One of the most influential video games of all time, Super Mario Bros. was released back in 1985 for the Famicom and Nintendo Entertainment System. While many regard the game as the beginning of the Nintendo boom, Super Mario Bros. was actually going to be the last cartridge game released on the Famicom, which was moving toward a disk operating system. Of course, the extreme popularity of the game not only reignited interest in cartridge games, but in video gaming as a whole. Super Mario Bros. was directed by Shigeru Miyamoto and served as a sequel to his 1983 arcade game. This latest installment popularized the platformer, which found the player moving from left to right across the screen while avoiding various obstacles and enemies along the way. While it's easy to take this type of gameplay for granted today, the impact that Super Mario Bros. had on popular culture and the video game industry is truly astounding.
With over 40 million copies sold, Super Mario Bros. helped launch one of the biggest video game franchises of all time, and Mario easily remains one of the most recognizable video game characters ever created. While he'd already shown up in previous installments, it was ultimately this 1985 game that made him a household name. Of course, there are no shortage of secrets and glitches hiding in Super Mario Bros., many of which are well-known to the casual player. So, let's take a more in-depth look at the game by counting down 20 Hidden Details In The Original Super Mario Bros. That Only Super Fans Noticed.
20 The first seven Bowsers aren't Real
At the end of the first seven worlds, the player is faced with taking on Bowser, only to discover that the princess is being held in another castle. But, as it turns out, these first seven Bowsers aren’t Bowsers at all.
If you square off against the enemy as Fiery Mario, the player can use Fireballs to defeat him. Once the final blow is landed, there is a flash of the character’s true identity, which includes Goomba or Lakitu. This actually started out as a glitch, but was later adopted as part of the storyline by the game's developers. After all, it wouldn't make much sense to defeat the real Bowser on eight separate occasions throughout the game.
19 The Minus World
Minus World is easily the most famous glitch in the original Super Mario Bros., but for those who may not have grown up with the game during its heyday, this bonus level may have remained undiscovered.
To get there, the player needs to make it to the end of World 1-2 and use a crouching jump to walk through the wall, taking the player into the Warp Zone via an alternative route. From there, going down the pipe on the far left will take Mario to the Minus World: an underwater level similar to World 7-2 that loops infinitely. Therefore, once the player accesses Minus World, they are stuck there until they run out of either lives or time.
18 The game’s dark backstory
Similar to The Legend of Zelda series, most Super Mario Bros. games revolve around the player trying to rescue a princess. But, the actual backstory of the original Super Mario Bros. is far more complicated (and a lot darker) than this simple premise.
According to the game’s instruction manual, Bower and his minion Koopas have already overthrown the Mushroom Kingdom. As a result, they’ve turned every living being into an inanimate object or an enemy. For instance, the Goombas were once mushrooms who have been turned to the dark side. Furthermore, what may be even more disturbing is the fact that every time Mario smashes a block or defeats an enemy, he’s actually destroying something that was once a living being.
17 A lonely Princess Peach
Despite the game being over 30 years old, Super Mario Bros. is still a challenging platformer for many players. Therefore, finally defeating Bowser and rescuing the princess can give any player a great sense of accomplishment, but there is actually a way to end the game on a bit of a down note.
It turns out that if you hit Bowser and the bridge-destroying ax at the same time, the princess will still be rescued, but Mario won’t exactly be around to witness his victory. In this instance, Princess Peach will deliver her final message to an empty screen, making for a rather bittersweet ending, to say the least. This was amended in later Super Mario Bros. installments, where the player would have to both defeat Bowser and remain alive in order to complete the game.
16 Hammer Bros. on the attack
Like so many Mario villains, the Hammer Bros. made their debut in this 1985 classic. They are elite members within Bowser’s Koopa Troop, and as a result, they appear with larger shells and protective helmets.
The enemies, which usually appear in pairs, chuck an endless supply of hammers in the player's direction. They also move back and forth and can jump up and down, making them one of the harder adversaries to defeat in the game. But, many may assume that staying out of the Hammer Bros. range of attack would mean that they are safe. However, if Mario actually sits idle for too long, these hammer-slinging Koopas will actually go on the attack, making defeat inevitably to an immobile player.
15 Infinite 1-Ups
Extra lives are the hottest commodity in Super Mario Bros., and raking them up can be no easy feat. Luckily, there is a way to gather a nearly endless supply of 1-ups in World 1-3.
All you need to do is simply jump on top of the second Koopa that’s coming down the stairs toward the end of the level. If the shell is right on the edge of the stair, the player can jump on it infinitely and accumulate 99 extra lives – the maximum amount allowed within the game. This was long thought to have been another glitch, but Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto later confirmed that this helpful trick was actually put in to help the player.
14 Mario’s not wearing his traditional outfit
Mario is probably the most recognizable video game character of all time, which is largely thanks to the famous plumber’s unchanging appearance. Sure, he has his fair share of power-ups and other outfits, but more often than not, Mario is portrayed wearing a blue pair of overalls and a red shirt and cap.
However, this is actually not how the character appeared in the Donkey Kong arcade games and the original Super Mario Bros. Here, it’s Mario’s pants that are red and shirt that is blue, with his red cap remaining the same. In fact, it wouldn't be until the release of Super Mario Bros. 3 that Mario would get into his more traditional garb.
13 Connection to The Legend of Zelda
Being two of Nintendo’s biggest franchises, Mario and Zelda have given nods to each other on numerous occasions. For instance, the Warp Whistle that appeared in Super Mario Bros. 3 had already shown up as the Recorder in 1986’s The Legend of Zelda. Both instruments even played the same exact tune! But, how could 1985’s Super Mario Bros. have connections to a franchise that had yet to be released?
While both games were being developed at the same time, they were also being developed by some of the same people, most notably, creator and director of both franchises, Shigeru Miyamoto. This is why features, such as the rotating Fire-Bars, appear in both Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda.
12 Clouds on the ground
It’s easy to look at these classic NES games and see it as perfectly crafted masterpieces. But, as it turns out, many of the decisions made when creating these games all came down to trying to consolidate space, since there was only so much room available on the Super Mario Bros. cartridge – 256-kilobits of space to be exact. This meant that the game developers had to recycle as much of the same material as possible.
Most people know that Luigi is just a palette swap of Mario, but did you know that the sprite for the clouds and bushes was also the exact same? Or that the sound effect for getting hit is also the same for traveling down a pipe? It’s pretty impressive how the developers were able to stretch these limitations without many players ever noticing.
11 Jumping over the flagpole
Outside of the dungeons, most Super Mario Bros. games have a definitive way to end each stage. For instance, in Super Mario Bros. 2, you enter the Mask Gate; in Super Mario World, you go through the Goalposts; and in the original game, you jump on the Flagpole.
In later games, the developers got creative with these level-enders. In other words, sometimes the Goalposts could be flown over for an alternate ending, or there was a secret access point to unlockable content elsewhere in the level. But, in Super Mario Bros., most players just accept that there’s no alternative to jumping on the Flagpoles. However, the Flagpoles actually can be jumped over, most famously, in World 3-3. From there, the player can run along an infinite brick wall until the timer inevitably counts down to zero.
10 The Goomba glitch
Goombas may be the first enemy you encounter in Super Mario Bros., but they were actually the last enemy added to the platformer. Apparently, the developers wanted an adversary that could be taken out in just one jump, and they ended up creating these wicked, walking mushrooms as a result, but because there was only limited cartridge space left, the Goombas were given their walking effect by simply flipping the exact same sprite over and over again.
Getting hit by Goomba will always result in damage, but there are a few glitches discovered in the game that will render these enemies ineffective. For instance, getting hit by the first Koopa in World 3-2 may result in the three Goombas walking straight across the player without dealing out damage, making Mario seemingly invincible for a limited amount of time.
9 The hidden beanstalk
Easily one of the best-known aspects in the original Super Mario Bros. is the Warp Zone located at the end of World 1-2. This allows the player to immediately jump to Worlds 2, 3, or 4, saving them a ton of time in the process. But, not nearly as many people know about the Warp Zone hiding in World 4-2.
Instead of walking across the top of the underground level, as is done in World 1-2, the player needs to find the beanstalk hiding in one of the blocks. This carries them up to an above-ground platform, from which they can access the second Warp Zone. Therefore, the player can actually get to World 8 by playing just four levels of the game.
8 Mario on Wheels
The original Super Mario Bros. isn’t as chock-full of tidbits as the later installments of the franchise, which means that many of the hidden details in the game are much closer to party tricks than they are outright secrets.
For example, the Fiery Mario power-up allows the player to complete a number of tasks that would normally not be possible. Fireballs can be used to defeat Bowser, which will actually reveal the enemies hidden identity throughout the first seven worlds. Another perk of walking around as Fiery Mario is that you don’t have to walk at all, as one glitch allows the player to slide across the ground as if Mario were suddenly sporting a pair of Heelys.
7 How to get the fireworks
The fireworks that appear in Super Mario Bros. aren’t exactly a secret, but how you get them still might remain a mystery to many. Aside from the dungeons, the fireworks appear at the end of each level after the player enters a tiny castle, but whether or not they end up going off depends on the last digit of the game timer.
If the timer ends in a 1, 3, or 6, the fireworks will successfully go off, with the number of fireworks corresponding with this final digit. Additionally, each firework is worth 500 points, meaning that a 6 is obviously the best number to try and stop the timer on.
6 The life crown
If you rake up 10 or more lives in Super Mario Bros., you might discover that a strange crown appears next to these lives in between each level. If you’ve never stored 10 extra lives, then you’ve possibly never gotten the crown, and even if you have, it’s possible that you still didn't know what the icon symbolized.
But, maybe even more interesting than this tiny congratulations image is how it ended up in the game in the first place. Apparently, composer Koji Kondo didn’t end up using all the space that was allotted to him while making the game's music. This left just enough space for an additional sprite to be put into the game, at which time, Miyamoto came up with the tiny crown.
5 Dancing on the vine
Mario has demonstrated his fair share of dance moves over the years, but he wasn’t much of a dancer back in the 1985 installment. Not unless you want to include this minor glitch, which you can use to show off to friends.
The Beanstalks, also known as Magic Vines or simply Ivy, first appeared in Super Mario Bros., where they are ostensibly used as ladders for the player. But, most are too eager to jump off the beanstalk and explore their new surroundings that they might not have noticed that Mario can continue “climbing” the vine even after he’s reached the top. It might be the same motion that the character uses to climb, but without any vine in front of him, it also looks a lot like Mario is dancing.
4 Small Fiery Mario
Becoming a mini Fiery Mario in the game is no easy feat, but for those who are super fans of the series, completing this task might just be well worth the payoff.
The glitch begins with simultaneously hitting Bowser and the ax at the same time while in the form of a Super Mario or Luigi. Then, in the following level, any Mushroom the player picks up will actually turn them small. From there, it’s just a matter of picking up a Fire Flower to transform into small Fiery Mario. The little guy will still shoot out Fireballs, but when he does so, there will actually be a flash of the character in his intended form.
3 How to avoid starting all over
Going back and trying to beat Super Mario Bros. on an actual NES can be a bit of a drag, considering that the game has no save option. This means that anyone who was unfamiliar with the game’s few shortcuts would have to play every single level in order to reach the final dungeon. This inability to save was later remedied in the Super Mario All-Stars version of the game, which was available on the SNES.
But, if you wanted to keep playing after facing defeat, all you really had to do was wait until the Game Over screen and hold A, then press Start. This simple trick would take you back to the World the character kicked the bucket in, rather than sending you all the way back to the beginning.
2 There are only 17 enemies in the entire game
It might not be much of a hidden detail, but it's still hard to believe that throughout all 32 levels of the game, there are only 17 types of enemies that the player is faced with defeating. These include everything from the inanimate Fire-Bars to the final Bowser.
While the ubiquitous Koopa Troopas had previously appeared in the 1983 arcade game (where they went under the name Shellcreepers), the vast majority of the other enemies made their debut in this 1985 installment. This is pretty impressive when you consider how many of these characters have remained a staple of the Mario franchise ever since, and it's even more impressive when you consider that the entire game was created by only six individuals.
1 There are 256 additional levels
If 32 levels simply aren’t enough for you, there’s actually a way to unlock 256 additional platforms. However, orchestrating this glitch might just be more complicated than completing even the most challenging Mario level, not to mention that it could break your game or console.
To get started, you’ll need an original copy of Super Mario Bros., a copy of Tennis, and a top-loading NES. Next, you’ll need to start playing a level of SMB before pulling the cartridge out of the console. Then, do the same with Tennis before returning to SMB and hitting the reset button. Provided everything is still in working order, from there, you can explore literally hundreds of wacky levels that were never intended to make their way into the players' hands.
So, what’s your favorite hidden detail in the original Super Mario Bros.? Let us know down below!