From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
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Beach Balls, or simply Balls, are items primarily found in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. In this game, Bears are always found riding atop these balls, rolling them slowly with their tiny feet. However, even when Mario stomps on a Bear and defeats it, the ball will continue to bounce and roll at the same speed, changing orientation when bumping into wall. If Mario jumps onto the ball it will continue moving in the same way, thus becoming a platform. This actually helps Mario when he has to pass large, spiky areas, whose roughness does not seem to affect the bouncy ball. This can be mainly seen in stage 2 of the Mario Zone. Ganchan, found in the game's predecessor, Super Mario Land, carry Mario the same way Beach Balls do.
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