Nintendo fan “Forteblast” has fully recreated one of the most obscure entries in Nintendo’s flagship Super Mario franchise using the Wii U game design toolkit Super Mario Maker, making the little-seen spinoff accessible to a broad player base for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Thanks to Forteblast’s efforts, every level originally featured in the Hudson-developed Super Mario Bros. Special is now playable in Super Mario Maker, offering a unique look at a game originally exclusive to the NEC PC-8801 and Sharp X1 home computers in Japan.
Released in 1986, Super Mario Bros. Special is an officially licensed Mario series spinoff that adapts Nintendo’s landmark platformer to Japanese home computers. While the game is visually similar to its NES inspiration, Super Mario Bros. Special uses unique level layouts, and features enemies and items not seen in Nintendo-developed Mario games.
Developer Hudson needed to make a number of concessions in order to account for the shift in hardware, however, and Super Mario Bros. Special features a distinctly garish, flickery presentation. Notably, Super Mario Bros. Special does not feature smoothly scrolling backdrops, instead presenting its gameplay across a series of interconnected still screens.
The game’s technical shortcomings have earned it notoriety among series fans, who consider Super Mario Bros. Special to be one of the most difficult entries in the series. The lack of scrolling makes it especially challenging for players accustomed to traditional Mario series mechanics.
Forteblast’s adaptation adds scrolling backdrops to these levels for the first time, arguably improving on their original design and making Super Mario Bros. Special‘s challenges more accessible for casual players.
“I’ve needed to make some minor changes in the levels,” Forteblast explains. “One-way blocks to represent the inability to backtrack for mazes, switched out stalactites for spinies, no pulley platforms, no special Hudson powerups or enemies, had to shorten a couple of levels left-to-right because of the level size limit, etc. But I’ve done the best I could.”
Forteblast’s recreated Super Mario Bros. Special levels can be accessed in Super Mario Maker starting at world 1-1 by entering the level ID 359D-0000-0080-762B.