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It'sa me, Kaizo Mario!

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Ooh, I love Slay the Spire. I finally started learning the fourth character and I’ve done a few runs with them, but my best ended at Donu and Deca when I just couldn’t manage to draw any block cards for a turn or two. I had even invested in churn for my deck, but somehow it didn’t work out for me.

Uh, and to keep this kaizo-related…galoombas, am I right? Like, what’s their deal?
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Excuse ME sir they never called them galoombas until Super Mario 3D World came out, therefore in SMW they are goombas.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
4 exits down in Let's Give Up! I'm surprising myself at how much of this I'm grasping as quickly as I am. Also, the game continues to be stellar.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
That's awesome! Crush that cape.

After watching Lungfish play through Purgatory on Friday, I decided that was going to be my next hack. Seems like pretty much all of the streamers have latched onto it too! I'm five exits in and it's mostly been very fun. I only say "mostly" because it's super creative and there are a ton of neat setups and ideas, but sometimes you can tell that it's FYRE150's first hack. Even this early on, the difficulty can be uneven -- some sections have taken 45 minutes, while later ones only take 10 -- and sometimes it kind of feels like they decided to put every single idea they had into the game. That's not always a bad thing, because sometimes it leads to cool things I've never seen before. The first switch palace uses the "you can only swim once" mechanic from Bunbun/Casio, but later on in the level it gets combined with item swimming in a neat way. On the other hand, that level is also three sections long. There are unique things in every section, but I can't help feeling like it could've been edited a little more tightly.

Early criticisms aside, I really do think it's a very good hack so far. It was very heavily playtested, and it shows (in the best possible way). It's challenging, but it's a good challenge. Difficulty level is maybe somewhere around El Dorado or Akogare 2?* Everything has been very fair, and your deaths feel legitimately due to your own play rather than jank or trolls. Every level so far has leaned hard into its themes, which means there's a lot of cool riffing on any given concept. The amount of thought FYRE put into the design is really apparent; even though I'm only five exits in, I'm already seeing unique setups that feel really fresh. I also want to give a special mention to the overworld, which does the Waterworld trick of showing you a little preview of every level. It was delightful in that hack, and it's still delightful in this one. I think BabaYegha was one of the playtesters, and I wouldn't be surprised if he worked on the overworld as well.

Long story short, I'm excited to play more, which is exactly what you want out of any game.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
That sounds pretty neat! The Roger Gang collab hack also has a very similar overworld, with cute tiny versions of the enemies that you’ll be facing in each level. If that’s the 2021 trend for world maps, I’ll take it! I do think it’s funny that you lump Ako 2 and El Dorado together as having similar difficulty, because from what I’ve played so far, I’d say Ako is noticeably easier. But I’m only about halfway through it, so maybe the hardest stuff is yet to come. I will say that, for as good as Ako 2 is, I really don’t think hacks need to be this long - 20 exits should be enough for just about anyone IMO.

Life is conspiring to keep me away from kaizo these days. We’re seeing more people now that vaccination rates are up, and there are good distractions (my PS5 arrived!) and bad (my car was stolen!) that are eating into my free time. I’m still pretty motivated to finish Ako 2, and I think I’ve almost finished derusting Hark 2 and might be able to improve my time soon. Once those are out of the way, I don’t have any concrete plans, but Mad With Kaizo Power and a return to GPW2 are both on my mind.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Oh no, I hope you're able to get your car back! That's some bullshit.

As far as difficulty goes, I was actually having some trouble figuring out how to rank this one. I'm starting to understand why streamers have such a hard time rating things, the more you play the more you just kinda go "I dunno, it's a kaizo hack". It's also tougher to remember specifics!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Oh yeah, love me some DannyB. Apparently he just had some sort of major surgery, possibly spine-related? Hope he has a good recovery.

Thanks for hanging out last night, guys, it was goofy and fun and helped my mood a lot. I have a feeling this car issue won’t be sorted out for at least another week, so there may be more therapy streams in the future!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
We can’t always do Hot Drinks, that would be stealing kezcade’s bit! I refuse to be a party to bit theft.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
This looks...concerning.

Hoping to actually make some headway on my Hark 2 time tonight. I've got a good feeling about it!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I FIGURED OUT THE P-SWITCH JUMP!! I figured I must be approaching it wrong somehow, since the good players don't mess it up all the time, and I finally realized what my problem was. I was so focused on dropping Y, to avoid picking up the switch, that I wasn't doing a good job of holding B over the arc of my jump. By consciously focusing on NOT letting go of B, I maintain my height and I can nail the jump almost every time! It doesn't make the level a cakewalk, since the second half remains pretty tough and I haven't had any real revelations on that front. But if I can get the P-switch jump to be consistent, it'll probably save me an average of like 2 minutes every run. Between that and the improved Back and Forth strats, I think I have the potential to bring my time down to the 26-minute range, or maybe even further. Of course, practicing is also really important, so I ran Sidetree a good 6-7 times just now and I'll make sure to play it 2-3 more times as part of my warmup process.

Look out TCKLZ, you're about to get bopped.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Nice breakthrough! Yeah, it's basically the same as a shell jump in that you never want to let go of B. In fact, whenever I'm consistently fucking up a shell jump, I make a conscious point to hold B and that gets me past it as well.

Kaizo: where you never want to let go of buttons, until the very specific times when you do.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I finally got a new PB in Hark 2 and it’s a doozy: 25:05, down from 28:39. Some of that is my improved strategies in Back and Forth, and some is from being more consistent in Sidetree (which I one-shot!), but mostly it’s just from playing the game a whole bunch. There are still plenty of little mistakes in the run that could be cleaned up, but for once there weren’t any disasters…except for Cold Blood. For some reason, I’ve gotten worse at the poison mushroom level, and I wasted a good two minutes there. So I’ll need to practice that level a bit, and I should probably spend at least another day or two running the game to see what shakes out. If I can get everything to align in a single run, I could manage a 24 or maybe a 23. Heck, I could even bop slop_core, which would be pretty sick. Or I could do none of those things and stay where I am for a while, since that was a pretty good run! But I played it while we recorded a Wednesday stream (the guys were playing Wildermyth), so I’d reeeeeeally like to have another PB with clean audio before I submit my new time…
 
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lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Great job Mike, that's a huge improvement!

I've been kaizoing intermittently, but I wrapped up Purgatory tonight. Outside of a couple of spots/sections I really didn't enjoy, it was a pretty great hack! So many fresh ideas. Even Barb loved it! Would definitely recommend to both of you. Biggest caveat would be that the difficulty curve is a bit uneven -- best example I can give is that the first section of the ice level took me 40 minutes to clear, but the second half only took 5. YMMV, but that's how it felt to me.

Things I got better at playing this hack: disco shells, item swimming, steep slopes with ice physics.

Things I hope to never have to do again in any hack: steep slopes with ice physics.

Not sure what I'll play next. I saw that Lush_50 released not one, not two, but three new Nightmare Cafes, so I might take play another of those as a snack break. I'm also pretty interested in A Plumber for All Seasons, which is a standard hack, but it's gotten rave reviews all around. It's got a ton of custom graphics and music, and apparently it was nine years in the making. I just saw that it uses SA-1 though, so I'd have to play it on emulator. That's not a dealbreaker, I've just gotten pretty used to playing stuff on my console over the past couple of months.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Man, Lush is on a roll, he’s really found an interesting way to make his mark on the community this year. Thanks for the Purgatory rec, it definitely sounds like it’s worth a look.

For my part, when I’m not practicing Hark 2, I’m still chipping away at Akogare 2. With 20 exits down, I’m finding myself thinking back on Snake’s comments from when it released. The platforming is uniformly smooth and well-designed, but it’s almost too consistent. There aren’t a lot of weird sections that make you stop and think, for the most part it’s just buttery-smooth run and jump…but in the end I think that’s a little to its detriment. I’d be hard pressed to describe any of the levels I’ve completed so far, because they’re all a little samey in execution (despite the diverse visuals, which are generally excellent). I think my favorite kaizo hacks tend to have a degree of weirdness and unpredictably to them, which I’m not getting from Ako 2. It also has WAY too many levels. So I guess it’s less than the sum of its parts, as dozens of well-made kaizo levels aren’t really building into anything greater. We’ll see how I feel about it as I enter the endgame - levels have definitely started taking me longer recently, and I’m sure Mega has a few tricks saved up for the finale.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
Well, I've been trying to get back into kaizo more, so I beat Nightmare cafe III, which is still great. Also, I'm 7 exits into Crab Army, and I continue to be impressed. It's got some extremely galaxy brained setups, but once you figure it out, it's cool as hell. I'm currently in a level featuring the candle flames from Super Mario Bros. 3 with a tower of sprites stacked on top of them. The way they work is that they only move when you're not looking at them. One past a midway is faster than Mario can run, so what you have to do is jump across a gap, then face the opposite direction without pressing it too much so that you're facing the flame while momentum carries you in the opposite direction. It's surprisingly technical. And the creativity is still off the charts.

Also, A Plumber For All Seasons is great, and you should play it. I happily 100%'d it and it's a gorgeous and chill time.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I watched Laser play through the last chunk of PfaS, it looks beautiful. It’s like if Nintendo had decided to make another Mario game at the tail end of the Super Nintendo’s lifespan. The only weird thing is the standard Mario sprite, which doesn’t really jive with all the remade enemies. I know there are seasonal costumes you can wear with new graphics, but I think you can only wear them if you have 99 lives in reserve? Anyway, it’s a beautiful game.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I'm currently in a level featuring the candle flames from Super Mario Bros. 3 with a tower of sprites stacked on top of them.
I was watching GlitchCat moderate this last night, and he was also at the same level. The boss at the end seems...awful? Let's go with awful. I wish you luck!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Played Nightmare Cafe VI yesterday, somehow these are still fun and interesting! This one had a particular emphasis on key-based tricks that I can't say I loved, but nothing like the disco shell room from Nightmare Cafe III. There's one room very early on where you basically have to throw a key straight up and jump on it to enter a door in midair that felt very trial-and-error to me, but at least you can just keep trying it until you succeed (unless you accidentally throw the key offscreen). There's also one room where you can get softlocked, but since you can start-select out without losing progress it's not a huge deal.

I might tackle Mad with Kaizo Power next since the rooms I enjoy most tend to be the platform-y ones. Every time I load up my SD card it's been staring me in the face! I think the time has come.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Man, I’ve still got 8 exits left in Ako 2, but I’m tempted by Mad as well…

Did you guys see that Lush_50 just dropped another hack?? What the heck is even going on with that guy. It’s a hybrid standard hard/easy kaizo hack called Mario Story, and it remixes stuff from Sweet’n’Sour. I didn’t love my time with SnS, so I don’t expect I’ll pick this hack up any time soon, if you’ve gotta respect the hustle.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Finish Ako 2 already! There's a lot of good stuff closing out that game.

If turning Sweet 'n Sour into a hybrid standard/kaizo hack means taking a lot of the extra shell stuff out (which I suspect it might), then it could be worth a look, but it's not a high priority for me. I've really enjoyed my time with the Nightmare Cafe series, but I kinda have a feeling that I like Bsolt's level design more.

Also, this is the second Sweet 'n Sour remix Lush has done, the first being Ninji Story. Which was already an easier version! While there's something interesting about making a stepped difficulty progression through three versions of the same hack, I do kinda wonder why he's spent so much time on it. Even so, dude is a machine.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Finish Ako 2 already! There's a lot of good stuff closing out that game.
I’m trying but it’s so looooooong

Seriously, though, I can feel it in my bones: I’m going to #BopTheSlop in Hark 2. So until that’s done, the lion’s share of my kaizo time is going to be spent on that. I doubt I’ll push any farther down the leaderboard after that, though, because this is already testing my (current) limits as a kaizo player. Although it sure would be nice to eventually bop Gunderscore himself…
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
The real question is, will Slop ban you or make you a mod when you beat his time?

I did start Mad with Kaizo Power tonight, and it's really tough! I guess I was spoiled by the Nightmare Cafes, but these rooms are no joke. I played through the first two levels tonight (each one is divided into five screens) and it took somewhere between 60-90 minutes (I wasn't keeping track). It feels very good to progress through each one, and since they're single screens it's hard to get too frustrated. Everything has been very well-designed so far, and while I still don't love precision as a design philosophy, I can already tell this one is going to make me a better player.
 
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