Video Game: Super Mario Bros. Special

What's the true sequel to the classic Super Mario Bros? Some say the American and European Super Mario Bros. 2, some say The Lost Levels, and both of them are absolutely wrong. The true (or at least first?) sequel to Super Mario Bros. is an obscure, Japan-exclusive game called Super Mario Bros. Special.

Developed by Hudson Soft and released months before The Lost Levels in Japan for the NEC PC-8801 and Sharp X1 computer systems, Special attempted to emulate the game play and graphic style of the first Super Mario Bros., but mostly failed at both. Neither system was capable of displaying the colors the Famicom could display, and the NEC version did not even feature scrolling. The game did introduce interesting elements not present in the original, though, such as minor enemies returning from Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. and new power-ups such as the Clock, which adds more seconds to the timer, and the Wing, which enables flight for a few seconds.

This game provides examples of:

  • Actually a Doombot: Possibly averted; in the original game, the first seven Bowsers you fight are false Bowsers who reveal their true form when defeated with fireballs. None of the Bowsers in this game reveal a true form when defeated, however.
  • Artifact Title: Despite the presence of Bros. in the title, Luigi is not at all present in this game. The title exists only to demonstrate that it is a follow-up to the original Super Mario Bros.
  • Attract Mode: Thought the original game's attract mode featured the worst Mario player ever? Mario's movements in Special 's attract mode are entirely random.
  • Backtracking: Despite the use of Ratchet Scrolling, this exists in the game. Some pipes will take you to earlier parts of the level.
  • Bonus Stage: The secret underground coin rooms and Coin Heaven return, with each one sporting a unique design (compared to SMB1 and LL, which would re-use the layouts of bonus stages in later levels).
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Luigi is absent throughout the entire game.
  • Drop the Hammer: The hammer power-up from Donkey Kong returns, appearing in 3-4 and 5-1.
  • Excuse Plot: The exact same one as its predecessor, in fact.
  • Fan Remake: The levels in Super Mario Bros. Special are playable in the Super Mario Bros Crossover (alongside Lost Levels, with slight alterations and no PC-88 skin) and Mari0 (by downloading a map pack online). The game has also been fan-ported to the NES. The NES port lacks many of the original game's interesting stage designing capabilities thanks to the lack of free tile placementnote  since it runs off the limitations of the original SMB1. None of the bonus items or new enemies were ported over either, being replaced with stationary 1UP Mushrooms or the original game's enemies respectively.
  • Fireballs: And not just the ones Mario throws! The fireball enemy from Donkey Kong makes a few appearances late in the game.
  • Flip Screen Scrolling: There was no scrolling at all in the NEC PC-8801 version, the screen simply remains in place and then blacks out for a moment when Mario nears the right edge to load the next few blocks in the level. The Sharp X1 version does have partial scrolling, but still limited to single screen segments.
  • Four-Legged Insect: The Fighter Flies, returning from Mario Bros.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • The single Pipe of the supposed Warp Zone in 4-2 has no definable exit, leaving the player stuck in it until the timer runs out.
    • 4-2's Coin Heaven, which is unique amongst any of the Coin Heavens from the original game and Lost Levels, as it is a room bound up by blocks using the underground palette. However thanks to a programing oversight, the exit pipe, which normally would lead to under the staircase of mushrooms before the flagpole, is completely defective, leaving the player stuck in and forced to wait out the timer. The above-mentioned fan-remakes fix the exit pipe and give it a proper exit back to the main level, but the NES hack leaves the defective pipe intact.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Sidesteppers return from Mario Bros.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: In the later castle levels, Bowser begins throwing hammers instead of breathing fire, but the hammers are actually very easy to avoid in Special since he only throws one at a time and they travel rather quickly, decreasing the amount of time a single hammer is on-screen. That plus the increasing difficulty of each castle level equals this trope.
  • Jump Physics: They're here, but good luck attempting to master them.
  • Law of 100: As is standard with Mario platformers, collecting one hundred coins will net you a 1UP.
  • Missing Secret: There are at least two areas in underground levels where, using the experience gained in Super Mario Bros., you would expect to find a warp zone.
    • In 1-2, going over the ceiling where the pipe is will simply cause the game to warp you over into the bonus room accessible from a pipe earlier in the level. Going over this bonus room's exit pipe will trap you in another warp-over; this time with half the screen containing the beginning of the overworld exit section of the level, but the screen won't advance, trapping you until the timer runs out.
    • As for 4-2, going over this level's exit pipe leads you to... a single pipe that you can enter, but with no definable exit, leaving you stuck until the timer runs out.
  • Mission Pack Sequel
  • Multi-Platform: Released for both the NEC PC-8801 and Sharp X1.
  • Nintendo Hard: Expected due to its being based on an NES game, but not the form this game delivers—the controls are so imprecise that navigating simple gaps becomes a feat in and of itself.
  • Pipe Maze: One of the castle levels features a maze involving going down the correct pipes. There is no way you would know this other than trial and error. One segment of the maze requires you to go down a pipe, then go right back down the pipe you just came out of to end up in a different area.
  • Ratchet Scrolling: You cannot go backwards, just like in the preceding game.
  • Save the Princess: Again.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere:
    • One of the single-screen bonus rooms thanks to a developer oversight lacks an exit pipe. There are no enemies or pits, either. You're stuck there until the timer runs out.
    • There's a hidden Warp Zone with a single pipe near the end of World 4-2 that traps Mario inside when he travels down it, again trapping him until the timer runs out.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: And how.
  • Stalactite Spite: Or maybe "Icicle Spite": the falling icicles from Mario Bros. return in some underground levels.
  • Throw a Barrel at It: Sort of. The barrels from Donkey Kong do indeed appear as enemies, but nobody appears to be throwing them—they're just kind of there.
  • Timed Mission: The timer drains even faster than in the original game.
  • Transformation Trinket: The Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, and Starman make their return from Super Mario Bros. There's also the Wing item, which temporarily allows Mario to "swim" in mid air. It only appears twice in the game (3-2 and 4-1) and neither of the levels where it's available have a level structure that would benefit the wing's use. This makes Special the first game to allow Mario to fly, which would become a common theme for power-ups in later games beginning with Super Mario Bros. 3.
  • Unexpected Character: More like Unexpected Minor Enemies. After playing through several levels you release this is basically a Mission Pack Sequel of the first game and expect to continue seeing only the standard Goombas, Bloopers, and the like. Then the barrels and fireballs return from Donkey Kong, while the Fighter Flies, Sidesteppers, and Icicles return from Mario Bros..
  • Updated Re-release: Averted. Basically the only Mario platform game not to see some kind of official re-release (and the only game in the Super Mario Bros. series not to be released as part of Super Mario All-Stars).
  • Useless Item:
    • The Hudson Soft bee logo (aka the Hu-Bee) appears just once as an item in a single hidden ? Block. It does nothing but award the player with 8,000 points, which is absolutely useless in a game where points do nothing practical.
    • The Wing, the first instance of a power-up that allows Mario to fly in the entire series, appears only twice in the game, neither of which are much of a benefit since it only lasts roughly two screens which contain not many hazards that can be avoided.
  • Video Game Flight: Via the Wing item, though as stated above, its usefulness is limited.
  • Warp Zone: There's no Warp Zones, oddly enough, with the exception of one nasty subversion; trying to access the one in World 4-2 traps Mario inside until the timer runs out due to a programing oversight.