Just playing Super Mario on the Virtual Console, and was perplexed by this.

Sometimes, when hitting a ? block or secret block that has a mushroom or a 1-up, it is very hard to tell which way the 'shroom will go once it pops up. Sometimes, it has a tendency to move to the right, and sometimes, it will move to the left.

A bigger offender is the 1-up mushroom blocks, that when you expect them to move towards you, they tend to move off the opposite direction, usually into a pit or a death trap.

I'd like to be able to accurately and scientifically figure out the patterns of mushrooms, but I'll need some help.

How can I tell which way powerups and mushrooms will go?

  • I thought I knew the answer to this - that it depends on where on the block you hit. However, while true for later games (like SMB3) it doesn't appear to be true for the original.
    – agent86
    Jun 9, 2014 at 1:15
  • @agent86 I should have clarified, because I'm not sure what to do with tags, but I wanted to know how it worked in earlier versions and the most recent verisons. I figured there was some pattern to it, but wasn't sure if it changed anyhow
    – childe
    Jun 9, 2014 at 1:17
  • 2
    I think this question is going to require some science...
    – Zibbobz
    Jun 9, 2014 at 19:00
  • 1
    If you really want to be scientific, you'll want to look at one or both of these disassemblies of Super Mario Bros.: romhacking.net/documents/344 romhacking.net/documents/635
    – Hiccup
    Jul 22, 2016 at 17:24

4 Answers 4


There are two things that determine mushroom motion.

  1. Mushroom type
  2. Player location

Since the original Super Mario Bros, a Red Mushroom will always move towards the player after it has fully emerged from a block, while a Green Mushroom will always move away from the player after fully emerging.

Most power-up mushrooms will act similarly to a Red Mushroom, including New Super Mario Bros. Mini Mushrooms, as well as Poison Mushrooms from the Lost Levels (even though they decidedly do not power you up!).

Mega Mushrooms, also from New Super Mario Bros, will always take short hops to the right regardless of your position. As will the Helicopter Hat Mushrooms from New Super Mario Bros Wii.

Also, although this question is primarily concerned with mushrooms, Starmen emerging from a block bounce away from a player, similar in behavior to the Green Mushroom.

  • 1
    I'm working on the world 5 fortress of Super Mario Bros 3 right now, and the first mushroom (above the donut blocks) seems to always want to move away from me, so this answer doesn't tell the full story in my experience. Dec 10, 2015 at 1:44

(Now that I see the other answer and confusion, I no longer know if this is right. But this is the way I always saw it, and I thought it was consistent.)

It depends on where you hit the block. If you are slightly to the left of center when you hit the block, it'll go right. If you're slightly to the right, it goes left. Likewise, if a shell hits it from the left, it'll go right, and if a shell hits it from the right, it'll go left.

It also may depend on the specific game. This behavior began in Super Mario Bros. 3, and I've never thought to question it since. I believe in the original and "Lost Levels", mushrooms always go right regardless until they bonk into a wall or something similar.


In my experience, I've noticed that there seems to be a moment right before beginning movement after the mushroom has fully exposed itself where it decides which direction it goes. Which direction it goes I'm fairly certain is determined by where you are positioned in relation to it. As far as I know it will ALWAYS move away from you (as in, whichever direction you are not in relation to it. If you are slightly centered towards the left of it at the moment it triggers, it will move right, and vice versa)

A lot of people also claim that it depends on the position of the question marks. While potentially true, I highly doubt it because I have never paid attention to it, so for me to have recognized this as truth when there was some other perfectly aligning determining factor is almost comically improbable.

When trying to get the mushroom quickly, if there are hazards/a pit nearby, I start on one side, jump under it, move a little further on that side, and begin running underneath the block in order to catch it on the other side.

If there's another determination for which direction it goes, I have no idea what it could be. I've been doing this for years, so if there is a contrary method, then I've just been horribly plagued by misleading coincidence for a long time. Hope this helped! =D


The mushroom will always go in the opposite direction of your location. If you hit the ? block and you're to the left, it will go right. If you hit the ? block and you're to the right, however, it will go left. This is annoying when there is lava on both sides. This was later changed to it always moving right. The trick to use is, be on the left side and then run right to collect. Don't do the reverse in order to avoid moving back in a level.

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