The Minus World Glitch: Explained

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The Minus World is one of the most famous glitches not only in Super Mario Bros. but in all of video games. There has been a lot of mystery surrounding this glitch since it was discovered, and as more and more people have dissected these classic games, we have been able to discover how it happens, why it happens, and every fascinating detail about the legendary Minus World.

What Is The Minus World?

Minus World gets its name from the display before the level begins, which reads “-1.” When the glitch is performed, the player will warp to level 7-2, which is an underwater level. However, when the player enters the pipe at the end of the level, they will reset back to the start, effectively locking them in a loop until time runs out, they are killed by enemies, and ultimately, lose all their lives. Thus, warping to the Minus World is something that should be done solely to see the glitch, as it’s essentially a death sentence for a regular playthrough of Super Mario Bros.

How Do You Do The Minus World Glitch?

Performing the glitch to get to the Minus World requires patience, but it’s not too difficult to pull off once you get the hang of it. For this method, you need to be Super Mario

  • At the end of World 1-2, stand on the pipe that leads to the Goal Pole and break two blocks, leaving only the far right block.
  • Stand on the far left side of the pipe and jump into the block on the far right so that you touch the corner of it, but don’t break the block (sometimes crouching helps get the right angle.)
  • When done correctly, Mario should glitch through the wall until he moves to the warp zone. Once he’s in that area, slowly move to the first pipe and go down it. If you move too far, the warp zone will load as it regularly does and you won’t be able to go to the Minus World.

Why Does The Minus World Glitch Happen?

In Super Mario Bros. there are actually 256 worlds, all featuring recycled levels and data from Worlds 1 through 8. The various numbers in the game have different values, most of which cannot be manipulated with using the game’s physics, so this is why we never see the other worlds.

But the warp pipe used when the glitch is performed is blank, and all blank tiles in Super Mario Bros. have a registered number of “36.” Because the glitch allows the player to go down a warp pipe that uses this number, the player warps to World 36-1, and since 36 is used for blank tiles, the screen display only reads “-1”

Simply put, glitching through the wall allows players to go down a pipe with a warp zone that shouldn’t be there (a blank placeholder) which takes them to the Minus World. The Minus World is the only one of the hundreds of worlds that can be accessed solely using the game’s physics.

Can This Glitch Be Done With Every Copy Of Super Mario Bros?

Only direct ports of the original Super Mario Bros. released in 1985 will feature the Minus World glitch; meaning Virtual Console ports as well as the Gameboy Advance rerelease still have it. The remake in Super Mario All-Stars as well as Super Mario Bros. Deluxe both removed the ability to perform the glitch.

NES vs. Famicom Minus World Glitch

The Famicom version of Super Mario Bros. has a less deadly version of the Minus World Glitch. Instead of warping you to an endless loop of World 7-2, you will first be transported to an underwater version of World 1-3 featuring a ton of glitched out elements such as a headless Bowser, a floating Princess Toadstool, and multiple palette swaps.

If you manage to clear this level, you will go to “-2” which is an identical version of World 7-3. After clearing this level, you will finally go to a version of World 4-4 that has no Bowser, instead only featuring Bloopers. When you clear this level, you will arrive back at the title screen as if you’ve beaten the game.

The Minus World glitch is worth doing at least once, even if it means game over. It’s one of the most well-known glitches in gaming, and unlike many speedrunning tricks, it’s relatively easy to do.