It may have been a while since you last explored the Mushroom Kingdom in this 1988 Nintendo classic, but for those who grew up with the game, Super Mario Bros. 3 will forever hold a fond place in these gamer’s hearts. The fourth main installment of the Super Mario Bros. series may not be as challenging as its predecessors, or quite as revolutionary as the SNES follow-up. But that doesn’t mean Super Mario Bros. 3 isn’t just as enjoyable in its own right.
The game popularized a number of features that would become a staple in later Mario releases — including everything from the world map to the Toad Houses, to the player’s new ability to take flight. Defeating Bowser is once again the game’s primary objective, and you can always make a bee-line to the end of each level to speed up the process. But exploring all the hidden areas and secrets that Super Mario Bros. 3 has to offer is really the ultimate joy of the game.
If you've only played SMB3 in passing, there are no doubt some areas that you may have skipped. Even those who have beaten the game a dozen times before might be surprised to find that there are still a few secrets hiding in the game. Because while discovering some of these areas is as simple as going through the right pipe, others require a bit more creativity if you want to experience them.
Here are 25 Awesome Areas In Super Mario Bros. 3 Casuals Had No Idea About.
25 The White Mushroom Houses
Toad Houses made their debut in Super Mario Bros. 3, where the player is rewarded with a power-up or a special item after opening a treasure chest. However, there are seven secret White Mushroom Houses that can be unlocked throughout the gameplay.
This is accomplished by gathering a certain amount of coins in various levels, which will cause a White Mushroom House to pop up on the over-world map. But the player doesn’t just get any old power-ups at these special houses. Instead, they’re rewarded with a P-Wing in the odd-numbered worlds, while getting a super rare Anchor in the even-numbered worlds.
24 Bowser’s Second Room
If you’ve played your power-ups accordingly, you might just make it to Bowser’s Castle with a P-wing to spare. Not only will this help make it to the boss room with ease, it could also render Bowser powerless.
To do so, simply fly up to the left corner of the boss room, which will lead into an identical room on the other side of the wall. After you’ve entered Bowser’s second room, flying back into the original room will effectively rule the King Koopa as totally incompetent throughout the fight. He won’t be able to breathe fireballs or deal out damage by stomping the player (so long as they’re in the ducked position).
23 Swimming In Sand
There’s nothing that can make an SMB3 player start button-mashing quite like getting trapped in a patch of quicksand. Even a moment's hesitation could result in losing a life to this sticky stuff.
But if you can resist the urge and let the quicksand take you under at the beginning of World 8-2, the "trap" will actually pull the player down into a secret room. This hidden area is not only overflowing with free coins, but it also allows you to skip a good chunk of what is otherwise an annoying level.
22 The Treasure Ships
Much like the White Mushroom Houses, the Treasure Ships are another bonus level that many players may have stumbled upon to by happenstance. The level consists of an enemy-less airship that is overflowing with coins. However, the player is required to defeat two Boomerang Brothers below deck before completion.
To unlock this hidden level, the player has to meet specific criteria. These include finishing a level with the coin count being a multiple of 11, having the time clock end in the same number, and making sure a wandering Hammer Bros. is present on the over-world map.
If it doesn't sound worth the coinage to you, we'd probably have to agree.
21 Going Behind-The-Scenes
Being one of the best-known secrets of the game, you’d really have to be a casual player not to know about this Super Mario Bros. 3 feature. To drop behind the game’s scenery, all you have to do is crouch down on one of the white blocks for a few seconds.
Not only does this tip lead to one of the biggest shortcuts in the game, but it also makes sense when you consider that all of Super Mario Bros. 3 is presented in the form of a stage play.
20 First Warp Whistle Room
If you know about dropping behind the scenery, then it’s more than likely that you also know about the first Warp Whistle room.
This secret area is accessible through World 1-3. To get there, all the player needs to do is crouch on the white block in the level and make it to the end without getting hit by an enemy.
Doing so will take the player to a hidden house where Toad rewards them with this special item. You may have also noticed that the Warp Whistle in Super Mario Bros. 3 looks and sounds exactly the same as the Recorder from The Legend of Zelda series.
19 World 2 Bonus Levels
Stockpiling power-ups and special items in the first few worlds is a must if you’re not an SMB3 expert. Therefore, it may come in handy to find out that there is another Hammer Bros. level and Mushroom House hiding in World 2.
To access them, you need to obtain the Hammer and head to the upper right corner of the over-world map. From there, you can break the large rock and slide the map further over to the right. From here, you can grab another Warp Whistle and random item before heading on to World 3.
18 World 7-1 Shortcut
One of the biggest level shortcuts in the game comes at the beginning of World 7, where the player can effectively bypass every obstacle.
The level opens with Mario facing three pipes and a doorway — the latter of which acts as an entryway to the rest of the stage. But jumping at a specific angle toward the upper right corner of the doorway will actually cause Mario to glitch through the wall. The character will then slide through the walled off area all the way to the goal screen.
This is only one of many wall glitches in the game, but it’s definitely one of the most beneficial.
17 Hidden Hammer Bros. Suit
Going into a level as Fire Mario is never a bad idea — especially in World 6, where a number of enemies and coins are stuck inside frozen blocks. Shooting these blocks will free the item. But since the Munchers cannot be destroyed with a fireball, it appears as though there is one pipe in World 6-10 that seems inaccessible.
However, climbing up a nearby vine and hitting a P-switch will actually turn these Muncher into coins, allowing the player to venture down the pipe after all. Below awaits a giant Question Mark Block, which gifts the player one of the few Hammer Bros. suits available in the game.
16 Coins And Clouds
SMB3 was the first Mario game to introduce the Note Blocks and Magic Note Blocks, both of which allow the player to jump far higher than normal. The latter even catapults the player into Coin Heaven, where they can collect coins without the threat of enemies.
In World 3-7, one of these Magic Note Blocks is already hiding up in the clouds, and it will shoot the player up to an unusual Coin Heaven. Making it here will actually end the level, as the player is rewarded with a treasure chest that gifts them a Cloud of their own.
15 Second Warp Whistle Room
Though it may be the second one to appear in the game, there’s a good chance that more players know about this Warp Whistle room than the first one. The reason being that you didn’t have to know the white block crouching trick to get here. Instead, all you need is a Super Leaf power-up and a penchant for exploration.
The area is accessible in the World 1 Fortress, which transports the player to a hidden room within the castle rather than one of Toad’s House. Stumbling upon to this treasure chest will also serve as a shortcut for completing the fortress. Win-win.
14 Music Box Room
Exploring the sky is one of the best ways to uncover mysteries hiding in SMB3. But certain areas don’t exactly lend themselves to taking flight. This is where exploring with a P-wing can really come in handy.
For instance, if you fly straight up at the beginning of World 5-1, you can enter a pipe that will take you to a hidden room. Using the P-wing to follow the upper-most path will lead the player to a treasure chest, which always rewards Mario with a Music Box. This will also serve as a shortcut and immediately end the level.
13 Hammer Bros. Mushroom House
Considering that this Mushroom House appears on the over-world map, it’s far from a secret area. However, it does require the player to beat World 6-5 — which is an optional level that is also one of the most frustrating in the game.
Therefore, many players may have gladly given up on accessing this Mushroom House. After all, it might not seem worth losing a bunch of power-ups just to randomly be awarded a Star Power or a Super Mushroom. However, this particular Mushroom House always rewards the player with a Hammer Bros. suit, which may be well worth the extra effort.
12 Glitching Through Walls
The best way to take your SMB3 exploration to the next level is to figure out how to glitch through walls. In certain levels, this can be accomplished by simply jumping toward a wall at a specific angle, while in other areas it will require you to hack the game’s code.
It’s worth noting that glitching through walls won’t always have the desired effect — as it can often trap the player until the timer runs out. But in other instances, it will give the player a massive shortcut, while also giving them a behind-the-scenes look at how the various stages are arranged next to each other within the code.
11 Swimming Behind The Water
Ducking on a white block and dropping behind the scenery is one of the best-known secrets in Super Mario Bros. 3. But did you know that this white block trick can also apply when going underwater?
In one level in World 3, the player can drop behind the obstacles before taking a pipe down into the water. This will effectively render Mario invisible while also making him invincible to enemies. However, swimming in front of one of these enemies will make a blue outline of the character appear, hinting that this probably wasn’t an intended feature from the game developers.
10 Third Warp Whistle Room
There are three Warp Whistles hiding in Super Mario Bros. 3. The first two can be picked up in World 1, and can immediately whisk the player off to World 8 when used in tandem. This might make picking up the third whistle obsolete, but it’s still fun to track down for Mario experts.
First, you’ll need to open the hidden pathway in World 2 by using the Hammer. From there, you’ll have access to an extra Toad House — which always rewards the player with a Frog Suit — as well as an additional Hammer Bros. stage — which is where you can acquire the third and final Warp Whistle.
9 World 9
If you’ve ever snagged a Warp Whistle, then there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with this secret area. But that doesn’t mean the Warp Zone still doesn't hold a few additional mysteries.
For instance, with the words “Warp Zone” appearing at the top of the screen, some might have not even realized that the official name for this location is World 9 — which appears in the lower right-hand corner.
Obviously, this area is designated for skipping levels. But you can also skip all the way to the final world by using a second whistle while in the area. This means you only have to complete three stages before making it to World 8.
8 Going Off The Grid
Unless you’ve played one of the original Japanese versions of the game, there would be no way for you to access this secret area, which involves the player going off the grid in World 9.
The only way to make this glitch a reality would be to make it to World 3 with a Warp Whistle. Once there, the player would have to enter the canoe on the over-world map before using the special item. The tornado will whisk the player off to World 9 as expected. However, you would still be able to slide around the map as if on the canoe, taking the player to some glitchy areas.
7 Beyond The Throne Room
While most of these secret areas can be accessed right through the gameplay, others require the player to perform a glitch. For instance, there’s one hack that will allow Mario to explore beyond the throne rooms, which appear at the end of worlds one through seven.
Most of this area is composed of a bizarre pattern that doesn’t appear anywhere else in the game. But the player will inevitably hit a wall made up of nonsensical, glitchy graphics. However, from here you can also see what’s above the throne room, which houses the graphic of the giant letter that Mario receives from Princess Peach.
6 The Abandoned Levels
Like so many other video games, there was a lot of content for SMB3 that ended up on the cutting room floor. However, some of these unused levels can still be found hiding within the game’s code.
Unearthing these secret areas will require performing a number of hacks (which aren’t always the best for your cartridge). But doing so will give you access to earlier stages of the levels that made it into the game, along with 17 total unused stages.
Some of these include an ice/ water level where the platforms bob up and down, as well as a vertical layer that requires swimming up various waterfalls.
5 The Orange And Red Mushroom Houses
If you’re a hardcore fan of the original Super Mario Bros. 3, chances are you’ve checked out the Game Boy Advance version of the game. Super Mario Advance 4 features a number of upgrades and additional levels, which also happen to hide their fair share of secrets
Just as the White Mushroom Houses can be discovered in the original game, this updated version allows the player to unlock Orange and Red Mushroom Houses as well. These new houses don't just reward the player P-wings or Anchors, but actually grants them access to various mini-games.
However, doing so not only requires collecting the right amount of coins, but also having the correct e-Reader cards.
4 Swimming Under The Boats
The difficulty level of SMB3 really ramps up in World 8, where the player has to complete two ship levels before making it to the world proper. The second one of these involves dodging a barrage of cannonballs as the player must jump from one deck to the next. But there’s a way to avoid this canon-fire altogether by going under the ships.
While this doesn’t give the player access to an additional area per se, it is an unconventional way to make it through the level that many may not have thought of — especially since the idea of getting pulled under a ship seems far from safe.
3 Fortress Shortcut
The World 3 Fortress is replete with doorways, requiring a lot of trial and error to find the right combination. If you already have the correct doors memorized, then this fortress is a walk in the park. But if you don’t, there’s one shortcut that will allow you to skip over a large chunk of the castle.
If you enter the third doorway and hit the up button at the right time, Mario will actually take a shortcut to the boss room. However, the timing here is everything, as failing to make the “jump” will drop the player into the water and back to the beginning.
2 Abandoned Mini-Game
Mini-games have since become a staple of the Mario Party series, but they were first popularized in Super Mario Bros. 3. There are a number of mini-games featured across the Mushroom Kingdom, which give the player a slight break from the action while rewarding them with power-ups and special items.
But hidden in the game’s code, there appears to be a design for another mini-game that never made the final cut. The single screen features a few platforms and an array of coins.
Some have speculated that this was meant to be a bonus two-player mini-game, though the exact plans for the hidden area remain unknown.
1 The Test Levels
As we’ve already mentioned, there are a number of unused levels hidden within the game’s code. Many of these are early or alternate versions of levels that made it in the game, while others have downright bizarre layouts — such as requiring the player to fly over a brick wall in order to make it to the goal screen.
There’s also an array of unused content that looks as though it was being used to test out certain formats and features. One “level” features a number of interconnect bonus rooms, which all contain a giant Question Mark Block that rewards the player with an endless supply of Tanooki Suits.
So which of these secret Super Mario Bros. 3 areas have you explored before? Let us know!