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Prerelease:Super Mario Bros.

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This page details prerelease information and/or media for Super Mario Bros..

Hmmm...
To do:

Development Timeline

  • 1984
    • Fall - Development started at the same time as The Legend of Zelda, after Devil World and Excitebike were finished.[1]
    • December - Miyamoto requests programmers at SRD to form an experiment with a controllable rectangle.[2]
  • 1985
    • Unknown Date - Specifications for Mario riding around in a cloud and rocket are drawn up.[3]
    • February 5th - An early control scheme is designed.[2]
    • February 20th - Specification describing the mechanics of how becoming big would work is written.[2]
    • February 28th - Planning sheet is drawn up containing Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. assets such a red girder and a vine.[4]
    • March 8th - Another planning sheet is created, possibly made for level planning.[5]
    • June 27th - A draft of an early green title screen is drawn up.[6]
    • July 19th - World 1-1 is finished around this time.
    • July - Although the initial release date was intended to be during summer break, development time was furthered by 3-4 weeks to finish the game.[7]
    • August 12th - Game was likely finished around this time according to the SMAS partial source code leak.
    • September 13th - Game released for the Famicom.
    • October - Game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in the USA. The exact date for the release is unknown.
  • 1986
    • February 21st - Game released for the Famicom Disk System.
  • 1987
    • May 15th - Game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in Europe.

Early Development

Initial Concepts

Originally, Super Mario Bros. started development as a prototype created by Miyamoto's desire to have a game where you can control large characters. a rectangle that measured 16 pixels wide and 32 pixels tall, which was obviously just a placeholder until the actual player character was designed.[1] At this early stage of development, the game was on a dark single non-scrolling screen and the player wasn't even able to jump. Later on, the screen became side-scrolling and eventually gained its bright blue background.[2] At this point the game had still been using the blank rectangle template as the character.

Here is the first specifications document, as seen from the Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition history booklet. (Scan taken from Iwata Asks.)

However, when Takashi Tezuka noticed how well Mario Bros. was performing in arcades, Tezuka pitched to project head Shigeru Miyamoto the idea of using Mario as the main character. Miyamoto agreed and Mario became the leading character.[1] When Koji Kondo began composing the soundtrack, he first wrote the Underwater theme as it was the easiest to imagine. He was amazed by the early prototype's colors. The prototype consisted of Mario moving about with in front of a blue background and greenery. This rich scenery led to him creating an early theme which he describes as being lazier, laid-back, slow, and carefree. After later playing the game again, he realized this did not match Mario's movement and jumping. Designing a new theme with this in mind eventually led to the iconic theme we all know and love today.[8][9]

At other various points in development:

  • The game focused far more on shooting enemies than platforming tasks. Mario could carry weapons, with a rifle and a "beam gun" being usable.[2]
  • Instead of scrolling continuously, the game's environments scrolled screen-by-screen, similarly to Super Mario Bros. Special.[10]
  • Koji Kondo originally composed the ending theme with an AABA structure, but since the song would take up too much memory, the "B" portion was cut. This version of the ending theme was later used in VS. Super Mario Bros and the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2.[11]

Alternate Title

At one point, the title Mario's Adventure seems to have been considered for the game in place of Super Mario Bros., at least for the U.S. version. The evidence supporting this is an early sales brochure for the arcade VS. System version, which uses the title VS. Mario's Adventure instead of VS. Super Mario Bros. This version of the brochure features original artwork on the front side, with a description of the game and screenshots on the back. The screenshots appear to be from the original console version rather than VS. Super Mario Bros. as evident by the font not having a drop shadow and the alternate World 4-2 warp zone, which contain the two pipes leading to Worlds 7 and 8 (VS. removed them and only has the World 6 pipe). A later version of the sales brochure uses the finalized title of the game, with the packaging artwork used for the Famicom version on the front in place of the original art (which seems to suggest that the earlier flyer was made before the game was even released in Japan) and the tagline edited to reflect the title change. The backside of the revised brochure is pretty much identical, except every instance of Mario's Adventure has been replaced with Super Mario Bros.

This theory is further supported by the fact that the title Mario's Adventure is registered in the U.S. Copyrights Office with the same register number used for Super Mario Bros. (PA0000273028).

Iwata Asks: New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Levels

(This is near the start of the development process, but possibly a later build than described previously):

  • At first they thought that the levels would need to last about a minute, so they thought they would need sixty screens. But Miyamoto said "We're going to have all sorts of things going on in between, so twenty screens should be enough for a single level."
  • Most levels in the final game are about 12 screens long. The longest level in the game is about 32 screens.
  • Miyamoto didn't have any level plans initially, but was confident in what they would do next.
  • The levels were drawn out on huge pieces of graph paper, then the data was painstakingly entered by hand.
  • They didn't start with the first worlds, generally starting around World 3 or 5.
  • When designing levels, they thought about the various outcomes the players actions would create.
  • After the data was burned to the ROM, Tezuka and Miyamoto would play through the level and decide if anything needed to be changed.
  • Any level modifications were a headache. They were often having to make changes to levels every day.
  • A lot of trial-and-error and tricks were needed to fit the game within the limitations of the hardware available at the time.
  • The clouds and bushes use the same graphics, but with a different pallete. Some objects were made symmetrical, so they could be flipped and use half the memory, instead of having unique tiles for each half.
  • They were going to scrap sky levels because they couldn't make levels "where Mario would climb on clouds" due to memory constraints, but revived this idea with vines and bonus stages.
  • World 1-1 was made towards the end, to cater to beginners.

Enemies

  • The most common enemy in the game, the Goomba, was implemented after the Koopa Troopa. They were created because the developers thought that the Koopa was too hard for such a common enemy. This is evident in the final games code as Goombas are sprite number 6.

Early Control Scheme

SMB1 Original Control Scheme.png

The original control scheme was very different from the one we're familiar with; Up on the D-Pad was used to jump, while A either used an item (a rifle or a "beam gun") if Mario was carrying one or caused him to kick if he wasn't.[2] Here, a draft was drawn up to show this concept. Notice the square controller buttons as well!

(Source: Iwata Asks: Super Mario 25th Anniversary, Vol. 5, Page 1)

Early Mario Sprites

Early/Cut Enemies

A "Cannon" Koopa

Unused Cannon Koopa enemy SMB1.png

The description of this concept art reads: "Aims for Mario." The drawing depicts a Koopa manning a cannon. It is likely that this is either a cut enemy or an early concept of the Hammer Brothers. The trajectory of their attack is similar as well. The cannon would later appear in Super Mario Bros. 3, with a similar design; though they appear without a Koopa manning them, and the cannonballs would travel in a straight line.

(Source: Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Special Interview ft. Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka)

A "Naked" Koopa

SMB-Unused Naked Koopa enemy.png

The description of this concept art reads: "Pacing around naked." The drawing depicts a Koopa Troopa without its shell wearing a tank top, wielding what appears to be a pitchfork. In Mario Bros., if Shellcreepers (conceptually early Koopas) were flipped upside down and left alone, they would pop out from their shells with their white tank-top to flip back their shells. This concept seems to have been dropped from the final Super Mario Bros. game, but would reappear in later Mario titles, with the first being Super Mario World.

(Source: Super Mario Maker booklet)

Sidesteppers

SMB1 Unused Sidestepper.png

A sprite sheet showing Sidesteppers from Mario Bros.. Sidesteppers would later appear in Super Mario Bros. Special.

(Source: Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Special Interview ft. Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka)

Early Level Objects and Items

Sky Levels and a Ridable Cloud

Ever since the beginning of the games development, Miyamoto imagined Mario flying in the sky. This would take advantage of Super Mario Bros.' original control scheme (seen here). The game originally had sky segments (in addition to the earth and sea segments which ended up being used). These sky levels consisted of Mario riding originally on a rocket. This was changed to then be Mario riding on a cloud. Mario would shoot at enemies (and coins[16]) amongst the clouds/sky with a rifle and a "beam gun". Though six months before completion, Miyamoto "divided the actions" between ground and sky. The sky-based bonus rounds accessible via vines in the final game are apparently a remnant of this idea.[2] The developers gave up on these concepts partly due to memory constraints.[17] This entire concept would later be introduced in Super Mario Land, via its Sky Pop/Marine Pop vehicles and its sky/underwater levels. Ridable clouds specifically would also later be implemented as Lakitu's Cloud in Super Mario Bros. 3 as an item on the map that you ride that would let you skip a level, but more notably ridable clouds would return in Super Mario World, where you could ride in Lakitu's Cloud in a level for a short period of time after defeating Lakitu.

SMB1 Cloud Concept Full Document.jpg

Here is a concept document that was drawn up, showcasing some of these ideas. The cloud Mario is riding eventually also got a concept sprite (which can be seen here). Mario is also able to throw fireballs in the cloud, as seen in the second drawing.

(Source: Asashi Shimbun)
SMB1 Cloud Concept Close Up 3.jpg
SMB1 Cloud Concept Close Up 2.png
SMB1 Cloud Concept Close Up 1.png

Some close-up shots of this document.

(Source: Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Special Interview ft. Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka)

Early Draft Level, Donkey Kong Girders and Donkey Kong Jr. Vines

SMB1 early planning sheet.png

Various elements from Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., and Mario Bros. were planned at one point with some objects/enemies making it into the final release.[18] A draft of these elements were drawn up. Besides some different looking graphics (most notably the ground tiles appearing behind Mario to create a certain isometric effect, and faces on the tree platform tiles) a red girder from Donkey Kong and a vine from Donkey Kong Jr. appear in this planning sheet. Vines were later added to the game but look and function differently.

Other Early Sprites/Designs

Early SMB Sprites.jpeg

Some more planning sheets showcase early designs and sprites.

  • The tree platform sprite looks different from the final, appearing much more similar in size to the mushroom platforms present in the final.
  • The design of Princess Toadstool (Peach) looks different here. Notably, her white sleeves, a pink dress, and no noticeable lips. Her second drawing seems to be the basis for her sprite from Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (JP's Super Mario Bros. 2).
  • The design of (what appears to be) the Super Mushroom is missing its spots and is more rounded. This early design actually resembles the throwable/stackable mushrooms from Super Mario Bros. 2 (Super Mario USA).
  • Interestingly, the Podoboo (Lava Bubble) has black eyes, which are completely missing in his final design. This seems to be a carry-over from Fireballs from Donkey Kong having eyes (as they wanted more elements from their previous Mario titles). These eyes were eventually reintroduced into their design in Super Mario World.
  • The design of the Mushroom Retainer (Toad) appears slightly different. Notably, his eyes are spaced further apart.
(Source: Gaming Alexandria)

Early Title Screen (1)

Draft Design Final
SMB1 early title screen.png SMB Title.png

The Title Screen had major differences at one point during development.

  • The logo was green at one point.
  • The logo was slightly larger.
  • The "S" in "Super" was different.
  • The option cursor was a brick as opposed to being a mushroom.
  • The background details are different, though this is more likely a result of the background generation routine used in the final game than a deliberate change.
  • The UI on the top of the screen is missing, although its unknown if this is intentionally left out or not.
(Source: Nintendo World Report - Nintendo NY 2015)

Early Title Screen (2)

Draft Design Final
SMB1 early title screen 2.png SMB Title.png

This concept art of the Title Screen is the closest to how it looks in the final game, but still has just a few differences. Carried over from the previous draft is:

  • The option cursor still being a brick as opposed to being a mushroom (This time its uncolored).
  • Two hills instead of one, like in the final.
  • The UI text being slightly different, spaces are placed in between text in a few instances.
  • The UI on the top of the screen is still missing, although its unknown if this is intentionally left out or not.

Besides carrying these elements over from the last Title Screen draft, this draft has differences from the final:

  • The bush is moved over to the right a little more (towards its final position), albeit not 1 to 1 accurate to where its positioned in the final game.
  • The "bolts" on the corners of the logo are black instead of being the same color as the text on the logo.
(Source: Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Special Interview ft. Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka)

Early Level Designs

World 1-1

Draft Design Final
SMB1 Early 1-1.png SMB1 1-1 comparison.png

The only known image of the level design document for 1-1 has one minor difference, being the first Goomba is on top of the blocks above. The team had developed the levels out of order, with 1-1 being the final level they worked on. Goombas had also been added late in development as it was thought Koopa Troopas would have been too difficult for a beginner. It is possible that the first Goomba was originally a Koopa Troopa.

(Source: Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Special Interview ft. Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka)
(Final map rips: themushroomkingdom.net)

World 1-2

Draft Design Final
SMB1 Early 1-2.png SMB-1-2 map layout comparison.png

At the start of the level, the first two Goombas were originally situated on top of the row of Question Mark Blocks. After the first two Koopa Troopas, there is a small wall made of two bricks behind the pair. The lone coin next to the hidden power-up block was originally one block higher up. The two Goombas after the third Koopa Troopa were placed further. The row of coins seen after the first pit and underneath the hidden 1-UP block was lower than in the final design.

(Source: Game Informer)
(Final map rips: themushroomkingdom.net)

World 1-2 Warp Zone

Draft Design Final
SMB-1-2 prerelease warp zone.png SMB-1-2 Warp Zone.png

The Warp Zone pipes in the original level layout for 1-2 have the pipes arranged at different heights and moved over to the right slightly. This was presumably changed due to the pipe on the far right being too tall for Mario to jump over if he were to get stuck between the pipe and wall (possible case the jump heights were once higher, by one block at least). "WARP ZONE" was incorrectly misspelled as "WARP ZŌŌN" but later corrected at an unknown time.

(Source: Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Special Interview ft. Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka)

World 4-2

Draft Design Final
4-2 Early beginning layout SMB1.png 4-2 beginning final map SMB1.png

The beginning of World 4-2 was much easier in the early layout. The hole from which Mario falls from is much smaller. The gaps seen at the beginning were much smaller and farther to the left in the draft. The "tunnel" section was much longer. There were four coins in the original draft instead of the three coins seen in the final.

(Source: Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition history booklet)
(Final map rips: themushroomkingdom.net)
Draft Design Final
SMB1 Early 4-2.png SMB1 4-2 map comparison.png

Multiple Koopa Troopas were removed from the final level, with the early design showing one before the moving platform and two after the platform. This gap was originally smaller by one block. The four hidden blocks leading to the Warp Zone vine were originally a row of three Question Mark Blocks. The brick block containing the vine was originally placed on the right side instead of on the left and had been planned to appear inside of a hidden block rather than a brick block. The Koopa Troopa seen stuck in between the pipes of the final game was not present in the early draft.

(Source: Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Special Interview ft. Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka)
(Final map rips: themushroomkingdom.net)
Draft Design Final
SMB1 Early 4-2 (2).png SMB1 4-2 map comparison (2).png

The draft design lacks any of the Buzzy Beetles or Piranha Plants in the final. The second-to-last pipe was originally one block taller and there is no multi-coin block seen beside it.

(Source: Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition history booklet)
(Final map rips: themushroomkingdom.net)

World 6-1

Draft Design Final
SMB-Early world 6-1 staircase.png SMB-World 6-1 staircase final.png

The only difference from the draft design is a single additional block that was added underneath the staircase at the start of the level.

(Source: Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Special Interview ft. Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka)
(Final map rips: themushroomkingdom.net)

Bonus Rooms

Draft Design
SMB1 Early Bonus Rooms cropped.png
Final
SMB1 Bonus room map.png

The bonus rooms appear to have gone through many changes while being drafted as can be seen by the many scribbled and whited out parts. The bonus rooms were designed on July 15th and later revised at unknown date.[19]

  • In the room on the left, the hook-like shape holding the coins was closer to the ground than in the final layout. The multi-coin block next to the pipe was lower as well.
  • The middle room is the same as the final layout, though some extra coins appear to have been whited out, probably due to the game not being able to display more than three layout objects vertically.
  • The room on the right has the top row of coins being a block higher and the bottom row has two fewer coins. The brick blocks were originally one block closer to the right, but the many red arrows instructed the level programmers to have the bricks adjusted to the left by one block.
(Source: Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Special Interview ft. Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka)
(Final map rips: themushroomkingdom.net)

Early Castle Exits

SMB1 Early Castle Exits.jpg

Some early "castle exit" areas.

(Source: Game Informer)

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Iwata Asks: New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Vol. 2, Page 4 - Nintendo, Nov. 13th, 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Iwata Asks: Super Mario 25th Anniversary, Vol. 5, Page 1 - Nintendo, Sept. 13th, 2010
  3. Iwata Asks: Super Mario 25th Anniversary, Vol. 5, Page 2 - Nintendo, Sept. 13th, 2010
  4. Iwata Asks: Super Mario 25th Anniversary, Vol. 5, Page 4 - Nintendo, Sept. 13th, 2010
  5. Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Special Interview ft. Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka - Youtube, Sept. 14th 2015
  6. Nintendo NY 2015 - Nintendo World Report, Feb. 22nd, 2016
  7. Super Mario Bros. 25th Anniversary - Interview with Shigeru Miyamoto #1 - Youtube, Dec. 7th, 2010
  8. Iwata Asks: Super Mario 25th Anniversary, Vol. 5, Page 5 - Nintendo, Sept. 13th, 2010
  9. Mario Maestro Interview - Internet Archive, Oct. 19th, 2007
  10. Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition history booklet, Page 4 - Internet Archive, Nov. 27th, 2010
  11. Koji Kondo – 2001 Composer Interview - game maestro vol. 3 / Shmuplations, 2001
  12. Supper Mario Broth - Supper Mario Broth, Nov 8th. 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Retrogaming / VHS tape archive one
  14. Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Special Interview ft. Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka - Youtube, Sept. 14th 2015
  15. 15.00 15.01 15.02 15.03 15.04 15.05 15.06 15.07 15.08 15.09 15.10 Channel 4 1993 Creating Video Games - including adverts - Youtube, Sept. 7th, 2020
  16. Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Special Interview ft. Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka - Youtube, Sept. 14th 2015
  17. Iwata Asks: Super Mario 25th Anniversary, Vol. 2, Page 6 - Nintendo, Sept. 13th, 2010
  18. Iwata Asks: Super Mario 25th Anniversary, Vol. 5, Page 3 - Nintendo, Sept. 13th, 2010
  19. Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Special Interview ft. Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka - Youtube, Sept. 14th 2015