How to Get 99 Extra Lives in "Super Mario Bros." for NES

by James Holloway ; Updated September 22, 2017

There are several ways to accumulate lives in "Super Mario Bros.," from collecting coins to finding 1-Up mushrooms. If you want to earn 99 lives quickly, however, the easiest way to do it is with the trick known as "turtle tipping" or the "stomp sequence." One of the best places to pull off this trick is in World 3-1. You'll want to be Super Mario, or Mario after he has ingested the Super Mushroom, in order to use this strategy. While there is a second way to achieve 99 lives in a two-player game, it's much more complicated.

Using the Stomp Sequence

Play through the game until you reach World 3-1 and make your way through the level. As you approach the end of the level, you'll see a flight of steps leading up toward the end-of-level flag. Two Koopa Troopas will be coming down the steps. This is the second staircase you'll encounter in the level; the first will have Goombas on it rather than Koopa Troopas.

Wait for the first Koopa Troopa to go by. As the second nears the edge of any step, jump on it to drive it into its shell. Don't kick the shell, but leave it in place.

Move to the step below the step you left the Koopa Troopa on. Walk up to the right-hand edge of the step so that Mario is directly next to the shell.

Jump straight up. As Mario comes down, he should kick the shell toward the right. Mario will bounce back up after kicking the shell. If you've positioned the shell correctly, Mario will be coming down from his bounce just as the shell ricochets back to the edge of the step. Mario will land on the shell, kick it back to the right and bounce up again.

Count the lives as you score them, as "Super Mario Bros." does not display lives during gameplay. As you bounce off the shell, you'll quickly start scoring 1-Ups, so it will take a keen eye to spot every one. Eventually, however, you'll land back on the ground. When this happens, jump up again and restart the sequence.

Complete the level after you have either amassed 99 lives or time runs short.

Using the Two-Player Glitch

Finish the game once in two-player mode. The sequence of worlds will start again with some changes: This is known as either the second quest or hard mode. For instance, Goombas will be replaced by Buzzy Beetles.

Complete World 1-1 as Mario. When World 1-2 begins, go into the pipe, but then let Mario die. Charging into the Buzzy Beetles should do the trick. Let the second player take over as Luigi.

Proceed to World 5-2 as Luigi without dying. The easiest way to do this is to use the secret Warp Pipes located in both worlds 1-2 and 4-2.

Make your way through World 5-2 until you reach a set of platforms just to the right of a Hammer Brother who is standing on a row of question blocks. The leftmost block of the top platform is a beanstalk block. Hit it and jump on to the beanstalk. Don't climb, though; allow the Hammer Brother to hit Luigi with one of his hammers. Mario will now start over in World 1-2.

Climb partly up the beanstalk which mysteriously appears from the floor in World 1-2. As the Buzzy Beetles pass under you, drop down to stomp them. The left-hand Buzzy Beetle can now be kicked between Mario and the wall just like the Koopa Troopa in World 3-1. Better yet, because there's a block at the right-hand side of this platform, you don't have to worry about the shell falling into a pit.


  • You can perform the stomp sequence anywhere there's a Koopa Troopa, Koopa Paratroopa or Buzzy Beetle and a step to bounce it off. The spot in World 3-1 is just the most convenient place to do this.


  • Keep track of the lives you've accumulated. The numbering system that displays how many lives you have between worlds will break down once you exceed 19 lives. Don't go over 99 lives, or you run the risk of ending the game with your next death, no matter how many lives you have.

About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.