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It'sa me, Kaizo Mario!

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Daffoxy made that, right? I saw someone (probably drkrdnk) playing Husky 1 and it looked pretty fun/relatively easy.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Yeah. Husky 1 was pretty breezy, I saw Chambo playing the first few levels of the sequel and it looks to have a reasonable step up in difficulty. I'll probably start it later today.

I've seen a good chunk of the new Saela/LightAligns hack by now and I'm not sure it's for me. A lot of it looks pretty clever, but there are also a lot of bosses and a lot of cursed chocolate stuff (sometimes both of those at the same time). I know both of your tolerances for that kind of thing are higher than mine, so maybe I'll just cheer from the sidelines.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Alright, Husky 2 down. This was a breezy begintermediate hack most of the way through, though the difficulty steps up into low intermediate towards the end. (There's a motor skills level!) But overall it was very solid and I had fun. My biggest gripe is that the color palette in the final level made things kind of hard to read, and that's pretty mild in the grand scheme of things. Clear time was around an hour and 40 minutes, so if anyone was looking for an easier hack to play on stream this is a pretty good candidate.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I wanted something to play off stream, so I fired up a little game you might have heard of called Invictus. I think it's by some guy in New Zealand? Anyway, I was going to write up a big post about the first session of my runback, but I went and read lincoln's post on the same subject and it was almost word for word the same as my experience:
What I ended up doing, though, was following through on my idle threat and starting a fresh play of Invictus. With just over a year in between my first playthrough and today, I can safely say two things: turns out the game actually is pretty tough, but I'm also a much better player (which is a relief). I think I put about three hours in tonight, and I got through the first six levels (five exits + red switch palace). In contrast, my first playthrough took nearly 2.5 hours to get out of Piranha Pipeway. If I can keep up that kind of pace, I'll be pretty happy!

A few random notes/thoughts:
-The first half of Piranha Pipeway still feels very, very tough. Juz comes at you hard right out of the gate with some super tight tricks. It's definitely a "you must be this tall to ride" section, and I didn't find it very fun this time either. The second half was way easier (and more fun).
-I don't think I ever realized how short the second half of Scorched Earth is. Only took a handful of tries to get out of there.
-I wanted to see if I could pull off the Arisendead key jump strat in the first room of One By One, and I actually could! I got it a handful of times (twice in a row, at one point) and it seems like something I could learn to do consistently without too much trouble. It looks super smooth and feels great to pull off, but as a casual player I don't really need to learn a speed strat like that.
-The second half of One By One is also way easier than the first, jeez.
-The red switch palace is a lot shorter than I remembered. In particular, I thought the part with the red blocks rapidly turning on/off was going to be much longer, but it was basically three jumps.
-Sewer Smashing only took something like 15 minutes, the autoscroller took about 10 of those. Get fucked, autoscroller. That jump towards the end when you have to bounce off the falling saw before getting back into the water still sucks.
-It feels pretty awesome to blow through a level that took me three hours to clear the first time..

So yeah, first thought was that the game was harder than I was expecting it to be, having played so much stuff between then and now. Second thought, upon finishing Piranha Pipeway, was "wow, that took a little over ten minutes". Scorched Earth took longer and One By One longer still, but I still came out of a ~3h session at the exact same point where lincoln stopped, at the threshold of Built to Fall. I also learned the keyjump speed strat in the first room of One By One, although I might actually use it for its intended purpose some day. And I also tore through the autoscroller in Sewer Smashing in maybe 20 minutes, where once it took me a solid 3 hours or so. So yeah, pretty gratifying to complete those six levels in about a third the time it took me on my first go.

Overall, my reaction to replaying the game has been a little strange. It's less that I'm having fun and more that I feel like I'm locked in combat with it? Like, I need to prove my mastery over Invictus before I can really start to enjoy the levels again. I really have to give Juz some credit, though - after playing another 30 hacks since Invictus, the design still feels fresh and different when I go back to it. The clock room in One By One still stands out as hugely creative, and there's really not much like it in the other hacks I've played. I heard him lamenting the other day that he can't seem to get any work done on any new levels (in the sense that he couldn't find the motivation), but I hope some day he does. He's in the same position as Barb, though, and I don't envy either of them having to follow up on such genre-defining works.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I love how even in our replays of Invictus, Mike and I continue to basically have the same exact experiences. Although I started having fun with it pretty much as soon as I got out of Piranha Pipeway. Hopefully you'll start enjoying it again too!

I saw someone the other day (I think it was ThirdWall) saying that Invictus was starting to show its age, and I really disagree with that. Granted, I haven't played as many hacks as he has, but Invictus still felt fresh and unique to me when I ran it back. I think it's rightfully earned its place as a rite of passage for all kaizo players. I do hope Juz makes another hack some day, but even if he doesn't he's still made something that was an instant classic upon release and has held up through the intervening years.

I think my next hack might be Tortured Souls, which just came out and is awaiting moderation. I've seen a bit of it and it looks like it's on the upper tier of intermediate, and there are a lot of exits, but the sections are very short. There's some clever chocolate and the level design looks pretty well thought-out. I'm gonna be playing Shredder's Revenge first, but this one's looking solid.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
There is a VOD on my Twitch channel!

What I will say is that I've named the sick-ass boo boss The Washing Machine.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Today I replayed Built to Fall. It was one of my favorite levels the first time I played Invictus, and it still totally rules as far as I'm concerned. In terms of the platforming, it's fast-paced and fun to execute. But the constant crashing and near-Vlambeer-levels of screen shake turn it into something of a setpiece level, where it feels like the castle is coming down around you. Combined with the driving music, it's one of the most memorable kaizo levels I've ever played and it was a blast to revisit it. The main section is a little on the long side, and I don't actually know how you're supposed to deal with the rising thwomp before the boss door, but those are pretty minor knocks. The level took me around 45 minutes to beat this time, although 10 of those were spent on the boss. That's down from a 3-hour initial time, so I don't feel too bad about it. Up next is the super short single-screen level, and then I enter the mid-game gauntlet of Lake Bodum, Cemetery Bloom and Die Tree. Looking forward to (most) of it!

I also went back and totaled my various streams to see how long it took me to any% Let's Give Up - around 18 hours in all, or about 3 per level. I won't consider this one in the books until I get the hundo, though. I also rewatched the GDQ run of the game and was gratified to hear Thirdwall talking about how traumatized he was by some of the later bosses in the game. If you've scarred TW, then you're clearly doing something right.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I saw ThirdWall building some Unintended Behavior-type stuff today, which is maybe for his hack for Kez? It was cool and also very fucked up. There was also an RNG dolphin level, so...yikes. Unfortunately he said he was also thinking about scrapping his sprite stack hack, which is a bummer. The bits of that I'd seen him working on were really clever.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I kind of lost track of my time, but I think I took down Plumber's Nightmare, Claustrophobia and Lake Bodum in around 50 minutes total. The first two took about 10 each, which was especially gratifying for Nightmare, as that level took me a relatively long time on my first play. Lake Bodum was tough, but I chuffed it out in 30 minutes because I am the King of the Waves. Weirdly, almost all of that time was spent on the first half, which was a lot longer than I remembered. The second half, with the fish wall, only wound up taking like 5 minutes to complete!

Next up: Invictus gets serious.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Cemetery Bloom (45 min), Die Tree (30 min), Frostbite Secret (15 min) and Green Switch Palace (10 min) down. The first half of Bloom was surprisingly quick, but then I spent half an hour getting bodied by the second half. The final dismount into the exit pipe killed me like 4 times, it was pretty rough. Knowing about the boo cloud cheese was kind of nice, at least. I also got hung up at the end of Die Tree with the final super koopa, whom I couldn't figure out what to do with for a bit. Wasn't expecting that part to take longer than the first, but in the end it did. Green switch palace wound up being super fun and breezy, and I got the p-switch yump but not the real one.

I should mention, in case anyone is getting worried, that I've actually been having a pretty good time with this runback. The weird feeling of having to defeat the game was only really present in the first session, after which it went away. It's super satisfying to (mostly) tear through these levels, and at the same time I can appreciate more just how challenging this hack is - not to mention how well-made.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
That's still pretty solid progress! I think it took my second playthrough to really appreciate Invictus, I'm glad you're enjoying it too.

So, Tortured Souls. This is a bit of an odd one! I wrapped it up today (not counting an optional alternate path) on my third sitting. As I said before, there are a lot of exits and the setups are super tight, but the sections are also super short. Like, Quickie World-length sometimes, or maybe a little longer. I suspect those very short sections are what's keeping it out of the expert category; it's currently rated as intermediate. There's definitely some creator bias at play here -- levels often start with you having to move or jump immediately -- but for a first hack it's pretty impressive. There were some levels that I really liked, and even though the exit count is high I didn't feel like it repeated its ideas. There are a handful of trolls that I didn't really feel were necessary (mostly of the kaizo block or fish variety), mostly because the sections are so short. In a weird way it makes the trolls feel less impactful when you don't have to do a whole lot to regain your progress. They just kinda feel like they're there because a kaizo hack is "supposed to" have trolls. But we all know I'd rather not be trolled at all, so at least they're not super offensive.

I think RZRider (the hack's creator) shows a very strong understanding of level design already in their first hack, so I'll be curious to see what feedback they take to heart if they make a follow-up. I think they've got the potential to make something great. I personally would like to see fewer bosses and a bit more care put into the aesthetics, but they've got a good sense of flow already.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Couple of hacks I've been looking forward to dropped today! I've seen drkrdnk playest Parahax's new one The Getaway over the past few weeks, and it looked very cool. But I'll get to that one tomorrow, because speaking of drkrdnk, his own hack Ambivalence came out today as well! I played through it this afternoon and had a really good time. It's short -- I cleared it in an hour and a half -- but full of generally satisfying platforming. There's one level that's a bit of a difficulty spike, and a couple of awkward setups in one level, but for his first hack I think drkrdnk did a great job. It was heavily playtested and he's played a ton of hacks too, so it feels very polished. I know he was getting frustrated with the process by the end, but I hope he's proud of what he made.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
That’s awesome! Dr Kerdunk seems like a really nice guy, I'm glad he got his hack out there. I'd like to play it on stream, but I still have 1-2 sessions of Let's Give Up to go, so it might have to wait.

Made some more progress in Invictus last night, but the going was a lot slower. Frostbite main exit wound up taking me a whole hour to complete, then Rise Again was about 45 minutes. I also completed Biohazard and Kamek Woods, but I didn't keep super close track of the time, so let's say 20 for the former and 40 for the latter. I've almost made it to the Big Two! I'm honestly looking forward to replaying Absolute Power, I have so much more experience with motor skills than I did on my first trip through. Kamek is going to suck, but hopefully he won't suck for more than an hour or so this time.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I popped into Drake Redunk's stream to tell him I really enjoyed his hack, and he seemed very genuinely thankful to hear it. While I was there I saw a couple of other people come in to say the same thing. He was just as thankful with every person dropping by to compliment the hack, so that was pretty cool.

I didn't mention it in my last post, but the hack's got a great soundtrack too. I particularly liked the song in the ghost house level, which I hadn't heard before (and impressed me with some sounds I wouldn't expect to hear out of a SNES).

Anyway, great progress in Invictus! If your runback is anything like mine, you're going to be surprised at how much easier Kamek is now. In my runback he took 45 minutes, which isn't great but is also a lot better than the six or seven hours he took the first time.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
EIGHTEEN MINUTES to get through the first two sections of Absolute Power, holy shit that felt good. Literally 8 hours faster than I did it the first time, god damn. Also, Stellar took like half an hour, I wasn't paying much attention. But jesus christ, that ruled.

To put it another way: playing well is the best revenge.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
The Getaway was also a good time! It's only eight exits, but the difficulty is solidly intermediate. Took me just shy of 3 hours to clear it (2h45). My only complaint is that there's a fair amount of die-to-learn in this hack, as some setups felt almost impossible to read without dying to them several times. But for the most part things are fair, section lengths are extremely reasonable. There are some trolls, but outside of one extremely rude kaizo block nothing's too rough. Plus, it's got one of the most cursed Yoshi sprites in SMW to date. Would recommend this one too.

Moving on from there, for no other reason than I saw it sitting in my "Uncleared" folder today, I picked up Shell's Retriever again. I figured with the amount of shell experience I have now it wouldn't be too bad to finish. And I was right, because I cleared five exits in about an hour. That's about the most I can stand at once for shell stuff, it really makes my right thumb hurt. But I've only got two exits left, and I should be able to roll the credits tomorrow. One of them barely even has any shell stuff in it!

I can see why this was (maybe still is?) recommended as the beginner shell hack to play. The levels are pretty short and generally not super input-heavy, and there are some pleasant surprises in there. I still don't think I'm a Shell Person -- it still generally feels like doing the same thing over and over to me -- but as something to play casually while I'm in between hacks I'm having a good enough time.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I think you've convinced me to bump Shells Retriever up my list a bit, I'm always in the mood for a hack that can be finished in under two hours.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I don't know if you need to move it up that far, there are plenty of other quick hacks I've mentioned recently that I had more fun with. Don't get me wrong, I'm having fun with Shell's Retriever too, but if you're not really a big shell person your enjoyment might be capped at a certain point. I'd say it's still worth playing, though maybe at a lower priority.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Well Ambivalence is at the top of the short (hack) list, and I guess this would be under it. Are there any other quickies that I should be playing? The kind of thing that can be cleared in 1-2 sessions?
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Yeah, I'd put Ambivalence and the Getaway at the top of the list (Getaway might be take three sessions). From the other ones I've played recently, I'd say Super Husky World 2, Don't Panic, and Nightmares (this one might also be three sessions) are good short hacks that are worth your while. Tortured Souls was also good and short, but the base difficulty is a lot higher than the others I've mentioned.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I've been watching Kez play bits of that today and it looks like it's full of incredible ideas and I'll never play it. Have a great time!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Oh yeah, I also wrapped up Shell's Retriever today. The last two levels (neither of which counted as exits??) took about 20 minutes total. It was a cute little hack, even if it made my hands hurt. It was kind of interesting coming to this hack with so much more shell experience, I didn't feel like I learned anything new but it was kinda nice to not have to think that hard about anything. That's probably about as much shell hack as I need to play!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Just remember that Anon's stated goal with Hacker's Dreams was to make the single hardest RTA-viable Mario hack ever. You can walk away from this at any time!
 
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