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Retro Gaming Hacks by Chris Kohler

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Show Off with Super Mario

Find the Minus World, get 100 lives, and other tricks.

Anyone who grew up with the Nintendo Entertainment System remembers hearing the stories. There was some kid in your class at school whose brother, or cousin, or out-of-town friend had found out a way to get a hundred lives in Super Mario Bros. Or had jumped over the flagpole. Or, most unbelievable of all, had walked through a wall and discovered a secret Minus World.

Luckily, most of us could use our playground smarts to sniff out such obvious B.S. I certainly heard my share of Nintendo whoppers back in the day. But in the case of Super Mario Bros. most of the secrets turned out to be true. Little did we know as we traded gossip at recess that there was already a best-selling book in Japan that explained everything. Similarly successful books followed quickly in the United States.

Eventually, thanks to the proliferation of early NES tip books and magazines, the hundred-lives trick and the Minus World became common knowledge. But unlike the massive wealth of pre-programmed cheats and tricks that infest games today, the Super Mario Bros. tricks were inadvertent bugs and exploits that the programmers never imagined. They were also difficult to pull off, meaning that Mario mastery, even today, can be an impressive parlor trick to perform in front of your friends. And with retro games making a comeback, you never know when you will be called into service.

Here, then, are the secrets to Mario mastery; the tricks ...

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