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Super Mario Bros. Originally Had Beam Guns and Rocket Packs

Nintendo provides a look at the slightly different control scheme it had in mind for the 8-bit classic.

Design documents included with Super Mario Collection Special Pack (released last week) suggest that Nintendo originally had a slightly different gameplay experience in mind for Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Collection Special Pack includes a book chronicling the history of Super Mario from the 1985 Famicom/NES classic to Super Mario Galaxy.

But there's more to the book just a history lesson. Nintendo has also included some never-before-seen design document images penned by Shigeru Miyamoto himself. These reveal that the original plan for Super Mario Bros. was a ways different from what we ended up getting.

The basic specifications resemble the final game, although the descriptions are a bit abstract. One piece of graph paper labeled "Super Mario Test Specification," stamped by "Creative Division Head Miyamoto" and dated February 20, 1985, shows a basic layout of the game screen. The screen is marked with Mario's starting position, a couple of platforms, enemy obstacles, and the point where Mario's movement triggers scrolling.

The description above and below the layout describes the game as featuring large Mario characters and using the "athletic part" of "Junior Mario Bros." This is presumably in reference to Donkey Kong Jr., with the "athletic part" referring to the running and jumping components. The text also mentions making Mario bigger, scrolling, and gimmicks like lifts. It precisely describes the scrolling method, even noting that the scrolling will only go left to right and not right to left.

The book also has a spread showing a bunch of design document pages scattered on a table. Included are graphs of the level layouts and even the title screen. These are precisely laid out, with even the position of coins showing.

While most of the documents looks similar to the final Super Mario Bros., there's one major difference. It looks like Miyamoto and crew originally had a different plan for the game's control scheme.

It looks like this:

  • Left: Walk Left
  • Right: Walk Right
  • Up: Jump
  • Down: TBA (Duck)
  • B: Run (Accelerate) (Rocket->Shoot)
  • A: Attack (Depending on Item) (Bare Hands->Kick; Rifle; Beam Gun)

Left and Right would make Mario walk at two different speeds. Pressing B would make him accelerate. Pressing Up would make him Jump, with the height dependent on the length of time of the button press and the speed of left/right movement at the time.

The "Rocket" mentioned for B is for movement while in the air. When Mario gets his hands on a rocket item, he can make himself accelerate left or right in the air by pressing B.

The A button makes Mario use his current item, or engage in hand-to-hand combat.

With the mention of beam guns and rocket packs, it almost seems like Mario was originally conceived with shooting elements in mind.

[Seen at N-Styles]

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