Super Mario Bros. Special

Super Mario Bros. Special is a rather bizarre Mario game released by Hudson Soft on June 18, 1986. It brought Super Mario Bros. to Japanese home computers of the time. But it wasn't just a mere port of the classic game - it's actually its own original title!

NEC PC-8801 Version

How to play it

  • Download this zip file, it contains both the necessary emulator and files to play both the PC-8801 and Sharp X1 versions:
  • Extract the zip file and open the "PC88" folder
  • Open the M88.exe emulator
  • Load the disk image (Disk > Drive 1 > then select "MARIO GAMES" and select "Super Mario Brothers Special (1985)(Hudson).d88"
  • Go to Tools > Load Snapshot and you should be in the title screen, ready to play the game.

World 4-3 missing platform

In World 4-3, there is a seemingly impossible jump you must make to another mushroom platform. Even if you have a running start you cannot make it.

This is not actually a bug but an intended feature. You are supposed to break the balancing boards just before this jump. Once you do that, a platform will appear and you can make the jump.

Fixing World 4-4

Many ROMs that have been released onto the internet have a corrupted version of World 4-4. Since World 4 is not skippable this level is required to complete the game.

Fortunately, Karatorian has made a patch that fixes this issue. You will need Lunar IPS. Download this program and download the patch from here: If this isn't available you can download it here

Open Lunar IPS. Click "Apply IPS Patch" and locate the files.


In some emulators and disk dumps, World 8-4 does not load. When loading World 8-4, you will see a screen that says "DISK ERROR! PLEASE RESTART GAME PUSH IPL SWITCH". (The IPL Switch it is referring to is actually the reset switch.) Unfortunately the "fix" I have is to use another emulator. I'm not sure why but it seems some NEC PC-8801 emulators cannot load the level, so if this happens to you either try the Sharp X1 version or another emulator.


The NEC PC-8801 version of Super Mario Bros. Special was the first version released.

Some brief history: The NEC PC-8801 was a machine first released in 1981 by NEC. It was basically Japan's version of the IBM PC. The specs were decent when it was first released, but the technology was somewhat inferior to the NES given that it was released 4 years prior. As such, some of the things in the NES version had to be sacrificed, with obvious ones being color and sound, but the most notable change is definitely the camera.

Instead of the camera scrolling with Mario as in the original NES version, what Super Mario Bros. Special does is when you make it to the edge of the screen, the screen will turn blank for a second, and it loads the next screen.

While this isn't a big deal for the easier levels such as World 1-1 for example, this can seriously become a problem later on in the game - especially in levels like World 4-3, where it is almost impossible to complete the level without some serious practice beforehand.

The controls of the game take some time to get used to, as well. They are not like the original Mario at all. It's very stiff although it's not that bad once you get used to them.

The level design is pretty decent, on par with official Nintendo games at least. Although the controls, glitches, and limitations make the game a LOT harder even though the level design is arguably easier than Mario 1. In my personal opinion the game beats The Lost Levels in terms of difficulty solely because of those reasons, so be ready for that.

Things to avoid

The NEC PC-8801 version has a lot of bugs, some of which are very troublesome.

World 2-1 Springboard

The Springboard in World 2-1 (the only time it appears in the game, thankfully) is insanely buggy and is broken to the point where it is almost impossible to actually use it correctly. It seems to be completely random whether or not you hit it. The collison detection is really poor and the spring keeps locking up for no reason. Fortunately, one of the level designers seemed to realize this was broken and included some invisible blocks you can hit just before the spring.

World 4-2 Pipe Trap

In World 4-2 if you climb up the ceiling and go past the exit pipe you will find a lone pipe that you can access. This pipe does NOT go anywhere and you will be stuck until the clock runs out.

It seems that this was originally intended to be a "Warp Zone" to World 5, like in the original SMB, but it doesn't work, so avoid it.

World 4-3 Coin Heaven "Trap"

In World 4-3, there is a vine you can take that will lead you to a bonus area. But don't take it! There is a bug with these pipes and once you enter this room, there is no way to leave until the timer runs out.

According to the game's code you are supposed to be able to take the second pipe and exit near the end. But for some reason it doesn't work, so avoid it at all costs.

Sharp X1 Version


The Sharp X1 version of Super Mario Bros. Special was the second version released.

The Sharp X1 version of the game featured numerous improvements over the PC-88 version. The game is generally much more colorful than the PC-88 version, because it uses all eight colors possible. Although the PC-88 is capable of using 8 colors, Special only uses half of its color palette - restricted to black, red, yellow and blue. Blue is not used since it's used for transparency in the game. A comparison of the appearance of various items in the game:

Powerup Sharp X1 PC-88
Super Mushroom    
Fire Flower    
1-UP Mushroom    
Lucky Star    

In addition to that, the camera is a lot smoother - while the screen still does not scroll with Mario like in Mario 1, it will now scroll to the next screen when the player reaches the edge, as opposed to simply turning black for a second. In addition the controls are somewhat smoother although they still take some time to get used to.

Other than that, it is the same exact game, and all of the same bugs present in the PC-88 version are present in this version as well.

Samsung SPC-1500 Version


Apparently, a port of this game also exists on the Samsung SPC-1500, an 8-bit computer that was the successor to the SPC-1000. The SPC-1500 is extremely rare and it's really hard to find any information on it, but from what I've been able to find it was a Sharp X1 clone released only in South Korea in 1987. However, like the computer it was ported on, the game is also incredibly rare - there's not only no ROM dumps of it, but there's also no screenshots, no videos, etc. There's not even a picture of the floppy it came on!

The only information I could find on this port is a forum post made by a user that mentions it. The Mario Wiki links to the only post I could find. There's some blog posts, but they either reference this same post or they reference the Mario Wiki.

However, the same user did in fact post a screenshot of a magazine mentioning this port - so it confirms it did indeed exist. Whether it was actually released or not is up for debate, but it seems likely it did in fact get released and sold.

Given that the SPC-1500 is a Sharp X1 clone, it is very likely that the port is the exact same as the Sharp X1 version.


Some of the powerups in this game are:

  • Clock - Adds an additional 100 seconds to the Timer. It is only found in World 8-3. Interestingly, this item would later be reused in future Mario games, first making a full reappearance in Super Mario 3D Land with the same exact purpose. It also appears in New Super Mario Bros. 2.
  • Lucky Star - Kills all enemies on screen when touched. Found in World 4-1.
  • Hachisuke - Product placement at its finest! It gives Mario 8000 points. According to some rumors it's apparently supposed to let you continue after a game over, but it doesn't.
  • Hammer - Mario swings the hammer from Donkey Kong around, which is supposed to be used to defeat barrels. Found in World 3-4 and World 5-1.
  • Wing - It lets Mario swim in the air! This is basically the P-Wing before the P-Wing. It is found in World 3-2 and World 4-1.