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A ? Block (alternatively Question Block, known as a Mystery Block in the Super Mario Land manual and a Prize Block in Super Mario World) is one of the many blocks found in the Mario universe, and one of the most common. Question Blocks are usually seen floating in midair, often containing Coins, Super Mushrooms, or Fire Flowers. In some games (for example Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, as well as several classic platformers) there are some invisible Item Blocks. Beginning in Super Mario Bros. 3, there are different ways to hit the block other than simply punching it from below. One example is when Mario, Luigi, Toad or Peach use the Super Leaf, Tanooki Suit or Cape Feather, they can use their tails or cape to whack the Question Block. Another example is using the Koopa Shell; Mario, Luigi, Toad or Peach can kick the Koopa Shell at the Item Block. As of the New Super Mario Bros. series, a Ground Pound may also be used to activate it.
In Super Mario Bros., the manual states that Bowser, using the Koopa Clan's famous dark magic, had cursed the Mushroom Kingdom, turning its citizens (presumably the Toads) into a variety of objects, including bricks (which the ? Blocks could alternately be thought of as). Princess Peach could apparently reverse this spell, so she was kidnapped by the "Koopa Clan". The game's manual later talked about how Mario could "come across Mushroom People who had been turned into bricks" and receive items from them. Although this is the only official origin story of the ? Blocks, it would appear to have been long since retconned out of Mario games, with ? Blocks now seemingly being a natural feature of the Mushroom Kingdom. ? Blocks are not to be confused with Exclamation Mark Blocks, which are similarly floating blocks.
Super Mario series
Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. is the ? Block's debut appearance in the Mario series, along with a handful of other items. They appear to be flashing and they give Mario either coins or items that can help Mario. They are very common, since they are sometimes needed to complete a level or help Mario in a tough situation. Some blocks are hidden and can be only seen when Mario happens to hit them. Some blocks also release Beanstalks into the air, making it available for climbing.
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
These blocks reappear in the sequel Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels with the exact same appearance and function. No changes have been made to these blocks, but certain ? Blocks can contain the new tricky non-Power-up, the Poison Mushroom, which were introduced in The Lost Levels as well.
Super Mario Bros. 3
Although absent in Super Mario Bros. 2, ? Blocks return in Super Mario Bros. 3, though their design is slightly different: they are no longer flashing and the ? marks on the blocks seem to be moving. They still give out coins and other items that can help Mario when hit.
Super Mario World
The ? Blocks of Super Mario World have eyes and seem to be re-animations of that game's Rotating Blocks, and they are even given Rotating Block-like eyes when hit. Otherwise, no function-related changes has been made. There are also winged variants called Flying ? Blocks, which fly left to right while moving up and down. A red ? Block, only found in the dark final hallway of Bowser's Castle, activates a spotlight.
Super Mario 64 DS
In Super Mario 64 DS, red ? Blocks replace the red, blue, and green ! Blocks from Super Mario 64. They are initially transparent, and had to be activated by hitting the ? Switch in a secret level named after the switch. They contain either Power Flowers, Feathers or Bob-ombs, depending on the character and hat status.
New Super Mario Bros.
In New Super Mario Bros., ? Blocks return, used as they were in previous 2D Mario games. Red Flying ? Blocks similar to the ones from Super Mario World fly around the world map, moving to different levels every time Mario or Luigi lose a life, complete a level, enter a Toad House, etc. Five items can be inside: a Fire Flower, 1-Up Mushroom, Mini Mushroom, Mega Mushroom, or a Blue Shell. Normal Flying ? Blocks from Super Mario World also appear, but while some of them fly left to right, others only move up and down. In two Ghost Houses, ? Blocks that contain Boos appear. The game also features rare Spiky ? Blocks in World 6, which only appear in this game. Mario must be careful to hit the block only on a spikeless side.
Unlike in the other games, where ? Blocks can only be hit from below or by throwing something at them, ? Blocks in this game can also be ground pounded.
Super Mario Galaxy
In Super Mario Galaxy, ? Blocks contain Star Bits and coins, and can usually be hit multiple times before vanishing. Most ? Blocks with Star Bits release a multitude of Star Bits before disappearing. Unlike in New Super Mario Bros., ? Blocks in this game cannot be ground pounded, and the "?" flashes (like they did in Super Mario Bros.).
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
The ? Blocks make a return in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Here, they have the exact function and appearance as in New Super Mario Bros. but some behave differently from the average stationary ? Block. In some levels, for example, some blocks tend to sway left and right along with other objects such as brick blocks and coins. Others lay in the water in some levels, where it is easier to ground pound them. Flying ? Blocks also appear, acting the same way as in the previous game, but the red ones that appear in the map didn't reappear. There is also a species called a Ghost Block. In single player mode, a Toad can be found trapped in a ? Block in certain levels; if Mario brings the Toad to the end of the level, he is awarded with a Toad House, with the variation depending on the timer.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
? Blocks from Super Mario Galaxy re-appear in Super Mario Galaxy 2. In this game, they once again release a bunch of Star Bits when hit. Like in Super Mario Galaxy, coins can be released one at a time from Coin Blocks. Question Blocks that release one Star Bit at a time when hit repeatedly do not return. The Flying ? Blocks from Super Mario World also appear, and they act the same; however, they don't move up and down while flying, and they vanish instead of turning into a Used Block when they are hit, just like normal ? Blocks in this game. They make chirping noises while flying (like a bird). They won't trigger if the player attempts to Ground Pound its top.
Super Mario 3D Land
? Blocks appear in the Nintendo 3DS game, Super Mario 3D Land. Unlike past 3D Super Mario games, they can be activated with a Ground Pound and turn into Blocks when hit. Like past Super Mario games, they can produce power-ups, such as the Super Leaf. A rare wearable version called the Coin Box is introduced, which continuously provides coins to the player as he moves or jumps. Like the Propeller Box, if the player finishes a level with a Coin Box, he is awarded an extra life and the box is removed. Rectangular ? Blocks are also introduced, which have the same effect as a normal block; however, they give the player three coins in one hit and can contain items.
New Super Mario Bros. 2
New Super Mario Bros. U
Super Mario 3D World
Both regular ? Blocks and Rectangular ? Blocks reappear in Super Mario 3D World. The wearable Coin Boxes from Super Mario 3D Land also appear; however, they work more like the Gold Blocks of New Super Mario Bros. 2. They are also shinier than a regular ? Block.
Occasionally, hitting a ? Block would make an 8-bit sprite of Luigi pop out of the block.
Super Mario Land series
Super Mario Land
Mystery Blocks appear in Super Mario Land, although they are much smaller due to the gameplay resolution.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
? Blocks again have the same purpose in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, more closely matching the usual appearance.
Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3
? Blocks have been redesigned for Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, now having faces rather than its distinctive question mark, but still serving the same function. Its expression is initially cheerful, but when used, it changes into a grumpy one. Wario can hit one of these blocks by jumping from the bottom or slamming from the side; upon doing so, a 1 Gold Coin, 1 UP Heart, or Power Up Pot may appear. These power-ups can be one of the following: Garlic, Bull, Dragon, or Jet. The player can also reveal the contents by heating it with Dragon Wario's flames.
In Virtual Boy Wario Land, ? Blocks start out with their usual design, but used ones have the same unhappy face.
A similar block can be found in Yoshi's Story. This time, they are known as the Mystery Crate.
Paper Mario series
In the Paper Mario series, red ? Blocks contain badges and yellow ones contain coins or items. ? Blocks are sometimes invisible at first. They are turned visible by jumping into them (or using Watt in Paper Mario and Tippi in Super Paper Mario). Once they are visible, they can also be used as stepping stones.
In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door during Bowser's event, Meat will come out of the ? Blocks. If the player obtains four of these Meats, Bowser will grow huge, allowing him to smash through objects.
In Paper Mario: Sticker Star, ? Blocks have their sides peeled off upon being hit. However, if Mario attempts to jump on a (albeit docile) Piranha Plant under a ? Block, Mario will only take damage, forcing him to defeat the plant before getting the block's contents.
Additionally, Mario can use Kersti's Paperizing power to create these blocks from small sized stickers from his album. All the player needs to find is a small Paperization zone with red dotted outlines. From there Mario can stick any small sticker, except Thing stickers, to it. Most of the time, when Mario hits the newly-created ? Block, the sticker he used to create it will come out differently; usually, the sticker will either be upgraded (e.g. from a Hammer Sticker to a Shiny Hammer Sticker) or it will turn into a different sticker type (e.g. from a Hammer Sticker into a Jump Sticker). Rarely, when one sticker is used to create a ? Block, three stickers will come out of it.
Mario Kart series
In the Mario Kart series, as of Mario Kart 64, similar item blocks, called Item Boxes are found on every track, replacing the ? Panels of Super Mario Kart. They are usually semi-transparent and reappear when they get hit. While most of them are set on the ground, some float in midair, like ? Blocks.
In Mario Kart Wii, on the track Coconut Mall, there is shop that is selling ? Blocks along with other classic Mario items. In the track Grumble Volcano, there are giant ? Blocks on some of the sinking mountains, along with regular Brick Blocks.
Super Smash Bros. series
? Blocks make an appearance as objects in most Super Smash Bros. games. In Super Smash Bros. Melee, ? Blocks appeared on the Mushroom Kingdom stage, which break and release items if hit or simply jumped into from below. They also appear in Mushroomy Kingdom (where they look more realistic and withered, like the stage itself) and 3D Land, and can appear in Super Mario Maker with the same purpose, though they turn into Blocks after Melee.
Mario & Luigi series
? Blocks are one of many types of block to appear in the Mario & Luigi series. They can give Mario and Luigi coins or items that can help them, similar to the series the blocks normally appear in. One hit on, they turn brown and they won't offer any more items. If Mario and Luigi happen to have 99 of the item found in the block, the item will remain in the block. This also applies if the player has 9999 coins.
In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, there is a room in the Woohoo Hooniversity which is designed to study different kinds of ? Blocks. The blocks found in this room are from Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World, Paper Mario and Super Mario 64.
In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, ? Blocks look more like those in New Super Mario Bros.. This game also introduces the Brocks, beings made of ? Blocks. Broque Monsieur, Broggy, and Broque Madame are the only Brocks in the game.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong series
Donkey Kong (Game Boy)
? Blocks make a cameo appearance during the ending of Donkey Kong, to show that the main cast fell into what seems to be the Mushroom Kingdom.
In Nintendo Land, presents resembling ? Blocks can be won from the pachinko minigame found in the central tower of the main plaza. For every stage completed in the minigame, a ? Block will fly out of the tower. After locating the ? Blocks on the plaza grounds, the player can tap them open to reveal different prizes based on objects found in the 12 attractions of the game. Mini ? Blocks also appear on the Jukebox prize and when tapped, will unlock a song the Player can play in the main plaza.
Mario Golf: World Tour
Large ? Blocks appear in Mario Golf: World Tour on a variety of courses. If the player hits the ball through one, they can earn a usable item.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition
? Blocks appear in Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition. The player may come across one in a course, which can hold Coins, 1-Up Mushrooms, Transformation Items, or Skill Items. Opening them requires the player to clear a certain amount of Orbs, make a certain amount of combos, and/or to arrange Orbs horizontally or vertically - the more objectives there are, the greater the rewards, with Coins often being rewarded for the easiest challenges. ? Blocks will open only if the player successfully satisfies any and all conditions.
Depending on the world the course is in, the amount of Coins the player is rewarded from a ? Block varies as follows:
A minigame at Toad Houses, Lucky ? Blocks, lets the player try their luck at winning items for 100 coins each attempt. Prizes include 1-Up Mushrooms, Transformation Items and Skill Items.
Super Mario Maker
? Blocks reappear in Super Mario Maker as objects that can be placed into levels. Power-ups, springboards, P-Switches, beanstalks, Yoshi Eggs, Goomba Shoes, and enemies can be placed in these blocks.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U Trophy information
Blue indicates exclusive to the Wii U version.
Names in other languages