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New Super Mario Bros. is a throwback to the classic 2D Mario sidescrolling platformers of the 8-bit and 16-bit era. Every level basically involves jumping over obstacles and defeating enemies to reach the goal at the end of the course. Your dash and jump are practically the only two maneuvers necessary to beat the game, but you can gain new abilities via power-ups that will help you kill enemies safely or collect power-ups.

Mario[edit]

Mario is the hero of this game, and the character you will control for its majority. This humble plumber is known for his jump, which he must use to cross gaps, reach high places and defeat or incapacitate his foes. Hitting a block from below either breaks or activates it, while stomping on most enemies from above damages if not outright kills them. The longer the jump button is held down, the higher the jump.

A technique brought over from Mario's 3D adventures is his wall jump. Whenever the Neutral dpad is held against a wall, Mario will cling on to it and slide down slowly. Pressing either jump button will cause Mario to jump off the wall. Using this ability when two walls are close together will help Mario ascend up tall shafts.

In addition to jumping, another one of Mario's fundamental moves is dashing. Dashing obviously lets Mario travel faster than running. Mario can run over one-tile gaps during a dash. Dashing also gives Mario forward momentum during a jump, letting him jump further out of a dash. However, too much momentum will make Mario hard to control in midair, so it is not advisable to overuse this ability. Last but not least, Mario can also perform a ground pound by pressing Down dpad while in the air. Mario can break brick blocks or activate question mark blocks below him with this maneuver. It also functions as a stronger stomp against enemies.

Additionally, Mario's dash is also tied to various other actions. When powered up with a Fire Flower, the dash buttons are used to make Mario throw fireballs. Mario can also pick up various items and hold on to them as long as the dash button is held. You'll most commonly carry around Koopa shells to find places to let them loose, but you may also need to carry around springs to reach new places.

In spite of his range of techniques, Mario is rather fragile. At the start of the game, Mario will be quite short, about as tall as the common Goomba. If Mario touches any enemy or course hazard, he will lose a life. Getting power-ups like the Super Mushroom and Fire Flower not only causes Mario to gain new abilities, but also increases his chances of survival. Getting hit while in a powered-up state will cause Mario to revert into a weaker state. For instance, Fire Mario will lose his fireballs when he is hit, turning into Super Mario, which turns into small Mario if he is struck again. No matter what state Mario is in, falling into pits, lava or poison water, or getting crushed between two solid surfaces will always result in an instant kill.

Mario has a set amount of lives. Every time he dies, one life is taken from his total life counter. Mario can get more lives by collecting 100 coins, getting elusive 1-Up Mushrooms, stomping enough enemies without touching the ground or touching the very top of the flagpole. In the event that Mario runs out of lives, the game is over and you will lose any progress beyond your most recent save point.

Items[edit]

Power-ups[edit]

Super Mushroom Fire Flower
This common red mushroom turns regular (Small) Mario to Super Mario. If something hits you as Super Mario, then he turns back into Small Mario. The Fire Flower turns Mario into Fire Mario enabling him to shoot fireballs. If you are hit as Fire Mario, you turn into Super Mario, as you would in Super Mario Bros. 3. You can use fireballs to turn most enemies into coins (like in Super Mario World) and to attack most bosses. Fireballs make the game much easier, much as they did in other Mario games.
Mega Mushroom Mini Mushroom
This giant orange mushroom turns Mario into "Mega Mario" for a limited amount of time. While Mega Mario, any blocks, enemies, and pipes that you hit will die or break. The more stuff you destroy, the more 1-ups you get when you shrink back to normal size. Mega Mario will always shrink to Super Mario, regardless of what form he had before.

If you have a Mega Mushroom in reserve, avoid using it in towers and castles where the moving walls will quickly force Mario to shrink back to Super Mario. Do use a Mega Mushroom at the bosses at the end of towers and castles; this will make it very easy to beat the boss. When using a Mega Mushroom, you are not invincible to everything. If you hit lava, spikes, or a bottomless pit, you will shrink down in size or instantly die.

This tiny blue mushroom turns Mario into Mini Mario. As Mini Mario, one hit from anything will kill you, but you also can get into areas a non-Mini Mario can not. Mini Mario can squeeze through spaces that are a half-block tall. Mini Mario also jumps higher and falls slower; he can sometimes wall-kick up shafts that are normally too wide to ascend.
Blue Shell Starman
The Blue Shell turns Mario into Shell Mario, which is Mario with a shell on his back, like a Koopa. If you're hit as Shell Mario, you turn into Super Mario. Mario can duck into his shell (and defend against some hazards) if you press down on the D-pad. The special attack as Shell Mario is if you run at a certain speed, you duck into the shell and roll around, destroying nearly everything in your path. If you need to brake, just release the dash button (holding the D-pad down if you need to stay in the shell). There are absolutely no blocks in the entire game that will guarantee this item.

Some players can make good use of the Blue Shell in the multiplayer Mario vs Luigi. However, in the one-player game, you might choose to avoid Blue Shells, if you prefer Fire Flowers.

Makes Mario invulnerable for a short period of time, allowing him to kill enemies by touch. Mario will be immune to enemies and most hazards and will also run faster and jump higher.

While using Starman, Mario is immune to most forms of damage, but note that starman Mario can still experience the following instant deaths: falling down a bottomless pit, touching lava (or something similar) and being squished by moving walls.

Reserve items[edit]

If Mario grabs a power-up that he does not need, then he will put it in reserve, but only if the current reserve does not already outrank it. Touch the reserve and the item will drop on Mario; be careful not to let it fall on a higher platform out of reach. In some underground areas, the action moves to the bottom screen and you cannot touch your reserve.

From least to most, the rank is Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, Blue Shell, Mini Mushroom, Mega Mushroom. So if you already have a Mega Mushroom in reserve, you cannot lose it, and if you already have a Fire Flower, a Super Mushroom will not displace it.

Super Mario will never put anything into reserve except for other Super Mushrooms. Fire Mario will put Super Mushrooms and Fire Flowers into reserve. Shell Mario will put Super Mushrooms, Fire Flowers, and Blue Shells into reserve. Mini Mario can only put other Mini Mushrooms into reserve, because he needs the other items to grow big again. Mega Mario can put anything into reserve if he manages to touch the item instead of destroying the block that contains it!

Mario cannot put an item into reserve if he was already using it. In this respect, the game is unlike Super Mario World. For example, if you are Super Mario and you grab a Fire Flower, thus becoming Fire Mario, then you do not obtain a Super Mushroom in reserve unless you already had one there. So the reserve should not be used for switching between a pair of items; instead you should use it to save a power-up for when you need it.

Use the reserve spot to store a Fire Flower or Blue Shell to power-up Mario again if he is hurt. Or carry around a Mini Mushroom or Mega Mushroom in case you find a situation that requires it. If you become Small Mario, you might want to take your Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, or Blue Shell out of reserve so that the next block will contain a Fire Flower, not a Super Mushroom.

Other items[edit]

Coins 1-Up Mushroom
The most common item in the game, collecting 100 of these earns you an extra life.

Red Coins are a subgroup of coins that appear when Mario passes through a ring (see next heading for further information). Other than their special qualities, they are worth the same amount as a normal coin.

A fairly rare item and hard to get item, this green mushroom gives Mario an extra life (1-up).
Star Coin
A special kind of item which, when collected, has no immediate effect. There are 3 Star Coins in every course without exception. Once you find one, if you die before finishing the course, then you will lose it (unless you found it before a checkpoint, in which case you can restart from the checkpoint and try to finish the course). If you find and keep a Star Coin and replay the same course, the coin will be transparent and dark blue instead of gold. You can spend Star Coins on the map to open up paths to other courses and Toad Houses and save your game.

You can grab some Star Coins by throwing Koopa shells at them. The game does not let you throw shells upward though, so for those high coins you will need to jump up there yourself.

Course elements[edit]

Flagpole Red Flagpole
The last object in a course. When you touch it, you end the level. The higher on the flagpole you are, the more points you get. If you touch the very top, you get a 1-Up. A special type of flagpole. Not all courses have them. They are both the end of the level and the key to unlocking certain levels.
Pipe
A common sight throughout all the courses, these pipes can do many things:
  • Normal Pipes: These pipes do nothing. Nothing at all. In fact, the only difference between these and normal terrain is that these can be destroyed by a rampaging Mega Mario.
  • Warp Pipes: These pipes are much more useful. They can warp Mario from one end of the pipe to the other (though not always back). Mario, after going through one of these can end up anywhere from underground with a giant man-eating plant to up in the sky with a moving platform. Because Warp Pipes look exactly like other pipes, sometimes you can benefit from trying to enter every pipe you encounter, in case you discover one that warps you to a bonus, Star Coin, or alternate exit.
  • Mini Warp Pipes are exactly like normal Warp Pipes, only they are small. In fact, they are so small that only Mini Mario can fit through them. Usually, on the other side there is a place tailor-made for Mini Mario.
  • Mini Pipes: A few courses have decorative Mini Pipes that do not warp; typically a lone Mini Pipe will warp, but if there are two or more Mini Pipes near each other, then they will not warp. For example, the Mini Pipes in World 3-B never warp anywhere, so never waste a Mini Mushroom to try to enter them. As an exception, there is one Mini Warp Pipe among the Mini Pipes at the end of World 4-4.
  • Cannon Pipes: These pipes act like Warp Pipes only instead of going to somewhere else, they shoot you out with a direction and speed that depends on the pipe.
  • Waterjet Pipes: Only found underwater, these pipes jet out a constant stream of water, signified by bubbles pouring out of the pipe. This jetstream will push Mario away from the pipe. This can either help or harm Mario, depending on the circumstances. You cannot enter Waterjet Pipes, but do look for pipes without waterjets; they might be Warp Pipes.
  • Pirahna-Infested Pipes: Some pipes are inhabited by Piranha Plants and cause trouble if you encounter them. There are also some that shoot fireballs at you. But, if they exit from the top, standing right beside them until they go under to hide and then standing on them would postpone the attack time by how long you are near it.
Red Coin Ring Spring
This "object" disappears when moved through and spawns 8 red coins for a limited amount of time. If all 8 are collected then you will receive an item. Which item? Well......
  • If you are Small Mario then you will receive a Super Mushroom.
  • If you are Super Mario then you will receive a Fire Flower.
  • And finally, if you are Fire Mario the you will receive a 1-up mushroom.
This small object bounces Mario when he bounces on it. Press the jump button as you land to bounce much higher. Press and hold the dash button to pick this thing up.
Block
The most common object in the game. You WILL see a lot of these. Super Mario or higher (but not normal Mario nor Mini Mario) will break most of the blocks on hit, although some blocks contain coins.

Some blocks contain multiple coins. To take the most coins, try to hit the block as rapidly as possible. If you hit such a block very rapidly, a Super Mushroom will come out after the coins. If you have room above such a block, have Super Mario or higher ground pound on the block and hold the D-pad down to obtain many coins and get the Super Mushroom! The ground pound always obtains the most coins, except where the block would be very close to the floor, then rapid jumping from below would obtain more coins.

  • ? Block: Almost exactly the same as normal blocks, the only difference is these have either a coin, a 1-up mushroom or a power-up inside. Some of these blocks have Fire Flowers inside, except that if you hit it while you are Small or Mini Mario, the block will only contain a Super Mushroom. A few levels have a ? Block that always contains a Mini Mushroom or Mega Mushroom. In the Ghost houses, some of the ? Blocks contain a Boo.
  • Hidden Block: Like a ? Block, only you can't see them or stand on them until you hit them from beneath. A few courses use Hidden Blocks as obstacles to block Mario from going up that way. In some courses, Mario can reveal hidden blocks near the flagpole and stand on them to jump higher to the flagpole.
Switch Block
Special things happen when you hit one of these. Sometimes they hang upside down or can be found inside blocks. If you leave the area and return, you'll have to hit the block again. These switches can be found in three colors.
  • P Switch: These switches are blue. When you hit one, coins will become bricks and bricks will become coins for a short time. Sometimes temporary coins from nowhere will appear. Most of these switches disappear when you hit them, unless they're required to complete the level.
  • ! Switch: These switches are red. None of them can be found inside bricks. They're also the rarest switch. When you hit one, outlines will temporary become platforms. None of these switches disappear when you hit them.
  • ? Switch: These switches a are orange. They're the most common. Depending on the switch and course, they'll do something. Sometimes they can have permanent effects, which stay until you exit the course. Some of these disappear when you hit them, even if the effect is temporary.

World map elements[edit]

Remember, you can use L button and R button to scroll around maps. Use R button to preview maps. You will be able to see all paths, courses, Toad Houses, and Star Signs except for secret paths.

You can also replay any course; do this to find Star Coins, or replay easy courses to collect lives and power-ups.

Star Signs[edit]

Star Signs are things that look like a sign with a Star Coin and the number 5 on them. Before passing through, you must pay 5 Star Coins. After spending them, you can save your game and pass through. The path beyond a Star Sign typically leads to a Toad House or an alternate course.

Toad Houses[edit]

There are 4 different kinds of Toad Houses in the game: Red, Green, Orange, and Blue. Most of the houses are behind Star Signs. The blue houses do not appear until you beat the game.

After entering a house (except for the blue houses) they disappear. If you accidentally enter a red or orange house, you can choose to walk out of the door instead of grabbing the item, in which case the house will not disappear. If you have beaten all 80 levels, and you go to a Toad House, it will not disappear

  • Red house: Lets you randomly get either a Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, Blue Shell, or a Mini Mushroom in reserve. If you time your jump carefully, you might be able to receive what you want.

You can also get on by ending a level at X11, X22, or X33.

    • Red houses appear as Super Mushrooms on the world map.
  • Green house: This house has 6 "?" blocks in it. 3 contain 1-ups, 1 contains three 1-ups, 1 contains a card that doubles all the 1-ups you have currently found, and the last contains a Bowser card, which ends the game, giving you all the 1-Ups you have revealed. Some players stay out of these houses unless they are low on lives, but other players do not bother to save these houses, since they can just replay 1-1 if they need more lives.

You can also get one by ending a level at X44, X55, or X66.

    • Green houses appear as 1-up Mushrooms on the world map.
  • Orange house: This house gives you a Mega Mushroom in reserve.

You can also get one by ending a level at X77, X88, or X99.

    • Orange houses appear as Mega Mushrooms on the world map.
  • Blue house: Lets you buy backgrounds for the touch screen for 20 Star Coins apiece. Only appears when you beat the game. The first one, the current backround, is unlocked, the next three need to be purchased, and the last one, which is special, appears only if you open all the Toad Houses and get 20 Star Coins to buy it.
    • Blue Houses appear as Mini Mushrooms on the world map.

Note that your strategy for clearing Toad Houses can be different from the strategy that you would use in Super Mario Bros. 3. Players of that NES game would often clear any Toad House that they could reach. New Super Mario Bros. allows Mario to revisit older worlds, so players will often keep most of the Toad Houses and Star Signs intact. (They may have to if they are saving Star Coins.) You can visit older worlds and go to their Toad Houses when Mario needs them.

Moving elements[edit]

Moving world map elements affect the course they are standing on/flying over.

  • Flying Item Block: These look like, as the name implies, flying item blocks. If you enter a course with one, you will find the block soon after the start of the course (or the checkpoint). The exact location varies with the course. Hit this block to obtain a power-up. The block typically contains a Fire Flower (even if you are Small Mario) or a Blue Shell or Mini Mushroom. You might need it to unlock a secret path or get a Star Coin.
  • Hammer Bro.: Hammer Bros. are one of Mario's toughest enemies, and can be very hard to defeat if they aren't standing on blocks in the course. You may have to dodge the hammers or boomerangs that it throws, then jump on it. If you a Fire Mario then you can just fireball it. If defeated, it will give out a power-up or 1-up Mushroom.
    • You may on occasion find other Hammer Brothers within a course; those will not drop an item.

If you do not hit the Flying Item Block or defeat the Hammer Brother, then it will remain on the world map and move to another course. If you do hit or defeat it, then it will disappear from the world map, but eventually a new Flying Item Block or Hammer Brother will appear to replace it.