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Video Game / Super Mario Bros.

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Super Mario Bros. is a 1985 Platform Game and the first game in the Super Mario Bros. series, though not the first to star Mario, as he appeared in Donkey Kong first, as well as Mario Bros., Wrecking Crew, and a few Game & Watch titles, after all of which he moved on to this game. One of the most famous video games in The 8-bit Era of Console Video Games and the Trope Codifier for the 2D platformer (it wasn't the Trope Maker—see Pac-Land), it was released for the Family Computer on September 13, 1985 in Japan, and for the Nintendo Entertainment System on October 18, 1985 in North America.note 

The general story is that Bowser, the ornery King of the Koopas, has conquered the Mushroom Kingdom and had all of the subjects turned into background textures... er, bricks and shrubbery. The Mushroom Kingdom's Princess is the only one who can revert his black magic, but he has kidnapped her in order to prevent this. The humble-but-gallant plumbers, Mario and Luigi, set off on an adventure to save her and restore the Mushroom Kingdom and its people to normal, storming several of Bowser's deadly castles along the way. Unfortunately for the brothers (and you), Bowser has several body doubles, and there's no way to tell who's the real one, so it's a long road ahead.

This game was highly formative for the later series. Most notably, it introduced the basic storyline of Mario rescuing Princess Toadstool (Peach in Japan, later also adopted in the west) from Bowser that later games would copy, modify, subvert, deconstruct and reconstruct again and again. In addition, it introduced Toadstool and Bowser's characters, alongside the Toads, the Mushroom Kingdom, the basic system of powerups — including the iconic Super Mushroom, Fire Flower and Starman — that would become central to later installments' gameplay, and a number of classic enemy types such as Goombas, Koopa Troopas and Paratroopas, Hammer Brothers, Spinies, Lakitus, Cheep-Cheeps and Bloopers.

The main BGM theme for Super Mario Bros. was selected for preservation in the United States National Recording Registry on April 12, 2023, becoming the first piece of video game music to be so preserved.

Notable alternate versions and re-releases

  • First things first, there was an Arcade Game version called VS. Super Mario Bros., which had a number of differences to make it harder, including six new levels mixed in with the classic ones. This version would later get a port on the Nintendo Switch as part of Hamster's Arcade Archives series.
  • An Updated Re-release for the Famicom Disk System. It is essentially the same game, but with the Minus World fleshed out to be a proper series of levels.
  • Super Mario Bros. Special, a lesser-known Mission-Pack Sequel released for computers. Tropes specific to it can be found on its page.
  • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, a much more infamous Mission-Pack Sequel. Tropes specific to it can be found on its page.
  • All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros., a license-added remix that replaces the Toads and certain enemies with caricatures of personalities from Fuji TV's All Night Nippon radio program. The game is rebuilt using the engine of The Lost Levels, and includes the Goomba Springboard, Luigi's jump physics and a few stages from The Lost Levels.
  • Super Mario All-Stars has a remake of this game with SNES graphics and music. It also has the aforementioned Lost Levelsnote , Super Mario Bros. 2, and Super Mario Bros. 3. Tropes specific to All-Stars can be found on its page.
  • Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, a Game Boy Color port with a bunch of extra content. This included a Challenge Mode where you had to get a high score, collect five Red Coins, and find the Yoshi Egg in each stage; a two-player race mode; badges and other images awarded for achievements; a high-score table; extra utilities and printables; a hidden "You vs. Boo" mode (a one-player version of the two-player game); and a hidden conversion of The Lost Levels, but only Worlds 1-8.
  • While this first game didn't get a remake on the Game Boy Advance like the other 2D Mario platformers up to that point, it was re-released in its original form (with squished sprites) as part of the Classic NES Series.
  • For the 35th anniversary, a Game & Watch containing the game was released, as well as an online Battle Royale Game version for Nintendo Switch called Super Mario Bros. 35. Tropes specific to 35 can be found on its page.
  • Lastly, while it's not exactly a remake, both Super Mario Maker and Super Mario Maker 2 allow players to create their own SMB1 levels (along with some later entries).

This game provides examples of:

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  • 1-Up: An early example of the collectible kind. The green 1-Up Mushrooms have appeared in almost every other Mario platformer since. There are ten of them in the entire game, and they are all well hidden.
  • Achievement System: Though absent in the original version, it features an achievement system in the Deluxe version for the Game Boy Color, in the form of the album. By doing various tasks, like finishing the game or defeating enemies, you can complete the album with pictures or medals related to your achievement that you can even comment and print thanks to the Game Boy Printer! However, the print option has been removed in the 3DS Virtual Console release due to the obvious incompatibility with the Printer. Also in the Virtual Console version, due to the removal of Multiplayer, 2 pictures have been permanently locked, making 100% completion legitimately impossible on 3DS.
  • Actually a Doombot: The first seven "Bowsers" are actually regular enemies who are somehow disguised as him. Flinging fireballs at the fake Bowsers will reveal their true forms (along with a fat bonus to your score).
  • Airborne Mook: The game introduces Lakitu (which flies on clouds out of normal range and drop spinies onto the player) and Koopa Paratroopas (flying versions of the Red Koopas; they lose their wings and fall to earth if Mario jumps on them, becoming regular Koopa Troopas).
  • All There in the Manual: The Koopa are a clan of turtles known for their powerful magic who have brought the Mushroom Kingdom to ruin by transforming its citizens into the powerup bricks you cannot break (and thus the items are "gifts" from the transformed citizens to help you) and various other background objects. The only one who can break this curse is the daughter of the unseen Mushroom Kingnote , Princess Pea..., er "Toadstool"note , which is why Bowser has kidnapped her. This bit of lore was dropped in later games, though the concept of magic being used by Bowser's army lives on through other members of his troop, most notably Kamek and the other Magikoopas.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent:
    • The Great Giana Sisters. So much that Nintendo actually threatened to sue, causing it to be withdrawn from the shelves. The later Giana Sisters games went through Derivative Differentiation.
    • Sega's Alex Kidd in Miracle World was not such an obvious clone, but still fits the trope (and was correspondingly packaged with or built in later models of the Master System).
  • Always Night: Unlike the rest of the worlds which are in broad daylight, Worlds 3 and 6 are set at night. Although strangely, World 6-2 has a pipe leading to an underwater bonus area where it's clearly daytime.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The American instruction manual makes repeated references to enemies being killed. The Japanese manual merely says they are defeated.
  • And I Must Scream: In the instruction booklet, it's revealed that Bowser turned the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom into Question Mark Blocks, and he kidnapped Princess Peach because she's the only one who can break the curse.
  • Animated Adaptation:
  • Antepiece: The game has great level design involving interesting yet accessible setpieces. One tool it'll use is to build up to a complicated setpiece with an "antepiece". For example, in the first level, there's a part with a staircase followed by a pit; jumping up the staircase without falling into the pit, and then getting over the pit, is a rather hard and scary proposition. So there's a part right before it which is mostly the same, except the pit won't kill you. This allows you to practice the setpiece in a safe environment.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, due to its inevitably smaller screen resolution, allows the player to reorient the screen by pressing up, or pressing select so that the camera view stays fixed ahead of Mario. Likewise, the original game's Ratchet Scrolling has been slightly nerfed in this port so that Mario can slightly backtrack in a level, again to accommodate the smaller view of the screen.
    • All-Stars and Deluxe will play a chime when the correct paths are taken in "mazes" like World 7-4.
  • Aquatic Mook: The game marks the debut of the most common Aquatic Mooks in the franchise, the squid-like Bloopers and fishlike Cheep Cheeps, found on almost every occasion where Mario goes underwater, alongside their assorted stronger forms. Cheep Cheeps will also often jump out of the water when Mario is passing on platforms or bridges above them. Bloopers are found almost exclusively underwater, moving either upward diagonally or downward straight, but some of them can be seen hovering in the air in Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels and Super Mario Maker.
  • Art Evolution:
    • According to this Iwata Asks, Miyamoto utilised external illustrators to flesh out his rough pencil sketches since Donkey Kong. When it came time to do this game's (Japanese) package illustrationnote , Miyamoto had to do the art himself, since there was no time left for him to hire a mainstream artist. This was the result. It was Yoichi Kotabe who fleshed out the designs of the characters since then. Notable mention goes to Bowser. Miyamoto himself was aiming for the appearance of an ox for Bowser's design, even though he's supposed to be a turtle. Upon reflection on this, Miyamoto remarked, "I'd been drawing something completely incomprehensible — a turtle's body with an ox's head!" In a Mythology Gag, Midbus, Bowser's rival from Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, more closely resembles an ox, with some boar characteristics thrown in.
    • Within the game itself, the Super Mushroom, 1-Up Mushroom, and Fire Flower have completely different designs than those that became standard in later games. The mushrooms are much more realistic-looking, have different colors (orange and red for the cap of the Super Mushroom, and green and brown for the 1-Up Mushroom), and lack faces. The Fire Flower is a glowing disk. The mushrooms began to change with Super Mario Bros. 2 before settling into their now-standard designs with Super Mario World. The Fire Flower changed to its most familiar design with Super Mario All-Stars.
  • The Artifact:
    • Mario and Luigi being plumbers and travelling through pipes. This made sense in Mario Bros., which was envisioned as taking place in the New York sewers; not so much in the Mushroom Kingdom. However, it became an integral part of the gameplay and setting, and its incongruous nature helped create the series' World of Chaos reputation.
    • Mario being able to hit enemies on top of a block by hitting the block below them (in fact, the whole concept of hitting blocks from below) is a hold over from the gameplay of the original Mario Bros., where it was your only means of attack (Mario couldn't Goomba Stomp in that game, so he had to knock an enemy on their back by hitting the floor below them, allowing him to run up and then knock them off the screen). Fortunately, this managed to fit in with the more flexible play style of this game (it helps that in this game, the move offs an enemy on the spot instead of just stunning them), so it was carried over into future installments.
  • Artifact Title:
    • Super Mario Bros. is a completely different game from the original Mario Bros., most notably lacking the 2P co-op mode from the original (being replaced by an alternating mode instead). As a result, Luigi's presence in the game feels rather thrown in, since it makes no difference whether the second player controls Luigi or another Mario. The sequels would try to remedy this by either: making Luigi into a selectable character with a different play-style (as seen in both versions of Super Mario Bros. 2) or by allowing both players to split the game's stages among themselves and throwing in a minigame version of the original Mario Bros..
    • The name Mario Bros. evokes a business, the sort of name crammed onto a sign with limited space and abbreviated by necessity. Such a title fit the premise of the 1983 arcade game, in which Mario and Luigi were plumbers cleaning out New York's sewers. In this game, the whole plumber business thing is irrelevant aside from the presence of pipes.
  • Artwork and Game Graphics Segregation:
    • In official artwork, Mario wears a red cap & overalls with a blue shirt, yet wears a brown shirt in-game. Meanwhile, Luigi has no official artwork, and consequently wears white with a green shirt to match his artwork from the Atari 2600 port of Mario Bros.. Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. would riff on this by featuring a number of sleep mode screens where Mario and Luigi are colored identically to their in-game sprites.
    • Princess Peach is depicted with blonde hair and a pink dress in official art, but is a redhead with a white dress in-game. This would go on to affect her depictions in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! and The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 thanks to the production staff having only a limited amount of reference material to go off of. Twenty-eight years later, Peach's white with red trim dress would be acknowledged by making it her Fire Form.
    • Bowser is depicted in much of the game's Japanese artwork with blue skin and a yellow mohawk, but is green-skinned and bald in-game. Later artwork would update Bowser's skin color to match his sprite, while his initial blue-skinned look would be carried over to his brother, who appears as an enemy in Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels.
  • Ascended Glitch: The multi-coin blocks were reportedly a programming error that was left in because they liked it.
  • Attract Mode: It features one, and the computer's one of the worst Mario players ever (most likely to minimize spoilers).
  • Battle Theme Music: The game is notable for showing a notable aversion of this trope in both the original NES version and Deluxe for Game Boy Color. Even when you meet Bowser at the end of a Castle level, the latter's music still plays. It is played straight in the All-Stars version, where you can hear a battle theme strongly inspired by that of Super Mario Bros. 3 when you're fighting Bowser in the first seven world; a different, more dramatic theme is played for the final showdown.
  • Big Bad: Bowser. He's the kidnapper of Princess Peach and the one responsible for all the havoc occurring in the Mushroom Kingdom.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The game introduces the Buzzy Beetles, which resemble reptilian beetles that act like Koopas, but cannot be killed with fireballs. These enemies only appear in a few worlds during a normal playthrough, but replace the Goombas in all worlds during the New Game Plus.
  • Blackground: The game employs the trope as the background for their underground/inside-the-pipe, dungeons and boss stages.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation:
    • In the story provided by the manual, the word "horsetail" (referring to the plants in the background of some courses) was mistranslated as "horse-hair".
    • The Portuguese translation of the manual was based on the English localization. The term "Mushroom Retainers" ended up being translated as "Cogumelos Retardadores" (Mushroom Retardants, in other words).
  • Bombardier Mook: The game introduces the Lakitus, which are the most common and iconic example of this in the franchise. They don't attack Mario outright, but instead sit on clouds a good way above Mario's jump range and toss an endless supply of Spiny Eggs, which turn into the eponymous enemies on landing.
  • Boss-Arena Idiocy: You know this one. You touch the axe to destroy the bridge Bowser is on.
  • Bottomless Pits: Many levels have pits that must be avoided; even the pools of water and lava act this way instead of simply drowning or burning you respectively. Of special note are those of World 8, because they're much wider and require long jumps (which are difficult to perform and properly time due to the game's outdated physics in comparison to later Mario games) to be overcome.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • Inverted; the English manual uses the word "kill" and "die" throughout, but the Japanese manual says "defeated" and the like.
    • Played straight with the Kiraa/Killer enemy, whom the English version renames to Bullet Bill.
  • Breakable Power-Up: The Trope Codifier. The Super Mushroom transforms Mario into Super Mario, capable of breaking bricks by jumping into them from below. The Fire Flower transforms Super Mario into Fire Mario (or regular Mario into Super Mario, if you're unlucky enough to get hit after finding one), capable of throwing fireballs. Both powerups act as a Single-Use Shield, and upon being hit Mario reverts to regular Mario, losing the abilities granted him by the powerups.
  • Breakout Character: This game introduces Princess Peach and Toad, who would go on to be iconic mainstays of the series. Peach in particular would replace Pauline as Mario's heroine, and Pauline would be relegated to remakes and a few Mario vs Donkey Kong games before finally reappearing in a main game with Peach 32 years later.
  • Breakout Villain: Mario tangled with some rivals beforehand, like Donkey Kong and Foreman Spike, but the success of this game guaranteed that Bowser and the Koopa Troop would be his eternal enemies from here on out. Bowser in particular would be the plumber's most enduring nemesis.
  • Bonus Level of Heaven: The "Coin Heaven" bonus areas. They can be accessed by unveiling, and then climbing, a beanstalk hidden in a block. There's a platform that allows Mario and Luigi to grab the upper-placed coins, though it moves forward continuously so they have to act fast.
  • Cap: The maximum lives you can have is 127. Any more and you will overflow into negative lives, triggering a Game Over the next time you die.
  • Cheat Code: If you get a Game Over, press Start while holding down the A button to start at the world you died in. Mercifully, if you forget which button and try pressing Start while holding B, nothing happens.
  • Cheated Angle: In the original game, the Mario Bros. always have their head to the side they're walking towards, even when they aren't moving and the rest of their body is facing the screen. The only time they ever fully face the viewer is if they're dying.
  • Checkpoint: Most levels have an invisible checkpoint near the middle, except for castle levels and all of World 8. In some later levels, these checkpoints do more harm than good, as they are often located after the one power-up in the level and you can't backtrack.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: None of the castle levels have checkpoints, nor do any of World 8's. Also, the time limit in them is only 300 seconds instead of 400, which forces the player to reach the end quickly (8-1 is also very long on its own, which makes it even more difficult).
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Killing the Fake Bowser with fireballs at the end of World 3 will actually turn him into a Buzzy Beetle. Buzzy Beetles actually do not appear until World 4-2, and cannot be killed with fireballs. Another example is the first Fake Bowser, who is actually a gray Goomba. In the final level, all Goombas there are colored gray.
  • Collision Damage: All of the enemies deal this to you. Getting a Super Star lets you do this to the enemies instead.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: There's no difference between Mario and Luigi in terms of playability.
  • Color Contrast: Basic color contrasts such as blue, red green and brown contrasts are abundant (the grass and water levels), sometimes with black and grey (the underground and snow levels) or red, black and grey (the castles). The NES had an extremely limited color palette and they had very little memory to work with on the game.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Red mushrooms (extra hit point) vs. green (1-Up), red Koopas (they patrol specific areas) vs. green (they come straight at you).
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: The villains in Donkey Kong and Wrecking Crew were the titular ape who kidnapped a girl and just caused trouble on a construction site, and Foreman Spike, a Bad Boss who simply hindered Mario's work respectively. Bowser's a straight up Knight of Cerebus who transformed innocent people using black magic, invaded an entire kingdom with an army, and kidnapped a princess. He's also very supernatural compared to the previous antagonists, being a fire-breathing demon king as opposed to the more realistic gorilla and Bad Boss.
  • Contrasting Sequel Setting: Mario's first few appearances, such as Donkey Kong and Mario Bros., took place in a relatively down-to-Earth generic city setting. This game takes place in the whimsical fantasy world of the Mushroom Kingdom inhabited by anthropormorphic mushrooms and invaded by a fire-breathing turtle-ox-dragon, which has remained the series' primary setting ever since.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: The game only had 40 KB of memory, so they used repeating patterns three screens wide for decorative backgrounds such as hills and clouds. It also reused about two models for castle exteriors (small and large). On top of that, five entire levels were reused, as well as World 4-4 and 7-4 which would actually loop if the player takes the wrong path, and they used the exact same sprite for the clouds and bushes the only difference being the clouds were white whereas the bushes were green.
  • Demoted to Extra: Luigi only appears as player #2 in a two-player game, which is itself greatly diminished in importance due to the game's lack of co-op play, which was the main draw of the original Mario Bros. He doesn't even appear on the game's cover, nor is he mentioned in the manual's storyline.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: World 6-3 is either this, or simply a representation of snow. The latter case was made more explicit in the All-Stars remake, thanks to the upgraded graphics.
  • Drop the Hammer: The game marks the debut of the Hammer Brothers, elite-class Koopas that throw hammers at Mario and Luigi while jumping between spots. Bowser also has the ability to throw hammers at Mario/Luigi in a similar fashion to the Hammer Bros.
  • Drought Level of Doom: World 8 is scarce in power-ups, particularly 8-1, which has no Super Mushrooms or Fire Flowers, and 8-4, which has no power ups at all.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: The manual references a "Mushroom King", the father of Princess Toadstool. He is never even alluded to in-game or in any subsequent game. The reason for this is that he is the invention of the English localization; the Japanese manual does not mention him.
  • Dub Name Change: Every character other than Mario, Luigi, and Hammer Brother was renamed for the English version.
    • Kame-ichizoku (Turtle Tribe) > Koopas
    • Daimaou Koopa (Demon King Koopa) > Bowser, King of the Koopas
    • Peach-hime (Princess Peach) > Princess Toadstool
    • Kinopio > Mushroom Retainer
    • Kuribo > Little Goomba
    • Nokonoko > Koopa Troopa
    • Patapata > Koopa Paratroopa
    • Gessou > Bloober
    • Pakkun Flower > Pirana [sic] Plant
    • Jugemu > Lakitu
    • Togezou > Spiny
    • Paipo > Spiny's egg
    • Killer > Bullet Bill
    • Killer Taihou > Turtle Cannon
    • Metto > Buzzy Beetle
    • Pukupuku > Cheep Cheep
    • Bubble > Podoboo
    • Star > Starman
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The Disk System version (accidentally) contains Bloopers in the air in World -3, which would made a proper appearance in Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: Look at Bowser up there. Does he look anything like the Bowser we're all familiar with today? Princess Toadstool got this too.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: This was the first game to truly define Mario platformers as we know them today, and it introduced many iconic elements that have been mainstays in the series since. Despite that, the game also features numerous quirks and oddities that were phased out in later games. A detailed analysis can be found here.
  • Easter Egg: If you wait long enough on the title screen, then a brief demo will start to play.
  • Easy Level Trick: If you're Super Mario or Super Luigi, you can easily bypass large chunks of the underground levels by breaking through the brick ceiling and running along the top to the end.
  • Elite Mooks: Hammer Brothers. They not only strafe back and forth in one spot but usually pop up in groups and throw an endless supply of hammers that are very hard to dodge. If you didn't get a Fire Flower beforehand, you're in for a world of hurt with them.
  • Endless Corridor: Taking the wrong path in the castle of World 4 will send you back to an earlier point in the level, effectively duplicating the level until you find the correct path. This also happens in the respective castles of Worlds 7 and 8, with the latter requiring you to enter the right Warp Pipes instead.
  • Endless Game: Famous for averting it (back in the day, most video games played it straight, hence the players' surprise), although technically, you can play the levels again after the ending.
  • Every 10,000 Points: 100 coins equal a 1-Up.
  • Evil Living Flames: The game marks the debut of Lava Bubbles (also called Podoboos), which are living fireballs with no features besides simple eyes, which often act as hazards in fire-themed levels. They're usually passive — most appearance just have them jumping in and out of lava, only hurting Mario if he runs into them — but the RPG games such as Super Mario RPG and the Paper Mario series have them as more aggressive enemies that actively attack Mario and resemble floating candle flames.
  • Excuse Plot: One of the classic staples of the video game excuse plot, also codifying one of its subtropes in the process; Bowser has kidnapped the princess and is trying to take over the Mushroom Kingdom, and Mario and Luigi have to save the day! Now press start and go save the day!
  • Expy:
    • Koopa Troopas stand in for Shellcreepers, the turtle enemies from the original Mario Bros..
    • According to developer interviews, Bowser is based on Gyuumaou (Ox King) from the 1960 animated film Saiyuki, AKA Alakazam the Great.
  • Fireballs: From the Fire Flower, of course.
  • Fireworks of Victory: In any outdoor level, fireworks will explode in the sky when you reach the small castle with the timer ending in a 1, 3, or 6 (the number of fireworks launched will equal the last digit). Each firework rewards you 500 extra points apiece.
  • Flying Seafood Special: Cheep Cheeps, which jump out of the water and into the air.
  • Franchise Codifier: The game defined the platforming genre and set up the basic plot elements of the Mario franchise for years to come: Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser and Mario needs to go rescue her; elements like pipes, coin blocks, Warp Zones and Goomba Stomp debuted in the series here. The most fundamental powerups in the series (the Mushroom, the Fire Flower and the Starman) made their debut in this game as well.
  • Fungus Humongous: Starting from this game, the Mario franchise in general has had levels with huge mushrooms that can be used as platforms in a number of games. In later games, some of them either tilt or mildly lower while Mario or Luigi steps onto them.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: There is actually only one Buzzy Beetle that can be killed with fireballs in this game. It's disguised as Bowser at the end of World 3-4.
  • The Goomba: The Trope Namer is the Goomba (known as Kuribo in Japan), introduced in this game. It was revealed in an interview that the Goombas were actually created at the end of the game's development, because the other main enemy (the Koopa Troopa) required a two-step process to defeat, and the developers wanted to give players something simpler to defeat. Even Satoru Iwata, the then-current Nintendo president, was shocked at the fact that one of the most iconic Mario enemies was created last. Ironically, in some of the other games, Koopa Troopas are even weaker than Goombas!
  • Green Hill Zone: The game's first level, 1-1, is the possible Trope Codifier (even though it's left ambiguous whether the ground is grassy, remakes often depict the ground as grassy).
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Each x-1 level has a hidden 1-Up Mushroom in it. Besides the one in 1-1, they only appear if you've gotten all the coins in the previous x-3 level or used a Warp Pipe (e.g. to get the one in 2-1, you need to get all the coins in 1-3).
    • World 4-4 and 7-4 in the original since there is no chime for a correct passageway. Even if one memorizes the routes for both levels, 7-4's solution has been altered in VS.
  • Handwave: The manual gives a flimsy excuse on why kicked Koopa shells don't affect enemies that are off screen - they simply jumped over the shell when Mario wasn't looking.
  • Hard Mode Filler: Some of the later stages. Namely Worlds 5-3, 5-4, 6-4, 7-2, 7-3 and 7-4, which are harder versions of 1-3, 2-4, 1-4, 2-2, 2-3 and 4-4 respectively. In VS., these harder stages are bumped ahead and replaced with new stages that later formed part of The Lost Levels.
  • Hard Mode Mooks: Downplayed. Buzzy Beetles show up in the regular games but, in the New Game Plus, they also replace the Goombas present in regular gameplay.
  • Hard Mode Perks: The "hard mode" replaces all Goombas with Buzzy Beetles, which allows the player to get as many lives as they want by having their shells being kicked repeatedly against certain structures, much like a Koopa shell. It also makes clearing a whole row of enemies much easier — stomping a Beetle and kicking it to take out all the others is effortless compared to stomping all Goombas individually.
  • Hitbox Dissonance:
    • Super Mario's hitbox is normally twice as tall as standard Mario's, which makes sense. Crouching eliminates the top half of the hitbox, rendering it the same size as standard Mario's, which also makes sense. Crouching while underwater and then swimming causes Super Mario's hitbox to remain at half-height, causing enemies to pass through his upper half harmlessly, which does not make sense until you realize that you normally stay crouched when you jump this way, but there's no sprite for a crouched swimmer; so what you're actually doing is swimming while crouched, but the lack of sprites causes a visual glitch.
    • Another strange thing related to hitboxes is the game's collision detection. If Mario is rising, he will take damage from hitting an enemy regardless of whether he is on top of the enemy or below it. On the other hand, if he is falling, he will cause damage to the enemy (assuming it's not The Spiny) regardless of whether the enemy is on top or he is.
  • House Rules: VS. has different DIP Switches to make the game even harder. This includes altering your starting lives, the timer's speed, how many coins for a 1-Up, and the number of lives given after a continue.
  • Idle Animation: Sort of. If you stay in one spot for 30 seconds, with a Hammer Brother nearby, the Hammer Brother will leave its perch, and actively start chasing you. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels would introduce Hammer Brothers that actively chased the player from their first appearance.
  • Infinite 1-Ups: Line a Koopa shell just right against a staircase at the end of 1-1 or 3-1, and your jumps will turn into a chain reaction, triggering loads of points followed by One Ups. But woe to you if you exceed 127 lives, because the life counter will overflow into negative lives, causing your next death to be a Game Over.Details  This was fixed in the Super Mario All-Stars version, which stores the lives in an unsigned integer variable which has a cap of 128 lives.
  • In Name Only: Aside from the presence of Mario, Luigi, turtle enemies, pipes, fireballs, and coins, Super Mario Bros. really doesn't have anything to do with Mario Bros., although it does have some similar elements (you can still attack enemies from below when they are on brick platforms).
  • Instructive Level Design: As repeatedly explained in various interviews, Shigeru Miyamoto designed World 1-1 as an extended tutorial for the game's mechanics and physics, with every element being either an antepiece for more complex material in later levels or a Player Nudge that helps clue one in on elements that might be confusing without explanation (such as the difference between Goombas and Super Mushrooms, which look and behave similarly at face value).
  • Invincibility Power-Up: The Super Star (aka Starman) and its famous jingle debut here.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: The Fire Bars and Podoboos (fireballs), the latter being listed among the enemies in the manual (so not merely a trap). Later games reclassified the Fire Bars as hazards, as noted in Super Mario Maker 2 which groups it in the Gizmo category. In Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, there is one castle where you have the opportunity to kick a Koopa shell at one. You get points for the kill, but a new one spawns immediately in the same spot.
  • Jumping Fish: Worlds 2-3 and 7-3 require Mario to run across a long bridge while dodging swarms of jumping Cheep Cheeps.
  • Jump Physics: The Trope Maker. The game has very well thought out jump physics, and the level designs were tailored around it. Mario can jump five times his height, can jump farther when running, and he maintains just enough midair control to cut short a forward jump. Mario holds his momentum for a bit when he's in mid air or lands, even if the D-Pad is released. Even if he bumps into a wall in motion, he still holds his momentum and maintains mid air jump control. If he bumps his head into something, it quickly knocks him back down (the cramped castle levels are specifically designed to use this against you) but it won't stop him from moving.
  • King Mook: Bowser, who is the only boss in the game, is an evolved Koopa Troopa with a skipy shell and the ability to shoot fireballs.
  • Knight of Cerebus: While the franchise would eventually feature much more wicked villains in the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi games, Bowser is still this compared to Donkey Kong and Foreman Spike. Donkey was an Anti-Villain who was trying to get back at Mario for abusing him, and Spike was a regular human who also happened to be a jerk and a Bad Boss, but Bowser, the draconic Evil Overlord, is genuinely intimidating.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Spinies. Mario can't kill them by jumping on them due to the spikes on their backs, so other means like the Fireballs or Koopa Shells are required to deal with them.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The Princess being in castle number 8. This has become so ingrained in our culture that most Mario games onward featuring the Princess being kidnapped also have her appear in World 8.
  • Lava Is Boiling Kool-Aid: The sprites for lava use the exact same sprites as water, just colored red.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The game's castle levels are punctuated with lava pools, lava bubbles and rotating fire bars, before being capped off each time by the fire-breathing Bowser.
  • Level 1 Music Represents: The overworld theme has become the iconic theme of the Mario series, as well as nearly every crossover and non video game appearance Mario has had.
  • Level Goal: The flagpole, which has become iconic for the franchise. Touching it is all it takes to clear the level, and the higher the part of it you touch the higher the score you'll achieve. The Castles end instead by touching the axe that breaks the bridge where Bowser is.

  • Magical Mystery Doors: The final stage of the game has pipes that operate this way: Each area has several pipes, one of which will take you onward, and the rest of which will take you back to the beginning of the level. There's actually a subtle clue there, though: It's always the pipe after the pool of lava.
  • Magic Mushroom: The Unfortunate Name of the Super Mushroom in the NES version (though not the FC version).
  • Marathon Level: World 8-1 is looooooooooooong. Even harder than making all of the tricky jumps is reaching the end before time runs out!
  • Mecha-Mooks: The game introduces the Bullet Bill, which are black sentient bullets shot from tall cannons called Bill Blasters, and travel in a straight line. Over the series' history, several variants have been introduced, such as Bull's-Eye Bills capable of homing at Mario and Luigi (Super Mario Bros. 3), Bullet Biffs that move forward with a rocket in their backs (Super Mario Land), very large bullets called Banzai Bill and the aquatic Torpedo Ted unleashed from a square-shaped cannon (Super Mario World), cat-based specimens that pursue Mario and his friends (Super Mario 3D World), and a gigantic version called King Bill which is capable of destroying everything on their way (New Super Mario Bros. Wii), among others.
  • Minsky Pickup: The classic ground/overworld theme starts with a suspiciously accurate variation of this fanfare.
  • Minus World: A famous example, coined by Nintendo Power's coverage of the glitch. Japan, meanwhile, discovered even more such worlds through a process that involves swapping out the game's cartridge with Tennis while the console's still running. This is both the Trope Namer and Trope Codifier.
  • Mood Whiplash: The underwater section of World 8-4 uses the "happy" underwater music. After passing this section, it goes back to the ominous castle music. The All-Stars version uses the castle music throughout the entire level.
  • Mythology Gag: Some of the level assets used weren't actually original to the game. The moving, red platforms with holes are repurposed from Donkey Kong, climbable vines and springboards were lifted from Donkey Kong Junior, and Koopa Troopas are reimagined Shellcreepers from Mario Bros..
  • New Game Plus: "A new quest", which you unlock by beating the game once and restarting at the title screen. Goombas are replaced with Buzzy Beetles, enemies move faster, and all of the levels with harder counterparts later in the game (e.g. 7-2 is the harder version of 2-2) are replaced with said harder counterparts. Both All-Stars and Deluxe retain this feature.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • Although at the lower end compared to other infamously hard games, it is the Trope Codifier for this by way of being likely the first to use it for the classic reason. Most 2600 games used the Endless Game model, while Mario is finite, and can be beaten if you don't get any game overs. Hence: a One-Hit-Point Wonder protagonist initially, certain difficulty spikes like the lava stages or anything with Lakitu in it, the lack of a mobility powerup, and a rather unforgiving lives system (running out sends you back to the beginning; pretty much every future game just sent you back to the start of the level or world). A major issue is that 1-Ups are so uncommon; there are exactly eight hidden 1-Up Mushroom Blocks in the game, and Coins are far less common than in later Mario games, making extra lives in a game with no save feature much more precious to have.
    • VS. Super Mario Bros.: Items and 1-Up Mushrooms are either moved or removed, you need to collect between 100 to 250 coins to earn an extra life, and every infinite lives exploit is removed. As if this wasn't enough, the original levels themselves are edited to be much harder, new levels are added in, and Warp Zones don't take you as far forward as the originals. note  It's somewhat justified as VS. Super Mario Bros. is an arcade game that's supposed to take as many quarters from players as it can.
  • Noob Cave: The game's first underground level, 1-2, exists solely to introduce you to underground levels and is almost as iconic of a classic level design as 1-1.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Mario will die in one hit from touching any enemy unless he grabbed an item beforehand.
  • Overflow Error: The game stored the number of lives as a signed byte (ranging from -128 to 127). So Mario can safely have 127 lives, but if he has more than that and then dies, it's an instant game over.
  • Pac Man Fever: Lots of sound effects from this game have turned up in children's TV shows, particularly in scenes set at arcades (there were arcade cabinet versions of the game, but it's unlikely any of those writers knew that).
  • Palette Swap: Not just with enemies and the Mario Bros.; the bushes and clouds use the same tiles.
  • Pickup Hierarchy:
    • Primary: Flagpoles, Toads, High Score Medals.
    • Secondary: Red Coins, Yoshi Eggs.
    • Tertiary: Coins.
    • Extra: Awards, Icons, Pictures, Artwork, Banners.
  • Pipe Maze:
    • World 6-2 has an inordinate amount of pipes, many of which can be entered, implying that it may be the first attempt by the series.
    • World 8-4. The pipes are the key to progressing through the level, and going down the wrong one will send you back to the beginning.
  • Platform Game: Trope Maker and Trope Codifier for many platform tropes.
  • Player Nudge: The dev team was afraid the player would confuse the mushrooms for something hostile and avoid them. To prevent this they structured the first level so that it was difficult to avoid the mushroom after it was spawned, ensuring the players would see it was not harmful when it struck them.
  • Power-Up: There are three of them:
    • The Super Mushroom, which makes Mario bigger and gives him an extra hit point, as well as allowing him to smash bricks by jumping into them from below, with the only tradeoff being that he's a bigger target for enemies and can't go into smaller spaces without ducking and sliding.
    • The Fire Flower, which gives Mario the ability to shoot fireballs ahead of him, and retains the benefits of the Super Mushroom. However, you need to have grabbed the Super Mushroom beforehand to use it—grabbing it as Small Mario acts the same as grabbing a Super Mushroom.
    • The Starman, a very rare Invincibility Power-Up which makes Mario invincible for a small period of time.
  • Ratchet Scrolling:
    • Required by the way levels were stored. Each "object" in the level had a "page select" flag which, when set, told the game to advance one screenful to the right. There was no code for going back one screen, however, and as there could be a variable number of objects per page, the algorithms involved would have been a bit too complicated for the NES, where every byte and every clock cycle counted (and they were already running low on ROM space as it was). So while the game could be told to go to the next screen, there was no way to start loading objects from the previous screen, hence why you can only go right.
    • Deluxe does allow you to scroll back slightly, but only because the screen is smaller than the NES version's. Internally, it has the exact same scrolling mechanics as the NES version, but since your view is restricted to a small area around Mario, a significant amount of the "screen" is off-screen at any given moment.
  • Rearrange the Song: The VS. version totally redid the ending theme. In addition, a Hi-Score theme was added.
  • Recurring Boss: The fake Bowsers behave similarly, except the World 6 and 7 ones trade their fire breath for throwing hammers, while the real one has both. Besides those differences, the increase in difficulty comes from the layout of enemies and obstacles in the rooms they reside in.
  • Rush Boss: Bowser and his fakes, if Mario isn't powered-up. All it takes to defeat them is to run under or leap over them once and touch the ax at the end of the bridge. On the other hand, if Mario touches them or any of their hammers without a power-up, it's back to the beginning of the level.
  • Save the Princess: The game carries over the "damsel in distress" plot from Donkey Kong and sets it around a classic "dragon capturing the princess" scenario, thus setting up one of the Mario series' biggest traditions.
  • Scoring Points: Treated as an artifact in the NES version, as it doesn't even save your score when you turn it off. VS. and Deluxe both have a high-score table. In VS., the player earns 100,000 points for every life retained after rescuing Peach. In Deluxe, ending the game (by Game Over or saving Peach) over the 300,000 and 600,000 point thresholds unlocks the "You vs. Boo" and "Super Players" modes respectively. As the game technically loops infinitely, it's not as much of an artifact as it would be in later games.
  • Screen Crunch: In Super Mario Bros Deluxe, you can only see 1/3 of the original screen.
  • Shout-Out: The idea of changing size by eating mushrooms is nicked from Alice in Wonderland.
  • Single-Use Shield: The Super Mushroom and Fire Flower power ups provide this. If Mario gets hit while in big form, he'll automatically revert back to Small Mario instead of dying.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Aesthetically, Worlds 3, 5, and 7 are snow-themed, although "snow" in this game is just recolored trees and pipes; the All-Stars version of the game improves on this by making the ground actually look snowy. The only actual snow-themed level is 6-3, where the tileset is monochrome (white and gray, complementing the background's black night) and very slippery.
  • Soft Reboot: The game is a large departure from prior Mario games, which had shown urban-themed environments in comparison to this game's fantasy kingdom. It also introduced new sets of characters, including a new antagonist. It could have been a completely new series were it not for the return of Mario and Luigi.
  • The Spiny: The game marks the debut of the Trope Namer, the Spiny, which would since go on to be a mainstay in the series. Usually (but not always) dropped from the sky by the Lakitu, the Spiny is a red and yellow Koopa covered in spikes that you can't stomp, but can kill with fireballs or a regular Koopa's shell, as well as its counterpart the Buzzy Beetle (an enemy that cannot be killed with fireballs, but can be non-fatally stomped on or taken out with a Koopa shell).
  • Springs, Springs Everywhere: The game marks the first appearance of the trampolines in the series, debuting specifically in 2-1. One is used to reach the exit due to it being obstructed by a tall brick wall instead of the usual brick staircase.
  • Super Drowning Skills: On the surface levels, falling into a pit filled with water doesn't even slow your fall.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Conversely, if you're underwater, nothing aside from the standard timer can stop you from staying under for as long as you want.
  • Teaching Through Accident: The iconic ?-block set-up at the beginning of level 1-1 was created with this idea in mind:
    • The player has already been taught three things in the first few seconds of the game: Goombas are bad, Goombas can be jumped over/on, and ?-blocks give coins.
    • The player, being tempted by a second ?-block, hits it and releases the Goomba-like Super Mushroom.
    • In jumping to avoid the mushroom, the panicked player bumps a floating Brick Block. This teaches the player that Mario cannot break Brick Blocks when tiny.
    • The Brick Block stops Mario's ascent, forcing the player to collide with the mushroom. Mario grows big and the player is taught that Super Mushrooms are good.
  • Temporary Platform: Some levels have pairs of platforms, each connected to a cable strung over a pair of pulleys. As the side you stay on descends, the other side rises, but if one side rises too far, both platforms will fall into the bottomless expanse below. If the platforms fall off, you get 1000 points.
  • This Was His True Form: If defeated with fireballs rather than being thrown into the lava, the Bowsers of Worlds 1-7 are revealed to be simple minor enemies which have taken Bowser's form, likely using more of that Koopa clan magic you only ever hear about in the manual.
  • Timed Mission: Every level gives you a clock which counts down from either 300 or 400, meaning the level must be completed before the timer hits 0. The timer also counts down faster here than in Mario's later games.
  • Toggling Setpiece Puzzle: The Vs. game and its single-player variant You vs. Boo in the Deluxe version for Game Boy Color include red and white blocks that appear throughout the levels. Each of these blocks are solid for one player but not the other, and can be toggled by hitting blocks with faces on them. In the more advanced Vs. levels, there are blocks that become damaging spikes instead of disappearing, as well as levels in which the blocks flip automatically on a timer rather than solely when a player hits a face block (though the timer blocks can be hit to flip them early).
  • Too Dumb to Live: So Bowser(?), you have an axe at the end of your drawbridge that acts as a switch that makes said bridge collapse. Sure sounds handy for sending Mario into the burning lava below when he appears before you. Clearly, the ideal course of action is to... jump up and down breathing fire at Mario while still on the bridge!? And so we have the first of many a Boss-Arena Idiocy violation on Bowser's part!
  • Underground Level: World 1-2 and World 4-2 are both set in subterranean caverns, featuring Mario entering and exiting pipes to travel to and from the surface.
  • Under the Sea: World 2-2, an optional area in World 6-2, World 7-2, and a room in World 8-4 are all set underwater, with unique physics and enemy properties not found elsewhere.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: The Minus World on any version except the Famicom Disk System release, thanks to this version being an endlessly-looping water level (the FDS version is a proper world, albeit with 3 levels instead of four). Also, there are some places where you can jump on the ceiling in a castle level (i.e. x-4 level) and get stuck because there's no way down, and you have to let the timer run out.
  • Unnaturally Looping Location: In one of the later levels, the level keeps looping unless you take the right corridor out of the three ahead (and in All-Stars and Deluxe, a chime plays when you pick the right one).
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Many parts of the game are much easier as Fire Mario (with the tradeoff being a larger hitbox and cutting you off from going into smaller spaces), but if you do get hit, it takes two power-ups to climb back up to that status.
  • Updated Re-release:
  • Video Game Sliding: Super Mario Bros. is the first game in the franchise to feature a rudimentary sliding move: as Super Mario, you can get a running start and duck to slide through short gaps you couldn't otherwise pass through. Small Mario, however, has no slide move as none is necessary in that state. This slide move has endured in some form throughout all of Mario's 2D platformer games.
  • Violation of Common Sense: In 4-4, the correct route to finishing the level's maze is taking the route that is clearly more dangerous than the routes that are easier to access and pass through.
  • Waltz on Water: The Trope Maker, featuring a now-recognizable waltz in its water levels.
  • Warp Zone: Hidden in World 1-2 and 4-2 which can move the player up to the final world if they find the correct warps. In VS., the furthest a player can warp to is World 6.
  • When All Else Fails, Go Right: The Ratchet Scrolling prevents Mario from going left. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a feature in all Mario games, just Super Mario Bros and The Lost Levels.
  • A Wizard Did It: As described under All There in the Manual, many of the gameplay abstractions are explained as Koopa magic.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: There you have the Trope Namer, with the Mushroom Retainers (Toads) saying the well known line that actually goes: "Thank you Mario! But our Princess is in another castle!", forcing you to go through four more stages and seven more worlds. In context, though, both parties know this, but the guy's confused why you took a detour to help out instead of making a beeline straight for Bowser. Then the Princess also symbolically does this at the end of the game by informing Mario that he was finally successful but there's another quest waiting for him. note 



Princess Peach


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Super Mario Bros Deluxe


Turtle-tipping in World 3-1

The staircase at the end of this level is a great place to practice the trick.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / InfiniteOneUps

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