It was a long time ago when I was just a little kid, but I remember visiting my Aunt's house where they had an NES. They also had the classic Super Mario Bros.

Once while I was playing the game, my Aunt showed me the notorious Life Cheat. I remember after letting the cheat work its magic for a bit, that the life screen looked something like the picture below:

Life Screen

I actually remember a pile of coins instead of a crown, but maybe I didn't have enough lives to reach "crown" amount of lives. I was wondering, how many lives does it take to make the coins/crown appear?


1 Answer 1


The crown is a placeholder for a 1 in the tens digit place.

From The Mushroom Kingdom,

The WORLD x-x screen shown before starting a level shows Mario's extra life total. If you get more than 9 extra lives, weird stuff starts to happen to Mario's extra life total. For example, if you have anywhere from 10 - 19 extra lives, the tens digit will be a crown instead of a "1." At this point, it's still easy enough to figure out how many extra lives you actually have left, but after [crown]9 lives (19 lives), the numbers turn into letters. While the crown stays where the tens digit would be, the ones digit goes through A - Z, a blank space, a few solid squares, and then the weird symbols start. Interestingly enough, there is a pattern behind this madness. The symbols (as well as the letters and numbers) come from the game's second CHR table, going in order from left to right and top to bottom.

To find out how many lives you actually have after you have the crown, you must first identify the symbol you have next to the crown. Then count (starting at zero - count: "zero, one, two," etc.) your way to that symbol in the table, and then add 10. For example, "[crown]D" equals 23 lives.

  • These "weird symbols," do they include the coins?
    – Timmy Jim
    Sep 23, 2016 at 18:54
  • Yes, it looks like it, though it doesn't seem to be a whole coin. The "symbols" that appear beside the crown are here and it looks like they go right to left, top to bottom.
    – Vemonus
    Sep 23, 2016 at 18:57
  • 1
    That's more like it!
    – Timmy Jim
    Sep 23, 2016 at 18:57
  • 1
    Fun fact: I didn't know that this even happened. I guess I'm just worse than I thought at SMB1.
    – Vemonus
    Sep 23, 2016 at 18:58
  • 1
    Thanks for this information! I saw the crown symbol a long time ago and nowadays, there's finally a place to look these things up. Apr 23, 2021 at 23:59

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