In the 1980s, Hudson Soft was a huge name in Japan for personal computers. They had ports of their arcade games, and original games, on every popular computer in Japan. In the mid-1980s, before the Nintendo Entertainment System made Nintendo a household name worldwide, Nintendo licensed their arcade games to outside companies to port them to video game consoles and computers. Hudson Soft did do conversions of games for computers, such as their excellent Excitebike port. However, most of their games with Nintendo licenses were far more interesting. Mario Bros. Special is one of those games.
Mario Bros. Special is a very different game from the arcade game with which it shares its name. It shares level music but, unlike Mario Bros., it has a time limit. It also takes the Donkey Kong approach by having a series of four stages that repeat after they are completed. The first of the four stages include moving girders which have to be climbed upon and switches that have to be hit twice to open the stage exit. The second has the familiar Mario Bros. shellcreepers, but they are knocked over by jumping on the trampoline with them on it rather than hitting them from above. The third has girders, but the shellcreepers are taken out in the same way as the trampolines. In the final stage, there are no enemies and the goal is simply to collect all the dollar symbols.
The various computer versions are each the same but differ in colors and sounds, due to hardware restrictions. The fresh take on Mario Bros. is a fun idea. The various tasks are all thought out well. However, due to problems with ground detection, Mario or Luigi will sometimes go right through a platform when he should have been able to stand on it just fine. Due to this, the game is a lot less fun than it should have been.