Super Mario Bros. Special

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Super Mario Bros. Special
Developer(s) Hudson Soft
Platform(s) NEC PC-8801
Sharp X1
Release date Japan 1986
Genre Platformer
Mode(s) Single player
Media 5.25-inch floppy

Super Mario Bros. Special (スーパーマリオブラザーズ スペシャル) was developed by Hudson Soft and released in 1986 for the NEC-PC8801 and Sharp X1 series of Japanese PCs. Special was the first Nintendo-licensed follow-up to Super Mario Bros., released shortly before Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. Two years earlier, Hudson Soft had released Punch Ball Mario Bros. and Mario Bros. Special, which were both based on the original Mario Bros.

While superficially very similar to the original Super Mario Bros., the game features original new levels and lacks a screen-scrolling mechanism. When a player reaches the end of a screen, the screen turns blank and loads the next part of the level. Jumping and running physics also differ from the original, providing a more challenging experience than Super Mario Bros. Adding difficulty is the fact that the level timer runs much faster than in the NES/Famicom game, which was already faster than the timers in the latest Mario games. Returning was Mario's Hammer from Donkey Kong, alongside a variety of past foes from earlier arcade Mario titles, and new exclusive items.

Due to the PC88 and Sharp X1's technology being inferior to that of the NES/Famicom, the graphics and audio differ slightly from the original NES game as well, although they are closely replicated. Additionally, the game does not include Luigi or a multiplayer mode.

The Sharp X1 version contains partial scrolling and slightly more colorful graphics, containing actual greens and whites. While the PC88 is able to produce all eight colors the Sharp X1 can and use dithering to provide additional colors into one pixel (the Sharp X1 does not have this feature), Special only uses half of the PC88's hardware palette, restricted to only black, red, yellow, and blue, including dithered results with those four colors. Sprites are forced to exclude the use of blue to allow transparency in the sprites.

The Warp Zones from the original were changed in such a way that Special has no true Warp Zone. In World 1-2, reaching the area over the pipe instead leads to the single bonus room that could be accessed normally in the stage, but with a pipe that still leads to the overworld, thus to the end of the level. In World 4-2, a room that more resembles a true Warp Zone can be found, however the only pipe it holds does not have any destinations defined, likely due to an oversight by the developers. The pipe can still be entered, but the player will remain stuck there indefinitely, forcing the player to be killed by the timer.

New Enemies[edit]

Hudson's staff took these enemies from earlier Mario games, none of which can be stomped, and provided them with new names:

New items[edit]

All the items listed are exclusive to Special and give 1,000 points upon pickup unless otherwise noted.

  • Hachisuke (a.k.a. Hu-Bee) - The bee from the Hudson Soft logo. If Mario finds this item, he will be awarded 8,000 points. Found in World 1-1.
  • Hammer - The hammer power-up from Donkey Kong, which spawns a hammer in front of Mario that rapidly swings. Found in Worlds 3-4 and 5-1.
  • Clock - Upon picking this up, Mario will get an additional 100 seconds added to the timer. Found in World 8-3.
  • Wing - Collecting this causes Mario to briefly act as if he is swimming in the air. Found in Worlds 3-2 and 4-1.
  • Lucky Star - Resembles an atom. If Mario collects it, all the enemies on-screen will be defeated and award their normal point values (as if hit by a Star). Found in World 4-1.


Due to both the PC88 and Sharp X1 technology being inferior compared to the NES/Famicom, some glitches and tricks that were previously not present in the original appear here.

The Blinkfest[edit]

When moving, the character sprites rapidly blink. Due to the hardware Super Mario Bros. Special is built on, sprites do not have as fluid and smooth of a movement as they did in Super Mario Bros. This "glitch" is more present in the PC88 version.

Infinite-Up trick[edit]

Like in the original Super Mario Bros., jumping continuously on a Koopa Troopa or a Buzzy Beetle when it's about three blocks away from an edge or wall won't make it move, thus allowing the player to remain hopping on the shell and gain infinite 1-Ups. Unlike the original, the trick is much easier to perform due to the game's different collision physics launching the player higher after a stomp, and can be done in virtually any area with both a Koopa Troopa and an edge/wall.

When a sliding Koopa shell is stomped and stops moving, the timer before the Koopa gets back up does not reset, continuing from where it left off when the shell was kicked. Because of this, it is possible for a Koopa to break itself out of the trick, requiring Mario to re-set it up.

The player can accumulate a maximum of 255 lives, with the number of current lives remaining represented in hexadecimal numbers (such as "85" for 173 lives and "DE" for 222 lives). Collecting any more will round the counter back to 0 lives.

Innocue Firebars[edit]

Sometimes, hitting the most external part of a Firebar won't deliver any damage, likely because of the game's limits in hardware and registering hitboxes with moving obstacles.

Lagging Firebars[edit]

In World 8-4, in the room with five Firebars, the game will lag, probably due to technical limitations with the number of sprites that can be projected on-screen exceeding the normal limit.

Trap or Glitch?[edit]

In World 4-3, there is a Beanstalk that leads to a Bonus Room. When trying to leave, sometimes Mario will be unable to enter the exit Pipe. It is assumed to be an overlooked program error, as the entrance back to the main level from this bonus area is present underneath the Mushroom stairs leading to the flagpole. A similar error appears in 4-2, where a hidden pipe placed beyond the exit pipe can be entered, but it lacks a destination to take the player, thus causing Mario to be stuck inside the pipe until time runs out.

Out Of Service Springboard[edit]

Compared to the original Super Mario Bros., the Spring present in 2-1 is much more difficult to perform a higher Jump off of due to its poor programing, sometimes being stuck in its animation frames when Mario jumps off. Sometimes holding the Jump key while landing on the Spring will guarantee success in jumping off, and in the event that a player would have trouble, the set of invisible ? Blocks placed around the Spring allows players to bypass it.

Where's my IPL Switch?[edit]

Some copies of the PC88 version of Super Mario Bros. Special (notably ROM dumps that are run on computer emulators) are missing the data necessary to trigger the IPL switch needed to load World 8-4, and thus will load a blank screen reading "DISK ERROR! PLEASE TURN IPL SWITCH ON". after clearing World 8-3. This glitch is very likely not present in an authentic copy of Special.


Main article: List of Super Mario Bros. Special staff

Programmed By[edit]

  • Yukio-Takeoka

Course-Designed By[edit]

  • Ichirou-Sakurada

Sound Effected By[edit]

  • Fumihiko-Itagaki
  • Megumi-Kawamata

Produced By[edit]

  • Takashi-Takebe


For this subject's image gallery, see Gallery:Super Mario Bros. Special.

External Links[edit]