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A ? Block (alternatively Question Mark Block, Question Block, Mystery Block, Prize Block, brown Question Mark Box, or simply ?) is one of the many blocks found in the Mario universe, and one of the most common. ? Blocks are usually seen floating in midair, often containing coins, Super Mushrooms, or Fire Flowers. They may also be invisible. Beginning in Super Mario Bros. 3, there are different ways to hit the block other than simply jumping into it from below, like using a tail whip with a Super Leaf or Tanooki Suit, or a cape spin with a Cape Feather, to whack the ? Block, or kicking a Koopa Shell at the Item Block. As of the New Super Mario Bros. series, a Ground Pound may also be used to activate it. Hitting a ? Block will turn it into an Empty Block.
The instruction booklet for Super Mario Bros. states that Bowser, using the Turtle Tribe's famous dark magic, had cursed the Mushroom Kingdom, turning the Mushroom People into a variety of objects, including bricks. Princess Toadstool, being the only person who could reverse the spell on her people, was kidnapped by Bowser. Later, it is mentioned that Mario can receive a Magic Mushroom, Fire Flower or Starman from these cursed bricks. This would appear to be the origin of the ? Blocks since the English version also uses the term brick to refer to blocks in general, although the Japanese version properly uses the term block. Regardless, blocks have since been established as being a staple of the setting.
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 in many levels, first appearing in World 1-1. 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, also named Item Blocks or Power-Up blocks, return in Super Mario Bros. 3, though their design is slightly different: they do not flash; instead, the ? marks on the blocks scroll sideways. While they work as they did in Super Mario Bros., the item's direction depends on the side the block was hit on; hitting a block's right side causes a Super or 1-Up Mushroom to move left instead. On one occasion, ? Blocks were distinctly named depending on their contents; those with a Super Mushroom were named Mushroom Blocks, those with a 1-Up Mushroom were named 1-Up Blocks, and those with a Vine were named Vine Blocks.
Mega ? Blocks also debut in this game; they appear in World 4 (where they contain the usual contents) and in bonus rooms (where they give 3 1-Up Mushrooms or one of the game's three suit power-ups). The above item pathway properties also apply to these blocks.
Super Mario Land
Mystery Blocks appear in Super Mario Land, although they are much smaller due to the gameplay resolution.
Super Mario World
The ? Blocks of Super Mario World have eyes identical to those of the game's Rotating Blocks under their question marks, and get an "angry" expression when used up. 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 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.
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 have to be activated by hitting the ? Switch in a secret level named after the switch. They contain Power Flowers, or Feathers in certain levels for Mario. If anyone other than Yoshi hits the Power Flower box without their caps, however, a Bob-omb will come out instead.
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 Spiked ? Blocks in World 6-3, which only appear in this game. Mario must be careful to hit the block only on a spikeless side.
Unlike in prior games, where ? Blocks can only be hit from below, by using power-ups, or by throwing something at them, ? Blocks in this game can also be ground pounded.
Super Mario Galaxy
In Super Mario Galaxy, ? Blocks, making their 3D Mario debut, 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 when hit, rather than acting like Coin Blocks. Unlike in New Super Mario Bros., ? Blocks in this game cannot be ground pounded, the holes in the sides have nails in them, and the "?" flashes (like the block itself did in Super Mario Bros.), rather than scrolling sideways.
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. Also, in multiplayer mode, power-up-holding ? Blocks spew out their contents upon being hit (depending of the number of active players and their forms). Mega ? Blocks 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 on the map screen do not return. There is also a haunted version that launches itself towards the player if they get near. 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 reappear in Super Mario Galaxy 2, looking and acting as they did in the first Super Mario Galaxy. In this game, ? Blocks that release a bunch of Star Bits when hit and Coin Blocks reappear. ? Blocks that release one Star Bit at a time when hit repeatedly do not return.
Flying ? Blocks from Super Mario World also appear, and they act the same; however, they do not move up and down while flying, and they act just like normal ? Blocks otherwise. They make chirping noises while flying, like birds.
Super Mario 3D Land
? Blocks appear in the Nintendo 3DS game, Super Mario 3D Land, looking and acting as they do in the 2D Super Mario games, though they are not animated. A rare wearable version called the ? Box is introduced, which gives infinite coins to the player as they move or jump. Like the Propeller Box, if the player finishes a level with a ? Box, they are awarded an extra life and the box is removed. Long ? Blocks are also introduced, which give the player three coins (two if they contain items) in one hit. Blokkabloks, which also debut in this game, have some of their body segments as spiked ? Blocks; these blocks break when hit, unlike normal ? Blocks.
New Super Mario Bros. 2
New Super Mario Bros. U
Super Mario 3D World / Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury
Both regular ? Blocks and Long ? Blocks reappear in Super Mario 3D World and Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury with a metallic design, working as they did in Super Mario 3D Land. In multiplayer, power-up-holding ? Blocks work like they do in the New Super Mario Bros. games, but rather than spewing items out, they act like normal Coin Blocks (depending on the number of active players; this applies only for power-ups in the case of Long ? Blocks). The Coin Boxes from Super Mario 3D Land also appear; however, they work more like the Gold Blocks of New Super Mario Bros. 2, and 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 Maker / Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS / Super Mario Maker 2
? Blocks reappear in Super Mario Maker, Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS, and Super Mario Maker 2 as objects that can be placed into levels. Power-ups, Trampolines, P Switches, Vines, Yoshi's Eggs, Goomba's Shoes, and enemies can be placed in these blocks.
Super Mario Run
? Blocks serve the same function in Super Mario Run as in previous games, although this time, they can be affected in Toad Rally while in "Coin Rush" mode and in Remix 10 after collecting a Super Star, during which they start flashing and can be hit to produce large amounts of coins or three power-ups at a time. Additionally, they can contain a Pink Coin, Purple Coin, or Black Coin inside of it, depending on the stage/level.
A special type of ? Block also appears in the Bonus Game in Remix 10, which grants the player a random object that can be used in Kingdom Builder. The rarity of the reward the player receives from the ? Block is determined by how many times they hit it, although the number of times they are able to do so is random (although if the block is shiny, it guarantees a reward of 3★ or higher). If the player hits the ? Block once and it becomes empty, they receive a 1★ reward; otherwise, a coin pops out, the ? Block increases in size, and the rarity of the reward goes up by one star, allowing the player to hit the block again until they receive a reward. The maximum number of hits the ? Block can take is five, in which case the player receives a 5★ reward, the highest possible star rating for the Bonus Game.
The list below are the 1★ and 2★ rewards obtained from a ? Block. The rewards that are 3★ or higher are shown here.
A Super Bonus Game holding a Bonus ? Block, however, also appears, which not only guarantees a reward of 3★ rarity or higher, but also has a possibility of yielding a rare 6★ reward.
Super Mario Odyssey
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.
Wario Land series
Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3
? Blocks, known here as Face 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 Body Slamming from the side; upon doing so, a 1 Gold Coin, 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.
Virtual Boy Wario Land
In Virtual Boy Wario Land, ? Blocks start out with their usual design, but used ones have the same unhappy face as in Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3.
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 Mega ? Blocks on some of the sinking mountains, along with regular Brick Blocks.
In Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, on the track Cloudtop Cruise, after a gliding section, drivers land on a giant stone ? Block which has a beanstalk growing out of the side of it. They, along with the Brick Blocks, also return in Wii Grumble Volcano once more. ? Block engravings also appear on the vehicles Tri-Speeder, Flame Rider, and Standard Bike, with a ? Block sticker on the Inkstriker.
In Mario Kart Tour, a row of two ? Blocks and three Empty Blocks appears in 3DS Mario Circuit T above the main track right before the finish line. It can be driven on after a glide and holds three coins on top. The same row of blocks also appears in many Goomba Takedown bonus challenges carrying Goomba Stacks.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
Unused graphics indicate that ? Blocks were considered for Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. However, they are absent from gameplay in the final, with their role being taken up by Egg Blocks and Winged Clouds.
In Yoshi's Story, ? Blocks appear brown instead of yellow. Hitting them from below will either spawn coins (either acting like a Coin Block with a melon as the eleventh hit or coins that can be collected for a melon) or initiate one of two events: the Melon Race or melon box delivery. The ? Block is somewhat similar to a ? Bubble, which is a floating bubble that must be popped using an Egg Throw rather than hit from below. There is also a similar-looking object known as a Mystery Crate, which are on the ground and must be Ground Pounded to open.
Yoshi's Crafted World
In Yoshi's Crafted World, a ? Block makes a cameo on a sticker labeled "HANDLE WITH CARE" where it is shown being held up by two hands; the sticker appears on the bridge in the flip side of Rail-Yard Run. A ? Block also makes a cameo as a brand of chocolate on a box labeled "Caramel Blocks" in the same level.
Mario Party series
In Mario Party: Island Tour, Mario Party: Star Rush, and Mario Party: The Top 100, ? Blocks appear as a board space in Party mode, Toad Scramble mode and Minigame Match mode, respectively. Landing on one of these spaces gives the player a random item.
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, ? Blocks have the same function from the previous game.
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.
Paper Mario: Color Splash has ? Blocks return, this time with a flip-open top and a side-scrolling "?" mark (as in Super Mario Bros. 3). They often give Battle Cards or coins, the former getting stronger in later levels or being more relevant to a level's boss fight, if any. Additionally, a new kind of block, the Unfurl Block, looks similar, except it's red and has a "!?" symbol on it instead. Mega ? Blocks also return in Mondo Woods, having been enlarged by Kamek.
In Paper Mario: The Origami King, ? Blocks look similar to their appearance in Color Splash, albeit the flip-open top has been replaced by a lid that floats for a brief moment when being hit, except for the ones at Origami Castle. Once the player hits them, if they return to the area later on, they will not revert to its previous state, much like in the first two games. Additionally, the ? Block Head trophy is earned for hitting all ? Blocks in every location in the game. Furthermore, the ones at Origami Castle are in a shinier appearance and the hammer-hit ones need to be pulled before hitting them.
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 Super Smash Bros. Brawl's Mushroomy Kingdom stage (where they look more realistic and withered, with cracks and a metal border), as well as in 3D Land (where they can give Super Leaves more often) in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, and possibly in Super Mario Maker (where they can give Mario items more often) in both 3DS and Wii U versions with the same purpose, though they turn into Empty 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 will not offer any more items. If Mario and Luigi happen to have 99 of the item found in the block (or 10 if playing Mario & Luigi: Dream Team in Hard Mode), the item will remain in the block.
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, and Paper Mario, as well as the yellow ! Block from Super Mario 64.
In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, ? Blocks in the Mushroom Kingdom look as they do 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 2: March of the Minis
Mario & Sonic series
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games
Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
In Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, characters can collect coins from ? Blocks during Mario's Figure Skating Spectacular.
Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
? Blocks appear in Golf Plus in Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where the player can hit them with the ball to obtain a number of Star Coins. The ? Blocks do not let balls pass through them, and once a block has been hit once it will turn into an Empty Block and produce no more Star Coins.
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 the courses of Mario Golf: World Tour. If the player hits the ball through one, they can earn a usable item. A ? Block appears in the animation of something being unlocked. The Mario Open trophy has a model of a ? Block.
Mario Tennis Open
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
? Blocks reappear in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and its Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS ports. They can be activated by having turnips thrown at them, luring Flaptors to dive onto them, or by touching them on the GamePad. One such appearance is in Turnip Cannon Jungle at the top of the course only accessible by a Turnip Cannon. However, Pluck Patches replace them in most cases.
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.
In the Animal Crossing series, ? Blocks appear as furniture items. They originally use their Super Mario Bros. appearance, though their modern appearance is used in Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The ? Block in New Horizons was added as part of the Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary.
In LEGO City Undercover, five hidden ? Blocks are hidden in various parts of LEGO City. Hitting all of them unlocks a playable character. They only appear in the original and Nintendo Switch versions of the game.
In the Super Mario Mash-up in Minecraft, Crafting Tables are replaced by ? Blocks.
? Blocks appear in the background of J. P. Spamley's office in the Disney movie Ralph Breaks the Internet. They appear to be based on the appearance in the original Super Mario Bros., rather than using their current design.
In Game Builder Garage, the 25th puzzle in the Extra Checkpoint is named after the ? Block and involves making a fully functional block to hit from below to make an item come out.
Super Mario series
Super Mario Bros. 3
Super Mario 3D Land
Super Mario Run
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Super Smash Bros. for Wii U trophy
Blue indicates exclusive to the Wii U version.
Paper Mario: The Origami King
Names in other languages