Without thinking too much about it, what is the maximum number of coins you can hit out of multi-coin blocks in the original Super Mario Bros.? Did you say 10? Well, you’re wrong, but it’s not your fault. You just haven’t dig into the code of the nearly 37-year-old game like a total freak.
Now we know that Super Mario Bros. Blocks have a time limit rather than a coin limit, allowing the player to repeatedly bang Mario’s head against their underside over a period of several seconds to get as many coins as possible. But this is not always common knowledge. Compressing the button below these blocks usually rewards 10 coins, and even the official strategy guide of the era call them 10 coin blocks.
Kosmic, a high level Super Mario Bros. currently holding once top 10 in the most popular booster games category of classic Nintendo games, recently shared a fascinating video of coin blocks. Obviously a maximum of 16 coins can be obtained from these blocks, but of course, The feat requires both a complex knowledge of the game’s programming and some perfect input on frames.
If you are completely familiar with Super Mario Bros. speed, you’ve probably heard of the “frame rule,” a common mathematical constant in the game’s code that also affects coin blocks.
The frame rule is a repeating cycle of 21 frames Super Mario Bros. used to dictate various aspects of the game. For example, level transitions don’t happen until the frame rule counter has passed six times, but the current frame rule when a stage is completed doesn’t have to be completely passed to count. It can be anywhere from the first frame to the 21st, which means the level transitions range from 106 frames (about 1.8 seconds) to 126 frames (about 2.1 seconds). ).
For more about framework rules and how they affect Super Mario Bros. world records, be sure to check out the video below by Bismuth, another speed runner. He is much smarter than me.
Coin blocks, as Kosmic explains, can only be hit within 11 ticks of the frame rule counter immediately after Mario’s first interaction with said block. Therefore, optimizing the coins you can squeeze out of the block follows the opposite principle of reducing the time between level transitions. Instead of trying to complete a stage at end of the frame rule to save the frame, you want to hit the coin block at begin of a frame rule to give Mario more time to jump.
Kosmic calculates that the maximum time it takes to reach a coin block is 230 frames (about 3.8 seconds) after the first hit. Share that by 16 frames Mario needs to wait for the block animation to play out before it can be hit again, and you get 14 hits. Add that to a free coin you get at both the beginning and the end of this whole chain (the block stays active until you hit it again after its timer ends) and the result is the total plus 16 dong.
Go ahead and take a breather if you find all of that overwhelming math. The rest of this blog will be waiting for you when you come back.
Perhaps more unbelievable than the fact that the skill Super Mario Bros. the player can sometimes do this without the frame rule counter showing. A few examples include Kosmic itself getting a 16-coin block in the middle Super Mario Bros. 35 match (rest in peace) and legendary speedster AndrewG does so in a high score run back in 2016.
Super Mario Bros. is a fascinating example of how seemingly simple and stale games can hide incredibly technical secrets beneath their pixelated facades. It may be the most recognizable game in history, but three decades and countless test plays still haven’t fully demonstrated its complexity for the casual player. We’re lucky to have knowledgeable people like Kosmic who are ready to provide these fun, informative lessons on how Nintendo developed one of the greatest video games of all time.