pro tip

Pro tip: Access Super Game Boy screensavers any time you want

The Super Game Boy let you play games that normally were about a quarter the size of an average postcard, and blow them up so that they were almost as big as a sheet of notebook paper. And, since they didn't take up all the room on your screen, you get these snazzy borders to take up the extra room. They don't really do much, though, other than just look kind of neat.

If you let them sit for long enough, though, stuff starts to happen. Little screen savery kinds of things. But, what if you want to see the screen savers without sitting there not touching the controller for several minutes at a time?

Easy. Just grab your controller, press L, L, R, R, L, L, L, L, R. You'll hear a 'ding' sound and the border's animation will start... assuming it has one.

A few of them, like the plain black border, don't do anything, though.

Pro tip: Looks identical, but isn't

In the NES version of Super Mario Bros. you can take advantage of a quirk and bounce off the back of a turtle to get lots of extra lives.

So, in an effort to to get the most out of your quarter, and possibly impress the other arcade-goers with your prowess, you work your way to the end of world 3-1 only to discover:

Your Koopas have been replaced with Goombas. And what that means is that you can't do your super-snazzy trick any more... which means that I hope that you brought lots of quarters.

Pro tip: Splinter says what he means, even if you can't understand it

When you're playing the Game Boy version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you'll occasionally run across a bonus game where you have to overcome a challenge in order to regain health. One of these games is a number-guessing game where you have to correctly identify a three-digit number in ten tries.

You do get some help, though. Splinter will give you feedback to try and steer you toward the correct number.

But, the hints don't really seem to be worth a whole lot, do they? I mean, I can't exactly put in a number that's smaller than 000. Turns out that he's telling you that the number that you put in is bigger or smaller than the one he's thinking of... which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. But once you know how to actually play the thing, the game becomes quite winnable.

Pro tip: Dracula hands you the tools to defeat him

Dracula's a pretty rough customer, but for some reason, just before you guide your Belmont to fight him, he gives you a full arsenal of stuff to use to defeat him. It seems like a pretty large tactical error on his part, so I can't really understand why, but I'm not one to look gift-arsenals in the mouth.

Take a look at this screen. It's the last staircase before you face-off with Dracula. You waltz up the stairs, go into his chambers, and then he kills you.

But, what's not immediately obvious is that there is an invisible platform, an invisible staircase, and another invisible platform.

Hop on down and nose-up to the edge of the screen. You'll see a brief flash, and then stuff will start raining from the heavens. Food, whip upgrades, Hearts,

a Cross (Boomerang),

a double-shot powerup

a triple-shot powerup

Getting back up is a little bit of a challenge. Getting to the the second platform is pretty easy, just take the invisible staircase. But getting back on the visible platform is a little tougher... since it's kind of hard to tell where the invisible one ends and the Bottomless Pit of Death begins. But if you botch it, you'll end up on the same screen, primed to fill your inventory up again, so no big loss.

Pro tip: Aerith is a HUGE SPOILER!

Yep, we're spoiling another game, this time one that's eleven years old. So, don't click the link if you don't want one of a decade-plus game's pivotal plot points revealed.

Pro tip: Naval Piranha is a pushover

In Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, you get familiar with the boss shtick pretty quickly. You work your way through a castle, and at the end Kamek appears and makes a common enemy real big, which you then have to fight. The enemy at the end of World 3 is pretty obviously going to be a Piranha Plant.

So you make your way through the twisty and turny passages and eventually make your way to the boss's room, and you can see the little plant over on the far right. Just kind of ease into the room. If you get too close, the fight will start, and we don't really want that.

If you get the plant just on the screen, try throwing an egg at it. If your aim is any good and you can smack it, you'll defeat it with one hit, surprising... well, everyone.

You can also stand just on the edge of the platform to make the egg-throwing easier, but I tend to walk over too far and get the battle started when I do that, which isn't that hard or anything, but this is much easier.

Pro tip: Classic Mario cameo in Super Mario RPG

Super Mario RPG took Mario from the boring two-dimensional guy he'd been for... well, for his whole 'life' and gave him the ability to move in some kind of pseudo three-dimensional space, pretty neat.

But, just for fun, there are references to old Mario stuff all over the place, like in Booster's Tower. Go far enough in, and you'll find this room.

Pretty bland, right? But those curtains... Walk back behind them and you'll hear some classic music start to play, and when you step out...

You can't really do much like that, though, and the effect wears off as soon as you try to leave the room. You should note, though, that you can only do this once. Save the game after you do it and you won't be able to do it again unless you start the whole game over again.

Pro tip: Play Minesweeper with your package manager

If you use Linux at all, you're familiar with the concept of a package manager. It's the program that your system uses to keep track of most everything installed on your system, and allows you to add, remove, and change them around.

But, they can sometimes be used to kill time.

If your operating system is based on Debian, like Ubunto or some such, then your package manager is APT. If your package manager is APT, then you can use a frontend called aptitude to manage your programs installed on your computer.

Nothing too exciting, right? But, if you get bored, you can press CTRL+T to open the menu, where you see the option "Play Minesweeper", so you then press P and get:

You can use the arrow keys to move your cursor around and Enter to test a square for a mine. I don't really know any more of the controls since I am actually pretty bad at Minesweeper...

But, it's good for a short distraction while you're doing boring sysadmin stuff.

Pro tip: Shrinking buildings for fun and profit

If you're playing SimCity and throw down some residential zones, you might notice that they start out by putting up these little single-family dwellings

You can demolish them individually, which seems kind of pointless, really. But then you can put something in the hole, like a Police station.

Then you demolish the whole residential zone. The zone goes away, and so does the part of the building that was overlapping it.

It still protects the city as well as the whole building did, and you can put stuff in the extra space, like parks, to increase the value of the land. And with a little planning...

That block in the middle is a Fire station. It only takes up one block, but still protects as well as it would if it were full size.

Pro tip: Toss a banana peel out of bounds

The original Super Mario Kart's Battle Mode was really fun, even though I got lambasted regularly when I'd battle people online with my XBand modem.

But I did spend enough time with it to discover some really odd quirks. For instance, get yourself a banana peel and maneuver yourself to this spot on Battle Course 1.

Then hold Up and press A to throw your banana forward. Normally when they land out of bounds they disappear, but not this time, oh no.

It's still there, and what's worse is that if you use a feather to leap out of bounds, say to avoid a red shell, and you land on that peel, it will count as being hit, costing you a balloon.

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