The purpose of this page is to document all of the known tricks
of the Game Boy Super Mario Land game.
Because of the nature of this site, we concentrate here on tricks
that are nearly impossible in real play, but are useful
in the making of tool-assisted speedruns. For most of the tricks,
a frame advance
feature in an emulator is a definite must-have.
Movies of game completions using these tricks:
If Mario in some way moves just below a platform (by jumping from below or from the side), he will fall at a faster speed. This is because the game thought Mario was standing on solid ground for one frame, so he falls at "walking off a cliff" speed instead of the "descending from a jump" rate. During this frame of standing Mario is allowed to perform another jump. Forward momentum isn't lost when using this trick.
Pushed off-screen in shooter levels
If Mario stays behind a solid object, the forced scrolling will eventually push him off the screen. Mario dies if he gets pushed back too far, but if he moves out from behind the object or destroys it at the last possible moment then an interesting situation occurs. The front of Mario's vehicle is barely visible, but Mario can't be hurt by any enemies. Unfortunately, he can't pick up powerups either. His plane or sub shoots normally. Solid blocks can still push Mario back, killing him. This lasts until Mario moves forward.
In version 1.0 of the game, Mario can go out of bounds to the left in some places when holding left on the d-pad while being pushed out. He can't move onto the screen from the left anymore. The only direction Mario can go is to the left and he will reappear on the right side of the screen when holding left. Mario is vulnerable to enemies spawned off-screen and can collect coins that are off-screen. This glitch saves about 2 seconds in level 2-3, since it allows to reach the goal faster.
Mario's head inside of blocks in shooter levels
Mario can get his head several pixels inside the bottom of a solid object by moving into its lower half from the side (as small Mario). This won't work as big Mario due to his bigger hitbox that actually covers all of his graphical sprite.
Score glitches with invincibility
Scoring becomes glitchy while invincible. There seem to be two main rules, and seemingly random resets of score values if some enemies are shot and others invinci-killed.
Setting the value of invinci-killed enemies
The score earned for invinci-killing an enemy is not the same as what is earned when shooting them. The value earned for the last enemy shot before picking up the star will be the value earned for invinci-killing enemies while invincible. Thus, score is maximized by shooting a high-value enemy and then getting the star. The best spot for this in 4-3, where the wiggling diamond things can be shot for 800 points before picking up the star.
When killing enemies with an invincibility star, there is a hidden multiplier. Enemies invinci-killed one after another give increasing numbers of points. Mario has to invinci-kill enemies within about a second and a half of each other to keep the chain going.
Manipulating the bonus stage
In a TAS, one wants to waste as little time as possible on the bonus screens. In order to luck-manipulate the set-up of the bonus screens, one needs to invest idle frames in the first two levels of a world. The game seems to differentiate between different sums of idle frames (1 idle frames in 1-1 and 3 idle frames in 1-2 is not equal to 4 idle frames in 1-2). The exact mechanism isn't fully understood yet. One needs to try out different sums of idle frames to come up with the best result. Idle frames in the boss levels or other factors like killing enemies or collecting coins won't manipulate the bonus screen at all.
The best items to get in the bonus stage are the fireflower and the 1-up. The fireflower is useful in levels where Mario can't avoid enemies (in 4-1). The transformation to fire Mario will be quicker if Mario is already big. However, due to the nature of the bonus screens and the previous levels, it might be faster to get a fireflower as small Mario and accept the transformation sequence due to less waiting time (due to frame-rule behavior which isn't fully understood yet).
High jumps off of enemies
Bouncing off of enemies in SML1 seems to be the same as SMB1 and SMB2j, a small, constant height bounce each time. However, if Mario jumps from a lower height than the enemy and the jump is only tiny, he gets a much larger jump boost (by holding the A button). This can be useful for comboing enemies.
Comboing enemies in normal levels
Contrary to common belief, Mario is allowed to touch the ground between enemies when comboing. The only criteria to accomplish for the combo chain to go on is to hit the next enemy within a second.
Poor hit detection on some enemies
The plants in the game have bad hit detection, similar to Super Mario Bros. Their upper half won't hurt Mario at all. Similarly, Mario can also jump right through the bosses in 1-3 and 3-3.
While Mario is in midair, he is still allowed to crouch. Doing so right before the corner of a ceiling can put him beneath that ceiling. This allows him to move on quicker.
On the image on the right the lower screen demonstrates this trick. The "down" arrow key was only pressed on one frame. The upper screen does not use this trick. It saves only about 1 pixel.
Shooting without losing speed
During a fastfall (from a jump, not from walking off a cliff), and when starting to jump, there is the opportunity to shoot a fireball without losing any speed. This should be done wherever applicable to gain more points.