Super Mario Bros. 35 is out today on the Nintendo Switch. It’s part of the raft of games, including the popular Super Mario 3D All-Stars, released (or re-released) to celebrate Mario’s 35th anniversary.
Super Mario Bros. 35 is Nintendo’s characteristically left-field take on the battle-royale genre. If you’ve played Tetris 99, it’s fairly similar to that in a lot of ways. Each person of the 35 within each lobby is placed in a classic 2D Mario level and must try to survive as long as possible.
You don’t fight each other directly, and interaction is pretty much limited to sending extra Goombas and Koopa Troopas to other players’ levels. As you might expect, your objective is to be the last one standing.
You also have a time limit to stop people camping in areas free from enemies and stuff like that. There’s no building a huge fortress, activating your special abilities or calling in an airdrop with your favorite weapons; it’s just straightforward Mario.
Having said that, there’s a lot more to it than you might think. As a battle-royale veteran with thousands of Ws to my name across various platforms, I thought winning a round of Super Mario Bros. 35 would be a doddle. When I got down to it, several hours went past before I took the coveted number one spot.
So, to save you the hassle of having to work out the tricks of the trade yourself, here are 10 tips to help you win a game of Super Mario Bros. 35.
1. Take Your Time
Like most battle-royale games, the noobs are the first ones sent packing back to the lobby. Maybe you hot-footed it over a pipe and got caught out by a Piranha Plant. Maybe you didn’t wait for the right platform and plunged to your death. In the early stages, it doesn’t pay to rush. Until you get a power up, you’re only one wrong move from death.
It’s not until you’re down to the last 10 that time is of the essence. Yep, having more coins or seconds on the clock is useful, but not if you’re risking too much. Take your time, play it slow, and don’t make any silly mistakes.
2. Power Ups Are Key
Power ups are vital in Super Mario Bros. 35, to the extent that it’d be pretty much impossible to win without them. You can get Super Mushrooms and Fire Flowers very quickly in 1-1, the first level you’ll usually play in a round. Making sure you know where the power ups are and picking them up along the way is crucial.
The upgrades allow you to tank progressively more hits without dying, essentially allowing you some margin of error. The Fire Flower upgrade in particular is a massive help. You’ll get to the point where vast hordes of Goombas are bearing down on you and your fireballs are the only difference between your death and theirs.
I can’t really say it enough: get the Fire Flower as soon as possible. It’ll make your life a hell of a lot easier. The only thing I will say is that jumping on enemies’ heads gives you more of a time boost, so do that rather than fireballing them if you can.
There are also a few opportunities to get Super Stars, which you should grab with both hands. Super Stars give you temporary invincibility, which is incredibly useful. I recommend steaming through the levels as fast as possible when you’re under the influence of one. You can charge through enemies and quickly build up your time if you do it right.
3. Learn The Levels
People who know classic Mario levels will have a big advantage. Memorizing the secrets of each level and knowing what’s coming up is a key part of doing well. As we’ve established, power ups are key to winning. Knowing the levels is key to being able to find and activate the power ups.
Some are pretty straightforward. You see a Question Block, you jump into it, a Super Mushroom appears. However, knowing which ones are coins and which ones have power ups is very useful, as it’s not always worth bothering with coins.
Knowing the levels is very important when it comes to knowing secret blocks and pipes. There’s a secret block early on in 1-1, just before you jump over the first pit, which awards a 1-Up Mushroom. There are other secret blocks with Super Stars and pipes leading to rooms full of coins peppered throughout the levels. Memorizing these may not be glamorous but will help you a lot. You want that W, right?
It’s also useful knowing the lay of the land at the endgame, where you’re going to be moving through the levels more quickly.
4. Coins Are Useful But Not Essential
When you collect 20 coins, you can press X to exchange them for a random power up. It could be a Super Mushroom, Super Star, or even a POW block. These vary in quality quite a lot, so it’s definitely a lucky dip.
Early on in the game, collecting coins is worthwhile as a lot of the power ups are very useful. However, 20 coins actually take a while, so I wouldn’t stress about them too much. Again, take your time and concentrate on staying alive.
If you do find yourself with 20 coins, I’d recommend using them if and when you take damage. You’re more vulnerable after you’ve taken hits, so the random power up can often be a lifesaver. They’re also more useful at the end of the game when things get a little more hectic.
5. Koopa Troopas Are Your Friend
Well, not exactly. They’re coming after Mario like everyone else. The difference with Koopa Troopas is that they leave their shell behind after you jump on their head. If you then nudge this shell, it turns into a lethal projectile, laying waste to all in its path.
This is especially useful if the enemies ahead are starting to build in number. It’s worth getting the timing down so you can jump once onto their head and then land on the shell on the rebound at the right angle to get it to zoom into a crowd of foes. This is hard to describe, but if you watch any Super Mario Bros. 35 player worth their salt (and we'll come back to this idea later), they'll do it at some point.
Another useful aspect to this technique is that you get a time bonus for taking enemies out one after another. Sending a Koopa Troopa shell into a juicy gaggle of Goombas can easily net you 30 seconds onto your total, at least. Yes please.
6. Switch Movement To Thumbsticks
I guess this one comes down to personal preference, but switching movement from the default D-Pad to thumbstick control helped me a lot. I was playing on a Pro Controller and found the directional buttons too fiddly to use. It’s called a thumbstick for a reason: it’s where your thumbs should go.
Again, old-school Mario players might see it differently so this one’s pretty m,uch up to you. Switching (pun slightly intended) this was better for me anyway.
7. Target People With The Most Coins
Super Mario Bros. 35 only lets you interact with other players indirectly, by placing more enemies into their levels. You can pick people manually yourself (although I wouldn’t recommend it), or you can select them automatically according to certain criteria, such as picking on players with the least time left or firing back at people who are targeting you.
I’d say the best strategy is to focus on players with the most coins. If you eliminate a player, you automatically get a share of their coins. Having more of them is always nice. More importantly, players with more coins are likely to be better.
I reckon Super Mario Bros. 35 is like most battle royales in that a small minority of skilled players win the majority of rounds. How many times have you got down to a 1v1 in Fortnite only to get clapped by a sweaty 13 year old who’s skipping school? You want to target players who are doing well and get them out of the game early.
8. Time Is Of The Essence
Okay, so this one is situational. Timing out isn’t really an issue in the early stages, but it starts to come into play later on. A lot of 1v1 situations, should you get that far, are decided by who has more time left on the clock.
It’s always beneficial to build up your time where possible, without going mad and charging about like a lunatic. Super Stars and Koopa shells are your friends here, as ever.
Like I said, wiping out a clump of enemies at once is a great way to add precious seconds onto your timer. Just be aware that the timer caps at 400 seconds, so anything you try to build up past that point is a waste.
9. When The Going Gets Tough…
When the game gets into the latter stages, you’ll get an audio cue. There’s an alert, after which the music speeds up and your time bank is more quickly depleted. At this point, you’ll want to change tack a bit.
Rather than the slow, methodical approach you’ve been taking, you’ll want to try and get through the levels pretty quickly. Your main objective at this point is to keep your time from running out. That means as many Super Stars and Koopa shells as you can get your hands on.
Does this mean you should throw caution to the wind? Absolutely not. You should always keep your head and stay vigilant, but time weighs heavily on the latter stages. You can’t afford to spend much time faffing around trying to get a hard-to-reach coin or power up.
10. Spectate Other Players When You Lose
This is probably the most important tip and one that holds true whatever game you play: always watch people who are better than you. If you get down to the last 10 or so, spectating players when you die is really useful.
I learned a lot from watching winners or runners up, from secret block locations to inventive strategies for dealing with troublesome enemies. It’s hard to explain the nuances of certain Super Mario Bros. 35 strategies with words alone, but just watching good people play will improve your abilities quickly. If you can do what they do (and I bet you can), you’ll be winning games in no time!
Well, that's your lot. Go out there and put your newfound knowledge into practice!
Have you got any other tips for enterprising Super Mario Bros. 35 players out there? Maybe you disagree with the advice here… Either way, feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Super Mario Bros. 35 is out now on the Nintendo eShop and is free to download for anyone with Nintendo Switch Online.