From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
Purple Switches are a type of ! Switch found in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario 64 DS. Despite their name, they are dark maroon in the former and light mahogany in the latter. They are found in a majority of the game's courses. Though their exact effect varies from course to course, the most common effects are either making a set of breakable platforms appear or making unnavigable terrain passable, such as turning a steep slope into a staircase. With very few exceptions, the effect of the Purple Switch is temporary. A ticking sound indicates that the switch is still in effect, which gets more rapid as the effect is about to expire.
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