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It'sa me, Kaizo Mario!

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Because that incredible Bowser kill deserves another watch from all of us:

https://clips.twitch.tv/JazzyFrailTapirDatSheffy-joVmrUlryTof9735

Congratulations again, Mike. You've climbed the mountain! And because you said it to Snake and I when we finished the game, I'm gonna say it here again too: you're now a kaizo master. There's no hack you can't handle, the (Super Mario) world is your oyster! For a lot of people, GPW2 is the final boss of kaizo, and you really went on a journey to see it through. Definitely an accomplishment to be proud of.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Thanks a lot, it definitely feels like an accomplishment. Still no idea what comes next, but I’ll probably focus on other games for a while, since my backlog really piled up over two months of just playing GPW. Got a bunch of strategy and card games I want to mess with, plus a half-finished run of FFVII Remake. I might even be tempted to stream some Hollow Knight for a while, see if I can finally get a full 112% clear on a clean save file.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
Sorry, but we can't let things go without mentioning that not only did Mike take part in the latest Romhack Race, but he beat me by like seven minutes? And was in the upper half of the leaderboard? Cause I'm sure as hell going to mention that!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Finished Luminescent today! It's a pretty great hack, though not without some creator bias issues that I've mentioned before. Still a highlight of the year for sure, and I think anyone with the skill level to play it definitely should. There are so many cool levels and setups that they ultimately outweigh the rough spots. I'm glad I picked it up again.

I know Valdio promised the full version of QW.wav before the end of the year, but beyond that I'm not sure if there are any other hacks I'm interested in at the moment. Probably a good time to come up with my top hacks of the year. We've all come so far this year, I'll have to look back at my posting history here and remind myself of what I played.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Sorry, but we can't let things go without mentioning that not only did Mike take part in the latest Romhack Race, but he beat me by like seven minutes? And was in the upper half of the leaderboard? Cause I'm sure as hell going to mention that!
You're too kind! But, like, actually too kind, because I finished 16th out of 30. That doesn't quite put me in the top half of the pack. but I'm pretty happy with the result nonetheless. It was a fun level, but I found racing it to be surprisingly stressful! Next time I probably shouldn't listen to Glitchcat's commentary while playing (and I definitely shouldn't rebroadcast it on my channel by accident again!). Apparently, the second half of the level will be raced in two weeks? I'll try to free up some time to run that one, too. Congrats on your finish, too, Snake!

I know Valdio promised the full version of QW.wav before the end of the year, but beyond that I'm not sure if there are any other hacks I'm interested in at the moment. Probably a good time to come up with my top hacks of the year. We've all come so far this year, I'll have to look back at my posting history here and remind myself of what I played.
Not interested in things.smc? Aside from that, I don't think I have any ideas for you right now. But going back and replaying hacks is always a good idea, IMO! Like you said, we've come so far in the last year that our opinions on stuff might have changed significantly over the last 12 months. I was still struggling my way through world 1 of Invictus when this year started! I'm pretty sure Hark 2 is going to remain my favorite hack of the year, but I'll try to give it a quick runback in the next few weeks just to see where it sits in the post-GPW2 world. And I'd still really like to take a crack at things.smc, Sonic and Luminescent before officially pronouncing myself on my top hacks of 2021.

On a different subect: when I started my stream on Friday to finish GPW2, I was sitting at 49 followers (thanks in large parts to the many raids Snake has sent my way recently). I had really been hoping to get my 50th during the stream, and it seemed like my prayers had been answered when someone showed up, keen to talk about their own recent completion of the hack. Except, it turns out this guy was known to be a transphobe in the community - happily, Snake kicked him to the curb before long. Obviously, transphobes can fuck off (along with nazi punks), but of course this guy rescinded his follow after being banned. No great loss there, but it put me back at 49, just shy of affiliation. However! Today, I looked at Twitch and saw the magic number appear on my account page: 50 followers! Curious to see who the new person was, I loaded up my dashboard to find out that it was none other than Valdio himself! I'll take that over some shitty transphobe any day! I still haven't officially made affiliate, I think because the tracking takes a little while to register new follows, but I'm keen to finally start playing with emotes and channel point rewards.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Valdio saves the day! I don't want to pre-emptively congratulate you if you're not officially an affiliate yet, but I'm looking forward to more emotes.

I'm not sure if I want to play Things, honestly. Some of it looks very cool, but some of it just looks like a hassle. And there's so much of it! I might play it for a bit, we'll see. I've actually been thinking about revisiting Invictus, now that (almost) a year has passed and I've become a significantly better player since clearing it the first time. Dunno if I'll do a full 100% playthrough (or when I'll do it), but it's a thought.

Mike, I would heartily recommend Luminescent to you before the year ends. I think there's a lot in there that you're going to like, especially if you've managed to avoid seeing it so far. It's not that long and (all things considered) pretty fair. I cleared it in four sittings, maybe 8-9 hours total. I also think you'd like New Comfort Zone a lot, Orka knocked it out of the park with that one. Definitely in my top five for the year.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
So yesterday I fired up Luminescent and now I’m 7.5 exits in. Uh, this game fuckin rules? Every single level has had something in it that got me to say “you can DO that?”, which is basically the reason I play kaizo. It’s challenging without being too hard, it has a nice aesthetic and the music selections have been excellent so far. It’s rapidly making its way up my game of the year list, and I don’t just mean kaizo hacks. Don’t be surprised if I come back to this one sooner rather than later…
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I knew you were gonna love it!

I gotta come back here and sort out my top hacks of the year later today.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Of course, why post later when you can post now?

I dug through the past year of this thread to come up with a list, but I wasn't quite prepared for what a journey it was going to be. At the start of 2021, I was halfway through Invictus. I started the year with Lake Bodom and Cemetary Bloom. Mike was a few exits behind me, and Snake was wrapping up Take it Easy World and the original Akogare. And now, here at the end, we've all beaten Grand Poo World 2 and moved onto things we never could've imagined in January. Mike's got a podium speedrun time! Snake's about to be the first non-playtester to beat Toadette's Kaizo Tuesday (if he hasn't already)! I beat Mostly Harmless and can occasionally clear shorter hacks in one sitting. It's been said before, but it feels appropriate to bring it up again one last time before the calendar rolls over: we've all come ridiculously far this year, and I'm proud of us.

Okay, onto my favorite hacks of the year. In chronological order (of my playing) since that's how I reread the thread:

Hark 2 - a fantastic game to play after finishing Invictus, but over time it's proven itself to be a fantastic game overall. Underscores really set a new high bar for himself with this one.
Akogare 2 - I don't remember as many individual levels from this hack as I do from other games on this list, but I know I really enjoyed playing through it. Wouldn't mind a runback of the 1.1 update at some point.
El Dorado - what more needs to be said about this one? Just an incredibly solid game from start to finish, even more impressive that it's the creator's first hack. I really, really hope he makes another one. This is probably my overall pick for favorite hack of 2021. To date, the only hack I've ever immediately run back after beating it the first time.
Kibeth Takes a Walk - outside of a small group of speedrunners, this hack didn't get the attention it deserved from the wider kaizo community. It was great, but it came out right before Hark 2, Riff 2, and Akogare 2, so it got overshadowed. I haven't seen bsolt make anything since, but just like mmBeefStew and El Dorado, I would love to see another hack from him.
Purgatory - this one did get the attention it deserved, and rightfully so. Much like El Dorado, it's a super creative and polished effort from a first-time creator. I know FYRE contributed to a HackJam project recently, so hopefully we'll see more from them soon too.
The New Comfort Zone - another game that I feel didn't quite get the attention it deserved. Maybe it's because Orka had already made a splash this year with Titan Mario (and the original Comfort Zone before that), but this one felt really noteworthy to me. It's not easy for a creator to look back at their past work and mercilessly edit it into shape, yet Orka did an amazing job of distilling the best parts of Comfort Zone into this incredibly polished gem. I enjoyed this one almost as much as El Dorado, which is saying something.
Luminescent - I'm so glad I decided to give this a second try, even though the overall style is different from what I tend to like. Outside of two gimmicks in particular that I really didn't care for, this hack is a real treat. Another unbelievable entry from a first-time creator.

Honorable mentions:
Nightmare Cafe - the series that made Lush_50 a household kaizo name! A bunch of fun and weird snack-sized hacks. Worth playing for anyone who wants a breather in between other hacks.
Super World - just a fun, breezy time from start to finish.
Memory Lane - another under-the-radar hack for most people, this was a quick but very solid vanilla hack.
Memento Mori - if not for a few chocolate gimmicks I really didn't like, this would be on the other list. Generally very fun, very readable levels, felt great to clear sections. Worth a play for everyone.
Super Amethyst Rocks - probably the most joyful hack of 2021.
Boogie Wonderland 2.0 - when it was good, it was great, but I ultimately felt it got bogged down by being too long. I was ready to be done before the hack was over. Loved it for more than half of the hack, but lost steam after that.

Man, writing all of that down really put into perspective how incredible 2021 was for kaizo. I'm constantly amazed by how people find new ways to make a 30-year-old SNES game fresh and exciting. And there were so many other hacks that I didn't even play! I have a feeling that I would've loved Riff 2 if I wasn't so immediately turned off by the slow retry. Maybe I'll try Titan Mario at some point, too.

I've been playing other games for the past couple of weeks, but I think I'm gonna try Darkanine's brand new hack Day in the Life after this.

As for 2022, I really have only two things I'd like to see, and they're the same two things everyone wants to see: Quickie World 3, and Grand Poo World 3. Anything else along the way will be a delightful surprise! If 2022 is anything like 2021 was, it's going to be great. (NB this statement applies to kaizo SMW and only kaizo SMW, as if I needed to clarify.)
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Haven’t had a chance to read your post yet, but I wanted to let you know that Barb is doing his SMW hack award show right now! Production values are really good, too.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Congrats, Snake! That sure was a long day, huh? You can be proud to say you're the first person anywhere to finish the game post release, that's quite an accomplishment! But maybe find something shorter to play for your next hack, yeah?

Lincoln, thanks for the writeup of your year in hacks! I'll definitely second Hark 2, El Dorado, Kibeth, Purgatory and (so far) Luminescent, those are some primo kaizos. I would also add that the Nightmare Café series was one of my favorite kaizo, uh, events this year. It's not that any particular entry in the series was outstanding, but having a steady source of snackable hacks made for a really fun month of August. Obviously, I would add Waterworld to my personal list of best hacks - doubly so after seeing Barb call it out for a few of his award categories today. It's funny, that guy will complain the whole way through a hack, then come back around and talk about how much he enjoyed it. Barb's award show will probably make its way to YouTube eventually, but for now it's available in his Twitch VOD and it's a relatively tight 90 minutes. I really enjoyed seeing Laser's best-of stream last December and I'm glad Barb picked up the torch for 2021. That guy has an outsized amount of clout, for a kaizo streamer, and it was nice to see him use it in such a positive manner.

Anyway, I'll almost certainly come back here with a writeup of my own eventually, but I really need to finish Lumi and play some Sonic before pronouncing myself. And after seeing how much Barb loves it, I'm starting to feel like I need to take a stab at Riff 2, too. Ah, if only there was more time.

Happy New Year's to the Tyrant kaizo crew! May your 2022 be full of frame-perfect tricks.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Congrats on finally making it to Wednesday, Snake!

I'll have to check out Barb's awards when I have the time. I'm back to work on Tuesday but I suspect this week will be light, so I should be able to get to the VOD then.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Alright, first hack of the year is in the books with Day in the Life. Man, this hack was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be! Darkanine must be a hell of a player, because the level designs in this hack show a great understanding of SMW's mechanics and physics. In a few places it gets pretty technical (there's one level that has both the smallest and the biggest backshots I've seen in any hack to date). I'd say a solid 2/3 of it was great, but the other 1/3 was kinda frustrating. At its best, levels were readable and felt sick as hell to play through, even reminding me of ThirdWall's style at times. On the other hand, some of the setups felt inscrutable to me, and I had to refer to the clear video linked in the hack's readme to get through them. There's also a level early on built around steep slopes, which I don't find fun at all. On the flipside of that, this hack featured the most fun mole level I've ever played.

The final two levels each took me about an hour, but that's the longest I had to grind. Most levels were probably around the 20-30 minute range. At 10 exits, it felt like the exact right length. Not a bad way to start off the year!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Coming back with a tangentially related post, but I wanted to mention that I'm watching Orka's stream and the one and only Nintendesi just used Snake's H emote. First time I've seen it used in the wild by someone other than us, thought you guys might be as tickled by that as I was.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I've made some more Luminescent progress, I'm at 13 exits plus the CMYK palace. I actually updated my ROM from 1.01 to 1.02 mid-game because the latter added the ability to save goal tape stars between sessions. Anyway, the hack is still extremely cool, but I've hit two levels now where the ASM was janky enough to be pretty frustrating. The level where the enemies stick to the background had some very inconsistent tricks (especially that blue koopa drop in the second half), but the mushroom container level is even worse IMO. I was killed dozens of times when the containers landed on Mario, and at one point they stopped working entirely for like a dozen lives. I would eat one with Yoshi, but when I spit it out it would stick to the background while not actually being solid. Made that last part pretty hard! Unfortunately, that's the one level so far where I managed to miss a gamer coin, so I'm going to have to go back and replay it. On the bright side, I just completed the skytree level and it was super intense. Next up is "always flying all the time", which should be...interesting. Anyway, I still think it's a super impressive hack and I wouldn't be surprised to find myself speedrunning it later.

Quick question, do the various pipes in CMYK all lead to the same switch? I noped out of the p-switch jump room pretty quickly and I really hope I don't need to go back and actually finish it for some reason. It seems like the switches might have been tweaked for easier yumps, but I didn't know the trick to it and I couldn't make any progress. I wound up playing through the spiny room, which was as cool and challenging as I was expecting it to be. Man, what a great hack.

Darkanine must be a hell of a player, because the level designs in this hack show a great understanding of SMW's mechanics and physics.
I know Darkanine has spent time speedrunning Storks, so yeah, I think he's pretty dang good.

Coming back with a tangentially related post, but I wanted to mention that I'm watching Orka's stream and the one and only Nintendesi just used Snake's H emote. First time I've seen it used in the wild by someone other than us, thought you guys might be as tickled by that as I was.
That rules! It's a great emote, I can see why it's catching on. I dropped one into UghRochester's chat a while back and he was quite taken with it.

I am excited to have actual proper emotes too, but it'll still be a while before my artist is available. =\
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Quick question, do the various pipes in CMYK all lead to the same switch? I noped out of the p-switch jump room pretty quickly and I really hope I don't need to go back and actually finish it for some reason. It seems like the switches might have been tweaked for easier yumps, but I didn't know the trick to it and I couldn't make any progress.
No, the pipes all lead to individual switches. As for the P-switch jumps, you need to change your approach: they're Mario Maker-style jumps, not yumps. You've got a brief window after you hit the switch where you can jump off it again. Try jumping after you see the P-switch flatten out, that should give you a better idea of how much time you have.

For what it's worth, the cape level ended up being easier than I expected (barring one jump in particular). It's not as input-heavy as it looks!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
So does that mean you have to collect 100 stars multiple times to get all the switches? I didn't see any way to get back into the palace after clearing it, including using the L/R level select.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
A new Jump Team hack just released! It's 28 levels of kaizo expert, entitled Send Your Regrets to the Czar. Not sure I'll play this one any time soon, but it made ThirdWall really happy and that's enough for me.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I'm watching Lungfish play one of Cozyduck's levels in it right now, and this is something else. Definitely a hack ThirdWall would be into.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Lumi any% is complete! I’ll admit that there were a few spots where all the custom stuff got a little irritating, either because it was janky or because the readability was too poor. But overall, I think it’s an exceptionally creative hack, and super fun for the most part. I’m going to go for the full clear, since I’ve already pressed two of the switches and I’m only missing a single gamer coin (in my least-favourite level, sigh). Looking forward to playing this one again in the future!

Part of me feels obligated to play Sonic next, but I’m not sure it’s actually going to be my cup of tea. I’ll probably save it for the stream, because why suffer alone? So I might have time to fire up another kaizo before then, as I still have 1-2 more sessions of Hollow Knight left to go. Could it finally be time to get Comfortable?
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Yeah, that's where I landed on Luminescent as well. It goes overboard sometimes, but the rest of it is good enough that it's still a must-play.

I can't recommend New Comfort Zone enough! Maybe it's just that I felt validated after quitting the original version twice, but the New version was super fun and felt great to play. Loved it.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I just played through 9 exits in New Comfy and boy are my arms (thumbs) tired! It’s been quite good so far, which you can tell from the fact that I played about three hours of it today. Orka’s level design seems to frequently involve keeping you in constant motion, like it or not, usually without touching the ground very often. It’s challenging and dense, but the sections are short enough that most of them haven’t taken too long to finish. I still hate activating thrown p-switches though.

On another note, congrats to Snake for cleaning my clock in the second half of Valdio’s Romhack Races series. That level was an utter shitshow for me, I spent 20 minutes on the first section along because I couldn’t figure out what to do. Then I got to the reznor boss at the end and spent another 15 or so there, dying between the last kill and the whistle no fewer than four times. It was chaos but, I couldn’t stop laughing by the end.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Oh shit, I forgot Valdio was doing another race level! Looks like there's no VOD for it yet...the last one was for Orka's level before that. Which I'll also need to watch!

Really glad you're enjoying New Comfort Zone so far. Such a good hack.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
The VOD for Outer System is there, it just has the wrong name. There are two videos labelled with last week's race name, but the one from two days ago is the Valdio level.

Just for fun, I watched a bit of MightMouse's GDQ run of the original Comfort Zone. Level sections were a whole lot longer in that one! I think the decision to tighten everything up was a good one, because there isn't a wasted screen in New Comfy. If anything, it reminds me of El Dorado - extremely efficient use of space, relatively dense platforming, short levels.

EDIT: Oh wow, the ghost forest used to be an auto-scroller and it was waaaaay longer. Very happy to be playing this version of the game now.
 
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lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I appreciate the heads up about the misnamed VOD, I'll go back and check it out.

Isn't the ghost forest still an autoscroller?
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Oh yeah, I guess it is. But it's much shorter and relatively easy in its new form, so it didn't even register as one!

In retrospect, this is perhaps the highest compliment I could pay to an autoscroller.
 
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MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Yoooo, awesome work, Snake! Not like there was ever any doubt on our part that you'd make progress.

As for me, I'm still enjoying New Comfy quite a bit, but it got a lot harder around the halfway point! The block snake level was super tight and probably wound up taking me an hour to complete, and now I'm on the fire flower level. Not only are the controls hard to wrap my head around, but I've made it as far as the Chuck and it looks like I'm going to have to do some tricky maneuvers to get through the next section. Excellent hack overall, the editing work has concentrated it so that it's almost 100% good stuff.

In other news:

So now I have to decide whether my next hack will be the one (allegedly) made by the creator of Celeste, or the Celeste-themed one that actually uses some of its mechanics.
 
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