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Though often used by Mario, Bowser, and other characters as means of attack, fireballs (also called Discs, Fires, or swirls) are sometimes encountered as stand-alone obstacles. The first appearance of fireballs in the Mario franchise, Mario Bros., is also the first time they were depicted as independent enemies.
In Mario Bros., fireballs are unique enemies in that game in that they cannot cross the left or right edge of the screen and come out on the other side. Together with Icicles, they are also the only enemies that can harm players hiding behind the bottom pipes.
If the player takes too long to clear a phase, a fireball will appear to impede the player. Fireballs come in red and green varieties. The red fireballs are slower and bounce diagonally all around the stage. If they hit one side of the screen, they ricochet off the side and keep going until making a full circuit of the screen after which they will disappear and respawn as a faster opponent. The quicker green fireballs move horizontally from one side of the screen to the other where it will disappear until respawning elsewhere. It has a pattern of two small wavy bounces and one long bounce. Typically, the green fireballs spawn on a row where a player is located. To destroy fireballs, the player has to bump them from below while they are touching the platform, or use a POW Block. Fireballs respawn as faster enemies a few moments after being destroyed. There can be a maximum of four fireballs, two of each color, on screen at any one time.
In other iterations of Mario Bros.
In the Atari 2600 port, only the green type appears and it looks orange. It flies straight forward very quickly. In the Atari 5200 port, the orange fireball takes the place of the red one while the green one is replaced by the gold fireball. In the PC-8001 port, there is only one red fireball and it can travel through the wraparound screen. In the Commodore 64 port, there is a single red fireball but it behaves like the green fireball from the arcade version. In the Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum ports, the single fireball will float to the bottom floor as if it was affected by gravity and just roll around continuously. In the Atari 7800 port, the red type is called the orange fireball but it looks purplish. In the Atari 8-bit port, the red and green types are replaced by orange and blue respectively.
In the 1983 NES port of the game, fireballs are significantly smaller, making them easier to avoid. They were restored to their correct size by the 1988 FDS port and 1993 NES port.
In Super Mario Bros. 3, there is a two-player minigame that has fireballs in it but both types share the red sprite. In addition, there is a bonus stage in which fireballs are shot out of a pipe. In its Super Mario All-Stars version, the in-game battle mode also has both fireballs using the red sprite, while the Battle Game in the main menu replaces the sprites with Boos. The Boos that replaced red fireballs can go through the wraparound screen.
Fireballs appear in Luigi Bros., an additional game featured in Super Mario 3D World. Like the other enemies in Luigi Bros., fireballs behave in the same way as the 1983 NES port of Mario Bros., which this game is based on.
VS. Wrecking Crew / Wrecking Crew
In VS. Wrecking Crew and Wrecking Crew, a red fireball will appear if too much time is spent in one place. It behaves like the green fireballs of Mario Bros. but with a simpler wavy pattern. Careful positioning can allow the fireball to fly harmlessly over Mario or Luigi's head.
Mario Bros. Special
Fireballs also appear in Mario Bros. Special. Both types are invincible. The green ones appear only in trampoline stages and have a sharper angle to their turn with a pattern of alternating broad and narrow waves. The red ones appear only in conveyor belt stages and patrol a narrow range.
Punch Ball Mario Bros.
In Punch Ball Mario Bros., there are invincible fireballs that look red but act like the green ones in the original game. They have a simpler wave pattern.
Mario Power Tennis
The green variants of Fireballs based on their Mario Bros. sprites appear in Mario Power Tennis in the minigame Coin Collectors as obstacles bouncing around the court. If a player comes into contact with one, it stuns them for three seconds as the defeated sound effect from the original game plays.
Super Mario Galaxy / Super Mario Galaxy 2
In Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2, fireballs move in circular patterns, either through the air or coming out of lava, appearing as an arc. They appear in places like the Freezeflame Galaxy, the Melty Molten Galaxy, the lava pool in the Freezy Flake Galaxy, and the Melty Monster Galaxy. Unlike most depictions, these fireballs have long, burning tails. A small, rolling variety can be spawned by Magikoopas, and in the former game, is in fact the only object generic Magikoopas can spawn in gameplay.
WarioWare: D.I.Y. Showcase
A green Fireball appears in WarioWare: D.I.Y. Showcase using a recolored fireball sprite from Super Mario Bros.. It appears in 18-Volt's boss microgame Dustpan as an obstacle that roams on the stage and must be avoided.
Donkey Kong Country series
Donkey Kong Country Returns / Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
In Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, fireballs appear as hazards during a short section of Hot Rocket. They come out from behind and fly across the screen, destroying the Kongs' Rocket Barrel and causing them to lose a life if they come into contact. However, if avoided, fireballs simply fly past them. Fireballs cannot be stopped or destroyed. At one point, a fireball crashes into a chunk of rock falling from the ceiling, destroying it and revealing a Puzzle Piece.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Fireballs reappear in Scorch 'n' Torch, a level from Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. They drop from baobab canopies at regular intervals and fall into pits below. They damage the Kongs upon contact and can only be dispelled using Water Sacks.
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