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Player Pierces 36-Year-Old Super Mario Bros. Secret

The speedrunner known as Kosmic recently posted a video to YouTube which details how players can get up to 16 coins out of the multi-coin blocks in Super Mario Bros. despite everyone assuming this number to have been ten for most of the last 36 years. The multi-coin blocks apparently have a time limit rather than a coin limit, so with enough skill and some good luck, players can earn Mario a bit more cash.

“Before we can talk about multi-coin blocks, we need to talk about frame rules,” Kosmic explains. “Super Mario Bros. uses a lot of different timers to regulate things like level transitions, enemy behavior, and so on. That’s usually achieved by the game waiting an arbitrary number of frame rules or 0.35 second chunks of time before something happens.”

Kosmic describes how a frame rule is basically a repeating cycle of 21 frames that Super Mario Bros. uses to determine when events take place. The game is in other words constantly counting down from 21. When a stage is completed for example, the current cycle can be anywhere between 21 and 1, meaning that level transitions are between 106 and 126 frames. Kosmic notes how “at the end of stages, it waits six frame rules after the flag appears before transitioning to the next level.”

Kosmic points out that “multi-coin blocks in the original Super Mario Bros. don’t have a fixed amount of coins you can get from them. The maximum number you can get depends on how many times you can jump into the block within a certain amount of time.” Kosmic goes on to say that “as you may have guessed, the game uses frame rules to determine that amount of time.” The trick is that players are actually given “11 ticks of the frame rule counter” to hit a multi-coin block.

The clock starts ticking the moment that Mario hits a multi-coin block. Supposing that a player were to hit a multi-coin block at the beginning of a frame rule, they would have more time to keep hitting the multi-coin block. “If the frame rule counter is at 0 when we first hit the block, then the first tick will only take one frame, but if the frame rule counter is at 20, it’ll take 21 frames before the first tick happens.”

Kosmic notes how “the total window to get coins from a multi-coin block is anywhere from 211 to 231 frames which is ballpark three and a half seconds.” Players have to wait 16 seconds in between hits in order for the multi-coin block to complete its animation, meaning that Mario can hit the multi-coin block up to 14 times within the given time window. The result is a total of 16 coins because Mario gets a free coin at the beginning and the end of each time window. “You get the first and last coins for free basically because the timer hasn’t started yet on the first coin and it doesn’t matter that it’s already ended for the last coin,” Kosmic explains.

While the game has been played by millions of people, Kosmic proves that Super Mario Bros. might still contain some interesting secrets. This might just be what keeps people coming back to this game after almost 37 years.

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