Minus World
Mario location
First appearanceSuper Mario Bros.
Information
TypeUnderwater

The Minus World is a glitched level found in the 1985 video game Super Mario Bros. It can be encountered by maneuvering the protagonist, Mario, in a particular way to trick the game into sending them to the wrong area. Players who enter this area are greeted with an endless, looping water level in the American version, while the Japanese version sends them to a sequence of three different levels. The difference is due to the former being on a cartridge and the latter being on a disk, which arrange data in different ways. It gained exposure in part thanks to the magazine Nintendo Power discussing how the glitch is encountered, and Super Mario Bros. creator Shigeru Miyamoto denied that the addition of the Minus World was intentional, though he later commented that the fact that it does not crash as a game could make it count as a game feature.

The existence and revelation of this glitch lead to rumors being spread about further secrets existing in Super Mario Bros. It has gone down as one of the greatest secrets and glitches in video game history, with the term Minus World coming to refer to areas in games that exist outside of normal parameters, such as The Legend of Zelda. Frog Fractions designer Jim Stormdancer cited it as inspiration for making Frog Fractions the way he did, while Spelunky creator Derek Yu talked about his nostalgia for Minus World, lamenting a lack of mystique found in modern games. References to the Minus World can be found in both Super Paper Mario and Super Meat Boy.

Summary[edit | edit source]

The screen displaying World -1 on entering the Minus World

The Minus World is a glitched level found in the 1985 Nintendo Entertainment System video game Super Mario Bros., which is found after World 1-2. In order to encounter it, players must maneuver Mario through the bricks separating the normal exit from the Warp Zone area. So long as players do not lock the screen in position, players can make Mario enter the first Warp Pipe before the "Welcome to Warp Zone!" text is revealed. The console did not have a method to check for collisions between tiles, and the task of checking all points around a tile for possible collision points was too difficult for the game's MOS Technology 6502. To compensate for this, the designers put boundary boxes around objects and compare a limited number of collision boundaries. Mario's sprite has two points, one on each foot, each detecting his collision with the floor. The game would normally eject Mario in the opposite direction he is going if he is considered inside a block, which can be averted by crouching while jumping into it and, at the exact right moment, pushing left, causing him to be ejected on the other side of the wall. The game then erroneously sets the far-left Warp Pipe to send him to World -1.[1] When players successfully pull this off, they are presented with a screen reading World -1, and then Mario is put in a water level that loops the end with the beginning, and as a result, cannot be beaten. It is a copy of the stage, World 7-2, aside from the looping.[2] The level is identified in the internal memory as "World 36-1," but when it tries to display this, 36 is replaced with a blank space.[3] The reason the glitch occurs is because of a misread byte.[4]

The Japanese version of the game on the Famicom Disk System has a different result from performing the glitch; instead of looping after Mario reaches the end of the level, it goes through three different levels until players reach the goal and the game ending.[5][3][1] The Japanese levels start with an underwater level as well, with floating Princess Peach and Bowser sprites at multiple points.[1] The reason why the two versions' Minus Worlds differ is due to the North American version using a cartridge and the Japanese version using a disk. Cartridges and disks arrange data in different ways, resulting in the different versions sending the offset the Warp Pipe receives arriving at a different byte in the programming.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

When Super Mario Bros. creator Shigeru Miyamoto was asked about the Minus World, he denied authorship and said that it was not intended.[4] When asked later about the Minus World, Miyamoto commented that while it was a glitch, the fact that it does not crash the game makes it a feature as well.[6] Since its discovery, the Minus World has resulted in people believing that Super Mario Bros. designers hid secret levels for skilled players to find.[1] It was featured in the third issue of Nintendo Power, describing it as "an endless water world from which no one has ever escaped." This appearance provided photographic evidence of the glitch.[4][1]

Reception[edit | edit source]

The Minus World was an "incredible phenomenon" and has become well-known over time according to Screen Rant, becoming a part of the video game design lexicon.[7][2] Siliconera staff called it "legendary," while Game Informer writer Ian Boudreau called it "one of gaming's most famous glitches."[8][9] Kotaku writer Jason Schreier wrote that it was "seared into video game history."[10] Nintendo Life writer Gavin Lane called it "one of the most famous" of Nintendo's glitches.[11] Edge staff discussed how its impact was "purely symbolic and contextual," discussing it as the glitch with the most "lasting influence." They felt that it was so appealing because it was relatively easy to accomplish, suggesting that its early popularity influenced the trend of secret levels.[2] Both Screen Rant and GamesRadar+ made note of the fact that it is an infinite water level, with Screen Rant calling it "every gamer's worst nightmare."[12][13] GamesRadar+ Justin Towell called it "one of the greatest" video game secrets.[14] According to a game play counselor for Nintendo, the Minus World was one of the most often-requested tricks by callers.[15]

Legacy[edit | edit source]

The term 'Minus World' has become a term to refer to an area outside of the parameters of the game, with The Escapist identifying the Super Mario Bros. instance as "one of the first and most classic" examples.[16] Glitches in other games have been referred to as a Minus World, including the first The Legend of Zelda.[17] Frog Fractions- and Frog Fractions 2-designer Jim Stormdancer cited moments like the Minus World as his inspiration for creating these games, wanting to "recapture the sense of mystery" these moments evoked.[18] Derek Yu, creator of Spelunky, discussed how he holds nostalgia for the Minus World, calling it an "incredible [piece] of lore for [Super Mario Bros.]" while lamenting how modern games lack that kind of mystique.[19]

The 2007 video game Super Paper Mario featured an area called "World -1," in reference to the glitch, which acts as a purgatory.[16][20] The 2010 video game Super Meat Boy features levels called Minus Warp Zones, which make reference to the glitch.[21]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Altice, Nathan (May 2015). I Am Error: The Nintendo Family Computer / Entertainment System Platform. MIT Press. pp. 157–160. ISBN 9780262028776. https://books.google.com/books?id=GBXqCAAAQBAJ&lpg=PA157&dq=minus%20world&pg=PA157. Retrieved June 16, 2020. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "How Super Mario Bros' famous glitch captured our imaginations". Edge. November 2, 2015. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Orland, Kyle (September 14, 2015). "30 years, 30 memorable facts about Super Mario Bros". Arstechnica. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Altice, Nathan (September 11, 2015). "The long shadow of Super Mario Bros". Gamasutra. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Parish, Jeremy (October 26, 2015). "Cover Story: 30 Years of NES, 30 Interesting NES Facts". USgamer. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Super Mario Bros.' 25th: Miyamoto Reveals All". 1UP.com. October 21, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Walter, Joseph (September 6, 2018). "25 Hidden Levels In Iconic Video Games (And How To Find Them)". Screen Rant. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The Ultimate Super Mario Brother Minus World Guide". Siliconera. December 30, 2005. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Boudreau, Ian (September 26, 2016). "Super Mario Bros' Glitch World: Explained". Game Informer. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Schreier, Jason (January 18, 2017). "Quality Assured: What It's Really Like To Test Games For A Living". Kotaku. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Lane, Gavin (October 11, 2019). "Feature: Pokémon, Zelda, Mario, Metroid... Nintendo's Biggest Bugs, Glitches And Errors". Nintendo Life. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Masters, Caleb (November 7, 2016). "15 Secrets Hidden Inside Super Mario Games". Screen Rant. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Elston, Brett (July 3, 2013). "The absolute WORST water levels - ClassicRadar". GamesRadar+. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Towell, Justin (August 2, 2017). "The secrets in games you were never meant to see". GamesRadar+. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Zaleski, Annie (November 21, 2015). "What was it like to be a Nintendo game play counselor?". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 Main, Brendan (January 18, 2011). "The Minus Touch". The Escapist. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "'The Legend of Zelda' NES Game Apparently Has a Minus World". Comic Book. January 3, 2019. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Orland, Kyle (March 16, 2014). "Frog Fractions 2 wants to surprise players that already expect the unexpected". Arstechnica. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Donlan, Christian (October 3, 2012). "The Deadly Rooms of Derek Yu". Eurogamer. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Wong, Kevin (August 30, 2016). "Super Paper Mario Is A Role-Playing Game About Nintendo". Kotaku. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Gilbert, Henry (November 3, 2010). "Super Meat Boy's retro reference guide". GamesRadar+. Retrieved June 16, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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