone under the radar of even the most dedicated and devoted groups of players.
Sure, you’ll probably be familiar with at least some of them, but we have a feeling that others might catch you totally by surprise (as they did for us)! We’re going to be discussing some of Mario’s more obscure movement techniques, areas and items that were never meant to be discovered (or were they?) along with some general curiosities that need to be experienced to be truly appreciated.
25 Going Past The Endless Staircase
Upon finally reaching the top floor of Peach’s Castle, players who opted to head straight for the final battle with Bowser found themselves in a bit of a pinch: the staircase that lead up to the last level was tauntingly endless.
Normally, you’d need 70 stars to bypass this obstacle and reach your destination, but there’s also another method.
With a little practice, you can master “backwards long-jumping,” and, when done right, you’ll rocket backwards so fast that the stairs will end.
24 Doing An Impossible Balancing Act
Whomp’s Fortress is a delightful excursion that combines tricky platforming, grunting enemies, helpful owls and a whole lot of verticality. When you reach the base level of the tower on the upper portion of the stage itself, you’ll find a large plank of wood.
Typically, you’d simply knock it over to cross to the floating islands, but if you manage to stand on top of it, you’re in for a trippy surprise.
Standing atop the plank, throw a punch and watch it wobble beneath you, all while Mario floats like it’s no big deal.
23 Making Mario Talk In His Sleep
Just about everyone knows that if you leave Mario idle for long enough, he’ll start snoozing (this was crazy for those of us who had to rent this game from Blockbuster back in the day).
At this point, most will probably have a chuckle or two, and then wake the plumber up for some more bouncing around.
However, if you leave Mario be, he’ll start talking in his sleep, specifically about Italian delicacies such as ravioli and spaghetti. Because of course.
22 Duplicating Your Hat
Mario’s hat has some curious properties in his 3D debut. For example, if it’s blown off or stolen by an enemy, Mario will take far more damage. Who would have thought that a cap was so protective?
There’s also another thing: you can clone his hat repeatedly, and make him hold it in his hand.
To do this, go to Snowman’s Land, have your cap get blown off, use the teleporter to zip back and forth and then lightly touch your hat. You’ll find that there’s more than one, and you can repeat this as much as you’d like!
21 Taking A Very Long Walk With King Bob-omb
King Bob-omb awaits on top of the mountain on Bob-omb Battlefield, and he’s more than likely the first Power Star you’re going to get when you start the game.
All you need to do to beat this pompous, mustachioed fiend is to lift him up and toss him three times, but why do that when you can hang out with him for a much longer amount of time?
Why not pick his Highness up, and have a casual stroll down the mountain with him, enjoying the sights and sounds of the war between the pink and black Bob-ombs.
20 Getting A Thousand Coins (And Breaking The Game)
Coins have been a fixture of the Mario games since the titular brothers went on their first adventure in the Mushroom Kingdom. 100 Coins earn a new life, and in Super Mario 64, 100 coins would also net the plumber a Power Star. But is there such thing as too many coins? Why yes, there is… at least in the Japanese version.
Getting a thousand coins against Bowser by having him spam his fire breath will break the game.
Well, maybe not “break” it, but it’ll change the number value of your lives to “M25,” which is weird.
19 Incredibly Obscure Teleporters
Most folks who’ve played Mario 64 since its release are fully aware that there are some areas that allow them to teleport across the stage.
Famously, standing in the lower bowling/cannonball dispensers in Bob-Omb Battlefield will let you warp right up to the top of the mountain (a nice way to cheat against Koopa the Quick), but there are so many others, many of which are just plain crazy to find.
For example, in Cool, Cool Mountain, going to the very edge of one of the broken bridges will teleport you, but there are even more to be found.
18 Getting An Extra Life By Stomping Moles
Monty Moles are an annoying enemy in most of the Super Mario franchise, but they’re not terribly awful in Super Mario 64. In fact, they’re far more useful and far less of a nuisance than you might think. If you manage to corner these lads and stomp on eight of them in succession without leaving the general area, you’ll find your self with an extra life. How kind!
It’s best to do this in Hazy Maze Cave, where you can go back and forth between the molehills.
Take your hundred lives and get out, Yoshi.
17 Avoiding Damage With A Ground Pound
Fall damage was new to the world of Mario when his 3D debut took the world by storm, but we couldn’t imagine it any other way. Instead of endless pits leading to immediate failure, players might just be able to survive their ordeal with some skill, albeit with a bruised up Mario.
That said, you can easily avoid taking any damage at all with a well-placed Ground Pound.
Simply pound the ground right before impact, and you’ll be unscathed. It isn’t always possible to do this, but the trick certainly comes in handy during 100-coin runs.
16 Altering The Water Level In Wet Dry World
Another case of something that’s seemingly “common knowledge” but also worth repeating: you can easily alter the water level in Wet Dry World by the height of your jump into the painting.
The higher your jump, the higher the water level will be when the stage starts.
This can make navigation for certain stars a breeze, especially since you won’t have to be scouring to discover the devices that normally alter the levels. We have a feeling there’s a good portion of players out there that had no idea their jump heights affected the water, so consider this a gift.
15 Jump-Kicks Will Work (And So Will Crawling)
Ah, an old stalwart in terms of Mario mastery. In Mario 64, there are so many cliffs that are just steep enough to make Mario slip and slide all the way to the bottom, causing great frustration to the player.
There are two fairly simple solutions to most of these situations, though: crawling and jump-kicking.
If you’ve got the patience, crawling up steep mountainsides is almost always a viable option, but a more versatile and effective method is to jump-kick backward repeatedly. Mastering these techniques will help you bypass the intended routes to the top of many locations.
14 Getting Rich From Poles
One of the things that make Super Mario 64 so captivating is the sheer amount of often-bizarre details. It’s obvious that Super Mario Odyssey took major inspiration from Mario 64, but it especially took it from 64’s love of mundane actions providing surprising results.
For example, you know those poles that you can ground pound in 64 for no reason?
Well, if you run in circles around them, you’ll get showered with coins.
Why? Who knows, who cares; it’s fun!
13 Jumping Through The Floor
Super Mario 64 may be a classic, but there are a few glitches that slipped past the developers, and one is jumping through the ceiling of the Castle’s basement entrance into the lobby. One need only stand on the steps that lead to the basement, and jump at a certain point.
When done right, you’ll climb up into the lobby, through the floor and walls.
While there’s no real reason to do this, it does offer a great sense of accomplishment to know that you’ve mastered the game to such a degree that its very reality bends to your will.
12 Messing With The Penguins
Cool, Cool Mountain has a few iconic moments, namely its epic slide, and the secret passage in the slide, but there’s also the momma penguin who wants you to find her baby. Most know that there are two babies, with only one being “right,” but everyone knows they’re both annoying.
Don’t like their screeching? Just drop them off the edge of the level.
But let’s say you do give the right baby to the mother. What happens if you take it away? You’ll find yourself face-to-face with a very angry mom, that’s what.
11 Observing The Impossible Coin
Likely due to a mistake on the part of one of the programmers, Tiny Huge Island has an unusual secret: a coin that is within the geometry of the stage, and incapable of being collected.
Sure, this means nothing to most people, but it’s an interesting piece of trivia, nonetheless.
Head to the cannon/bowling ball dispenser, and shift the camera through the wall. You’ll find the coin just slightly misaligned with its kin, and impossible to be collected.
10 Finding The Incredible Up-Warp
The Super Mario 64 speedrunning community is one of the most intense in the entirety of the sport. During their never-ending efforts for more efficiency, an unprecedented event took place in Tick Tock Clock. For an unknown reason, Mario rocketed upwards through the level, cutting out a significant chunk of time.
No one has been able to replicate it yet, but a $1000 reward exists for anyone who can.
Gives you an excuse to start playing the game again, eh?
9 The Bunny Glitch
So you’re playing through Super Mario 64 and have gotten to the point where the extremely agile and slippery bunny is finally caught in your gloved hands. You’re so exhausted by this Herculean feat that you barely have the energy to get the stars needed to battle Bowser in the Sea of Fire. That’s okay, though.
With the bunny in hand, keep dropping and picking him up until you glitch through the necessary doors.
Soon, you’ll be facing off against Bowser regardless of your Star count.
8 Attempting To Smite The Mystery Goomba
In Super Mario 64, all Goombas spawn in triplets. That said, during the final level, Bowser in the Sky, speedrunner “pannenkoek2012” noticed a mere two at a certain point. He suspected something was up and located the missing member of the trio, far below the level on the demise barrier.
It’s almost impossible to see, and it’s seemingly impossible to actually defeat.
Pannenkoek2012 has quite a few ideas for dealing with this delinquent, AWOL enemy, but none have panned out just yet. Perhaps you’ll be the one to figure it out?
7 Moving The Camera During The Credits
Few credit and ending sequences are as satisfying as Mario 64’s, with the gorgeous score and slideshow of all the challenges you faced, along with a sweet kiss on the nose. It all seems very personal, and you can make it even more so by moving the camera around.
Plug in a second controller, and you’ll have control over the ending cutscene and the credits.
Unfortunately, all of the new camera movements more-or-less ruin the carefully planned sequence, so we don’t recommend playing around with it too much.
6 Punching Butterflies For A Surprise
Every now and then, players will see a trio of butterflies floating about and minding their business. Like the birds that come out of trees, these butterflies breathe a lot of life into the simplistic 3D realms of Super Mario 64.
Have you ever tried punching them for no reason, though?
Punching butterflies, for whatever reason, will yield you an extra life, nothing, or a bomb for your aggressive behavior. We don’t know why anyone thought of this, but we’re glad they did.
5 Getting Inside The Aquarium
One of the moodiest rooms in the Castle is the aquarium that contains the portrait for Jolly Roger Bay. The lights are dim, and two fish-filled aquariums cover the walls. They’re incredibly alluring, but you can’t really interact with them (not counting the Secret Star course that puts you in some kind of… floating, aquarium, house thing).
Well, someone found a way to get inside these aquariums with just a little glitching.
Just use your trusty backward long jump against the brick portion until you soar through and see that there isn’t water, and the fish float on air!
4 Combining The Metal And Wing Caps
The unique cap power-ups in Super Mario 64 were cool in their own right, but it was incredible when you needed to combine them to solve a puzzle. In the final game, you need only combine the Metal and Vanish Caps, but the Wing and Metal Caps are also entirely compatible.
While this can’t currently be done, the wing texture is shown with a metallic sheen in the data, so it was definitely intended.
Nintendo, bring back these caps and let us do the ultimate fusion!
3 Walking Where You're Not Supposed To
Wet Dry World has a heavy atmosphere of mystery all around it. From the eerie photo of the real-life Casares in the background, to the abandoned town locked away, players have long been intrigued about of this desolate place.
To access the hidden town, players need to swim through a tunnel, but have you ever tried to exit through that same tunnel?
With some finesse, it can be done, and Mario will be able to walk through the tube until he suddenly finds himself submerged in water which didn’t exist a second ago.
2 Getting "Stuck" In Another Dimension
The exterior of Peach’s Castle serves as the perfect tutorial level. You’re given no real direction, and you just end up goofing around and testing out Mario’s controls and abilities.
Who would have thought this benign area would suck you into another dimension?
When you’ve got the cannon and the Wing Cap, aim for the central turret of the castle. If done right, you’ll be locked into a realm inside the Castle walls with seemingly no escape. That said, you could just walk through the doorframe in the lobby, but that’s less mysterious-sounding.
1 Getting On Top Of The Castle Without 120 Stars
You’ve worked hard for this. You’ve toiled across countless obstacle courses. You’ve painstakingly collected 100 coins in every level. You’ve scoured the castle for hidden stars. You’ve even captured a bunny! You finally have 100 stars, and you can reach the Castle’s roof, at last!
… or you could just skip all that and use your perfected platforming skills and the easternmost mountainside to get on top, hours in advance. Sure, Yoshi won’t be waiting for you, but you’ve still accomplished something no one thought possible in 1996.