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Video Game / Super Mario Bros. Special

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It's like Super Mario Bros. but more special...

What are the true "Lost Levels" to the classic Super Mario Bros.? It can't be the American Super Mario Bros. 2 since it's a Dolled-Up Installment with different gameplay. Nor is it the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, which was re-released internationally as the so-called "Lost Levels" on several occasions. No, the true "Lost Levels" is an obscure, Asia-exclusive title called Super Mario Bros. Special.

Developed by Hudson Soft and originally released for the Japanese NEC PC-8801 and Sharp X1 computers in 1986 (two months after the Disk System sequel), and the South Korean Samsung SPC-1500 in 1987, Special attempted to emulate the gameplay and graphical style of the first Super Mario Bros., but mostly failed at both. Neither computer at the time was capable of displaying the right colors, 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 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, the final Bowser drops into the lava if you kill it without the Axe.
  • 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, sometimes making a few screens worth of progress if the AI gets lucky enough, but don't expect more than three.
  • 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 the original game and Lost Levels re-using layouts of bonus stages in later levels).
  • Company Cameo: The bee that is the mascot of Hudson Soft appears in World 1-1 as a collectible item, which awards 8000 points.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: Checkpoints are completely omitted in '"Special'', with the only exceptions being underground and underwater levels automatically spawning you underground/underwater without having to re-enter the entry pipe on the surface.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Luigi is absent throughout the entire game.
  • Continuity Nod: World 6-2 is a Pipe Maze, as it was the original Super Mario Bros.
  • Drop the Hammer: The hammer power-up from Donkey Kong appears in 3-4 and 5-1. Appropriately in its debut level, it is used to smash barrels.
  • Excuse Plot: The exact same one as its predecessor, in fact: Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach and you have to travel through eight worlds to rescue her.
  • Fake Difficulty: Most of the game's difficulty comes from trying to master its imprecise controls, sluggish speed (in the X1 version), and awkward camera scrolling.
  • Fan Remake:
    • In 2008, the game was given a port to the NES that reworks the entire game to work around the level format and limitations of the original Super Mario Bros. In 2021, the port was further refined into the "35th Anniversary Edition", fully implementing the new power-ups and enemies, adding an alternate palette styled after the Sharp X1 version, and including much closer replicas of the original game's levels, backgrounds included.
    • In the 2010's, two SMB1-styled fan projects would go on to have Super Mario Bros. Special playable in some format. Super Mario Bros. Crossover includes both the Special levels and a skin set based on the Sharp X1 version (in addition to X1 versions of every character), and Mari0 received a downloadable mappack containing conversions of both the Sharp X1 and PC-88 versions.
    • The entire game was re-made in Super Mario Maker.
  • 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 (On original hardware, you can see the next segment being loaded). The Sharp X1 version does have partial scrolling, but still limited to single screen segments.
  • Four-Legged Insect: The Fighter Flies, an enemy from Mario Bros., reappears in this game.
  • 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.
    • World 4-3's Coin Heaven, unique amongst any of the Coin Heavens from the original game, is a room bound up by blocks using the underground palette. Thanks to a programming oversight, the exit pipe, which normally would lead to under the staircase of mushrooms before the flagpole, is completely defective, leaving the player stuck and forced to wait out the timer.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The Sidesteppers from Mario Bros. make a reappearance, though they're just re-skinned Spines. The SMB Crossover remake implements the Sidesteppers' Turns Red behavior when attacked.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: In the later castle levels, King Koopa 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.
  • Infinite 1-Ups: Possible thanks to a convienently placed pipe right in the first level. Basically a must for getting through the game without save states or cheating.
  • Jump Physics: They're here, but good luck attempting to master them or tweaking your system's hardware to make it slightly more bearable.
  • 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 same 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: Special is largely the same as the game it was built off of, but with more interesting level geometry and a few new enemies and secrets.
  • Multi-Platform: Released for the NEC PC-8801, Sharp X1, and Samsung SPC-1500.
  • 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: Two of the castle levels (4-4 and 7-4) involve going down the correct pipe. For the first one, you just have to go down the correct pipe (the others just return you to the beginning), but for the second, you have to take a sequence of pipes: the first of which requires you to find a pair of hidden blocks to reach a pipe high up in the air, then re-enter the pipe you just came out of to continue on.
  • Ratchet Scrolling: You cannot go backwards, just like in all the other Mario games released at the time using Super Mario Bros. as a template (Vs, Lost Levels, and All Night Nippon).
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: The ending. Princess Peach's speech is displayed as a run-on, and then it cuts to a "congraturations!" screen. The credits has entries for "Course-Designed", "Enemy Dispoed", and "Sound Effected". The cast contains "Hummer Bros", and finally there is a screen for the "New Charcters!"[sic], where the Hammer is again "Hummer", the Wing's description is "Fly Sky", and we are told to "Search these characters!" This can be excused as the developers probably didn't expect native English speakers to even find out about this game.
  • Save the Princess: As with the first game, your ultimate goal is to rescue Princess Peach at the end of the final castle.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: In World 4, there are two secret areas that softlock the player until the timer runs out if they enter them:
    • World 4-3's Coin Heaven's exit pipe does not work in any official version of the game thanks to a developer oversight. There are no enemies or pits, either.
    • 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.
  • Stalactite Spite: Or maybe "Icicle Spite": the falling icicles from Mario Bros. are present in some underground levels.
  • Smart Bomb: The Lucky Star item, which resembles an atom. Unlike the first game, which uses softer language in the Japanese manual, we are also told in the ending that this kills enemies.
  • 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, especially on faster hardware.
  • Transformation Trinket: The Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, and Super Star make their return from Super Mario Bros. There's also the Wing item, which temporarily allows Mario to "swim" midair. It only appears twice in the game (3-2 and 4-1) and neither of the stages where it's available have a level structure that would benefit the Wings' 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.
  • Updated Re-release: Averted. It's not just the only game in the classic Super Mario Bros. series not to be released as part of Super Mario All-Stars, but basically the only Mario platform game not to see some kind of official re-release at all. This is likely due to rights issues.
  • Useless Item:
    • The Hachisuke bee logo (aka the Hu-Bee) appears just once as an item in a single hidden ? Block in the first stage. 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.
  • 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 lone pipe beyond the exit of World 4-2's underground section traps Mario inside until the timer runs out.