Infinite 1-Ups

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1-Ups are a good thing in many games; with a limited number of Video Game Lives, you'll need some extras just in case if you want to get through the game in one sitting. Some game designers, however, don't know when to quit giving you opportunities to earn them, and create an Infinite 1-Up, an incredibly easy (if sometimes tricky) way of gaining an infinite amount of life which makes the game far easier than it should be.

Typically, this'll be some sort of Guide Dang It infinite loop combo that would rack up extra lives like crazy, but Infinite 1-Ups can be used to describe any instance where you're able to gather an insane number of extra lives, through gimmicks or no. This trope can cause the game to have Meaningless Lives. On the other hand, a really Nintendo Hard game can eat through even the lives gained by this.

See also Bragging Rights Reward, which Infinite 1-Ups is if performing it is harder than surviving anything in the game.

This can happen either by design (an Easter Egg or a reward for pulling off some challenge the game designer thought would be incredibly difficult), or by accident due to a Good Bad Bug.

Examples of Infinite 1-Ups include:
  • Super Mario Bros. is the king of this trope: there's the infamous "Koopa Shell Bounce" from the first game (where you corner a Koopa Shell on a stair and continuously jump on it, keeping it stuck there while you rack up points and lives until you jump off and land on the ground—The Lost Levels lets you do this at the very beginning of the game! and you'll need every last one), the "Koopa Shell Ricochet" (where you'll keep on earning lives from enemies a kicked Koopa Shell kills, as long as it doesn't stop or go off the screen, exploited heavily in areas where you can trap a shell in one screen between two blocks while Lakitu or another Mook Maker can keep feeding foes to the grindstone), the "Star Man Rush"/"Demolition Mario" (essentially the same as the Koopa Shell Ricochet, except you use the power of a Star Man instead of a shell to kill enemies), the "Goomba Stomp Chain" (the Koopa Shell Bounce done on multiple enemies, again only stopping when you touch solid ground), and the "End Point Exploit" (only applicable in Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World, where touching the goal while enemies are on the screen turns them into point-heavy coins). In the case of Super Mario Bros. and The Lost Levels, though, you have to be very careful about how you use your Infinite 1-Ups, because the game features an unintentional form of No Fair Cheating where getting more than 128 lives at once makes the life counter overflow into negatives, giving you an instant Game Over as soon as you die.
    • The Koopa Shell Bounce exploit is even shown in the 9-Volt/18-Volt character video in Wario Ware: Smooth Moves, accompanied by three giant "1-UP"s.
    • Super Mario World also has hidden 3-Up moons, as well as two different hidden areas that you can use to acquire up to 9 lives. Also, there are fences in many of the castle and fortress stages that contain Koopas, and as long as you don't touch the ground, you can rack up plenty of lives simply by knocking them off.
      • In the Sunken Ghost Ship, wait for a Bullet Bill, bop it and keep it afloat. Lather, rinse, repeat.
      • Similarly, in the water fortress level, there are Bony Beetle enemies can re-form after a certain amount of time like a Dry Bones. There is a hallway before a door with two of them where you can farm 1-ups by bouncing off them both, swimming to stay off the ground, then bouncing off of them again when they reform. Once again, Lather rinse repeat.
      • A level in Super Mario Bros. 3 allows you to turn all bricks into coins. Mario can gain about five extra lives before the clock runs out; repeating this level over and over can give you 100 lives in about an hour.
      • The mid-game hidden stage "Vanilla Secret 2" allows you to run through a section with a lot of critters after using a silver P-Switch (which basically is the equivalent of the Star Man Run, except the bonus goes up to 3-Ups.) Ending the sequence with at least 40 lives added is well known. Also, Mario can respawn said silver P-Switch by eating it with a Yoshi as it is crushed, allowing expert players to get pretty much every single enemy in one go, which is hundreds upon hundreds of lives.
      • The "Top Secret Area", above the Donut Ghost House has nothing but five question blocks with two fire flowers, two capes and one Yoshi, which if you have Yoshi, is an extra life. You can simply leave and come back, as many times as you want!
        • The Donut Ghost House itself has four 1-Ups in the secret passage that unlocks the Top Secret Area. All you need is a cape, and going there takes less than a minute.
      • In Forest of Illusion 1, there is a set of platforms containing four Wigglers and three Koopas contained in blocks. By using Caped Mario and floating back and forth, bouncing off the Wigglers and Koopas, you can continually bounce between them for as long as you want (the Koopas and Wigglers reset their states offscreen). When you do it for long enough, the 3-ups you receive turn into incomprehensible symbols that give you Metric Butt-tons of points and coins. Yeah, that last bit is a glitch. The bug was fixed in the Advance version, but you can still gain a jillion lives there the normal way.
        • You can also reload that same level from the checkpoint which spawns you next to a cycling powerup box. Pick up the Super Star, and then simply charge through the level running into every enemy you find (and there are a lot) to get a minimum of about 20 1-Ups. Then, simply exit out of this level by pressing Start and Select, which lets you start again back at the checkpoint. Repeat the process until you have all the 1-Ups you need.
      • The most damning game breaker in nearly all the "Advance" games is the fact that the game saves your lives. Average players will likely max the counter out by mid-game. And the max is 999.
      • Also, the GBA version of Super Mario World grants points for simply hitting a Koopa shell with Mario's cape, and these hits can be used in chains, allowing this to happen. Wow.
    • In New Super Mario Bros.., the old stair-shell trick still works.
      • Also Green Mushroom Houses may give very big number of lives in New Super Mario Bros if you're lucky (getting these isn't hard...).
      • And getting the Mega Mushroom in 1-1 guarantees at least one (and quite easily, all five) lives in each play-through.
    • Yoshi's Island makes it even easier, due to lacking a time limit, having Yoshi swallow and carry a shell not resetting the 1-Up counter, and many pipes that constantly spawn Shy Guys providing you don't have a full complement of eggs. The earliest example is found in level 1-7: Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy.
    • Super Mario Galaxy practically lampshades this trope by having Peach mail you five 1-Ups every time you start the game, or 20 in the New Game+, as well as feeding you tons of the green mushrooms in every level which respawn when you die (and in the Hub World).
      • Super Mario Galaxy 2 goes back to tradition by allowing you to farm Koopas for 1-Ups. Go to Supermassive Galaxy, and head for the planetoid with the three giant Koopas. Jump onto the shell of one of them, and judge the control stick so you keep stomping on it. You'll hit 99 lives in less than a minute.
      • Made easier if you use Co-star mode to immobilize the Koopa you're jumping on with the second control.
    • This tool-assisted speedrun of Super Mario Brothers 3 turns certain entire levels into Infinite 1-Ups.
    • In the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 (Lost Levels), you get a 1-Up if your coins are at a multiple of 11 that matches the last digit of your timer (e.g. 11 coins with 201 left on the timer). It's possible to do this in nearly every level of the game.
    • Amusingly, Super Paper Mario actually punishes you for doing this in an area early in the game where the Koopa Shell Bounce staircase is replicated. Stomping the shell enough will cause you to lose points after a while.
    • New Super Mario Bros. Wii has "Infinite 1-Up" videos that can be purchased at the castle that will show you all kinds of tricks to get infinite lives. One method is to have one character start Goomba Stomping enemies, and then have another player use Yoshi to swallow him until you find some more enemies. Being swallowed by Yoshi does not count as touching the ground.
      • An interesting instance can be found in between 6-6 and the World 6 Castle. Touching one of the Bullet Bills on the map sends you into a minigame where you have to collect eight Toad balloons to save Toad, and at the end, you get three Mushroom power-ups. Unlike most such minigames, this one can be done over and over. Furthermore, any enemies onscreen when the 8th balloon is collected are turned into points. And since the theme of the level is Bullet Bills...that could easily be enough enemies to get 1-3 extra lives as well. And since each completion gets you three Mushroom power-ups, you should easily enter the level with an extra hit to give every time.
    • Super Mario Land: Six Golden Coins has the Hippo level, which lets you easily get coins, lives, a mushroom or any powerup of your choice. Also, there is a Betting Minigame which randomly gives you up to 99 lives.
    • Super Mario 64 DS: In Whomp's Fortress, on any star except the first, if you acquire the Super Mushroom from the box near the first Thwomp and manage to get to the topmost portion of the fortress, you can knock the enormous plank-platform over so it lays flat on the ground. Proceed to run into the side, and after a moment the thing will start giving 1-Ups at an alarming rate. Because it is extremely difficult to get atop the fortress in your giant state, the usual number you'll end up with is probably in the 40s or 50s, but if you're really good you can quite efficiently max out the life counter at 99, with 1-Ups to spare.
    • Super Mario 3D Land has a spot in World 1-2 with the old "bounce a koopa shell into the wall" trick, but with a twist; you're bouncing the shell into the fourth wall. There ware several other levels with koopas and walls in the proper placement to do this trick, but World 1-2 is the easiest.
      • Lampshaded here, though. Once you reach the Cap, Mario loses his cap, and runs around hatless until you lose a life.
  • Fable has the Resurrection Phials, potions that revive you should you lose all your health. While there's no special task to getting them (and you can only carry nine Phials at a time), they are incredibly plentiful and fairly cheap to buy from stores and traveling merchants, effectively making you immortal as long as you have the cash to keep buying them (which is no problem, either).
  • Donkey Kong Country has balloons. Red balloons give one extra life, green ones give two and blue ones give three. Collecting three identical animal tokens opens a special area where the player can get even more extra lives. A lot of lives; roughly every 100 mini-tokens you gather in the special areas net you an extra life, and there's usually a mega-token there that, if collected, effectively doubled the total amount of mini-tokens collected.
    • Start counting again. If you know the places, the first level has TONS of balloons.
    • The first level, "Jungle Hijinxs", is short and extremely easy and contains four life balloons (in addition to the lives you get from bananas and animal tokens). It can be played as many times as you want before moving on to the rest of the game.
    • DKC 2 has Swanky's games, which give you 6 extra lives if you answer all the (pretty easy) questions correctly. Although it's not infinite, it's a huge boost.
    • The second game also gives you the ability to easily exit levels you have beaten before. The first level has a balloon one screen from the starting position, so once you've beaten it you can easily enter, get balloon, then exit in about 20 seconds. You can then just repeat until you get bored.
    • And there's also Barrel Bayou, where a little ways past halfway are two Kloaks (enemies who throw various things) that keep throwing easily defeated enemies for a while, and then throw a chest with a green balloon worth 2 lives before leaving. Given that enemies respawn if they are avoided but not killed, you can pass the Kloaks and them come back to them to repeat the process as much as you like.
    • Don't forget the rope trick and the Krusha trick in the original DKC. The rope trick consists of getting on a rope in the stage "Misty Mines" and placing yourself next to the barrels that spawn enemies. From there you can jump on an enemy and then back to the vine without touching the ground. After doing it eight times, each consecutive time will earn you a life. The Krusha trick can be done in "Loopy Lights," "Manic Mincers," or "Millstone Mayhem" (the first ruins stage); play as Diddy Kong and bounce on a Krusha pinned up against the wall as many times as you want to get a ginormous amount of lives insanely quickly - as in, you will earn extra lives roughly three times faster than the life counter can display. You can easily reach 99 (and far beyond, though the life counter doesn't show it) in under 60 seconds.
    • One of the recurring minigames in the original DKC tasked you with repeatedly stomping a Klaptrap (who spat out more bananas and moved faster after each hit). In one level this minigame featured three such Klaptraps, enabling the player to bounce between them continuously, accumulating many extra lives in the process.
  • In various Sonic the Hedgehog games, some levels have more than one 1up monitor, which reset if you die. You can collect two extra lives, kill yourself, and repeat for as long as you want.
    • And of course you get a 1-up for collecting 100 rings, so you can double the rate of life grinding if you delay your suicide until you've found both monitors and collected 100 rings.
    • At the beginning of the Launch Base Zone of Sonic 3, you can get a ton of points by standing in a tripwire which sends a limitless supply of Flybot767s to kamikaze attack you, and going into a spin dash. The bird-brains will fly into you and break; the first one is worth 100 points, the second 200, the third 500, the fourth through fifteenth 1000 each, and the sixteenth and onward a whopping 10000 points. Since you earn a life every 50,000 points, this means you'll be earning an extra life once every 10–11 seconds. And after you lose a life from exceeding 10 minutes, you can do it all over again. See here.
    • Final Rush in Sonic Adventure 2, for instance, has three easy 1up opportunities in the first quarter of the stage.
      • The key difference, though, is that extra lives don't respawn in Sonic Adventure 2, or at least not in the Gamecube port. Choosing "restart" from the pause menu will make them respawn (again in any version), at the cost of undoing any checkpoints you may have hit. Since the lives are close to start, that's not likely to matter in this case.
      • A Good Bad Bug was discovered in another level that dwarfs any other source of 1-ups in the game, potentially earning as many as 95 lives quickly.
    • Sonic Adventure also has this trope. It only works as Knuckles or Tails, but it is broken as all hell. Basically, you need to dig up a magnetic shield (cut down grass as Tails), then stand on the switch in the hotel lobby. It may not be quick, but it is safe, and these rings carry over into the next level with the switch. If you are careful, you can get dozens of lives and thousands of rings via one use of this (rings are useful for Chao raising).
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 has Casino Street Zone Act 2 where 1-Ups are very frequent.
    • Sonic Unleashed provided two extra lives at the start of Apotos, Windmill Isle (Day) - Act 2. Combine that with the extra life you can get by collecting 100 rings (Which can be amassed not even 1 minute into the stage), grabbing these three and restarting will have you at a comfortable amount of lives in no time.
    • Finishing the credits on Sonic Colors can grant about a half-dozen lives each time. Of course, the credits are rather long, and you'd have to have already beaten the game, but the lives are there. The same game gives anywhere from one to four lives just by finishing a stage, so getting lives isn't that hard.
  • In the first Sly Cooper, the first level hub has 1ups that reappear every time you enter it. You can keep exiting and reentering the stage to collect them ad infinitum.
  • Ninja Gaiden II has a 1-Up in a later stage that respawns, but only if you immediately climb back down to where you were before you entered the area with the 1-Up, then climbed back up; moving past it and climbing up to the next screen negates this.
  • Super Empire Strikes Back for the Super Famicom had a Leap of Faith cave containing five extra lives in an early level. The catch was that once you collected them, you had to jump in a Bottomless Pit and die. You respawned a bit earlier in the level, meaning you could do the Leap of Faith again, ad nauseam.
  • In Crash Bandicoot 2, in the second hub (ice theme), the player can jump on a polar bear in front of one of the level warps in order to make it cry. Doing so repeatedly will give you several lives.
    • In the same game, the secret area in Level 15, right after the checkpoint, has two one-up crates that don't turn into question mark crates after they respawn - they're just out of sight unless the camera is just right.
    • While not a trick, The Wrath of Cortex has Bamboozled, which can only be described as a "life level" akin to Jungle Hijinx in the sheer number of extra lives that either come in boxes are can be attained from the hundreds of pieces of fruit in the stage. You can easily get over a dozen lives in each playthrough.
  • Mega Man 9 has the Mystery Tank, a sort of mega E-Tank that refills your life and all of your special weapons. However, if you use it when all of your health and weapons are full, the tank instead turns all enemies on the screen when you exit out of the weapon selection screen into 1-Ups. You can only carry one at a time, but they're sold in the store, and if used in Galaxy Man's stage (where there are several blob enemies that split into smaller blobs when you attack them), you can refill your entire cache of extra lives in one sitting.
    • This trick originated from 5, where Mega Tanks worked the same way when you used one with full life and weapon energy.
    • Not to mention Jewel Satellite + mook makers for endless screws.
    • In Mega Man 2, you can use the egg-dropping robots' little birds to get a lot of random powerups quite easily (best when done with Metal Blade, but the Leaf Shield also works). Since among those powerups are large weapon energy ones, large hp ones and extra lives, you can just try and kill all the small birds just after the egg breaks and expect to get plenty of lives easily.
  • Armadillo's stage in Mega Man X has a Shout-Out to the bat enemies from Mega Man 2 among the normal bat enemies. It frequently drops an extra life when killed, and respawns when offscreen.
    • This is probably put in so players seeking the hidden hadoken move in that level can easily gather enough lives to get it.[1]
    • A second, slightly conditional point in the game for this comes just before the boss of the first Sigma stage. There's a small hallway with a place where enemies drop on you from above. As long as you've got at least enough juice to charge a full-power shot of the rolling sphere weapon (full power generates a forcefield around you), you can stand under that point and anything that spawns will be instantly killed. It's time consuming (most enemies don't drop anything), but if you leave for a couple an hour or so you're pretty much guaranteed to have all weapon energy, full life bar, full subtanks (rechargable spare life bars) and max extra lives when you return.
      • An even better spot for the above trick is the vertical shaft in the final (4th) Sigma stage, as the caterpillars always spawn from the same point, can't move quickly enough to avoid you, and in my experience have a much better chance of dropping lives than normal enemies.
  • Commander Keen 2 gave you lives at every 20,000 points (or so). One of the levels also had a section where you could kill about 80,000 points or so worth of enemies in a single go. And when you die, the level resets, complete with new enemies. Kill, suicide, kill, suicide, repeat. At least one level in 3 allows for the same abuse.
    • Both Commander Keen 4 and 5 have a large amount of 1-ups hidden in the first level. They are, however, placed so that you can't kill yourself after obtaining them. Both games however *do* have a level with two 1-ups and a way to kill yourself after obtaining them.
    • In Commander Keen 6, the Bean-with-Bacon Megarocket level looks innocuous, but leads to a hidden area containing 10,000 points and 2 vivas (the "collect 100 for 1-up" item). While it is difficult to reach the items, and they are not worth enough on their own for a 1-up, you can complete the level and come back infinitely many times.
  • The early Donkey Kong clone for CP/M computers, LADDER, gave you extra lives every 10,000 points. On the second level, it was possible to quickly get to the respawn chute for Der Rocks, jump on top of it, and simply hold down the space bar. Each time a Der Rock came out of the chute while you were in mid-air, you got points for jumping over it. Continue until time runs out and your Lad dies, then repeat. This early in the game, the timer clock was long enough that you were pretty much guaranteed at least 10,000 points each time you ran down the clock in this manner, so you could slowly build up as many lives and points as you wanted. Then, once you got bored with holding down the space bar, you could finish the level and head into the rest of the game with a ridiculous number of lives to play with.
  • Kirby's Dreamland 2 has a rather ridiculous example: the game has points, and your points are saved in your save file. Thus, if you play long enough, you'll eventually reach the maximum score of 9999990 points. When you've reached this number, every enemy in the game gives you a 1Up.
  • Super Monkey Ball has an odd variant: Advanced 11 and Expert 9 each have more than 100 bananas, making it possible to collect an extra life and some spare change towards another one, intentionally fall into the abyss, and repeat indefinitely if you're skilled enough. However, the vast majority of these bananas are on little rails, with a width equal to 1/10th the diameter of the ball. To compound the difficulty, to get more than 100 bananas requires you to switch between rails, which in turn requires you to nearly fall while rolling at top speed in order to smash into the edge of a platform or a piece of the scenery and bounce back up onto your destination. All with a time limit of 30 seconds. Only a couple of the world's best players can pull this off with any kind of consistency. See the strategies here: Advanced 11 and Expert 9, only you're supposed to intentionally fall off at the end instead of going into the goal, in order to redo the level.
  • Possible Ur Example: the "lurking" tactic in Asteroids. When you have destroyed most of the asteroids in a screen, the game starts spawning small saucers to try to hurry you up. They are small (obviously), deadly accurate, but their photon pulses can't pass across the screen wraparound (unlike those of the big saucer and your ship) and they always spawn from the top corners of the screen. So you can clear the screen of all but one asteroid, park your ship at the top of the screen close to a corner, fire a continuous, horizontal stream of photons across the wraparound, and blast the small saucers as they appear and before they manage to fire a shot. Each small saucer is worth 1,000 points. You get a new life every 10,000 points. If you ever found an Asteroids game left abandoned with a big score and a two-figure life counter being steadily eaten away, this was probably why.
  • Although not a game with One-Ups, Final Fantasy XII was made for this: With the Gambit system, you can set up your characters to act on their own so you aren't spending all your time micro-managing the action. What this means is if you find a monster that can spawn other monsters, you can effectively make use of the system to only target its weaker underlings. One of the better known areas is with the Ghasts made by Negalmuur in the Stilshrine of Miriam: Negalmuur can do virtually no HP damage and relies on instant-kill attacks, which are gradual and can be cured. The Ghasts are no challenge, so disregarding them as long as you set up the gambits so they cure the Doomed party leader and revive allies as soon as they're down, you can effectively leave the PlayStation 2 on and effortlessly grind to level 99 and get the full array of License Points and some nice loot. If your party leader doesn't die before being able to be revived, that is, which will pause the game for you to choose a new leader.
  • The Thunder Force series of shmups tends to have lenient extend points; in Thunder Force III, for instance, you can have as many as 15 lives by the time you get to Stage 6.
  • The Arrange mode in Ray Crisis hands out 1-up items, as if they're regular powerup items. With some effort, it's possible to stay at the maximum of nine lives up to the Final Boss. However, if you're playing for score, this is somewhat of a bad idea, because collecting 1-ups resets the point values of the point items.
  • Robotron 64 has a low score requirement for extra lives, there are bonus round where you can't get killed and some levels have ton of them as items. It's very possible to have more than 90 of them by the 100th level while having died a few times.
  • One level in M.C. Kids, a Super Mario Bros. 2 clone/McDonalds product placement game, allows this. There's a pit where you can see two 1-ups. However, below that is a bottomless pit, so the idea was that a player would pick up one, then fall to his death, making it ineffective. On the contrary, due to some weird physics in the game, you can pick up one, then quickly float over to the adjacent 1-up. Pick it up, die once and repeat. It doesn't help that this is at the very beginning of the level.
    • There's a worse example than that - very early on in the game, there's a bottomless pit topless ceiling where you can sacrifice one life to get about seven.
  • An obscure game called Tri-Heli (for the Atari ST) allows this. To complete a level, you have to collect two diamonds. Each level, the points value of diamonds increases by an increasing amount, while the score needed to get an extra life either goes up by a fixed amount with each extra life earned, or stays constant (it's been a while). You can also spend a life to skip a level, and, while the difficulty tends to increase gradually over the levels, there's a short-term five-level cycle with the first level in each cycle being relatively easy, and the last being relatively hard/actively impossible. If you get far enough through the game, collecting one or both diamonds on the first level of a cycle gains you enough lives to skip the remaining four levels...
  • At the Butane Pain stage from Pac-Man World 2, there is a hidden place with 8 lives, which respawn when Pac-Man dies. It's not even an Easter Egg, as you do need to go there to collect one of the level's tokens.
  • In the SNES game Super Star Wars, there is a level called Land of the Sandpeople, where at one point you can drop down into a canyon holding down left while falling takes you to a secret area where you can get 7 lives. Then you have no choice but to jump down and die, but it still means 6 extra lives. Then when you restart the level, just repeat this process to gain 6 more lives. And another six after that up until 99 lives.
  • Revenge of Shinobi (the original Genesis version, not the GBA one) has an unusual example: at the beginning of the factory level, there's a hidden 1-Up item on the left side of the first conveyor belt immediately to the right of the starting point. It's virtually impossible to get this without falling into the adjacent pit and dying. The trick is that this item actually gives you two lives, and respawns when you die.
  • The ZX Spectrum graphic adventure game My Name is Uncle Groucho, You Win a Fat Cigar had a casino in the main town which offered a "Lucky Seven" game with a positive expectation (bets on throwing the number 7 with two dice paid off at odds of 9 to 1, the mathematically fair odds being 5 to 1), so if one was careful to avoid the "gambler's ruin", one could rack up endless amounts of money.
  • Not an infinite 1-up, but in the SNES game Soul Blazer, it is possible to gain infinite XP, 1 experience point at a time, by repeatedly talking to a spirit in one of the gemstones. Though by the time you reach this in the game, there are far easier and quicker ways to rack up literally millions of XP points in minutes, so it's mostly a Bragging Rights Reward for those who find this little gem...
  1. The capsule that has the move has a random chance of appearing appears on the fifth time you get to the location of said capsule and it’s far easier to kill yourself and spawn close to it as opposed to restarting the stage but it can be gotten without dying.