How to Get 99 Guys in "Super Mario Bros" for the NES

By Amy McNulty

Updated September 22, 2017

Learn how to get 99 lives, or "guys," in "Super Mario Bros." for the NES in order to give yourself an advantage while playing what IGN calls a deceptively difficult game to master. The technique called "turtle tipping" provides the maximum 99 lives if you perform the trick correctly. However, you won't be able to perform this trick correctly on your first try unless you're particularly skilled or lucky. Be prepared to fail a few times before you succeed.

Advance to level 3-1. The 99 lives trick appears in world 3, level 1. Battle through worlds 1 and 2 in order to reach this 99 lives opportunity.

Battle through level 3-1. The 99 lives trick is at the end of level 3-1. Survive the level until the end.

Pause before the staircase with two green koopa troopa (turtle) enemies on it. At the end of level 3-1, you will see a staircase with two koopa troopa enemies. Pause before this staircase and ready yourself for the trick.

Jump over the first koopa troopa to descend the stairs. The first koopa troopa is not a part of the trick. Jump atop this first koopa troopa on your way up the stairs if you'd like, but it's not necessary.

Jump atop the second koopa troopa just as it reaches the end of one of the stairs. Jump on the second koopa troopa and it will hide in its shell.

Jump repeatedly atop the second koopa troopa's shell. Line up Mario so that he's on the left edge of the koopa troopa shell. Jump repeatedly on the shell. The shell bounces into the back of the stair and back out. Each time you jump on the shell -- and the shell does not fly away from the stairs -- you will earn one life.


Eat a mushroom before you reach the end of level 3-1. A mega mushroom makes Mario larger and allows him an extra hit before he loses a life.

Return to level 3-1 as needed. You can repeat the 99 lives trick as often as you'd like when you need more lives.


Pause when you jump to check the number of lives you currently have via the menu. Don't earn more than 99 lives or Mario will get a game over.