Pro tip: Another frequently missed treasure in Castlevania

One of the things about Castlevania is that there are lots and lots of goodies hidden all over the place with no indication that they're there. That makes finding them by accident kind of a rare occurrence.

Like this part of Stage 6, for example. It's the hallway that leads to the second boss, a giant Flying Medusa Head.

If you make your way to the fourth arch and stand in just the right place for a few seconds...

A moneybag will rise up out of the ground for a quick 1,000 points!

A couple of things to note, though: 1. The game is really picky about where you stand to activate the moneybag, and 2. There are lots of the smaller Flying Medusa Heads attacking you in their sine-wave pattern, which makes it tough to stand still for the few seconds required to trigger it.

But, there are plenty of people who are old hands at this game that might not know about it, so it's worth perfecting your technique to impress them.

Pro tip: Evolving to a mermaid in E.V.O.: Search for Eden

E.V.O. is all about evolving your creature to survive in the different eras of prehistory, and there are a few hidden surprises waiting for you.

For instance. Make it pretty far in to the game and you'll hit the stage Final Ocean

Hop in and you'll be given the ability to swim. But check out the Hands and Feet option in your E.V.O. menu.

Try to evolve and you end up looking like a fish thing.

Go back to Hands and Feet and choose 'Evolve Further' to... evolve further (natch).

And again

And again

Boom! Mermaid!

Why would you want to do this? The mermaid has 100 HP, the strongest bite of any of your creatures so far, and is the fastest swimmer, so there's really no reason to not do it.

Also, once you're finished with this stage, you get your old body back, so enjoy it while you can!

Pro tip: Tetris Attack: Skill Chains

A huge part of Tetris Attack and its descendants is performing chain reactions of clears. That's when you you clear three or more blocks, and the ones that fall clear some more.

But I have trouble thinking far enough ahead, especially once the pile starts rising quickly or in a heated battle, to set up more than one chain in a row, so I use something called Skill Chains. Skill Chains are chain reactions that you set up on the fly, usually while the previous clear is... erm... clearing.

For example, take this puzzle and clear the stars in the vertical column in the middle

And while those are clearing, move that triangle in the bottom-right corner two columns to the left

For an instant 2-chain!

This is actually much easier to show in animated .gif form, so you can do that here (2MB file warning, dial-up users).

You can extend these as long as you can find the correct blocks to do them with, and with enough practice this essential skill will become second nature.

Good luck!

Pro tip: Getting 1ups (almost) every time in Super Mario World's bonus rooms

Super Mario World is chock full of these bonus rooms. Like this one that has rows and rows of ?-Blocks.

If you can hit them in the correct order (which is random), a 1-Up will pop out, but if you hit them in the wrong order

You get nothin'.

That's why it's recommended to enter these rooms with a Cape.

If you can manage to hit the bottom-left corner of the blocks, you'll be correct every time!

Which will allow you to get a few free 1-Ups for your troubles

And timing is key. If you hit the side of the blocks, it might not work (but, since it's pretty much random anyway, it might).

Good luck!

Pro tip: Walking through a fish in Kid Niki: Radical Ninja

Kid Niki is full of hidden passages and bonus stages, some of which are... different.

Like take this spot in Stage 4, for example. It's the platform directly after the second moving platform.

Jump up a few times and the next platform will turn into a fish!

Walk off the platform, directly into the fish's mouth and...

You're in!

You traverse the length of the fish (there's nothing in it but bones), and you come to the exit

Well, how else did you expect to get out of a fish?

Pro tip: A few extra seconds in Marble Madness

Marble Madness is tough, probably to make up for it also being kinda short, so you're going to be running out of time frequently, until you've mastered the game... which might take some time.

In the meantime you could start up a two-player game (even though you're only going to be playing single player)

Then race normally, letting Player 2 just sit there for a little bit

As you race to the finish line, the second player will be scrolled off the screen, and brought back closer to where you are, incurring a 5 second penalty each time. But if you can get it across the finish line before its time runs out (which should be totally doable on the first race), whichever marble crossed the line first will get a five-second bonus at the beginning of the next race

Which doesn't sound like much, but trust me, you're going to need all the help you can get.

Pro tip: The first time you face Don Flamenco, he's a pushover

The first few boxers in the Punch-Out!! games have techniques that teach you how to play the game better.

Like Don Flamenco, for example.

The first time you fight him, you have to throw a punch (which he'll block), so he can counter it (he's kind of a showoff)

Dodge that and he'll be vulnerable to taking punches (like everyone else in the game).

But, unlike everyone else in the game, if you keep alternating left and right punches Don will never recover, letting you pummel him until he runs out of stamina and crashes to the mat.

Even better is that each time he gets up he gets a little more aggressive and throws the first punch, which you dodge, and then you can immediately start with the alternating jabs again.

Which means that you're going to win in record time.

Just be aware that this doesn't work the second time you have to face him.

Pro tip: Becoming an amateur cartographer

One of the games I used to play a lot was Hero of the Golden Talisman for the Commodore 64.

But, as much as I played it, I never really got very far. Lots of the passages look alike, and it's real easy to get lost.

For some reason, it never dawned on me that I should have made a map, like this one (drawn by Michael Lambert and available here).

Which would have helped me figure out where I was, where to go, and how big the game actually is.

Any time you play a game with a moderately complex, maze-like layout (Metroid, I'm looking at you), drawing a map is a great way to keep track of where things are. And, no, they don't have to look great, they just need to be good enough that you can read and interpret them.

Pro tip: asking for help sometimes works Part 2: Nightshade Edition

Once you finally make it to the end of Nightshade, you have to deal with the evil mastermind who's responsible for starting the mess, Waldo P. Schmeer, a.k.a. Sutekh. He really likes to hear himself talk.

You can use this to your advantage. Before you engage him, TALK to him

to ask him the question you're probably asking yourself in real life.

Which he'll actually answer

Though, to be honest, I found the Staff of Ra to be all but useless when I was fighting him. A better technique was to duck in the center of the room and punch him when he teleports in close.

Pro tip: Keeping your gun fully powered up in Fester's Quest

Today's Pro Tip has some pretty big .gif files, hit 'Read More' if you want to read the rest of it

In Fester's Quest you have red and blue Gun powerups. The blue ones increase your gun's level and the red ones decrease it. And, while most of the levels of shots you get look kind of neat, you'll quickly discover that most of them are completely useless when you get into close quarters.

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