Pro tip: Watching where you swim in Super Mario Bros. 3

You might remember some months ago I told you about a semi-secret passage through the grassy areas of Super Mario Bros. 3.

One of these stages is 3-4, which features water in some of the pits that you have to navigate.

The same rules apply here, too, hug the wall to try and get away from a marauding Cheep Cheep and hit that dark patch at the bottom of the screen

And you dead.

So, try to not do that, okay?

Pro tip: Boom Boom is a pushover

When you're playing through the little fortressy levels of Super Mario Bros 3, you come across a miniboss, Boom Boom. A lot of people have trouble with him for some reason, but he's actually a giant pushover with the right technique.

You have to stomp on him three times to do him in, and he varies his attacks by flying around or leaping across the room or whatever. All you have to do is time your jumps so that you land on him at the exact moment he recovers from being stunned. That way he doesn't even get to use his Crazy Attacks and you finish him off in just a few seconds, like this video demonstrates.

Making the boss room trigger a sigh of relief instead of inducing mild panic.

Pro tip: Fun with White Blocks in Super Mario Bros. 3

In Super Mario Bros. 3, you find these multicolored blocks everywhere that look like they're part of the background, but play it long enough and you'll discover that the White ones have special powers: Jump on one and duck for a few seconds and you'll go into the background of the stage, behind the scenery. This is important for getting the warp whistle at the end of Stage 1-3.

But, it's important to note that other blocks in the game have the same effect.

For example: Make your way to Stage 5-7 and go down the first pipe which will take you down to ground level.

At the end of this section will be a White Block. Duck on it and (quickly) jump up and go through the pipe back to the clouds. Done quickly enough, you'll still be in the "background" and completely untouchable by enemies!

But you can totally hit them, so it's a one-way street.

Just be aware that this wears off as soon as you enter the pipe at the end of the stage, so enjoy it while it lasts!

Pro tip: card layouts in Super Mario Bros. 3

In Super Mario Bros. 3, every time you score 80,000 points, you get to play the card matching game

Ignoring the grammar error, you are presented with a grid of 18 cards and have to try to match pairs of cards to get the powerups they contain.

If you fail twice, you have to stop and try again when you get another 80,000 points. But! The layouts aren't random. There are eight possible ways that they could be laid out.

And maybe you have a better memory than I do, but I can't remember eight layouts of 18 cards each. Sure, you could write them down, but then you'd have to make sure that you had your notes handy every time you played, which might be OK.

But, take a closer look at the second picture. Notice how the last 3 cards in the bottom row are Mushroom, Fire Flower, Starman? It turns out that those three cards are the same cards in the same order on all eight of the variations! Making it really easy to remember at least the three of them.

Pro tip: An alternate path through the 'grassy' stages in Super Mario Bros. 3

In the 'grassy' stages of Super Mario Bros. 3 (like stage 1-2, for example) you might notice that there's a dark green patch at the bottom of the screen.

You may be thinking that was an artistic choice, but if you're properly prepared, you'll find that it's more than that.

Enter one of those stages with a P-Wing equipped and fly down the closest pit (being careful to not actually fall in, of course) and you'll find that the dark green stuff is actually a tunnel that runs most of the length of the stage!

Of course, stuff like enemy fireballs that go through the ground can still hit you if you're not careful, if you stop mashing the A button you'll fall off the bottom of the screen and lose a life, and you can't actually finish the stage from down there, you have to be above ground to hit the Card at the end.

But it's a fun novelty to do once or twice.

Pro tip: shell dodging Super Mario Bros. 3

In Super Mario Bros. 3, you come across tons of shelled enemies, which you can pick up and carry around. Throw them at question blocks, and they reveal their contents for you.

But, if you take your favorite shell up to a block, and get real close to it (without touching it)

And then let go of your shell, it'll hit the block, and then bounce back toward you

but it'll sail right through you without causing any damage!

And you might be saying "So what? I could just throw the shell at the block from further away and achieve basically the same thing." And you'd be right, you could do that. But this way, you don't have to dodge anything when it ricochets off your target.

Pro tip: Infinite 1ups in Super Mario Bros. 3, the Tail Method

A while back I told you about a trick to racking up a lot of lives in Super Mario Bros. 3. But, you kind of have to wait until you're almost halfway through the game to do it. Isn't there a way to stock up on lives beforehand?

You betcha!

Make your way to 1-2, the second stage in the game. Make sure you have the Raccoon Tail and make your way to the pipe that generates an endless supply of Goombas.

Let a few build up around you and then start jumping on them.

It's kind of tricky, but what you want to do is to hold down the A button when you land on them to bounce toward the top of the screen, then rapidly press the A Button to slow your descent. Repeat this over and over (without touching the ground) to eventually be rewarded with


Yeah, it's a little bit more work and a little bit slower, but you can do it so much earlier in the game that it's worth giving yourself a little bit of a buffer until you can make it to World 3.

Oh, and this also works any time you can get 3 Dry Bones together in a place with high ceilings.

Pro tip: Getting Star Cards in Super Mario Bros. 3 any time you want them

In Super Mario Bros 3, getting maxed out on 1UPs on that one stage is pretty great, but what about the rest of the game?

Well, every time you finish a stage, you get a Card, which sits down at the bottom-right of the screen.

Collect three cards and you get a 1UP. Collect three matching cards, though, and you get more. Three mushrooms nets 2UP, Fire Flowers nets 3UP, and Starmen get you the pretty awesome 5UP.

So, if you know how to manipulate the cards, you can slowly build up a pretty good stockpile of extra lives.

You start by running into the dark area at the end of the stage at full speed (or pretty close to). Then jump up and hit the goal at 45 degree angle.

Done right you'll get a Star. Every time! Which will lead to

5 extra lives, every three stages or so.

Not a bad ROI, I'd say.

Pro tip: infinite 1ups in Super Mario Bros. 3, the shell method

If you're inexperienced at it, Super Mario Bros. 3 is a tough game, made worse by the fact that after you lose your meager 5 lives all the progress you made in each World is negated, and you have to do it over again.

So, like a lot of games, it's very helpful to throw more lives at the problem.

My favorite spot to do that is in World 3-9.

First, stomp on the Koopa Paratroopa and grab its shell.

Then run over to the right, being very careful not to hit the Goomba or the Bob-Omb that's hiding over there. Make your way to the Bullet Bill cannon and kick the shell over to the other side of it.

Then quickly make your way to the platform above.

And wait.

Bullet Bills will continuously be fired from both of the cannons, and the ricocheting shell will take out each one.

Until eventually

1UPs! And you can stand there in safety until the time runs out, which will cost you one life, but you've got plenty to burn at this point.

And, if you're playing a two-player game, it's good form to allow the second player the chance to do this trick also, so that you both have a ton of lives to play around with.

Pro tip: skipping close to the end of Super Mario Bros. 3.

The Warp Zone in Super Mario Bros. 3 is a little different from the one in the first game, it's its own separate World, World 9.

What determines which row of pipes you have access to is what World you were in when you used your Whistle. Anything that's 7 or higher will take you to the bottom row, which leads to World 8. And since we're in World 9, we can use the whistle while in the Warp Zone to...

Go straight to the shortcut to World 8!

Which means that you can do this from pretty much anywhere you want, so long as you've collected at least two of the three Warp Whistles.

Just be aware that World 8 is pretty tough, and if you haven't spent time in the earlier Worlds preparing (i.e. gathering supplies) you're going to have a pretty hard time of it.

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