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It'sa me, Kaizo Mario!

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I've never heard the term Soundtrack Delivery System before. I guess the original Dune on PC/Amiga would be one of those? It's not a terrible game, just really weird and a little awkward, but god damn that soundtrack. There's one I'd love to see in some kaizo hacks - when do we see a Desertworld?
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Alright, made it to the first checkpoint in the Eyrie, and I did it the hard way! Part of not cheesing the second room with sticky fly meant that I had to come up with my own strats to get through it, since you never see anyone actually play that part anymore*. As I was playing I told myself that I'd stop at the 2 hour mark to eat dinner, but right at that point I suddenly hit on what I started thinking of as "the magic speed", which would let me fly through all the obstacles without having to speed up or slow down. All I needed to manage was my vertical height. That gave me a second wind, and after another 40 minutes I'd made it to the final dive a few times (and died there every time, because I kept waiting too long to actually start diving). At that point I decided to stop for real and come back after dinner, knowing that I finally had my strats sorted out for the room. And sure enough, after I ate, I made it through to the checkpoint in just 8 minutes.

I spent about 10 minutes checking out the third room, and it honestly doesn't seem that bad. I probably could've gotten through there as well, but I decided to stop there for the night. I gotta say, it feels really, really good to have gotten through an infamously tough room with a strat that I came up with by myself. I know there's still a lot of level left to clear, and much of it just as hard, but this one really felt like a win.

I think getting through the next two rooms is a reasonable goal for my next session, and I'm excited to get back to it tomorrow.

*I did watch Stew's video to see how he handled the very beginning of the room, since I was having trouble getting out of the pipe and past the Thwomps consistently at first.
 
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MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Great work! I think the first checkpoint is one of the harder ones in the level to get. You're not out of the woods yet, but that's some serious progress.

As for me, I have some big kaizo news of my own. After nearly 10 months of playing kaizo, I am proud to announce...that I finally beat the second level of Super Hark Bros! I was looking for something light to play tonight, so I decided to fire it up again and finally put that particular white whale to bed. It went better than my last attempt, because I finally found a more or less consistent strategy to get past the chuck that blocks your path. After that, I demolished the next three levels in less than 10 minutes a piece, then took care of the (somewhat long and annoying) ghost switch palace. Man, it feels good to finally make some headway in this game. I won't be sticking with it for now, because I plan on starting Ako 2 very soon, but it's nice to know that I might someday actually finish the dang hack that got me into playing kaizo. I had fun playing it tonight, but holy cow, those first two levels suck.

I also unraveled the secret of Waterworld this afternoon, with the help of GiganticBucket's Twitch chat. Turns out, I already had all the clues (cf The Snowman [2017]) - I thought I was missing one, so I didn't make an effort to actually solve the dang thing. Then I got Bucket to go back to Waterworld and try it out, since I didn't want to start playing kaizo on work time (much). If anyone still doesn't know, it's very similar to the 0 exit route in Hark 2: you play all the rooms of the final castle, but grouped into three + a boss per checkpoint. It's cool that it's there, but I'm not very interested in playing it!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Yo, nice job on making some Hark Bros progress too! I found the beginning of that hack (pretty much up through the ghost house you just played) to be kind of anti-fun, but there are a lot of cool levels going forwards from there. Hopefully you'll find them worth the hassle!

So what do you need to do for the actual Waterworld puzzle? I've never actually seen anyone do it so I'm pretty curious. Pretty neat that the payoff is what it is, but I don't think I'd be that into playing it either.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
Solution: The numbers you find correspond to a letter in the submap name it's found in. One of them is 8, 12, 16. So, you'd take the eighth letter, the 12th, etc. Lay them all out and they spell DRYLAND. So you go back to the very first screen of the game and input DOWN, R, Y, L, A, DOWN, DOWN and you're transported to the secret area.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Note that the DOWN DOWN at the end is for the letters N and D, which, uh, sure thing Baba.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Maybe it's secretly a Bionic Commando reference

PurpleEagle just started Ultra Slope Muncher and all sorts of folks have come out of the woodwork to watch him suffer. It's a pretty good time!
 
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SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
So Storks. I've been having a good time with it, but that third exit with the parabeetles. Woof. That became a Deuce Lair-tier grind. I don't know if narrow tunnels and parabeetles are just a weakness of mine or what, but that level was rough. Luckily, the level after it seems more reasonable? I'll have to see.

Also, in the interest of taking a breather, I beat the first Nightmare Cafe, and it's just a lovely hack. Single screen hacks are cool with me, and this one took me an hour to complete. Plus there's three more to play if I ever need another break from the grind! Would recommend.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
The fourth room in the Eyrie is breaking me. It has been almost four and a half hours. I have made it to the end of the room twice, and I have fucked up the P-switch both times. 99% of the time I can't even make it back through the saws after hitting the on/off switch, if I even make it there.

I just can't get any kind of consistency. This is absolutely miserable.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I AM VICTORY

Sat down after dinner and said "Okay, I will put in one more hour tonight." Got to the end of the hour having fucked up the P-switch at least two or three more times, so I said "Okay, ten more minutes and then that's it." Two minutes later, I was in the door and out of that room forever. I still have two rooms to go, but the two worst ones are behind me now.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I got curious about Akogare 2 so I looked at the readme again, and good news, Mike!

Anytime you see or move on the overworld the game has already saved, this includes midways as well.

MegaScott is merciful.

There's also a tracklist in the download if you want to find out where that oh-so-smooth jam from the last level you played came from.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Nice! I had a pretty good time with the hack last night, and if levels generally take around 30 minutes to play then I should be able to sneak some in here and there over the course of the week. Plus, proper checkpoint saving will make that even easier! I think me and Ako 2 will get along just fine.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Mike, you were right about the final two rooms in the Eyrie being a victory lap, because they were fun and I just finished them both in exactly half an hour. I'm pretty sure this is a new record for Most Time Spent in a Single Level:

Rooms one and two: 2 hours, 50 minutes
Room three: 20 minutes
Room four: 5 hours, 20 minutes
Rooms five and six: 30 minutes

Adds up to 9 hours total. Man, what an intense level. Emotionally speaking, it had both the highest and lowest points of the game for me so far. I enjoyed a lot of the level overall, but holy shit did room four make me miserable. Like, it's kind of enough to make me not want to play this game again once I finish it. Some levels change you.

Idle Hands is up next, and I've been looking forward to this level since the beginning of the game. I just think its mechanic is so cool. Here's hoping I'm not disappointed!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I did take down Idle Hands this afternoon, and it was as fun as I'd hoped! The only annoying thing was that the second half was a lot more finicky than the first, and it features the reprise of the shitty "bop-koopa-grab-shell-in-one-motion" trick from the Weathertop secret, and this time you have to do it faster. But aside from that move I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I think I made it through the final door on my third attempt? Even the boss wasn't too bad once I got a handle on a consistent strat. (Clear time for my records: 2 hours, 20 minutes.)

This level was the kind of chocolate I enjoy in kaizo: it augments the typical Mario experience instead of trying to replace it with a different thing. You get to keep using the same vocabulary in a novel environment, so things feel fresh without being confusing. Good design, Barb.

Somehow I've come to a point where all that's left is the Thousand Halls. I still don't really believe it. I'm with my girlfriend for the rest of the weekend, but on Monday the endgame begins in earnest.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Super Hark Bros is done! Glad to finally have that off my conscience. I do agree that it generally got better as it went, with a few levels that I legitimately enjoyed in the second half. There still were a whole lot of clunkers, though, and I would actually rate this among the worst hacks that I've completed. Thankfully, we'll always have Hark 2!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Nice work wrapping that up! Sounds like you and I had very similar reactions to the hack. It's pretty uneven to be sure, but if Hark 2 is anything to go by I think Mr. Underscores is gonna turn out just fine.

I wish I had my own victory to report, but sadly I'm getting brickwalled by Bowser. Everything from the secret exit of the Thousand Halls through the red switch palace and back leading up to the boss fight only took about an hour and 20 minutes, and even though I played the same rooms that Stew does in his speedruns, I still had a good time with it. The rooms are tough but short enough that nothing feels unfair.

Bowser, on the other hand...well, I spent four and a half hours beating my head against that wall tonight. I've made some progress, but I still feel like 90% of the time I just lose my mushroom immediately upon entering the fight and there's not much I can do about it. The real heartbreaker is that I actually got to eight hits once, but I immediately ran into Bowser after and died before he did. The best I've done outside of that was six, but I'm still usually dying before I even get to the fifth hit.

Over the course of the evening, I've kinda gone full circle from "this is fun!" to "this is awful" and back to "this is fun...but I'd really like to be done soon". If work is as slow tomorrow as it was today, I'm hoping to be able to grind this one out and close the book on GPW2.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Wow, you really tore through Thousand Halls! As for Bowser, well, I wish you patience - there aren’t a lot of folks who beat him in less than 6-7 hours, from what I’ve heard. If you’ve managed 8 hits once and 6 on another attempt, then you must be getting pretty close! Maybe after a good night’s sleep you’ll be able to come back and rock him. You’re almost there!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Sorry bud. You'll get there! But it's a really hard fight, think how many runs Slop_Core lost to bad Bowsers before he finally mastered it. You're in good company, and at least the music is better than in the Kamek fight?
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
The salty wind eases my pain. I'm free.

Yes, with the sweet strains of Tarzan Boy ringing in my ears, I am psyched, proud, and relieved to finally say I have beaten Grand Poo World 2. Holy cow, what a journey. I'm not gonna lie, this is kinda emotional for me! I know it's a little silly to be saying that about a fanmade hack of a 30-year-old children's game, but this is the thread where we talk about those hacks, so here we are. Seeing Grand Poo World 2 at SGDQ 2019 is what first opened my eyes to what kaizo really was or could be - until then, I'd been aware of the genre but I thought it was just a bunch of troll hacks. Super Mario World has always been one of my all-time favorites, but I'd only really ever seen the vanilla game. After GDQ, I believe I described the run to another Mario-loving friend as "peak Mario". There were one or two levels in the run where I said "oh, I think maybe I could do that" (lol), but by and large I never thought I would actually be good enough to beat any kaizo hack -- and especially not GPW2.

And, honestly, until I got that final hit on Bowser, I think there's a part of me that still didn't. I know there've been harder hacks since, and I've used this phrase before, but it really was the Mt. Everest of the genre for me. I always imagined it as a "maybe one day" thing, certainly not a hack I'd play -- and beat -- eight and a half months after starting to play kaizo at all. I guess I figured it'd take me at least a year to even begin considering the attempt. I've been playing Mario since I was 5, and in a way it feels like all of that time was leading up to this.

So, the game itself. Even though I got bogged down in some extremely grindy sections in the late game, I still think it's a masterpiece. I joked a few posts ago about how some levels change you, but this whole hack really did. I'm not the same player I was when I started -- it made me better. I learned new skills and sharpened the hell out of the ones I went in with. Invictus taught me that with enough perseverance I could beat any level I wanted to, and Grand Poo World 2 put that to the test. The Eyrie set a new record for the longest I've spent in one level, and Bowser immediately broke it (clocking in at 9.5 hours over three days). The game pushed me to my limits as a player and taught me to go beyond them. I didn't think I'd ever get here. I am here now.

But enough emotional garbage, let's talk about what really matters: numbers! I post a lot about how long any given level or section took me, partly to gauge progress as I go but mostly so I could add them all up when I finished and see what my total playtime was. The Super NT doesn't keep track of stats like that as far as I'm aware, so this was the only way I could think of to do it myself. Adding the final hour I spent on Bowser today (and 10 minutes for the escape after), in all I closed out the playthrough with a total of 69 hours nice and 25 minutes.

I don't really know what I'm gonna play next! Right now I'm thinking Comfort Zone might be the next harder hack I play, but I'm not 100% on that yet. I might just play a Nightmare Cafe or two while I figure that out. Has anyone played (or seen) any of Orcus yet? I know it got a fairly positive reception and I think it's supposed to be on the easier side, so that's in consideration too. I feel like I've earned something breezy!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I think you've earned the right to be a little emotional, you've done some incredible work finishing this game. In fact, I'd say you're a bonafide kaizo master at this point, and handily better at the game than I am! Obviously, there are still harder things out there to play if that's what you want, but at this point I'd say you've earned a moment to rest on your laurels.

As for me, while I'd really like to join you two up on top of kaizo mountain, I honestly think that my decision to step away from GPW2 was the correct one. I've been having a lot of fun recently playing other/easier hacks, but I still feel like I'm making progress and improving. Stuff like Waterworld and Sweet'n'Sour have been the perfect level of challenge for me, forcing me to learn without being quite as punishing and grindy. I expect I'll be ready for another shot at GPW2 before too long, but whenever I get discouraged I'll take some time off to work on other things. I've been finding myself really missing speedrunning lately, and I could make some pretty easy gains if I ever went back to Quickie 2. I'm also quite enjoying Ako 2 so far, though I spent most of my time this week beating Hark and I've only completed a couple more exits since the stream. I can already tell I'll want to run this one back before long, the levels have really nice flow to them. Maybe some day I'll even complete the original Akogare, just so I can stop feeling like some sort of weird kaizo outcast.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Thanks very much, Mike, but I still feel far away from kaizo mastery -- that 9.5 hour Bowser fight seems like a pretty strong indication of that. I'm still just trying to improve my skills one hack at a time!

I still completely support your decision to step back from GPW2. It'll be there for you when you're ready, and if you're still having fun and learning new stuff with the hacks you're playing now, then you're doing all the right things! You'll get to it in your own time. And whenever that time does come, I have no doubt that you'll join us on this summit pretty soon after.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
So, I've stuck to my plan of taking it easy post-GPW2 and played Nightmare Cafe yesterday, along with the first world of Orcus. Nightmare Cafe was solid -- a couple of the rooms had some annoying tricks, but since they're so self-contained you're generally on to the next one before very long. By and large very fun and breezy, easily cleared in about an hour. Plus you get to jam out to Hot Drinks for a few minutes! I've got the sequels downloaded as well and am looking forward to them.

I finished up Orcus today, which didn't take too long; the whole hack went down in about 3.5 hours over two sittings. It was okay -- not amazing, but it felt good to blast through a bunch of exits in a very short amount of time. A lot of the hack felt very same-y, some setups feel like they get used multiple times. There's also a surprising amount of shell jumps. It looks very nice and the soundtrack is good, but a little more variety would've been appreciated. There were some levels later in the game with some neat chocolate touches*, but mostly it's a vanilla experience. The difficulty spikes up a bit towards the end (which is good) while sections remain around Quickie-length throughout.

I will say the 100% route was kind of odd. There are three secret exits in the game, and they lead to levels that don't unlock or change anything about the game when you beat them. They're also all built around mechanics that are much tougher than the beginner difficulty of the rest of the hack: the first one is a straight up shell level that starts with a double shell jump, and the last one is a short disco shell level. The middle one uses a chocolate mechanic that I think was a callback to the old Gameboy Super Mario Land 2 bubble, but I didn't like it very much at all. Still, the sections are all short enough that nothing overstays its welcome. Maybe they were just meant as bonus challenges. I did appreciate that the secret exits are actually hidden, but still fairly easy to find if you're looking.

Overall I'd give the hack a solid 6.5 out of 10 -- not bad by any means, and I had fun, but I found myself wishing for a little more diversity in the level design. Either way, a pretty good first hack! Difficulty-wise I'd say it's probably around the level of the Quickies or Cute Kaizo World, maybe a little harder because of all the shell jumps. I'd recommend it to new players for sure. Jordan has some cool ideas and I'd like to see what they come up with next.

*Standouts include ghost ropes that disappear after you grab them for a few seconds, and one very cool shell I hadn't seen before where it becomes spikey when you jump on it the first time (or loses the spikes if it started with them) so you have to alternate between regular and spin jumps off the same shell -- sort of like a baby motor skills, but without switching jumps midair.
 
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