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Vimeo / Chris Higgins
Vimeo / Chris Higgins

8 Super Mario Bros. Tips, Tricks, and Glitches

Vimeo / Chris Higgins
Vimeo / Chris Higgins

Super Mario Bros. turns 30 this year. I still love the game, as it was my first Nintendo game, and I spent endless hours trying to beat the stupid thing. Today, I have a treat for you: Eight excellent tips, tricks, and weird glitches in the game.

Robin Mihara in front of some very collectible games; photo courtesy of Mihara.

These are all performed by gaming superstar Robin Mihara, who came in third at the Nintendo World Championships (NWC) in 1990, in which Super Mario Bros. was one of three mini-games performed onstage. Recently, Mihara starred in the documentary Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters (2011)—featuring another game in the NWC pantheon.

I knew a few of these as a kid, but the rest are news to me. Dig in:

1. Jump Over the Flagpole (Glitch)

If you time the jump just right, on World 3-3 you can jump over the flagpole and...well, you just keep running. There's nothing special over there.

2. Skating (Glitch)

If you're Fire Mario, you can "skate" without moving your feet—at least for a moment. When you exit a tunnel or enter a new World, jump and shoot a fireball (B+A buttons) and press right. The skating effect only lasts ten seconds or so.

3. How to Get Maximum Fireworks (Tip)

This was common knowledge when I was a kid, but I have run into some people who didn't hear about it. When you hit the flagpole, the timer in the upper right stops. If that number ends in 1, 3, or 6, you'll get the corresponding number of fireworks...and everybody knows, six fireworks rules!

4. How to Get Infinite 1-UPs (Trick)

First, get to World 3-1, a find a pair of koopa troopas descending stairs. Ignore the first one. When the second one is still on the stairs, jump on it to put it into shell-mode, then stand one step below where the shell lies. Now jump on the shell. If you time it right, you'll automatically bounce off the shell over and over, so you get lots of points and 1-UPs.

5. Win and Die Simultaneously (Glitch)

There's a weird poetic justice to this one. If Mario hits Bowser on World 8-4 at the exact moment he hits the axe (which drops Bowser into the lava pit), Mario dies. But he still wins. This results in an odd scene where Princess Peach gives a speech to no one.

6. Become Small Fire Mario (Glitch)

Okay, this is amazing, but complex. Watch the video for an example, but the gist of it is if you are any version of a "Big" Mario, Luigi, etc. (including Fire versions), and you hit any of the mini-Bowsers (anything before World 8-4) at the same moment you hit the axe, a glitch occurs. Long story short, on the next World you need to get a Mushroom (which makes you small!), then a Fire Flower, which of course makes you Small Fire Mario.

The fun part is when Small Fire Mario spits out a fireball—he briefly becomes regular Fire Mario. While you can do this on lots of levels, I recommend World 1-4 because the necessary power-ups are available early in World 2-1.

7. Vine Dancing (Trick)

This just adds some flair to your performance; it doesn't get you anything special. When you reach the top of a vine, keep pressing up, and you'll "dance." I feel that this is appropriate when you're about to steal a bunch of coins from a bonus World. (Note that in this run, Mihara missed one coin—that pesky last one—and let out a groan that I did not record.)

8. Reach World -1 (Glitch)

This is epic. If you do a special crouch-jump on World 1-2, you enter a glitched-out Warp Zone that brings you to "World -1," a water world identical to World 7-2. The only difference is that you can't win; you just keep swimming until you run out of time...even if you reach the pipe. Brutal and weird.

Further Reading

For more Super Mario Bros. glitches, check out the Super Mario Wiki list of glitches. You might also be interested in my article Will the Real "Super Mario Bros. 2" Please Stand Up?

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Cell Free Technology
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This Pixel Kit Will Let You Play Tetris With Jellyfish DNA
Cell Free Technology
Cell Free Technology

Forget playing Tetris on your phone. Now you can play it with jellyfish DNA. Bixels is a DIY game kit that lets you code your own games using synthetic biology, lighting up a digital display with the help of DNA.

Its 8-by-8 pixel grid is programmed to turn on with the help of the same protein that makes jellyfish glow, called green fluorescent protein (GFP). But you can program it to do more than just passively shine. You can use your phone and the associated app to excite Bixels' fluorescent proteins and make them glow at different frequencies, producing red, blue, and green colors. Essentially, you can program it like you would any computer, but instead of electronics powering the system, it's DNA.

Two blue boxes hold Bixel pixel grids.

Researchers use green fluorescent protein all the time in lab experiments as an imaging agent to illuminate biological processes for study. With Bixels, all you need is a little programming to turn the colorful lights (tubes filled with GFP) into custom images or interactive games like Tetris or Snake. You can also use it to develop your own scientific experiments. (For experiment ideas, Bixels' creator, the Irish company Cell-Free Technology, suggests the curricula from BioBuilder.)

A screenshot shows a user assembling a Bixel kit on video.

A pixel kit is housed in a cardboard box that looks like a Game Boy.

Bixels is designed to be used by people with all levels of scientific knowledge, helping make the world of biotechnology more accessible to the public. Eventually, Cell-Free Technology wants to create a bio-computer even more advanced than Bixels. "Our ultimate goal is to build a personal bio-computer which, unlike current wearable devices, truly interacts with our bodies," co-founder Helene Steiner said in a press release.

Bixels - Play tetris with DNA from Cell-Free Technology on Vimeo.

You can buy your own Bixel kit on Kickstarter for roughly $118. It's expected to ship in May 2018.

All images courtesy Cell-Free Technology

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Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images
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science
Play a Game to Help Scientists Defeat a Cancer-Causing Toxin
Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images
Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images

If you're used to fighting virtual zombies or flying spaceships on your computer, a new series of games available on Foldit may sound a little unconventional. The object of the Aflatoxin Challenge is to rearrange protein structures and create new enzymes. But its impact on the real world could make it the most important game you've ever played: The scientists behind it hope it will lead to a new way to fight one of the most ruthless causes of liver cancer.

As Fast Company reports, the citizen science project is a collaboration between Mars, Inc. and U.C. Davis, the University of Washington, the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa, and Thermo Fisher Scientific. The team's online puzzles, which debuted on Foldit earlier this month, invite the public to create a new enzyme capable of finding and destroying carcinogens known as aflatoxins.

Aflatoxins form when certain fungi grow on crops like corn, nuts, and grains. Developing countries often don't have the resources to detect it in food, leaving around 4.5 billion people vulnerable to it. When people do eat food with high aflatoxin levels unknowingly, they can contract liver cancer. Roughly a quarter of all liver cancer cases around the world can be traced back to aflatoxin exposure.

The toxin's connection to agriculture is why the food giant Mars is so interested in fighting it. By working on a way to stop aflatoxins on a molecular level, the company could prevent its spread more efficiently than they would with less direct methods like planting drought-resistant crops or removing mold by hand.

The easiest way for scientists to eradicate an aflatoxin before it causes real harm is by making an enzyme that does the work for them. With the Aflatoxin Challenge, the hope is that by manipulating protein structures, online players will come up with an enzyme that attacks aflatoxins at a susceptible portion of their molecular structure called a lactone ring. Destroying the lactone ring makes aflatoxin much less toxic and essentially safe to eat.

The University of Washington launched Foldit in 2008. Since then, the online puzzle platform has been used to study a wide range of diseases including AIDS and Chikungunya. Everyone is welcome to contribute to the Foldit's new aflatoxin project for the next several weeks or so, after which scientists will synthesize genes based on the most impressive results to be used in future studies.

[h/t Fast Company]

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