Helping those less pro become more so.

Pro tip: A use for Mischief Makers' gold gems

The Nintendo 64 game Mischief Makers tasks you with collecting gems of all kinds of colors, green

blue and red

are the most common, but there are also the elusive Gold Gems. Gold gems give you lots of health, but they're kind of rare.

You'll notice that there's one per stage, and some stages have them pretty well hidden... like the boss stages. You have to defeat the boss without taking a hit, which is a pretty tall order. But, what are they good for, other than a minor health boost?

Excellent question!

Turns out that they're a kind of currency you use to purchase the ending sequence. You start watching the ending and your gold gems are up in the corner, slowly counting down.

Eventually, you'll see the credits, and assuming you've got a healthy amount of gems left over, you might assume that you've seen all there is to see until...

Now you're going to want to have lots of gems left so you can see the rest of the story. There are some excerpts after the jump, which are slightly spoilerish if you haven't yet played the game. But, hey, the game's over 10 years old at this point.

Pro tip: Marvel vs. Capcom secret characters part one

Marvel vs. Capcom has a pretty sizable list of characters that you direct to pummel each other for no real reason. There are representatives from both the Marvel and Capcom universes here, but there are even more characters on the roster that you can get to, though you have to go through a bit of a rigmarole to get at them.

So, what happens, for instance, if you start your cursor on Zangief

Then move your joystick Left, Left, Down, Down, Right, Right, Down, Down, Left, Left, Up, Right, Up, Up, Right, Right?

Why, your cursor would go off the side of the roster and you'd have Roll selected. Roll, as you may or may not know, is the 'sister' of Mega Man.

Roll controls a lot like Mega Man, but she's small, weak, and kind of slow. So, why would you want to choose her?

Because beating someone by using an underpowered character is pretty embarrassing. For the guy you beat, of course. But that's going to take a lot of practice.

Pro tip: Mario Kart 64, blue shells pretty much any time you want them

Mario Kart 64 debuted one of the more useful items in the Mario Kart universe, the Blue Shell. The Blue Shell seeks out and blows up the person who's in first place. So, if you're in first place they're not too helpful, I guess.

But, they're kind of powerful, so to offset that, they're kind of rare. But, wouldn't it be nice if you could get them any time you wanted?

Well, then good news for you!

Certain tracks have mystery blocks that contain these missiles pretty well all the time, but the thing is you have to work a little harder to get at them.

Take Luigi's Raceway, for example. There's this block hanging from a giant balloon (not so giant in this picture, but it's hard to get a decent picture of it)

Your timing has to be pretty good, but if you can hit it...

Blue shell for you!

Just don't shoot it if you're already in first place... that's not recommended.

Unless you're so far in the lead that you can afford to take a hit like that and still win the race. Of course, then you're being a jerk... which is kind of fun sometimes.

Pro Tip: Start wherever you want in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

Diablo II is kind of a fun game and everything, but a little on the long side. But what if, after playing through the game a time or two that you just wanted to experience a certain part of the game, or wanted to try out one of the other classes without actually building it up from the ground?

Good news for you, then, there is!

First, update your copy of Diablo II to at least version 1.10. Just connect to Battle.Net and and you'll be in great shape. Then get out of you game and find your Diablo II shortcut. Right-click on it and select 'Properties'. Now modify the contents to the right of the Target field (after the quotes) so that there's a dash, the word 'act' and a number, all run together. So, if you want to start in Act 5, you'd append '-act5' after the quotes, and without the quotes.

Then start up the game and create a new character.

Enter the game and behold!

You're now at the beginning of the act you chose, your character's an an appropriate level, and you have all the skill points you need to spec your character any way you want.

What else could you ask for?

Pro tip: New Tetris's trippy screens

The New Tetris is pretty much your run of the mill Tetris with some neat additions, which we'll get into another day. Today, we'll talk about an interesting little Easter Egg.

First, go to the Audio screen and change the Music Mode to Choose, and the Song to Haluci.

Then go to single player and pick 'New Name', and make your name 'HALUCI' (without quotes, of course)..

Press OK, and... The colors!

It'll swirl and pulsate to the music until you decide to reset the machine.

Pro Tip: Super Mario 64: heal up by swimming

In Super Mario 64, Mario has a new power meter with eight wedges. On land, when he gets damaged, wedges are removed, and when he collects coins, the wedges are restored. Underwater works mostly the same way, except health is removed as Mario is holding his breath, and is restored when he takes a breath. It just so happens that you can use this mechanic to your advantage. First, injure Mario as much as you want.

Then, find some water. Hop in and get Mario positioned so that he's treading water with his head just above the surface and blam!

Full health!

Pro tip: Lots of 1ups in Super Mario Bros

Today's pro tip is an oldie but a goodie (ha!).

A few days ago I made reference to a fairly well known trick that you just can't do in the arcade: how to get all the 1ups you want in the original Super Mario Bros. But, the game came out in 1985, which means that if you're younger than 23, this game came out before you were born. Add to that the Wii's Virtual Console service which lets you download and play these relics (*cough*), we've got a lot of new gamers who probably haven't wasted their childhoods spent lots of quality time practicing this game and might not know about it.

Okay, first make your way to 3-1. Specifically, the end where you see some koopas coming down the staircase. You'll need to make sure that you're either Super or Fiery.

Get rid of the first koopa, he just gets in the way.

Then try to time it so that you hit the second one so that it's just about halfway down the step above you.

Done right, and you'll know when you've done it right, you'll just keep bouncing off the shell, and eventually start racking up 1ups.

You can keep on going on for as long as you want this way, and your lives remaining display will get a little wonky.

A word of caution, though. If you manage to get over 127 lives and then lose one, it's game over. It's a glitch, so there's really not much you can do about that.

Pro tip: Super Mario Bros. 3's coin ships

Play Super Mario Bros. 3 enough and you'll eventually come across ships loaded with coins. They take the place of Hammer Bros. on some of the overworld maps. But where do they come from? What triggers them? Good news for you, it's not random.

Let's take a look at the typical end of stage area.

Looks pretty normal, right? But there are five things to take note of here

  • Item 1: You have to be at the end of the stage, and get a card. The card you get doesn't matter
  • Item 2: You have to be in World 1, 3, 5, or 6. You can't do this in World 7 because there aren't any Hammer Bros. there
  • Item 3: Your tens digit of your score, note this
  • Item 4: Your coin count has to be a multiple of 11, but can't be zeros, and the digits have to match the tens digit of your score
  • Item 5: Your time when you get the card has to be an even number. Okay, that's not strictly true, but without going into details that involve math, just make it even

Once you have all these criteria met, the next time you go to the map screen one of the Hammer Bros. (if there are any left) will turn into a ship loaded with coins.

Hop on in and go to town. It's totally possible to get all the coins on the ship, and the hidden 1-up at the end.

Pro tip: Cheating at Bookworm Adventures

Bookworm Adventures is a game where you spell words to defeat enemies. It's a perfect game for sesquipedalian linguiphiles to strut their stuff.

But suppose you don't feel much like thinking on a particular day. Or that you don't know how to spell very many big words. Well... then you've got a problem.

Now, you could just think about what to spell, since there's no time limit or anything, or you could visit Anagrammer.

Anagrammer is a site that lets you put in up to 16 letters (convenient) and it spits out all the words it can find that can be made with the junk you put in.

Yeah, that one was kind of easy, but there are lots of combinations that yield words that I didn't even know existed... like 'antiphonary'.

Now, using that site to progress through the game is definitely cheating, and not nearly as satisfying as staring at the screen for 15 minutes and breaking out with some gigantic polysyllabic onslaught, but as a relief to use after staring at the screen for 30 minutes or more with your brain almost completely locked up... well, then it's kind of nice.

Pro tip: Get back in Potos Village

RPGs like Secret of Mana are big and complex enough that they seem to be just rife with little oddities and glitches that are waiting to be unearthed by the intrepid player.

Take, for example, the town at the beginning of the game, Potos. The boy character is tossed out of town fairly early on in his adventure and told never to return... at least not until he's done saving the world.

But, you can get around him. Or, rather, you can get through him. Just wait until you have multiple people in your party and come back to the village. Then press and hold Up while pressing Select. You'll cycle through control of all your characters and slowly inch your way through this gatekeeper.

Now why you'd want to do such a thing is beyond me, since the stuff in the shop is no better than you'd find anywhere in the world, and everyone still hates you anyway for dooming the village.

Oh, but make sure you have the Flammie Drum before you get in, or you don't mind resetting the game. That guy that's keeping you out? Turns out he's pretty bad at his job, but very good at keeping you in.

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