Punch Ball Mario Bros.
Punch Ball Mario Bros. (パンチボールマリオブラザーズ) is a game developed and released by Hudson Soft in 1984. The game was available for the PC-6001mkII/PC-6601, PC-8801, FM-7, Sharp X1, Sharp MZ-1500, and IBM-JX, most of which had noticeable differences between each other (palette, sound, flow of gameplay, etc.). It is very similar to Mario Bros., but with new objects called Punch Balls that could now be thrown to stun enemies. Once stunned, the hit enemy could be hit like normal. The details of the licensing of this game are not clear, but Punch Ball Mario Bros. is probably one of the earliest licensed Mario games. It is unknown why Hudson Soft was permitted the rights to and chose to make the game. Hudson also produced two other Mario games for Japanese home computers: Mario Bros. Special and Super Mario Bros. Special.
The title screen music is the opening melody from the 19th-century American song Dixie.
The story page in the instruction manual explains that while humanity has evolved throughout the ages, mastering fire and developing advanced technology, some people such as Mario and Luigi are primitive men who do not know of modern society and must use "stone balls" and their jumping abilities to defend themselves from outsiders.
The story, from the instruction booklet:
There are two difficulty modes, A and B, but the latter is only slightly harder than A.
Like in the original, Mario and Luigi are playable. Unlike the original, the floor-level design is almost the exact opposite of the original Mario Bros. For instance, the first platform (above the floor) in the original extends from the edges, with a gap in the middle. In this game, the platform is in the middle, with gaps around the edges. The pipe at the bottom where enemies exit is essentially a pit. Footholds are sturdier and do not trip the enemy if hit from underneath like the first Mario Bros. - either the Punch Ball or the POW must be used to achieve this. The button for throwing the Punch Ball is the same as jumping, so the brothers must remain still to throw the Punch Ball rather than jump. Once thrown, the Punch Ball stays on the ground until collected by one of the plumbers. The POW can be used thrice per phase. If a brother loses a life, he will respawn on a temporary platform above the POW with Mario slightly to the left and Luigi to the right. This is also the same spot where the Punch Ball respawns if it falls into the bottom pipe.
As the game progresses, the stage design becomes more difficult with moving platforms, frozen platforms, and frozen moving platforms. Some phases are bonus stages where Mario has to grab 10 coins before the time runs out. If there are two players, it is a competition to get the most coins.
Like the original game, target enemies must be flipped over and kicked to be defeated. The only method to flip them over is with the Punch Ball or the POW. In this game, enemies only have two forms with them turning into their fast form if they right themselves up or become the last enemy on screen. After an enemy is defeated, a coin will appear on the top platform. However, only one coin can exist at a time.