’00s Mario RPGs’ Item Drops: Weights? Rates? Let me Elucidate…

Random enemy item drops have long been a focus of my Mario-RPG stat-gathering and what-not – there’s just something satisfying about getting extra items or missable equipment when it’s not guaranteed, and I always thought it’d be nice to know the odds.

Well, over time, I’ve gotten proficient enough in memory hacking and assembly to be able to interpret the routines and/or RNG calls responsible for item drops in the first three Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario games (since those are the ones that I’m the most experienced with, and whose systems have widely-accessible emulation), and the ways they represent the possible item drops in data form, and then use that data to determine what items to drop and when, vary wildly from game to game.  Hence, I’ll go into detail in how it works for each of these six games (links to the actual drop data will be at the end of the post).

Paper Mario (64)

This is the Mario RPG I’d been curious about drops for the longest, and somewhat ironically, it took me the longest of these six to find out anything concrete about how item drops are determined; these findings here are the first I’ve gathered on the matter.

Let’s take a look at Pleasant Path Koopa Troopas’ item drop list, since they’re one of the first to be able to drop multiple types of items:

Global Rate Item 1 Weight 1 Item 2 Weight 2
5 Mushroom 3 Koopa Leaf 7

This means that 5%* of battles against enemy sets led by a Koopa Troopa will drop an item, and of those items, Mushrooms and Koopa Leaves appear with frequency 3 and 7, respectively (30% and 70% of the time there is a drop, or 1.5% and 3.5% including the overall drop chance).

* Note: As alluded to in my Power Bounce article, Paper Mario 64’s RNG is weird in that it generates numbers from 0 to N inclusive (ergo, N+1 different values) when called with rand(N), meaning there are a lot of cases where there’s one extra value than intended. This is no exception, so the global drop rate is actually 5 out of 101, and though I haven’t checked, it’s possible that the weights between different items might get slightly messed up as well (probably giving the last item +1 weight, if so).

Also of note, both Paper Mario and Paper Mario: TTYD’s drop tables are assigned by encounter, not by enemy type, so it’s possible I missed a couple more battles where the drop tables are different the ones listed for the enemy type.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

I’ve already gone over this at length in a previous article, but I might as well have it here too for completeness’s sake. While most enemies only have one or two possible drops in PM64 (aside from a few weird ones like Shy Guys that have up to five), a good number of enemies in TTYD have up to five items + three badges that can be dropped.

Here’s a sample drop table (take a guess what enemy’s, at this point):

Item Hold Weight Random-Drop Weight
None 200 300
Super Shroom 10 10
Maple Syrup 0 10
Thunder Bolt 10 10
Point Swap 0 15
Fright Mask 0 10
Happy Flower 0 2
Flower Saver 0 1
Flower Saver P 0 1

Notably, all enemies have the same “None” weights, normal items’ weights are either 5, 10, 15, or 20, and badges’ are 1 or 2.

The hold weights are used to determine whether an enemy will hold an item/badge in battle (or have Ms. Mowz steal an item/badge, if they are holding nothing).  For example, in this case, the enemy will hold a Super Shroom 10/(200+10+10) = 10/220 = 4.54% of the time.

For drops, there are three possible scenarios; the game will either try to drop a held item, a random drop item, or nothing.  The relative probabilities of these cases are as follows:

Held Drop Random Drop No Drop
Normal battle 1 1 2
Normal battle (N Item Hog badges equipped) 1+N 1+N 2
Pit of 100 Trials battle 1 1 3
Pit battle (N Item Hog badges equipped) 1+N 1+N 3

If the held drop case is selected, then one of the items the enemies were holding in battle is dropped at random (items used by enemies are considered, but not ones stolen by Ms. Mowz).  If no enemies were holding items, nothing will be dropped, unless Item Hog badges are equipped; then there is a 50% chance one of a set of items will be dropped:


If the random drop case is selected, a random drop is selected from the front enemy’s random drop column, weighted accordingly.  For example, the chance of a Flower Saver being chosen is 1/(300+10+10+10+15+10+2+1+1) = 1/358.  Given there being such a high weight for no random item, in addition to having to have the random drop case selected in the first place (a 1/3 chance with an Item Hog, or 2/7 with an Item Hog in the Pit of 100 Trials), getting any random drop is pretty rare, especially badge drops.

Super Paper Mario

Compared to the wealth of complication in TTYD’s system, SPM’s is much more straightforward; essentially the same as the original Paper Mario’s.

Here’s the drop data for a normal Goomba:

Global Drop Rate 4%
Item Name Weight
Dried Shroom 100
Cake Mix 100
Big Egg 100
Honey Jar 100
Shroom Shake 200
Catch Card 50

Pretty straightforward.  Notably, poison-inducing enemies often have 100% global item drop rates (as might be pretty evident when playing the game).  Doesn’t mean you can’t get unlucky in a pinch and get a Catch Card, though.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Unlike the Paper Mario series, M&L games have been pretty consistent about the pools of items enemies have to draw from from the very beginning – at most one standard drop, one rare drop, and every enemy in a battle can independently drop one of its items. Superstar Saga is a bit of an oddball in how it handles those two drops, though.

Here’s Bob-omb’s data, for an example:

Normal Item Weight Rare Item Weight
Nuts 6 Red Pepper 10

Uniquely to the series, only the “normal” item can drop under normal circumstances, and the chance of it dropping is just the normal item’s weight out of 31 (yes, 31; they only had five bits to spare, I guess).  So Bob-ombs drop Nuts about 19.3% of the time.

If you equip the Gameboy Horror SP accessory, then you always receive the Rare Item if the enemy has one, no matter what the weight is (even 0, which does happen; Troopeas in the US version have Super Nuts as a 0-weight Rare Drop).

Swing Bros. Advance is where it gets interesting; here, and only here, are both items treated as weighted item drops.  In Bob-ombs’ case, then, you’ll get Nuts 6/16 (37.5%) of the time, and Red Peppers 10/16 (62.5% of the time).  Note that Woo Beans cannot be stolen in this way, but their weight does contribute (so Tanoombas with their “Woo Bean, 20 / Green Pepper / 10” table only drop Green Peppers a third of the time, and nothing the other two-thirds), and there’s no way to get an item with a 0 weight.

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time / Bowser’s Inside Story

Only recently did I discover how these rates are actually calculated, but it’s consistent between these two games (and possibly later games in the series as well, but I have no experience with their data).

Here’s Shroob Rex’s pair of items:

Normal Item Global Item Rate Rare Item Rare Item Rate
Mix Flower 15 100-Point Pants 15

Until recently I’d been interpreting these as each having a 15% chance, since nothing in Partners in Time had more than a 50 for either (although some enemies in Bowser’s Inside Story did, leading to confusion on my part about enemies whose “rates” summed to over 100, but no further research).

As it turns out, though, the numbers are misleadingly ordered in the data; it turns out this means that Shroob Rexes drop an item 15% of the time, and 15% of those items are 100-Point Pants (thus meaning 12.75% / 2.25% overall rates for the items, respectively).  Equipping the Treasure Badge skips the first check entirely when the enemy is defeated by a Bros. Item, meaning 85% of Rexes drop Mix Flowers, and 15% drop 100-Point Pants.

I don’t offhand know exactly how the Item Gloves work in BIS, but I imagine it might cap some enemies’ global drop rate so as not to get an item every attack from bosses (though notably, likely not Shroobs‘); might be worth looking into in the future.

Item Drop Data Resources:

Paper Mario (64)
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Super Paper Mario (data reverse-engineered / extracted by aldelaro5)

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story

That’s all for this post, stay tuned soon (hopefully) for an in-depth look at evasion badges in Paper Mario: TTYD.  In the meantime, join my Discord server if you have suggestions for other mechanics you’d like to see get a deeper dive, or just want to chat Paper Mario or what-have-you.


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