Glitch Analysis #7: Minus World (Super Mario Bros)

Ah, the classic Super Mario Bros. Today, almost everybody that knows this game knows the minus world.

Today I’ll talk about this glitch, but beware: I know why it happens and how it works, so this won’t be a normal Glitch Analysis!

So, let’s begin.

In stage/world 1-2, you need to be “Big Mario”. Reach the pipe at the end of the stage and jump on it. DO NOT enter it.

On the left border of the pipe, you have to duck. Then you have to jump, and just as soon as you reach the ceiling, leave the duck button to stand up.

Note that breaking the secondmost block from the right, near the wall, can help. You have to leave the duck button when touching the ceiling near this wall.

If you jump correctly, Mario will be stuck in the wall and the game should push him backwards (which is to the right if you’re facing left).

Now a bit of “level geography”. What is there after the wall? There’s a Warp Zone! The Warp Zone is just a little room with three pipes, which lead to different worlds of the game.

But this room is only accessible from the top of the level by exploiting the elevators near the end to jump over the ceiling.

What we did by going through the wall, is that we didn’t let the game load the zone, so the pipes are pointing to wrong code.

Basically, the pipe data that the game has loaded by default isn’t the right one for this world (1-2). It loads the pipe data from world 4-2, which has only a pipe.

This means that the middle pipe will bring you to the same world that the 4-2 pipe does (which is World 5-1). But the pipes on the sides both have a “link” to World 36-1.

And why does it show “World -1”? Well, because the game tries to load the 36th sprite from the sprite memory, which is a blank tile. So when the game has to render a 36 (and does it without rendering a 6 near a 3), it renders… nothing.

Note that reaching the far end of the warp room and making the wall on the right visible loads the warp zone, disabling the effects of the glitch.

And now, let’s talk a bit about the level.

Once you enter it, you’re doomed to a game over. In fact, the world itself is just the underwater world 7-2, with the same enemy positions.

But the pipe at the end of the level is glitched, and it just restarts the level. So you will lose all of Mario’s lives, either by running out of time or getting killed. Or death by pits, that is.

That’s it.

But hey, what about the Japanese Famicom version? That’s a bit different.

In their version, the level is World 1-3, but it has some problems: first of all, Princess Toadstool is EVERYWHERE. And of course, you can swim in the air. And there’s some misplaced enemies too. And a headless Bowser. Also, some of the tiles/objects have a messed up palette.

But they say Japan always gets the best video games. And the best glitches, apparently.

When you complete the Japanese Minus World (which may be a problem if you touch the flagpole too high as that may block the game), you get to world -2. Which is World 7-3.

And what happens when you complete that? Oh, well, World -3. World -3 is, actually, World 4-4, but it lacks a Bowser (impostor), the maze doesn’t work, and the level is filled with flying Bloopers, that you can stomp for 1000 points.

But what’s cool about that, is that stomping on bloopers can’t happen in other levels. Especially because you can’t stomp on things underwater.

And then you beat this level. What happens then? World -4? NO.

The game just throws you back to the title screen. And if you load the game, all the Goombas will instead be Buzzy Beetles.

In some future games and remakes the trick can or cannot be performed. Some games got some blocks near the pipe removed to prevent glitching through the wall, and other games just make the pipes teleport you to normal levels.

With hacking, other minus worlds can be reached. Take a look at the Minus World page on the Super Mario Bros wiki, it’s the website that explained the glitch to me when I first heard about it 🙂


Thanks for reading all of this crap, I know it has been a long read. I didn’t expect to write so much, but hey: who cares!


Now go, and glitch through walls to reach hidden levels!

– GV


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