Mario Vs. Luigi Mode FAQ by lifespill
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Mario Vs. Luigi In-Depth FAQ
By Michael Q. Larson (michaelqlarson at gmail dot com)
Version 1.1 Last updated 15 May 2007

*Updates*

- Hidden Area in Pipe Room accessible only with Mini Mushroom
- New Ice Surface strategies
- New Miscellaneous tips


*INTRODUCTION*

Mario Vs. Luigi is a multiplayer mode included for the first time in 2006's 
New Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo DS. Players assume either Mario or Luigi 
and race through a looped two-dimensional map collecting stars. Along the 
way, they fight each other using traditional Mario Bros. power-ups. This two-
player mode is immediately available within the game. Only one copy of the 
game is necessary for two people to play.

*OPTIONS*

The game's host can modify four game parameters.
1) The number of stars to win a round.
2) The number of rounds to win a match. 
3) The number of lives allowed. 
4) Whether to manually or randomly select levels.

The number of stars to win a match can be 3, 5 or 10. Three stars makes for 
quick rounds. Five stars can still prove quick. Choosing 10 stars can lead 
to drawn out endurance matches. (See more on star properties under STARS).

The number of rounds to win a match can be 1, 3 or 5. This means best out of 
one, best out of three, and best out of five. Pretty straight-forward.

The number of lives can be 3, 5, or unlimited. Limiting lives can have a big 
impact on gameplay. Having five lives is usually just as good as having 
unlimited lives, provided players aren't totally clumsy. Having only three 
lives, however, provides incentive for players to focus on killing each other 
as an alternate road to victory.

On random level select, the levels seem to appear with the following 
frequencies:
1) Classic Surface
2) Classic Underground
3) Ice Surface
4) Pipe Room
5) Crusher

*STARS*

The object of the game is to collect stars. The person who first reaches the 
star limit (see OPTIONS) wins. Alternatively, the person who first reaches 
the death limit (see OPTIONS) loses.

Stars appear randomly at one of the level's star spawns exactly 10 seconds 
after the last star has been grabbed. However, all the stars possessed by 
players are constantly up for grabs. There are a number of ways to "knock 
free" one of your opponent's stars. 
1) Jump on him. 
2) Hit him with a fireball, turtle shell or ba-bomb. 
3) Ground pound him (jump, then press down and B). This knocks free up to 
three of his stars. 
4) Hit him while using the star, Mega Mushroom or Koopa Shell. 
5) Hit from underneath a block that he's standing on.
6) Knock him into a pit. This can be accomplished by jumping on him while 
he's near a pit or hitting him with a fireball while he's near a pit. 

*COINS*

Coins are scattered throughout all levels of this game mode. They either float 
freely in the air or dwell within question mark blocks or brick blocks. Upon 
collecting 8 coins, a special item (see ITEMS) will hover above you for a 
moment, then fall. Collecting coins can help you shortcut the two-step 
process toward getting fireballs. It can also produce Mega Mushrooms and 
Stars that can tip the scales during an intense run-in. Be careful, though, 
as not all items produced are desirable.

*ITEMS*

Items obtained from both item blocks and coin bonuses:
Super Mushroom - Makes you big. While you're big, you can break bricks by 
hitting them from underneath or by ground pounding them (down and B while 
jumping). Being big also affords you an extra hit from an enemy before dying 
(you shrink if you're hit).

Fire Flower - The Fire Flower allows you to hurl up to two fireballs at once. 
These fireballs skip across the ground, turning enemies into coins and 
knocking stars free of opponents. Being hit by an Enemy, a Shell Mario, Star 
or Mega Mushroom while carrying a Fire Flower will disarm you, turning you 
back into a normal big Mario.

Items obtained only from coin bonuses:
Star - Makes you invincible for about ten seconds. During this time, you can 
damage your opponent (disarm, shrink, or kill). Each time you hit him, you 
knock free one of his stars. Keep in mind that you can still die from falling 
into a pit or being crushed by the crushing ceiling.

Koopa Shell - If you run enough paces, you'll transform into a spinning shell 
that damages everything in its path, although bouncing back after impact. This 
item causes damage (disarming, shrinking or killing) to the opponent as well 
as knocking free one of their stars. Be sure to release B to exit the shell if 
you need to wall jump.

Mega Mushroom - Enlarges you to the height of the screen. During this time, 
you are not only invincible, but can also destroy most things in your path, 
including bricks and pipes. This ability lasts for about 20 seconds. If you 
hit your opponent, you will disarm, shrink or kill him and knock free one of 
his stars.

Mini Mushroom - Shrinks you to a fraction of your former size, allowing you to 
fit in tight cracks and clear slightly higher ledges. You can only damage your 
opponent during this time by ground pounding. Also, fireballs can instantly 
kill you. In this game mode, mini mushroom is more of a power-down than a 
power up. Avoid it unless you have specific plans. It's usually better to 
avoid the item as it drops down and hope your opponent accidentally picks it 
up instead.

*LEVELS*

Level One - Classic Surface
This simple level is based loosely off world 1-1 from the original Super Mario 
Bros.
Enemies = 3
Stars Spawns = 6
Coins = 9
Item Blocks = 2

Enemies: With two goombas, a koopa and two pits, this level is fairly 
dangerous. 

Star Spawns: Just to the left of the starting point, block stairs lead upward, 
then drop off in a volcano shape. It's important to note that this region is 
home to four of the level's six star spawns. One just to the left, under the 
high brick ledge, one just over the volcano, one inside the volcano and one 
just to its right. The other two star spawns are located at the starting point 
and above the tallest of the two pipes.

Coins: Several question marks contain coins. The region just to the right of 
the start point contains six of the level's nine coins.

Item Blocks: At the start point and half way across, near the koopa spawn 
(between two brick blocks).

Strategy: This level has two high points (crowning coin block and high ledge) 
and three moderately high points (start coin blocks, high pipe, mid-high 
ledge). The best strategy for this level is to get the Fire Flower as quickly 
as possible. That way you can assume one of these high points. If you assume 
the crown coin block, be sure to take its coin before you climb up there (if 
you are hit from underneath, you lose a coin and suffer a one-second stun). 
From here, you can throw fireballs (only two at a time) to your left and 
right. These have good range from both locations. You might jump occasionally 
to alter the bounce of your fireballs. With careful angling, they can leap 
the level's pits.

As I said in the Star Spawn section, four of the level's six star spawn points 
are in the same area, left of the start point. Stay near here and check your 
bottom screen for stars. A word of caution: the volcano pit star spawn can be 
deadly if your opponent is nearby. A well-placed jump to the head can not only 
knock free one of your stars, but can also send you helplessly plunging into 
the pit. You can use this star to bate your opponent. 

The Mega Mushroom is useful on this stage due to the lack of places your 
opponent can hide. Just run around (you can run right over this level's pits 
and through all its blocks and pipes) and, depending on your objective, steal 
stars or aim to kill.

Throw a koopa shell to knock out your opponent's prized star. If you've just 
managed to kill him, you can carry it with you to the starting point and kill 
him again shortly after he's spawned.

Level Two - Classic Underground
The smallest level in the game, this is based off underground levels from the 
original Super Mario Bros.
Enemies = 2
Stars Spawns = 8
Coins = 10
Item Blocks = 1

Enemies: One goomba near the hidden item block, one koopa near the four-tiered 
block layers. Everywhere except for the starting point and the elevator shaft 
is a pit if you're not careful with your ground-pound. This goes double if you 
grab a mega-mushroom.

Star Spawns: Between each of the four-tiered block layers (the area with the 
koopa) exist star spawns. These can be tough to get into unless you're big, so 
you can break through to different layers quickly. The starting point (as 
always) features a star spawn. The goomba alcove (where the hidden item block 
is) has two star spawns right next to each other inside of it. To the left of 
it also exists a star spawn. Finally, a low-hanging region of ceiling also 
houses a star spawn.

Coins: Aside from the obvious coins, two hidden coins in the low hanging 
segment of the ceiling can be easily picked up while you're up there. Ground
pound correctly and you'll grab both at the same time.

Item Blocks: The one hidden item block in this level is located just left of 
the starting point, in the goomba alcove. For speed's sake, ground pound on 
the block before entering, and the mushroom will drift your way. It's difficult 
to get the mushroom from within, because you have to escape and then run over 
and grab it, hoping it doesn't get lost in the elevator shaft. When getting a 
Fire Flower out of this block, try to hit it and the block beside it so you can 
jump up or drop down and collect it without additional jumps. You'll see what I 
mean.

Strategy: This being the smallest level in the game, I also feel it is the 
most frantic. The dearth of items contributes to this, and you may find 
yourself small most of the time. Since the level is so small, camping stars 
doesn't seem very helpful. A good strategy is to patiently build up to a Fire 
Flower (if you're playing to 5 or 10 stars), and then go after your opponent. 
Staying up-top, despite its only one star spawn, is a sound defensive 
strategy.

The Mega Mushroom is as much of a liability on this level as it is an aid. If 
it appears above you and you are not over solid ground (such as the elevator 
or the start point), don't jump for it. You'll break through the bricks when 
you land. Here's the secret to using the Mega Mushroom on this level. Run, but 
don't jump. If you want to jump, be sure you're going to land on solid 
ground. If you land on a thick layer of bricks, you can jump again before 
falling through, hopefully reaching solid ground. The only place to hide is on 
the ceiling, which can be of limited use. Remember, no matter how razed the 
level ends up being, there's always (from my experience) a way to grab the 
star.

The star is amazingly powerful in this one, especially if you can corner your 
opponent in the goomba alcove.

The koopa can be tough to land on, so be careful! If you get the koopa shell, 
throw it! If it lands in the goomba alcove, it will bounce back and forth, 
opening paths for you to run (or slide) under to access the item block. It'll 
eventually drop off the elevator underside, but sometimes this takes several 
bounces. If you know your opponent is up top, throw the shell up there. He 
won't see it coming, because everything up there is off-screen.

Level Three - Ice Surface
The biggest level in the game, Ice Surface boasts a whopping 21 coins, and a 
free Shell Mario upgrade if you can slay the koopa up top. Lots of bullet 
bills and a spring board keep this level interesting.
Enemies = 2
Stars Spawns = 9
Coins = 21
Item Blocks = 1

Enemies: One special koopa (that gives you Shell Mario ability) up and to the 
right of the start point. One koopa just right of the leftmost pit. Lots of 
bullet bills! Two pits.

Star Spawns: The star spawns are well distributed. From left to right: one at 
the start point, one up near the special koopa, one between the brick ridges 
(a wall jump may be in order), one beneath the level's sole item block and one 
two floors above it. One exists on the highest ledge in the level, toward the 
level's center (you might want to use the spring board to get there), one 
directly above the spring board (the spring board is the only way to access 
it), one between the two pits and one just left of the start point.

Coins: If you're playing a coin gathering strategy I recommend bouncing up and 
down on the spring board. Immediately after springing off, you get four coins. 
If drift to the right, you can get seven more. If you drift to the left, you 
can get four more, but can position yourself near more star spawns.

Item Blocks: The level's one item block is located dead center of the level. 
You'll see it wedged between four brick blocks near the ground.

Strategy: I am horrible at this level. Here are some strategies readers of 
this FAQ have sent in:

DestructoStar says:
You know that blue koopa that provides the shell? While your opponent goes on 
the springboard to get at it, just go the right of the first ice platform (that 
had a bullet billl launcher on its rightmost edge) and wall-jump back and forth 
across the bricks above you. You'll end up at the blue koopa platform five 
seconds before your opponent gets there. When he arrives, jump on or shell dash 
him!

TheManOfDoom says:
Use the springboard to reach the blue special koopa. Jump on him and take his 
shell to become Shell Mario/Luigi. Let your opponent get half of the required 
stars. Then Press X or Y to run fast and you will be in Shell Mode. Chase your 
opponent until you hit him. Then leave Shell Mode and get the Star. Continue 
this until you have all his Stars. Avoid the pits. Then get the rest of the 
Stars and win. If you lose your shell or die then get another one from the 
special blue koopa.

Here are my observations:
The mega-mushroom is nearly worthless in this level owing to the unbreakable 
ice blocks. Your opponent can hide under the center ice blocks and wait for 
you to shrink. Still you may catch them off guard.

Shell Mario is useful, but difficult to control. Too many obstacles stand in 
the way. Add to that the multi-layered nature of this level and Shell Mario's 
difficulty in turning corners (if you're really skilled, try to bank-shot), 
Shell Mario ends up being of limited usefulness. Still, it's two hits that 
won't kill you, if you want to grab it right off the bat from the special 
koopa up top.

Fireballs are also of limited usefulness. The best strategy I've seen is just 
to keep moving and get lots of stars, avoiding your opponent unless he's 
ahead.

Star is useful, but it's easy to run away using the spring board. 

Note that pressing down after launching from the spring board triggers a 
drill-like motion. If you drill into your opponent, it has the same effect as 
ground pounding him, meaning it will knock free three stars. Also, you cannot 
exit the springboard windmill effect until you touch the ground, so don't 
drift near any pits. You won't be able to wall-jump out.

Level Four - Pipe Room
Pipe room is two walled-off sections connected by two sets of pipes.
Enemies = 2
Stars Spawns = 7
Coins = 9
Item Blocks = 1

Enemies: Two piranha plants. No pits.

Star Spawns: The left two-thirds of this level houses four of the level's star 
spawns. The start point, just to its right, and two near the mid-level warp 
pipe. On the right half, two exist near the item block and one exists just 
right of the end-level warp pipe.

Coins: Coins are evenly distributed, with three just over the rightmost 
piranha plant.

Item Blocks: The level's one item block is near the bottom of the pipe stairs 
section of the level's right half.

Strategy: As I said earlier, coins play a major role in this level. Not only 
can they produce an early Fire Flower, but they can also provide you with a 
star. The star is useful if you're playing with the music off. Otherwise 
you're friend's going to hear it and use the pipe trick. The pipe trick means 
going up and down the pipe repeatedly to prevent yourself from being damaged 
by an opponent's Mega Mushroom or star. It works all too effectively, and the 
presence of four pipes in this level means the threat of a star or Mega 
Mushroom is easily nullified.

The best way to win at this level is to stick to the right half, jumping 
around and collecting coins. The two tall pipes in the center would make for a 
good camping spot, being that they're equidistant from the four surrounding 
star spawns, save for their lack of their own star spawn. If you've got a Fire 
Flower, try to control this half and you'll have a four-to-three chance of 
winning. I say this because the warp pipes are cumbersome. If you have to go 
through a warp pipe to get to a star, you'll probably get there too late.

A word on using the Mega Mushroom on this level. Though it looks cool as hell, 
you can see it coming a mile away (the screen shakes like crazy) even with 
the volume off. The previously mentioned pipe trick makes this useless. Not to 
mention you have to have sufficient headroom to use it. It's more of a pain 
than anything. It does buy you twenty seconds to grab stars, though. That's 
two extra stars, if you're quick.

!Secret Area!
Thanks to Dan who wrote in with this awesome secret.
There is a secret way to get on top of the pipes, and it is not a glitch, 
because Nintendo put coins up there for you to collect.

Here's how it works:
 
1. The ceiling of the level is full of pipes, except for small gaps on the 
far right and far left of the level (the one on the right is bigger, so it's 
easier to jump to).
2. You must have either a mini mushroom or an invincibility star.  The reason 
for this is because the other forms can't jump far enough or high enough.
3. Wall jump onto the wall that is the same direction as the side of the 
level you are on (ie if you are on the right side of the level, jump onto the 
right wall), and then immediately wall jump again as soon as you touch the 
wall.  You will jump onto the nearest pipe (which is near the top of the 
level), at which point you should wall jump again.
4. Keep wall jumping for a few seconds, and you can eventually get on top of 
the pipes, and run to the other side of the level.
 
Level Five - The Crusher
The Crusher is the most dangerous level in the game. Riddled with pits and 
ba-bombs, and lorded over by the mighty crushing ceiling, death is a constant 
threat, regardless of your size.
Enemies = 2
Stars Spawns = 7
Coins = 11
Item Blocks = 1

Enemies: Two ba-bombs that damage you if you touch them from the side. These 
guys blow up about four seconds after you stomp them. If your opponent is run-
crazy (i.e. constantly holding down B) then throw one at him. If he doesn't 
realize in time and let go of B, he'll take damage. There are also pits to 
worry about. The crushing roof is the most menacing of all. It rapidly strips 
you of your power ups before killing you, so if you squeeze out in time, you 
may still survive. The crushing roof makes for interesting moments of tension 
throughout the round.

Star Spawns: The starting point. If you head right, you'll pass a mini Mario 
alcove. Three star spawns exist between the alcove and the nearby pit: one up 
high, one down low, and one halfway up. This is an excellent camping spot. The 
next star lies within the item block alcove, guarded by a ba-bomb. Just to the 
right and up of that one lies another star spawn. The final star spawn is 
located deep within a pit filled with rising and falling rock. It takes a full 
compression cycle to access this pit, so it's often best to collect coins and 
let your opponent have this one.

Coins: Aside from the 11 coins mentioned, four more lie in the mini Mario 
alcove. These four coins are not generally worth the trouble of getting a Mini 
Mushroom.

Item Blocks: The level's one item block is guarded by a ba-bomb. Don't get 
trapped in there with him. If you do, bounce him back and forth and he may 
blow up far enough away to spare you. Note that the crushing ceiling destroys 
items on contact.

Strategy: The fireball is king here. Once you've obtained the fireball, 
camping the center five stars is a winning strategy. The problem is that 
they're separated by a pit, which spells instant death if you get stomped or 
fireballed at the wrong time. Once you get a Fire Flower, invest the time to 
grab a back-up in case you die. That'll save you two cycles of hitting the 
item block.

If you're playing high stars (five or ten) and low deaths (three), a killing 
strategy may prove optimal. Aside from stars (mega mushrooms won't appear on 
this stage) you can bate your opponents into grabbing your unwanted Mini 
Mushrooms, or simply pelt them with fireballs when the crushing ceiling is on 
its way down. It's hard to hold onto stars on this level, and if you get 
trapped in the same space with your opponent, both of you stand to lose a few 
that may just spring irretrievably off the level.

Staying alive on this level means playing it safe. Don't attempt running 
crouches to get out of tight spots unless absolutely necessary (life for star 
evasion). 

Miscellaneous Notes:
- Wolfzoon writes in with this important observation: If you have a star, you
can still be killed by someone with a mega-mushroom.
- Clay writes in with this observation: While being small leaves you
vulnerable to fireballs and shoves, it does alter your jumping, giving you 
longer hang time at the peak of your jump. You can use this to your advantage 
by making jumps not normally possible.
- Keep the sound off or use headphones. Nothing gives away your game like star 
music.
- Every time a star is collected, the level resets itself. This means all 
enemies, blocks and coins return to their original positions. If you're about 
to grab a star, grab nearby coins that will respawn once you grab it, so you 
can grab twice as much. If you want to deprive your opponent of items, don't 
grab the star until you've hounded him with your fireballs for all his stars 
first. Think of ways to use this fact to your advantage. See him jumping into 
the Classic Underground goomba alcove? Grab the star, and he'll be sandwhiched 
in there with that goomba.
- If you run into your opponent (holding B), both of you will lose a star. 
This is helpful if you don't have a star, or if you're desperate to keep your 
opponent from winning.
- If you get hit, you'll be invincible for one second after recovering from 
your stun. Use this time to escape, get back your star, or get revenge. This 
is particularly crucial when dealing with fireballs. If both of you have 
fireballs, you'll trade hits back and forth until one of you gets to higher 
ground or escapes entirely.
- You can get two stars out of one stun if you hit your opponent with both a 
fireball and jump on him. This is tricky, and the timing is tough, but if you 
get it right, you can rob him of his stars much faster than he can return the 
favor.
- In pipe land, you can jump to the top of the two tall pipes in a single wall 
jump. Face away from them, jump straight up, and spring off the opposite wall 
first. This saves a few split seconds.
- Small and about to get steamrolled by a Mega Mushroom'd Mario? Jump into a 
pit. Sound silly? Hug the wall for just the right length of time. He'll walk 
over you and you can spring out, behind him. It's tricky.
- Down a lot of stars? Try ground pounding. It's often an act of desperation, 
but if you get it right, you can close the gap. Example: Luigi has six stars. 
You have three. You ground pound him and gather up his stars. You've just 
reversed your positions in around five seconds.
- Slow and steady can win this game. If you collect coins for the first 
minute of a 10 star game, the most stars behind you can end up is six (if your 
opponent was lucky enough to hit every star spawn correctly). But in that 
time, you can pile on a Fire Flower and burn statistics with a lot of coins. 
One star can even the game. One Mega Mushroom can win it. There's a lot of 
luck to this game, but digging through the bad luck to get to the good luck 
requires skill and tenacity.

Any suggestions or corrections for this FAQ? Just want to chat? 
michaelqlarson at gmail dot com. You can also find this guide at lifespill.com.