I first became interested in the NEC PC-8801 when I read about Super Mario Bros. Special, a strange pseudo-sequel to Super Mario Bros. created by Hudson Soft. This game is now well-known on the Internet after decades of obscurity, and you can even watch someone play through it on YouTube. A little poking around at the Japanese Computer Emulation Centre revealed that there are more interesting games on the PC-8801. Unsatisfied with the current state of coverage of these games, I have endeavored to cover them myself.
Most of the interesting games are ports. Some of them are modified in some way, but mostly they just have smaller color palettes, minor graphical changes, and wider aspect ratios. There are only 6 games on this page currently, and the most interesting games of those are Mario Bros. Special and Punch Ball Mario Bros., but this page is a work in progress, with more to come soon. The screenshots on this page are fair use, so feel free to take them and use them for your own purposes. Acknowledgements: Thanks to Allen J. for telling me about a crucial error I had in an earlier edition of the page. If you want to reach me, please do so at Andrevan@gmail.com.
You can find some PC88 games for download at Patent Pending and World of Stuart.
Table of Contents: Punch Ball Mario Bros. Mario Bros. Special Chack'n Pop Excitebike Hole in One Ice Climber
Punch Ball Mario Bros. is essentially Mario Bros., but Mario and Luigi have small balls which they can punch at enemies to stun them, then proceeding to run into them for points. Aside from this unusual new game mechanic, a moved POW block, and some minor graphical and aspect ratio changes, the game is roughly the same as Mario Bros. You can see in the 4th screenshot that hitting the POW block makes the screen flash blue (it doesn't do anything in the NES version). Watch a video on Youtube
Mario Bros. Special is a strange version of Mario Bros. that bears almost no resemblance to its predecessor beyond the core game concept. In the first level, there are no enemies, and the platforms continuously scroll so that one must time jumps through the moving holes to get to the top. At the top, there are a number of switches that must be triggered to open the "Exit" doors and complete the level, which is hard because they revert back to "off" after a few seconds. The second level features unusual platforms which require one to jump next to the enemies while they are on the platforms. Once all the enemies are defeated, a new platform appears and whisks Mario off to the next stage. I haven't figured that one out yet, but check this page soon and maybe I'll have more info.
I don't know what Chack'n Pop means, but this seems to be a pretty direct port of the arcade version, ported by Carry Lab. I'm going to have all that Japanese underneath the maze itself in the last PC-8801 translated, but I think it's just directions on how to play the game. I don't know if they go away after the training stage, because I haven't managed to beat it yet -- the PC-8801 is emulated in such a way that the game moves much faster than it should (or maybe that's really how it is, in which case, the PC-8801 is a pain in the ass to play!).
Here is a port of Nintendo's NES classic, Excitebike, created by Hudson Soft. Except for the colors, aspect ratio, and the insertion of "Hudson" into the title screen and background, the game is essentially the same. You might notice that the driver in the third PC-8801 picture appears to have been beheaded -- I'm not really sure why that happened, but it's just some kind of screen flickering. Also, in the last NES screenshot the ranking isn't there because I took the screenshot at a slightly inopportune moment (the number flashes and I caught it while it wasn't there).
This is a golf game. I've included it because it was created by HAL, creators of Kirby and ''Super Smash Bros.'' The control is a little different between the two versions, but I haven't played enough golf games to say how much different. The NES version being the later one, its control scheme is probably an improvement. There is also an SNES version of this golf game. Also, the PC-8801 screenshots are a little bit antialiased, so they looks nicer than the game actually would on a real PC-8801.
This is Nintendo's well-known Ice Climber, with no noticeable changes to gameplay. However, those unfamiliar with the Japanese version of Ice Climber might not realize that the yeti-like Topis of the North American version are actually small seals in the original Japanese release, and they are seals as well here. Interestingly, the developers used the extra space on the side for time, score, and lives instead of stretching the screen to fill the wider aspect ratio.