From the Super Mario Wiki
Treasure chests (often referred to as treasure boxes) are scattered throughout the levels in many different games. Some hold the most mundane of items while others hold unique items needed to complete a quest.
Super Mario series
Super Mario Bros. 3
Treasure chests first appear in Super Mario Bros. 3. They are usually seen inside of Toad Houses, and when opened, reveal a Power-Up that can be used later in the game. In this game, Toad simply refers to them as boxes. Small chests that also hold useful items appear after defeating all of the enemies in an Enemy Course or in secluded areas in levels.
Super Mario 64 / Super Mario 64 DS
Treasure chests also appear in Jolly Roger Bay and Dire, Dire Docks in Super Mario 64 and its remake, Super Mario 64 DS. If a character touches one of these treasure chests in the wrong order, he is shocked and stunned, but if he touches them in the correct order, he will receive either bubbles or a Power Star, or cause water to drain.
Super Mario Galaxy
In Super Mario Galaxy, treasure chests contain either optional items or something needed to progress through the level, such as a Launch Star. They can be opened by throwing shells at them. Shiny Treasure Chests also appear in this game. Some chests contain coins, Star Bits, a Launch Star, a 1-Up Mushroom, or just a bubble. A Gold Treasure Box appears in the Bigmouth Galaxy and can only be opened by a Golden Shell. Many chests can be found underwater.
New Super Mario Bros Wii
In New Super Mario Bros. Wii, treasure chests appear in the Enemy Courses where a Toad is captured. After collecting all eight Toad balloons, the chest opens and frees Toad, who gives Mario three Super Mushrooms as reward. Treasure Chests also appear in Yellow Toad Houses, where they contain a Super Star.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Treasure chests reappear in Super Mario Galaxy 2. In this game, they serve the same function as in Super Mario Galaxy. They are also opened using the same method, but may also be opened by using rubbery bulbs.
New Super Mario Bros. 2
In New Super Mario Bros. 2, treasure chests appear in Yellow Toad Houses, where they contain a reserve Gold Flower. The only exception is the one in World Star, which gives a reserve Super Star instead.
New Super Mario Bros. U
Treasure chests return in New Super Mario Bros. U, where they can be found in Enemy Courses, like the first game. However, they only contain a Starman instead of Toad. If the player takes too long to collect the Starman, Nabbit will appear and steal it. They also appear behind the end-of-level fortresses when the player get the same two digit numbers on the timer and the end of the level. Toad stands behind it and gives what is inside, which is a random item to add to the inventory.
Super Mario Odyssey
Treasure chests appear in Super Mario Odyssey, where they can contain items such as Hearts, Life-Up Hearts, Power Moons, or a large amount of coins. They can be opened by throwing Cappy at them or by Ground Pounding them. Like in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario 64 DS, some treasure chests must be opened in a certain order. If Mario opens them in the wrong order, instead of being electrocuted, they will disappear and a group of Chinchos will appear. Mario must defeat all Chinchos that appear and the treasure chests will reappear for Mario to try again.
Donkey Kong Country series
Treasure chests are featured in several Donkey Kong Country games, although their mechanic and way of interaction with the characters may vary.
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest / Donkey Kong Land 2
Treasure Chests first appear as throwable objects in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest. In the game, Treasure Chests are brown and appear to be made up of wood, and they have a dark gray outline. They are common objects which appear in many levels of the game.
Each Treasure Chest contains an item, such as a Banana Bunch, a Red Balloon, a Banana Bunch Coin, or even a K-O-N-G Letter. The Kongs can defeat most enemies by throwing a Treasure Chest at them, causing it to release its prize. Some Treasure Chests are darker and usually appear in castle levels, although they have the same purpose as normal ones. Red Zingers cannot be defeated by a Treasure Chest, although it still breaks open from hitting red Zingers. Unlike barrels, when a Treasure Chest is thrown, it loses momentum and does not bounce.
The only Treasure Chests that the Kongs are required to break are those with a kannonball, as it is needed to activate a nearby kannon which leads the Kongs to a Bonus Level. In some "Destroy Them All!" challenges, the Kongs must use Treasure Chests to defeat the enemies. In some "Find the Token!" Bonus Levels, such as the first respective ones of Gangplank Galley and Kannon's Klaim, Diddy and Dixie Kong's objective is break the Treasure Chest with the Kremkoin. In the first Bonus Level of Hornet Hole, the Kongs have to hit numerous Zingers with the Treasure Chest for it to break open and reveal a Kremkoin.
Treasure Chests are also in Donkey Kong Land 2 where they have the same role as in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest.
Donkey Kong Country Returns / 3D and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Later in the series, treasure chests are given a more minor role. Similarly to the treasure chests in Donkey Kong Country 2, they contain items of all sorts and values, but are immovable and part of the immediate background, just as with every Item Container from Donkey Kong Country Returns/3D and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. In these games, treasure chests can be opened by having the ground nearby pounded by the Kongs. In the former game, they are common item containers on the Beach of Donkey Kong Island. However, treasure chests are not as common in Tropical Freeze, as they can only be encountered in special places, like a small bluff in Shoal Atoll, a stage of Sea Breeze Cove, or on the shipwrecks of Seashore War, a level in Donkey Kong Island, which takes place in the Beach world of Donkey Kong Country Returns.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
In Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, treasure boxes hover in the air (just like ? Blocks), and must be hit from below. They can contain coins, items, mushrooms, weapons, and even monsters. These monsters are Pandorite, Hidon, Box Boy and Chester. A magic treasure box is found in the last area of Bowser's Castle, created by Magikoopa after the player defeats him. The golden box contains an infinite amount of coins. Surprise Boxes, special invisible treasure boxes, also appear in the game.
Wario Land 4
In Wario Land 4, three treasure chests are found in each of the four main boss rooms, embedded into the wall in the background. During the boss battle, when time starts to run low, the Treasure Chests in the background will begin to disappear, one by one. Once Wario defeats the boss, the Treasure Chests that are left over are collected and stored in the Golden Pyramid. When facing the Golden Diva, the last boss, all twelve Treasure Chests can be seen on the background wall. When the Diva is defeated, the total Treasure Chests Wario has at the end of the game will affect how beautiful Princess Shokora is in the ending cut-scene.
In Wario World, each treasure chest contains one of Wario's sixty-four treasures. They come in eight different colors, and each chest is linked to a button of the same color, which must be activated before the treasure can be collected. There are also wooden treasure chests that contain either coins, garlic, or a Smiley Bomb when opened. The final boss, the Black Jewel, is locked inside a huge treasure chest (also called huge treasure box or giant treasure chest), which requires the four pieces of the Huge Treasure Chest Key from the stage bosses.
Wario: Master of Disguise
In Wario: Master of Disguise, treasure chests are a key element of the game. They come in three colors: red (which hold treasures), green (which hold upgrades like Guise Gems), and purple (which hold key level items, like maps and keys). In order to get the treasures in the chest, the player must win a minigame, which become harder on later levels. Treasure Pests replace one random red chest starting at the third level, requiring the level to be replayed to get that treasure.
Wario Land: Shake It!
Treasure Chests also appear in Wario Land: Shake It!, where they can be opened with a dash attack. In the level Boogie Mansion, however, the chests are living creatures, which eat Wario if he gets too close to them. Wario must use an explosive to get the treasure inside those living chests.
Paper Mario series
In Paper Mario, Mario can find many treasure chests on his adventure. They contain either Badges or Keys. In very big Treasure Chests, there are weapon upgrades such as Super Boots or Ultra Hammer. In the west room on the first floor of Boo's Mansion, there is a trap treasure chest that when opened, causes the chandelier in the room to drop down. In Chapter 4, Kammy Koopa uses her magic to summon several enemies to guard the treasure chests at the end of the first three areas. At the end of Chapter 5, when Mario and Kolorado escape from Mt. Lavalava with Misstar's help, the treasure chest containing the treasure Kolorado is longing for is blowing out by the lava and lands on Jade Jungle, which the player has to retrieve for Kolorado to proceed in the storyline. There is also a special kind of treasure chest that allows Princess Peach to send Mario badges and a Jammin' Jelly.
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
There is another type of Treasure Chest called the Black chest, which appears in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. These chests contain demons which "curse" Mario with various abilities. Several Boos also appear in Treasure Chests in Boo's Mansion and Creepy Steeple.
There is a treasure chest like box that Peach is given at the very beginning of the game that contains the Magical Map. She is the only one that can open it because it is said that only one that is pure of heart can.
Super Paper Mario
In Super Paper Mario, chests tend to be hidden in places with little accessibility. In order to open a chest, the player needs to move the playable character right beside one and press . Most commonly, Pixls are captured within chests, but players can also find items, cooking ingredients, or Catch Cards in there. In this game, chests adopt a rather abstract design to go along with the game's aesthetics, design that was also used in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
Paper Mario: Color Splash
Treasure chests appear in Paper Mario: Color Splash. One appears in the Toad Captain's ship, where it contains a member of the Blue Rescue Squad and an entry from the Legendary Captain's journal. A few appear on Fortune Island, where one contains a letter from Snifit or Whiffit and another leads to a room below. One also appears in the background of Wendy's battle, where she can grab objects from it and throw them at Mario.
Luigi's Mansion series
In Luigi's Mansion, treasure chests appear after Luigi beats the ghost(s) in a room. Blue Treasure Chests contain Keys. Green ones contain many coins, Bills and possibly Gold Bars. If Luigi defeats an optional gallery ghost, he will also receive a green chest with a Blue Diamond inside, among other treasures. Red Treasure Chests contain Mario's dropped Items that need to be taken to Madame Clairvoya. There are many red Treasure Chests in the Hidden and Sealed Rooms as well, though many in the former contain ghosts. A white chest exists in the Tea Room, containing the Ice Elemental Medal. There are also gold chests revealed after defeating bosses, which contain area Keys.
Luigi's Mansion 3
Treasure chests appear again in Luigi's Mansion 3, where they are found throughout the rooms in The Last Resort. They often contain treasure such as coins, Bills, Gold Bars, and Pearls. Some treasure chests are animated by Spirit Balls and turned into hostile Possessed Chests. Luigi must throw an object into them, and then remove the Spirit Balls with the Dark-Light Device, in order to turn it back into a regular treasure chest and obtain its contents.
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
In the past Bowser's Castle in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, there is a treasure chest reminiscent of the ones from Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars near the Time Hole containing one of the six Cobalt Star shards. After hitting the chest, however, it disappears.
Mario Party series
Treasure chests make various appearances throughout the minigames of Mario Party. One minigame, Buried Treasure, involves players searching for a treasure chest. In Slot Machine, lining up three treasure chests grants the player 10 coins.
Mario Party 2
In Mario Party 2, a treasure chest known as a Plunder Chest appears as an item, which is used to steal an item from another player.
Mario Party 4
Mario Party 6
In Mario Party 6, on the Faire Square board, there is a giant slot machine that looks like a treasure chest. If a player lines up three treasure chests, they win the jackpot. In the minigame Treasure Trawlers, the players try to grab treasure chests located underwater. Regular chests are worth one point, and golden chests are worth three points.
Mario Party 7
In Mario Party 7, treasure chests come into play on the Neon Heights board. There are initially three of them in play, spaced out at random spots along the board. One chest contains a Star, another holds twenty coins, while the other houses a Bob-omb. Koopa Kid guards the chests, but can be bribed into awarding the contents of one in exchange for ten coins. If the Bob-omb is found, the player (or team) will be blown back to the start of the board. If the Star is found, a new chest containing a Star will appear elsewhere on the board. The other two chests will then be shuffled around as well, or added to the board if they've already been claimed. There is also a Bowser Time event exclusive to Neon Heights in which Bowser will steal either a Star from the lead player, or ten coins from each player, then order Koopa Kid to stash what was stolen in the chest that already contains either the Star or twenty coins, which can them be recollected by whoever opens the respective chest. There is also the Neon Heights-exclusive Lakitu Orb. Using it will trigger Lakitu, who will select a chest at random and bring it to the player, who can open it on the spot without having to pay Koopa Kid. Treasure Chests also appear in the Single-Player Bowser Mini-Game Treasure Dome where players must open each chest by using a key.
Mario Party 9
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U
Treasure chests appear in the Smash Run mode in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, having the same design as the ones that appear in Kid Icarus: Uprising. These chests can contain stat boosts, trophies, gold, powers, and custom parts (either custom special moves or equipment). Mimicuties, fake treasure chest enemies from Kid Icarus: Uprising, also appear as enemies in the Smash Run mode.
In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, treasure chests appear in the Special Orders mode, with an original design. In Master Orders, a treasure chest appears alongside Master Hand, which opens and gives the player a reward if they clear the ticket, and disappears if they fail. In Crazy Orders, Crazy Hand drops treasure chests containing random rewards as the player damages him during the final battle; these rewards cannot be seen until after the battle.
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