Super Mario Bros. turns 30 this year. I still love the game, as it was my first Nintendo game, and I spent endless hours trying to beat the stupid thing. Today, I have a treat for you: Eight excellent tips, tricks, and weird glitches in the game.
Robin Mihara in front of some very collectible games; photo courtesy of Mihara.
These are all performed by gaming superstar Robin Mihara, who came in third at the Nintendo World Championships (NWC) in 1990, in which Super Mario Bros. was one of three mini-games performed onstage. Recently, Mihara starred in the documentary Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters (2011)—featuring another game in the NWC pantheon.
I knew a few of these as a kid, but the rest are news to me. Dig in:
1. Jump Over the Flagpole (Glitch)
If you time the jump just right, on World 3-3 you can jump over the flagpole and...well, you just keep running. There's nothing special over there.
2. Skating (Glitch)
If you're Fire Mario, you can "skate" without moving your feet—at least for a moment. When you exit a tunnel or enter a new World, jump and shoot a fireball (B+A buttons) and press right. The skating effect only lasts ten seconds or so.
3. How to Get Maximum Fireworks (Tip)
This was common knowledge when I was a kid, but I have run into some people who didn't hear about it. When you hit the flagpole, the timer in the upper right stops. If that number ends in 1, 3, or 6, you'll get the corresponding number of fireworks...and everybody knows, six fireworks rules!
4. How to Get Infinite 1-UPs (Trick)
First, get to World 3-1, a find a pair of koopa troopas descending stairs. Ignore the first one. When the second one is still on the stairs, jump on it to put it into shell-mode, then stand one step below where the shell lies. Now jump on the shell. If you time it right, you'll automatically bounce off the shell over and over, so you get lots of points and 1-UPs.
5. Win and Die Simultaneously (Glitch)
There's a weird poetic justice to this one. If Mario hits Bowser on World 8-4 at the exact moment he hits the axe (which drops Bowser into the lava pit), Mario dies. But he still wins. This results in an odd scene where Princess Peach gives a speech to no one.
6. Become Small Fire Mario (Glitch)
Okay, this is amazing, but complex. Watch the video for an example, but the gist of it is if you are any version of a "Big" Mario, Luigi, etc. (including Fire versions), and you hit any of the mini-Bowsers (anything before World 8-4) at the same moment you hit the axe, a glitch occurs. Long story short, on the next World you need to get a Mushroom (which makes you small!), then a Fire Flower, which of course makes you Small Fire Mario.
The fun part is when Small Fire Mario spits out a fireball—he briefly becomes regular Fire Mario. While you can do this on lots of levels, I recommend World 1-4 because the necessary power-ups are available early in World 2-1.
7. Vine Dancing (Trick)
This just adds some flair to your performance; it doesn't get you anything special. When you reach the top of a vine, keep pressing up, and you'll "dance." I feel that this is appropriate when you're about to steal a bunch of coins from a bonus World. (Note that in this run, Mihara missed one coin—that pesky last one—and let out a groan that I did not record.)
8. Reach World -1 (Glitch)
This is epic. If you do a special crouch-jump on World 1-2, you enter a glitched-out Warp Zone that brings you to "World -1," a water world identical to World 7-2. The only difference is that you can't win; you just keep swimming until you run out of time...even if you reach the pipe. Brutal and weird.
For more Super Mario Bros. glitches, check out the Super Mario Wiki list of glitches. You might also be interested in my article Will the Real "Super Mario Bros. 2" Please Stand Up?