Backwards Mario

So you’ve long since mastered Super Mario Bros. and it no longer challenges you? Have you tried playing it from right to left? That’s what Backwards Mario is all about. The first portion of the hack is getting the image to display backwards. He’s working with an old CRT television, which uses a magnetic ring to aim the electron gun at the screen. By swapping the left and right wires from that ring you can flip the image horizontally. Now Mario will be travelling right to left, but the controller buttons will send Mario the wrong direction on screen. This is a snap to fix, just crack open the controller and swap the signals for the left and right buttons. Now it’s time to fall in love with the classic game all over again, just like [JJ's] doing in the video after the break.


  1. sli says:

    I’d love to see the levels themselves reversed, with the start and ends swapped.

  2. Tom says:

    Is it really that different to the original?

  3. bolke says:

    Play it looking in a mirror :P

  4. Tom says:

    That is awesome! :D

  5. Victor says:

    is not easier to swap the joypad directions buttons to achieve the same effect of playing backwards??

  6. steaky says:


    he did swap the joystick buttons.

  7. mlseim says:

    The author was correct. Switch both the video gun wires and the joypad buttons. You could use a mirror, but also would have to change the buttons. But how does a mirror really work?

  8. r_d says:

    In related news: Bungie is hard at work on olaH, the latest installment in the popular Halo franchise.

    (I would’ve said Half-Life or something, but I think the earth might implode if Valve ever half-assed a game and released on schedule)

  9. Bob says:

    Why wouldn’t you just reprogram the game? Permanently damaged hardware vs a second version of the game with everything mirrored….hmmm

  10. svofski says:

    As long as the music plays forward, it’s not backwards enough.

  11. Sariel says:

    so did anyone else notice the ‘?’ boxes are facing the right way?

  12. JJ says:

    @Bob: For me that would be MUCH more difficult. The only thing I sacrificed that’s worth anything here is a single controller. $2 at any thrift store.

    @Sariel: They are backwards, try the watching in HD

  13. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    Easier to do this with software in an emulator. Remap keys and mirror the screen using the video card driver.

  14. Alex says:

    If you have a newer projector it might have an option to mirror the image. Mine does this. Also if you have not heard of FireNes, all NES and gameboy games inside Firefox. Put the two together and you have an instant hack. enjoy!

  15. Kemp says:

    “Why wouldn’t you just reprogram the game?”

    Because it’s easier to swap a couple of wires that to reprogram the entire game? Do *you* know how to do it? :-P

  16. dmcbeing says:

    I am sorry to be the guy that says this but:

    Is this really a hack?
    I mean a hack is making something do something it wasnt ment to do.The SNES still playes the game the same way and the TV still displays stuff.I find this similar to taking a mouse intended for right handed users and using it with your left hand, only in this case the diffrence is purely aesthetic.

  17. Inventorjack says:

    dmcbeing: If reversing the horizontal display of an CRT and opening up the controller and swapping controls (both of which change the original functionality of the device from it’s original purposes) doesn’t count as a hack, then how exactly do you define hack?

  18. Walky says:

    Cool. It would be nice to have an image mirrorer built into the nes, right after the composite image generation, so it would be “plug and play”. That would probably add a little lag, though.


    He hacked the tv, he hacked the controller, and I assure your the game is more difficult reversed because most of us are used to “left to right” side scrollers (or at least a mix of both directions); it’s even more notorious if you’ve played SMB before (who hasn`t?). I’m sure it would take me some time to get used to it (and I used to do speedruns of the game on console).

    That would be nice, and is mostly doable by editing the levels (an automated script would be nice, though). That’s far easier than modifying the game mechanics and would allow the game to keep the “left to right” mechanics.

  19. dmcbeing says:

    As i said before:
    “I find this similar to taking a mouse intended for right handed users and using it with your left hand”.I find the term “mod” more appropriate for this thing since minor modifications to the hardware accomplish the results.No functionality has been added or removed as far as i can tell.The only diffrence i can see is that perhaps it would be more intuitive for a left handed user(Although the letters are now reveresed :S ).To end with perhaps i was wrong to dissmis this as a hack.None the less i think it is a rather simple “mod” that solves no existing problem while creating new ones.In the end it is not very appropiate for the Hack-A-Day audience.

  20. ejonesss says:

    bolke is right a mirror would work and would be much safer because of the high voltages found inside many crt based tv’s and monitors.

    also today’s modern tv’s now are lcd and plasma and have no scan coils to reverse.

    also there may be some video reversal hardware that you can get for if you want to build one of the original long neck tvs.

  21. Walky says:

    In my opinion, it adds extra replay value to the game; I wouldn’t call that a problem, but a nice addition. It sure looks the same, but I’m sure the game’s feel is quite different.

    It’s like trying to play Super C without shooting (when possible): it feels like a completely different game.

  22. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    “bolke is right a mirror would work and would be much safer because of the high voltages found inside many crt based tv’s and monitors.”

    I know this was a well intentioned comment and you are not arguing that we should use a mirror simply because high voltage is present but it got me thinking……

    Just because something *CAN* be dangerous is ABSOLUTELY not a reason to never, ever work with it. We would not have modern power distribution if anything higher than 120 volts was “too dangerous” to work with. We would not have space travel or airplanes or possibly even cooking (fire can burn you)!

    I think the key takeaway is that before you mess with something that has inherent danger that you know that danger is present so you can avoid it. Then when you learn more about it so you can safely operate around it and with it, you continue to give it healthy respect but you are no longer fearful of the unknown. I used to be terrified of electricity. Then I refused to change out domestic breakers. Then I changed out domestic breakers and then even added some additional circuits. Last night I was using hot gloves and a clamp multimeter on live 3 phase power systems to check power use.

    I still fear it but I understand it and that makes a huge difference.

  23. hiroshi says:

    Some emulators have this feature built in (mirrored with reversed controls). I played through SMB backwards, and it was a nice change of pace after playing the game for 25 years.

  24. DarkFader says:

    an extra option would be to swap around R,G and B :)

  25. Edward says:

    The controller did not need to be modified, just hold it so the D-Pad is on the right instead of the left.

  26. octel says:

    if you’re looking for an even bigger challenge, try the Dream Mary (aka Fancy Mario). All it takes is cutting one trace and placing one blob of solder:

  27. JJ says:

    But then everything else will be reversed… including up/down

  28. Sariel says:


    I see. guess I should have checked the hd version before I posted. lol

  29. clayton says:

    the challenge is that your facing backwards so you cant use the fireball for oncoming enemies

  30. Alan says:

    Looking at that picture, my brain is telling me that Mario is doing the moonwalk…

  31. fartface says:

    Again HAD showcases things we did in the 80’s as if they were clever now.

  32. Kevin says:

    Does anyone know of an emulator that would let me flip it horizontally? I want to play games backwards now. Also, I don’t want to use a mirror. And also, I tried NEStopia, FCEUX, FCE Ultra, and UberNES and I was unable to get it working. Also, I looked up flipping my entire display, but that apparently isn’t viable…you can only rotate.

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