Monday, August 8, 2011

Super Mario Bros. Special Restoration Project Announcement.

If you want to bullshit about me talking about SMB hacking and custom games too much on Super Justin: the Blog, go scream into a pillow. It'll be more beneficial to everyone.
Yea I know this is the art for a SMB soundtrack CD, but it just so bears that title, so meh.

Back in the mid 1980's, not long after Nintrndo's own Super Mario Bros, a company known as Hudson Soft, popular for their Bomberman games, was given the rights to produce three Mario titles for two Japanese-only home computers. Two of these, Punch Ball Mario Bros. and Mario Bros. Special, were both related to Nintendo's own arcade smash hit Mario Bros, and was released prior to the perhaps more well-known title, called Super Mario Bros. Special, which counted as the true first sequel to Super Mario Bros, preceding the Lost Levels, but it never came out for the Famicom or NES, it stayed excluvise to the PC88 and the Sharp X1, of which the former is the console that is used most (at least in emulator form) to play SMBS. However, that version has colors that are only shades of red, blue, and yellow. The Sharp X1 version instead uses 8 colors, sometimes merging two colors into a single sprite (mainly for used pipes and green objects), so it is the better-looking of the two. However the PC88 version is the more well-known version, and it's the one people use for LP's, so that one I know far more than the Sharp X1 version. However, I heard that version plays a little more smoothly, but I don't feel like comparing the two, so we're going to focus on just comparing the PC88 version to the original Famicom/NES version, and this version that has yet to come, as well as discuss the inaccuracy of the butchered Super Mario Bros. Special NES hack.

First, the PC88 version of Special, compared to the NES original.

*The controls and physics are somewhat worse than the NES version. Mario runs, jumps and drops faster and is harder to slow down, enemies are harder to hit as they too, move faster, and the Mega-Man styled screen-orientation flip-screen doesn't help either, in fact it's harder to land jumps because of it, making the hill-top levels harder than they should be.
*The maximum height for blocks is one square lower, which explains why the X-3 castles look odd.
*The "Koopa Stairs 1UP trick" is much easier to perform, and Mario does not need to be directly next to the stairs to do it.
*on lifts, there is only one platform, as opposed to several in underground areas.
*A single template which is used for every level in the original is replaced with all of the scenery being placed tile-by-tile, which explains why there are tall trees in some levels of the game (the biggest example being World 3-1.
*Underwater blocks and coral reefs can now be seen in above ground and one underground level(s), the later acting as a solid block. This is because every tile is now connected to one sheet, rather than using one with different palettes and tiles configured for each environment.
*Pipe entry and exit areas on the screen's y-axis are now unlimited, and now long, horizontal pipes not connected to vertical ones are also present.
*Starmen now have cutesy smiles.
*Bonus areas are now located in a select few castles.
*The well-known "ground" tile can now be placed anywhere on the screen, besides just being restricted to the first two rows on the bottom of the screen.
*There are more varieties of areas in the game- no room is seen twice in the game on different levels.
*Upside-down Piranha plants are seen, as well as pipes (The tips for the pipes are the same), regardless of what direction it is sprouting from)
*Just to be fancy, some new enemies and items appear here. The enemies originally appeared in Donkey Kong and Mario Bros; the two games that made Mario well-known before his star appearance in SMB. THe items are original to this game, with the exception of one item.

The enemies are:
Barrels- somewhat of a cross between Buzzy Beetles and Spinies. They cannot be jumped on, nor are they affected by your fireballs. Only Stars and Hammers are capable of taking these out. They first appear in 3-4.
Icicles- The enemy that appears late into Mario Bros; they simply come down from the celling in underground and castle levels, starting from 4-2.
Sidesteppers- Probably a skin for Spinies, but I'm assuming that if you want to remove one standing on a block from below, you'd have to do it twice (the first hit makes it angry and speeds it up). First seen in 4-2.
Fighter Flies- hopping flies from Mario Bros. that are basically just like Paratroopas, but slower and doesn't hop as high. Appears first in 5-1.
Fireball/Firebugs- The last of the enemies, that are invincible to possibly every attack, except the Starman and quite possibly the Hammer, though the later cannot be conformed because the Hammer never appears in a level alongside the Fireball/firebugs. First seen in 8-2.

The five exclusive items are all secretive, none of them can be found from ? blocks just out in the open. You have to look hard for them. Below are the items, their functions, and their locations.

Hachisuke- This item is only seen once in the very first level of the game, just right after existing the game's first bonus room. It is Hudson Soft's bee mascot plastered onto a yellow plate. Some sources claim it grants a continue, but in reality, it's only purpose is to award the player 8,ooo points.
Wing- Seen first in World 3-2's normal path and later on top the first item block in 4-1, this poorly-drawn wing gives Mario the ability to "swim" in midair. Unfortunately, it's duration is very, very short, making it somewhat useless.
Hammer- This is the only familiar powerup in this game, previously appearing in Donkey Kong. It causes Mario to proceed to swing a hammer that is the same size as him, mowing down anything in front of him. It's only temporary, but it does have quite a cool feature. It first appears in 3-4 in the "barrel room" and one last time in 5-1 before the staircase to the flag, which is ridden with Fighter Flies.
Lucky Star- No relation to Kagami Yoshimizu's manga which had a special cameo from Anime Techno's Anizawa Meito (*fangirl scream*), this item only appears in 4-1 and looks like an atom, complete with a nucleus and electron rings. Pick it up, and it kills everything on screen. Sadly, it too is also useless, since by the time you're able to grab it, the enemies on that screen would have already left by now.
Clock- Not identical to the stopwatch, both in appearance and functionality from Super Mario Bros 2 (US), this one looks like a classic desktop clock. Pick it up, and you get 100 extra seconds onto the clock (which helps because of how fast it ticks down compared to SMB in the NES.

-Since some people would yell at me if I didn't bring it up, some areas in the game lead to traps that the player cannot escape from, the most well known being 4-3's Coin Heaven (of which the same level also contains a puzzle where you have to collapse one of the scale-lifts to make a platform appear to progress through the level.) Here, the bonus room looks fine, but for whatever reason, the exit pipe does not work. Was it intended to be a trap? No. It was perhaps the result of a bad ROM dump, as anyone who played the PC88 version of SMBS may have also noticed that worlds 4-4 and 8-4 can also be corrupted, to the point in which 8-4 will not even start up. In this case, the exit pipe here was also corrupted due to the dump. thus leading to a trap where the player has to wait for the timer to run out. According to Wario Bros/ WarioBrose, the same thing also happens in the Sharp X1 version, but here we can see where if the exit pipe were to work, it would warp you to a warp pipe situated underneath the end-of-level staircase, of which contains a hidden 1UP block.
-In the level preceding this un-intended "trap", (4-2) there is a pipe following the underground portion exit that would seem like a warp zone, but also possibly due to a bad ROM dump, it does not work properly, resulting in you getting stuck and having to wait out on the timer. It is unknown where this pipe would have led if it did work. I'll talk about this strange pipe later.

Now about two decades and a half following the release of the PC88 version, two members of, known under the names frantik and Levi "Karatorian" Aho attempted a remake of SMBS in the form of a ROM hack of the original Super Mario Bros, titled SMBS for NES. Besides just acting like a way to better enjoy Special with the precise and flawless physics of the original, there are some things that were changed between the PC88 version and the hack, and I say PC88 because I think they based the entire thing on that version.

*All of the scenery and blocks are not precisely like the original versions, the "ground" tiles are restricted to the bottom two rows, coral reefs and underwater tiles on the overworld levels are changed to basic solid blocks, there are no long trees or small clouds, pipe exits and certain rooms (one of them belonging to 4-4) are moved/changed do to the limitations of the NES version.
*The colors went back to the original palette of the NES version.
*The "drop the scale lift platform" puzzle in 4-3 is rid of, but unfortunately the un-intended coin heaven trap is not touched, meaning the exit pipe in that area still does not work (c'mon guys, you could've at least made the pipe work!)
*The upside-down pipe ends are given their own graphics, rather than using the ones from pipe uprooting from the ground. While we're on topic, the upside-down Pirana Plants are made into Red Pirana Plants, even though all of the Pirana Plants were green in the original game.
*Possibly what I feel is the worst offender of all, every of the SMBS-excluise items and enemies were not in SMBS. May I ask, if two people were able to program SMB3 font on the title screen, add red-colored pirana plants, and upside-down pipe graphics (which wasn't even in the original version), then why couldn't they just expand the ROM's size so they could splotch in five new enemies and five new items. If ATA can make SMB into a Metroi... wait a second. I think I know why the SMBS-exclusive stuff wasn't in this ROM hack.

For one thing, Super Mario Bros. Utility, the currently easiest-to-use editor for SMB, is not that user-friendly compared to Lunar Magic, as that was an editor for a game that was capable at holding much more memory, and due to the SMB ROM I assume already being at it's maximum size, the user can only modify, and delete content. The reason why the blocks are not arranged as they were in SMBS is because in SMBU, you move these green squares to modify the level, and depending on where you place them, the structure changes. If perhaps there existed a better, more simpler version of SMBU, that automatically expands any ROM loaded onto it, allows a drag-and-drop editor like Ting_Thing's Mario Builder, the ability to add additional rooms, more freedom for spawning points on the Y-axis, an in-game palette editor, and the use of multiple block types and palettes per level, (and of course containing content from Special and Lost Levels) then perhaps just maybe a more faithful conversion of SMBS could exist in NES format. But no. Only the levels were carried over from the PC88 version, and the well-known 4-3 trap was left in on purpose.

In Extra Mario Bros, enemies and items were not added, but instead replaced. Buzzy Beetles were replaced by Goombas wearing iron helmets that cannot be killed, and only bump Mario to the side without harming him. If the player continuously jumps on top of this Goomba, he/she can ride them across certain chained platforms. Laiktus were replaced by Blarggs that spew podoboos, and Spinies were replaced by lavaballs that are immune to fireballs until you get the "Super Fire" upgrade.

Starmen were replaced by special mushrooms that gave Mario permanent upgrades that lasted for the entirety of the game, such as allowing Mario to melt spikes and walls, allow Mario to arc fireballs higher, and gain a double-jumping ability. I believe if you finish the game and find all of the 1UP mushrooms, you get a special suit the next time you play that makes Mario immune to enemies and lava, allowing you to access a secret area where you fight a giant Metroid.

Now back to SMBS. Yea a lot of us may have expected more from the NES hack, but it wasn't as well-done as I had hoped. It probably would've worked better as a Super Mario World hack, since the ROM of that game could be expanded to have plenty of room for Special's new items, enemies, and block types. So because the NES hack didn't do quite well in comparison to the original (IMO), I decided to use Ting_Thing's Mario Builder to recreate each and every single element of SMBS down to almost the exact detail. What will this accomplish?

*All 32 levels from SMBS, drawn into MB exactly with no changes to scenery and block types.
*SMBS' exclusive enemies and items replaced with enemies from more recent Mario titles following the original, and rare items that will make very few appearances. This is due to Mario Builder lacking the exclusive features of Special.

Now here's what I'd like to have in this remake, but can't:

*A skin editor to apply the appropriate SMBS-styled skins to coins, brick blocks, ? blocks, the characters, the flagpole, and so on. The only thing I can do for now is just skins for background scenery and solid objects. This would also come in handy for other projects in Mario Builder.
*Have constantly-generating vertically-moving platforms ala the original, plus the scale platforms.
*Properly-working hidden ? blocks.
*Firebars that spin counter-clockwise.
*A SMB-styled Bowser, and the classic collapsing bridge and ax to go with it.

Well that's it. At the time I'm writing this, I only have completed the first three levels, including their bonus rooms. I'll try to make this remake more true to the original than the NES remake, and then I'll work on publishing it. Since I easily get occupied with other things, there may be days where I won't work on the remake. But for now, I'll show you some screens from World 1 and it's bonus room (and you may be able to tell why I recommended a sprite editor)

So yeah. There you have it. I have a pretty interesting month coming up, so maybe I'll write some stuff on deviantART soon. In the meantime, I'll leave you with some bonus content: Tilesets for use with Mario Builder, ripped from three different ROM hacks of the original Super Mario Bros.

-rip images-


Whata said...

Nice job on the Mario Special game thing, I would love to try out your levels if I had the chance, maybe I can be your Beta Tester or maybe port over some levels? I once tried to do a similar thing to what you are doing to a unofficial port of Super Mario Bros
called "Super Boy 2" for Sega Master System which had 16 different levels and really crappy controls. Here is a video of it first I tried making it into a SMB hack but the levels had too many objects for it to be transfered into a SMB hack, next I tried to use "Mario engine 4" for game maker but the code in that engine was crap and I could not load the level but now I can see you porting over levels very easly and was wondering if we could possibly put those levels into your restoration project as a secret world like worlds 9, A, B, C and D in SMB The Lost levels, if you want I can give you the ROM so you can study the levels and I also found a page with info on this port over here
P.S, There is a "Super Boy 1" but it's just the first 16 levels in the original SMB
P.S.S, How do you rip tilesets from SMB hacks?, I Would like to know what tools wou use so I can rip a few myself and would it work anywhere else?, IE, games other than SMB.
P.S.S.S, can I Help you With your restoration project, I have some sprites from Super Mario Bros. Special you can use and I could speed up the porting over of levels by helping you with them.
P.S.S.S.S, MIND YOUR LANGUAGE, I hope that comment about wanting to "bulls**t talking about SMB hacking and custom games" and saying "go scream into a pillow. It'll be more beneficial to everyone." wasn't derected at me because if were then I will call the cops to take you away.

From Whata

Justin De Lucia said...


Perhaps maybe I can do the levels from Super Boy II. Although they were already a re-hash of the levels from Lost Levels, they do have a bit of originality, although they seem a little too short.

The tilesets were actually re-colors of the original SMB sprites to make them look like the sprites from SMBS (PC88 and SharpX1 versions, respectfully).

The "nasty comment" was to my haters.

Whata said...

@Justin De Lucia

If you want maybe I can upload Super Boy II but I'll wait until you reply to me and say you want it but I have a few rules for how to handle this game.

1. When I post the comment containing the game then you must do what the comment says.

2. Once you download the game and it stored in a safe place then delete the comment (please say if you can).

Justin, when I asked you "How do you rip tilesets from SMB hacks?" I was talking about those
tilesets you ripped from SMB hacks I.E, Extra Mario Bros and not the SMBS game. Would like to know what tools wou use so I can rip a few myself.

Sorry for thinking that "nasty comment" was for me, I thought it was about me because I do happen to post stuff about SMB hacking on your blog a lot. I hope I'm not
a "hater" and sorry about the "cops" thing, I was very tired when I typed it and offended incase it was for me.

One last thing, here is the map
for all the levels in Super Boy II and you still think it's too short then you can put in some levels from it's sequel Super Boy 3 and I have a youtube video of it for you as well but I think Super Boy II is enough for now.

From Whata

Justin De Lucia said...

Thank you very much for the link to the maps. I already have the ROMS for practically the entire Super Boy series.

To rip the graphics from the hacks, all I did was I just tool a bazillion snapshots of the game, then I cut out specific blocks and pasted them onto a blank sheet in Photoshop.

And yea, I decided on doing only Super Boy II's levels, but I was thinking of merging and changing some of the levels around so that their length would be increased, including adding in bonus rooms similar to what Hudson would do in SMBS. This means I'll probably only add them to SMBS as Worlds A, B, and possibly C if there's still some leftovers. And to reach them, you have to take the secret "broken" warp pipe at the end of World 4-2 in SMBS, which takes you to the Super Boy II levels. After the Super Boy II levels, you return to World 4 to finish the rest of the game. Mario Builder only allows up to 12 worlds per game, and I want to leave the World 9 slot blank so you get the ending screen after World 8-4, rather than just continuing on with the game.

Items (including block types), enemy postions, and others will be customized to increase the variety of Super Boy II's levels when I port them over to this re-creation project. Afterall, Hudson did put in a lot of creativity when they made their levels. ;)

Whata said...

@Justin De Lucia

Thanks for telling me how to rip graphics from hacks, too bad I'm too lazy to take "a bazillion snapshots" or pay to get photoshop.

Good job on deciding to change and merge some of the levels in Super Boy 2, when I found out you did this I quickly hacked a SMB rom to make a few rooms for you to put into the hack, some taken from a old hack I did before the Super boy 2 hack and others I just made on the spot, here they are, (3 rooms for an underground level and 1 bonus room with coins.


One idea I have is to do the whole game in 16 bit (why do the game in 8 bit when they already did it before and it also saves the sprites clashing with the tilesets) I got a few tilesets you could use. ;)

another is to have a message in the room where you find the Super Boy 2 levels (or where ever you want to put it).

Congratulations Player
You just found a top secret warp zone!!
We present to you a secret quest.
Let's try "Super Boy 2" and win a prize.

If Mario Builder doesen't have message blocks then I have something for you, a 16x16 pixel
font tileset (click "Fullwidth Sans Serif" and then "medium.PNG" Super Mario War is like Mario Builder in that you can use 16x16 tilesets on both.

Lastly, I would like if you put my name into the creadits (Whata) and the name of the company who made Super Boy 2 (Zemina).

From Whata.

Justin De Lucia said...

The reason why I want to make it an 8bit game is because I'd like the game to feel as close as possible to Hudson's original game. All of the fonts and such are built into Mario Builder. Sadly there is no way to insert a staff roll into the game, but I may be able to supply a text file containing the credits.

I'll work on publishing the game and other stuff once I get further in development. Paint can also be used for ripping tilesets, just a little more complicated and time-consuming.

Whata said...

Justin, I know a way how to put a staff roll into the game, after 8-4 there would be a scrolling level (the real final level) where using the font tileset I gave you, you could display the names of the people who helped you with your game (Nintendo,Hudson Soft, Zemina, Myself and of course You and the player.) I have seen Mario Builder use coustum tilesets so I think it's possible and you can have up to 13 levels in 1 world in Mario Builder but it's better to ask the guys on the offical Mario Builder fourms but you need to sign up before they even let you see the fourms, here it is

(when you go there please also
ask why is the fourms closed to non users.)

Sorry but I can no longer be bother with ripping tilesets thanks to you telling me it's "a little more complicated and time-consuming" with ms paint (I don't like things that take a long time for me to do, I get angry.)

Need to go to bed now, bye

From Whata.

Whata said...

Justin, I just found something about Super Boy I (the 1st one not Super Boy II), I just found out that some of the levels in it are significantly (and sometimes completely) different to their counterparts from the original SMB by watching a youtube video of someone beating it, here it is,

I have also made a list of which levels are changed so you can put the changed parts of the levels.

C=Completely changed
M=Minor changes

World 1-4 C
World 2-2 C
World 2-4 C
World 3-1 M
World 3-4 C
World 4-3 m (Note, might just be the pallete in this one.)

Just to let you know, Today I am going on vacation (or going on a holiday as we call it in my
country) to Turkey for 7 days (The country not the bird. LOL :), Don't expect me to reply for the week I'm in Turkey, I've a lot of things do while I'm there. My family and I are making the last few preparations as I type.

We will go to bed at 10PM Local time, wake up at 6:40AM Local time, arrive at the airport at 7:40AM Local time, board the plane and take off at 9:40AM Local time and land in Turkey at 6:PM Aprox Turkish time.

I will not disclose the location of the airport where I'll take off at or the airport where I'll land because I do not want random strangers from the internet know where I'm going.

I hope you about all the cool things in turkey when I come back. See you in a week :).

From Whata