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It'sa me, Kaizo Mario!

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
As expected, I wrapped up Ides of March this evening. Last 8 exits took a bit less than an hour, about 50 minutes, so my total play time was about 2:10-2:15. I liked this one! Ultimately I feel like Snake's warning about the trolls may have been overstated, I probably wouldn't have given it too much thought otherwise. It might be that the sections are so short, or that I played Super Flash World last week where the trolls were a bit meaner, but ultimately I wasn't really bothered. What was left is 20 bite-sized exits of satisfying platforming. I'll gladly second Snake's recommendation. I'll even go so far as to say I hope Shao's next project isn't another shell hack, because I'm not touching Baron of Shell but I want to play more levels from him.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
Speaking of shells, yesterday I started Shellax, a 7 exit shell hack from the maker of Memory Lane. I'd heard it was on the easier side of shell hacks, and shovda listed it as "easy" on her spreadsheet, so I gave it a spin. The first two levels took me an hour each, and the third took me two hours. Shell stuff is no joke. It's a completely different skillset. Still gonna see this though, but it's a humbling experience, to say the least.

I'm very glad I didn't immediately try Baron of Shell.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Ha ha I know what you mean, I spent a good two hours on the shell level in Roger Gang and I don't think it was a particularly hard one. Learning new stuff is tricky! I also feel like Baron is a pretty terrifying prospect, although it looks cool enough that I won't rule playing it out some day in the future. I'll probably need to play a good 5-6 shell hacks of escalating difficulty before it will seem remotely feasible, though.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
Yeah, I'm thinking of trying stuff like Shell's Redeemer and Team Shell Hack in the near future for that reason, maybe Intershellar. lungfish also suggested a level in Dram 2 for this purpose, so there's options.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Well, I'm not playing any shell hacks, I started O'Ghim! today. I still have no idea how to pronounce that, but it's going alright. I played through five exits in an hour. Microwave_brother's got a very idiosyncratic style and you really have to think about your movement constantly. So far there's been one particularly unkind end-of-level troll, which kinda sucks in a hack where there aren't any midways, but there've been some cool ideas and setups along the way. I'm interested to see where else this goes.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I wanted to play something last night, so I ran through the first 5 exits in Orcus and…meh? It struck me as very straightforward, without much to distinguish it from other hacks. Kind of like a less-polished Ako 2, with a lot of straight-line, left-to-right levels. I don’t want to be too mean to someone’s pet project, but I’m not sure this is one for me.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Yeah, that's about how all of Jordan's levels are. I'll tell you now that the rest of the hack doesn't really shake things up much, in case that helps you decide whether or not to spend more time on it.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
That, combined with the sheer number of exits, pretty much seals the deal. If it was like a 12-exiter I'd probably just plough through it, but it's twice as long as that. I dunno, it's not impossible that I'll pick it up again some day when I just want to play something easy. Heck, part of me still thinks I'll finish Sweet'n'Sour some day, and that hack is way harder.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
You know, I actually played through another few exits of Sweet 'n Sour when I was between hacks a week or two ago. I was having an okay time until I ran into a particularly mean-spirited troll at the end of a level with no checkpoints and decided I was correct in putting it down the first time.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
I cleared two more exits in Shellax today, and I feel like I'm getting slightly better at shell levels. Gotta keep putting in the reps! Also, I beat NH World, a Beginner 6 exit New Hampshire-themed kaizo, in one sitting. It's a gimmick hack basically, with each level having some unusual gameplay wrinkle. Exit 1: If baby Yoshi eats, he disappears. Exit 2: Motor Skills. Exit 3: A special shell that you can just stand on and ride while preventing any sprites from touching brown death blocks. Exit 4: A Dark Souls-esque dodge roll that give you iframes. Exit 5: Motor Skills and Wall Jumps. Exit 6: Shell Level. I can't really recommend this one, as I didn't have the best time with it. It uses a lot of custom blocks that mean different things than they commonly mean - like THREE DIFFERENT KINDS OF DEATH BLOCKS THAT ALL DO DIFFERENT THINGS BUT HAVE THE SAME DESIGN - and it could use better indicators and less blind jumps. It was neat, but I didn't get on with it.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I don’t approve of this message but I DO think the way it’s delivered is hilarious:

Okay, this rules. I gotta hand it to Laser, he's really upped his game lately.

THREE DIFFERENT KINDS OF DEATH BLOCKS THAT ALL DO DIFFERENT THINGS BUT HAVE THE SAME DESIGN
ugh no bad stop why

I'm 11 exits into O'Ghim now and the difficulty has stepped up a bit. The level design has gotten cooler at the same time, though, so it's a fair trade. I will say that this hack is built with a very old-school kaizo mindset -- there's some weird "but wait, one more thing!"-type room at the end of nearly every level, and it's just got no mercy (again, no checkpoints). While I'm enjoying the way it achieves its goal of wanting you to really consider how you move Mario, those extra rooms don't add anything to the experience for me. I still like the hack, but I'd like it more if these rooms were either fewer and farther between or just not there at all.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
So I took part in tonight's RHR, which was a 6-star shell level by shaoshao. Things felt really grim as I spent 1:40 on the first section, but I managed to clutch the last in 20, barely getting sub-2 hours. Felt really good about that, then I saw the leaderboard. Oh well, at least I wasn't last.

Next week's creator is orka, so the next week is going to be a New Comfy and Titan-filled week. Onward and upward.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
You finished the level! Not being last is just a bonus. Will this be your first time playing anything by orka? You’re in for a treat, New Comfy is really good.

Okay, this rules. I gotta hand it to Laser, he's really upped his game lately.
I know Laser’s whole thing is based on pretty juvenile humour, but I legitimately think he’s a super-talented entertainer. And as time goes by, he uses less and less questionable language, which is nice to see. He’s got a great creative streak, as evidenced by stuff like this and his weekend news segments, which he puts a ton of work into.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Next week's creator is orka, so the next week is going to be a New Comfy and Titan-filled week. Onward and upward.
Yes! These are both such fantastic hacks. New Comfy occupies a similar space to El Dorado for me, and Titan is basically Orka Unleashed. Very hard, but it feels great to make progress through it. Can't wait to see the new race level, his last one was a doozy.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
O'Ghim is done. There's a ton of cool stuff in this hack, but (exclusively my opinion here) it really squanders a ton of the goodwill it built up in the last two levels, especially the last one. The penultimate level has some incredibly tight and weird tricks, including a setup towards the end where you're required to do the "run across note blocks" trick. That one took about half an hour, which for this hack was long, but the final level took somewhere around an hour and a half. It's an autoscroller that starts slow and ends up medium-fast, but it's full of setups that will just not work if you happened to do some other thing three jumps ago too fast or too slow. Like, it's an autoscroller! The setups should work just by dint of placement. There's also some tricky Thwomp jumps at the end, and an incredibly precise spring jump before you're allowed to leave. Woof.

Well, outside of those two levels, overall I had a pretty good time with this hack. Total playtime was somewhere around 6 hours. It's certainly unique and memorable, and if you go into it knowing that the last two exits are rough they're probably less of a nasty surprise. Most other levels took 10-15 minutes. I'm not in a hurry to run it back, but it was a good enough time.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
Shellax is beaten, and I don't so much have an opinion on the hack so much as I have the realization about how far I still have to go in unfamiliar corners of kaizo skills. Shell hacks are still a struggle for me, and I'm pretty sure I let my cape skills atrophy as well. I need to work harder and diversify so I can one day be one of the best.

Tangentially related, but it counts since there's chucks:New_card.gif
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
They're even better animated! Really enjoying Checkpoint Chuck putting in the reps.

I think my next hack is going to be The Power Beneath. I don't know too much about it, but I caught a minute of Valdio streaming it the other day (in preparation for a race?) and he said he really liked it, so that's good enough for me. Beyond that, I actually looked through all the kaizo hacks on SMW Central today (it doesn't take as long as you'd think!) and I'm not sure if there's anything else I'm interested in right now. That's kind of a weird realization! Next month will be my second anniversary playing kaizo, and up until now there's always been this sort of endless well of hacks to draw from. I know there are plenty of hacks I could play, but nothing's really speaking to me.

On the other hand, Mithrillionaire's new hack is supposed to come out at some point this week, and I'm definitely gonna play that. It'll probably be a bit of a grind but I'm ready.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Snake, those emotes look great! Can’t wait to spam animated checkpoint pull-ups in every chat I’m in.

Lincoln, you mentioned going back and playing some of the old race levels, maybe now would be the time? There are one or two compilations of the older levels out there, and the rest are on the RHR site as individual bps files. I will admit I’m also curious to see Mithrillionaire’s hack, the cape level looks extremely cool.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I finished up Memory Lane this morning, and while it was very well-made, I can't say I enjoyed it all that much. I think Boomer Kaizo doesn't appeal to me, since a large part of what I love about ROMhacks is the ways that they stretch games and expand on the possibilities they contain. Vanilla level design just feels boring to me, despite the fact that I've played way fewer old-school kaizos than new-school ones (which certainly have their share of modern tropes!).

Anyway, after completing Memory Lane I still had a half-hour to play, so I fired up...Korosu Mario World. Mostly I was just curious to see what I would think of it now that I had a lot more kaizo experience, since the only time I tried it was fairly early in my journey. It's definitely a boomer hack, and it's a bit harder than I was expecting, given that it's thrown around as an "approachable" kaizo. I think the vanilla style, which typically has single obstacles that a) require your complete attention to get through and b) don't really chain together, just requires a different mindset than modern, flowy kaizo levels. And much like Snake with shells, it's a specific skillset that I haven't really cultivated - not that I'm in a big hurry to do so. I still remember getting completely bodied by Heraga's vanilla race level a few months back, it was an extremely rough experience. Anyway, I got through 2 exits (out of 17) and I don't know if I'll play any more, but it was fine. You know, in a very old-feeling kind of way.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Vanilla level design just feels boring to me
I would love to see if your opinion on this changes after finishing Mostly Harmless.

I did start up The Power Beneath today, I'm 12 exits in (out of 20) in about 2.5 hours. There've been some very cool, very fun levels so far, but there's also been a lot of blind movement and setups that are really hard to read at times. It's also got instant retry on top of that, so you can't even stop for a second to look at things and figure out what you did wrong. And a water level with a chocolate gimmick ("currents" that carry you in a given direction and only let you swim up or down) that was really no fun, but it was blessedly short.

I'm having a good time with the hack overall though! It's been pretty creative and very lightly Morselian at times (although I may just think that because it uses the yellow Morsel switch blocks). One thing I appreciate is that the creator Nint often makes you go through multiple areas of the screen in the same setup - "using every part of the kaizo", as Mike likes to say. Also, if you liked cursed Yoshi mechanics, there's a level that's got you covered. I'm not sure if I'll get to play tomorrow due to some family obligations, but I should be able to wrap this up the next time I sit down with it.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I would love to see if your opinion on this changes after finishing Mostly Harmless.
Maybe vanilla isn’t quite the word I’m looking for, because nothing about Mostly Harmless has felt dated or slow to me. It’s the extremely old-school design style that puts me off, combined with use of vanilla assets in their original form. Mostly Harmless has lots of palette changes and looks quite nice, as opposed to being built entirely out of cement block, grass and cave tiles the way Memory Lane and Korosu are.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Well, The Power Beneath had more exits than I thought it did (22), and combined with a slight difficulty spike it ended up taking two more sittings, but I finished it up today. In the end I really liked this hack! The back half had some really cool levels and a lot of creativity. I also learned something new about wigglers! I don't think this hack got a lot of attention when it came out, but I think it's definitely worth a look. Total playtime was just shy of 4 hours, would recommend to you both. Just a fun, solid intermediate hack. I liked it enough that I'm going to check out the creator's previous hack, Misty Out There, which I know nothing about...

...but first, I'm gonna play Mithrillionaire's new jam, Kaizo Crisis. It came out yesterday and was quickly approved. I spent less than an hour finishing The Power Beneath today and still wanted more, so I fired it up next. And from the first jump, I was already having a great time. I only had time to clear the first exit, but so far the hack is a total banger. From that level (and what I've seen of the others), it earns its expert rating because while the setups are very readable and it's never really confusing what you have to do, the actual amount of time you have to do it is always very limited. Setups aren't necessarily tight, but you have to execute them very quickly. It seems like any time you hit the ground, you have to jump again immediately. It's not a bad thing, just the style of the hack. The first level took me about 45 minutes and I loved the entire time. I'm really looking forward to the rest of them! I don't think you can save midways, though, so depending on how much harder it gets it might be a "one level per day" game. But there are only five of them, so even at that pace it won't take too long.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Ooh, Mithrillionaire’s hack sounds good. I’m basically out of the kaizo game for three weeks, so it’ll have to wait until my vacation is over, though.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Man, Kaizo Crisis. This hack is the real deal. The first two levels are both absolute joys to play -- so many setups are sick as hell, and you feel great moving through them. I never got frustrated in these levels. The third level is also great, but it didn't quite feel as magical as the first two for me. Super cleverly designed, though.

The cape level is where I did get frustrated. Not just because it was hard -- I'm sorry, Mike, but there are some spots where I'm pretty sure you're required to claw grip -- but because there were multiple setups where sometimes I just wouldn't get P-speed for some reason and I could not figure out why. Knowing what you need to do and being unable to do it for no discernable reason is frustrating. It's still a cool level, but sometimes it felt tougher than it needed to be because I couldn't consistently get the right speed. Maybe it was just a me problem.

Anyway, clear times for the curious:
Level 2 - an hour and 10 minutes, because I fell into the classic kaizo trap of doing something wrong the first time and spending too much time trying to replicate that
Level 3 - 45 minutes
Level 4 (cape) - an hour and 40 minutes, mostly in the first section

One level left! It'll have to wait until tomorrow, the cape level took all my kaizo energy for the day. But I'm still loving the hack and looking forward to finishing it out. And at some point after this I have to play Orka's race level from last night, because it looked sweet. Also hard as hell, but sweet nonetheless.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
The Kaizo Crisis has been averted! Or at least dealt with in some capacity, I guess. I wrapped up the last level today without too much struggle. It took an hour and 20 minutes, spent almost entirely in the second half. The first half only took 10 minutes. Anyway, like I've been saying since Friday, fantastic hack, highly recommended. Mithrillionaire should be proud. Either way, it was my 90th hack cleared! (yes I know I counted the Baby Kaizo World special world as a separate clear, shhh)

I still want to play Misty Out There and Orka's race level, but there's a pleasant-looking beginner hack that came out today that I might run through first just as a palate cleanser. Or maybe I'll just jump into Misty Out There, I've seen the first few levels and it looks fairly similar difficulty-wise to The Power Beneath. I also kind want to play Baby Kaizo World 2, but I might hold that one until I feel like blasting through a ton of easy levels in one go.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I saw Amethyst playing the beginner hack I was thinking about today, and it looked...not very good, so I skipped it and went straight for Misty Out There. I'm 9 exits deep (of 15) in about an hour and a half. It's a bit uneven, yet feels mostly positive so far. You can see that this was an earlier hack from Nint in some spots (setups that are really hard to read), but there are also plenty sections of fun platforming that flow really nicely. Unfortunately, just like in The Power Beneath, there's also one water level that's bafflingly anti-fun. It's not even pressurized water -- you can't jump or swim at all. Thankfully it's also pretty short.

Assuming no major difficulty spikes, I should wrap this one up tomorrow.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Misty Out There complete. At the end of the day, I'm not sure where to land on this one. Like I mentioned yesterday, there are some cool levels, but overall it feels very unpolished and I think the penultimate level is actively bad. Not only does it have inconsistent and hard to read setups, but it has a big section in the middle requiring you to juggle some Mechakoopas where it's extremely possible to despawn one of the koopas you need unless you happen to do one specific jump exactly the way the creator intended.

I'm complaining a little because I found that section needlessly frustrating, but I don't think it's a bad hack. I genuinely liked the vast majority of the levels. Unfortunately the places where it's rough around the edges really show, and that makes it tough to recommend. If you want to play a Nint hack, stick with The Power Beneath.

I'd be interested in a future hack from Nint, if they make any more -- they've clearly got a lot of neat ideas, and there was a lot of improvement between Misty Out There and The Power Beneath. I'm sure they'd take what they learned from The Power Beneath and solidify their level design chops even more.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Started and finished the any% of Baby Kaizo World 2 today, took about an hour and 40 minutes. It's actually a really good beginner hack! Outside of the skytree level, which is a giant difficulty spike, it's full of levels that would provide a good challenge for new players while giving advanced players some fun levels to annihilate. Seriously, most sections went down in one or two attempts. Great sight reading practice. I'll wrap up the special world levels tomorrow, which shouldn't take very long if the rest of the hack is any indication. Looking forward to it!
 
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