From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
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An Anchor is an item from Super Mario Bros. 3. The item is rare and can only be received at a special White Mushroom House after collecting a certain number of coins in a certain level in the even-numbered worlds. An Anchor will prevent an Airship from moving if Mario fails to clear it, thereby eliminating the need to trek long distances to try again to complete the level. It also appears in cutscenes before Airship levels, where Mario climbs the chain while the Anchor is being hoisted up.
There is also an Anchor in Wario Land II that can be found in the SS Tea Cup world. It only appears in the fourth level of Chapter 2 called Drop the anchor!!. Here, Wario has to use his attack to move it and drop it into the water. After it is dropped, the level is completed.
After a long absence, the Anchor reappears in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The first Airship level has an anchor near it before the player actually goes to the level. Anchors do not serve the same purpose as they did in Super Mario Bros. 3, however. When the first two Airship levels are cleared, Anchors replace the Airships on the map indicating that the levels have been cleared. Players can still visit the Airship levels, though.
An anchor can be acquired in the Nintendo Adventure Book Double Trouble in either Mario Brothers Plumbing or a portion of the Doom Ship, and it can be used by Mario to reach the poop deck of the Doom Ship, where Roy Koopa is holding Luigi captive. An anchor can also be found in the subsequent book, Leaping Lizards, but it is a dud item; its only purpose is to drag Luigi down if he falls into a body of water, causing a Game Over.
Although not actually a usable item, it also appears in Paper Mario: Color Splash as Mario's means of entering the Airship carrying the drained red paint from Crimson Tower, as Johnson neglected to lift up the anchor and thus forced the Airship to stall.
Super Mario Bros. 3
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