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It'sa me, Kaizo Mario!

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Look at you, just racking them up! I was curious about Baby Kaizo 2, since it isn’t by the same creator - glad to hear it’s a good ‘un. I’m might still go back and get the hundo on BKW1 some day, it’s kind of bothering me that I haven’t.

I can’t play any kaizo this week but I DID see the Eiffel Tower today, and that was pretty cool.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
lol baby kaizo 2 special world took 10 minutes

But yeah, it was a good time! Would recommend, you can easily knock it out in a single stream.

I got around to playing Orka's race level from last week today as well, and it was super fun. It also has a truly diabolical ending, if you haven't seen it yet. I wouldn't be surprised if this level ends up in Titan 2 in some form or another, I think Titan also has a race level in it. Anyway, the whole thing took me around an hour, which would probably have put me somewhere around 3rd-5th place? But it's important to keep in mind that this was without the pressure of streaming it and actively racing. That almost certainly would've added a lot of time to the clear. Either way, it definitely solidified that I need to play more race levels, because they're rad! If you guys have any recommendations from the ones you've played, let me know. I might ask for recommendations in the RHR Discord as well.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Played the new hack Separate Ways over the weekend. I wouldn't recommend this one for a couple of main reasons. I don't want to be too harsh about anything someone put a lot of time into, especially when it's their first hack. The creator used to make Mario Maker levels and switched over to SMW, which is what the hack's "about". Message boxes throughout the levels say stuff like "I learned to work with layer 2 in this level" or "this level taught me to insert custom blocks", which is cool! And there were a few genuinely fun levels here. But there were also a lot of inscrutable setups and a ton of creator bias. I spent a lot of time dying to obstacles because I couldn't figure out exactly how the creator moved through them, and nothing else would work. There was one level in particular where I had to come up with cheese to get through a section because the intended strat just never worked for me. I get the feeling that the hack just wasn't playtested very much. It's a shame, because I think this creator really has a lot of neat ideas -- they just need some other people to help polish them.

The other main reason I can't recommend it is that the final boss fight is actually broken. The final level is three long, tough rooms before you get to the boss checkpoint. I was on my second or third boss attempt when suddenly the boss flew off the side of the screen and the display went all black. The music was still playing, but my controller inputs weren't doing anything, so the only thing I could do was reset. Unfortunately, this wiped out all of my progress in the final level -- you can save on the overworld, but I hadn't done that since starting the level since I had no reason to. I was mad enough about having my progress wiped out that I registered an account on SMW Central just to leave a comment about the bug/warn others to exit the level and save before the boss. Hopefully it's something the creator knows how to fix.

So while I can't recommend the hack, what I absolutely can recommend is com_poser's port of the title track (yes, it is the song you think it is). It goes way harder than it has a right to.

What I'm excited about next is that there's a new hack from FYRE150, French Fries & French Toast! This one comes with a warning that it's nothing like Purgatory. They describe it as "low effort", but I saw a good chunk of it on stream today and it's definitely not low effort. Apparently all the levels were created in 1-3 hours. The French Fries half is six vanilla levels, and French Toast is nine levels built around chocolate gimmicks. Not all of the chocolate stuff is going to be up my alley, but I trust FYRE, so I'm willing to follow them here. I'll probably start this one tomorrow.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I decided to start with the gimmicky half of the hack since I expected more trouble with it. I'm five exits in, though I think one exit was a secret I only found by having to push a certain button combination on my controller to save on the NT. Outside of a couple of setups in one level, I'm having a good time! I know it's gonna get even more chocolately from here, so we'll see how that continues. But so far, thumbs up!
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
Finally got the spoons to make some significant progress in New Comfy. Made it all the way to the red switch. Fun levels, this hack has a tendency to use your momentum against you often. Lots of left rights necessary. The Fire and Ice level in particular was a doozy of a level, one long section. Feels more "Expert" than most of the other levels, though I think I still cleared it in under an hour, so I'm probably wrong. Still a good hack, all told.

5 exits to go!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
The Fire and Ice level in particular was a doozy of a level, one long section.
Oh yeah. This level was a pretty significant speedbump for me in my first playthrough as well (and probably my second, to a lesser degree). That's a lot of progress in one sitting though, nice! Still love that hack.

I cleared the gimmick half of French Fries & French Toast yesterday and moved on to the vanilla levels. Of the gimmick levels, I really only disliked a couple of them, which is pretty good! I only had time for the first vanilla level, which was tough. The second level appears to be full of galaxy brain setups as well, so we'll see how this goes.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Alright, French Fries & French Toast is down. The vanilla levels were way harder than the gimmick ones! I...didn't really like them! That's on me, though. I was expecting them to be fun platforming, but what they turned out to be was a collection of no-holds-barred, kick-you-in-the-teeth old school sections. Setups seemed to be either two types: super precision-based, or galaxy brain. There's one exception in a Bob-omb escort level, which was pretty readable, but to give you an idea, I genuinely have no idea what the intended way to clear the second level is. The final obstacle is so strange that I feel like I must have cheesed it, because I had to respawn a bunch of things to make it work.

I'm not saying the levels are bad, but it was really not what I expected based on the description or Fyre's previous levels. My favorite of the vanilla levels was probably one that revolves around some specific Yoshi glitch tech, so who knows what that means. Overall the hack is certainly worth playing, but don't go into it expecting Purgatory 2. You all know my kaizo preferences, so my enjoying the gimmick levels more than the vanilla ones probably says something.

Man, though. After Separate Ways and this hack one after the other, I really just want to do some fun platforming next. All these creators are trying to make me think and I just wanna jump! So, once again, I'm back to figuring out what the next hack will be. I did get some great suggestions from Doctor No about previous Romhack Races levels to play -- apparently for a special event not too long ago they asked people to vote for a level from each previous season to re-race -- so I've got about 15 of those ready to go. I don't think I'm going to dive into them right away, though, because I know race levels are often harder and longer than any given level in a hack. We'll see!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
For lack of any better ideas yesterday I started in on the RHR levels that were recommended to me, beginning with one from all the way back in week 7: Bad Money by none other than Linkdeadx2. This level is from somewhere in 2018, which probably makes it one of the oldest kaizo things I'd played so far. I had no idea what to expect going in, since the only things I'd seen from Ldad are the Slope Muncher hacks and Panga World, but it turned out to be a pretty fun level...mostly. It's two fun and relatively easy sections sandwiching a brutally tough middle section. After playing it, I learned that RHR has the difficulty for this level rated at a 7, the same as Orka's level from two weeks ago. I'm not sure if it would retain that rating today, but it certainly wasn't afraid to kick my ass.

The first part of the level introduces you to the titular gimmick straight away: if Mario touches (or otherwise collects) a coin, he dies. There's some clever setups involved, and in 10 minutes I was at the first checkpoint. But the middle section brings Yoshi into play, and if Yoshi eats a berry, you also die. It's not so bad at first, but towards the end you have to run through a gauntlet of precision obstacles, and that wasn't nearly as fun. Maybe I was lulled into a false sense of security by the first section, but this part took me almost an hour to get through. The third section introduces a neat twist on the original "don't collect coins" gimmick, and overall I got through the whole thing in an hour and 23 minutes. I figure if I'm going to run race levels, I might as well time them, right?

Anyway, you may have noticed in the first paragraph I said that level was one of the oldest kaizo things I'd played (past tense), hinting that somehow between today and yesterday I played something even older. And I did! For no real reason other than curiosity, I decided to go back to 2017 and start Super Gracie World today. I feel like this is one of those older hacks you see a lot of people talk about but never see anyone play anymore, and since it has fast retry, I gave it a go. In about 2.5 hours, I'm at 11 exits (of 15). It's been an interesting one so far! It feels very, very different from contemporary kaizo. In a post on the previous page Mike mentioned that a lot of old vanilla kaizo design seems to focus on one obstacle at a time, and that's in full effect in this hack. It doesn't really flow like many of the hacks we've come to know; you can often take your time with any given trick. At the same time, that lack of urgency makes it feel deceptively easier than it is. You may be able to proceed at your own pace, but that doesn't mean the hack has no teeth. There's a lot of fundamental tech you need to know and a lot of kaizo blocks to avoid.

But all that said, I'm kinda enjoying the experience. It's a really refreshing change of pace, and I feel like it's important to experience a more accessible side of early kaizo history. The hack's listed as beginner on SMW Central, and it probably belongs there, but I'd say it's likely at the extreme top of the beginner scale. Even though you have to do some tricky things, the sections are generally very short and very fair. I think it's probably worth a play for folks who like Akogare and easier vanilla hacks, or anyone who wants a friendlier taste of the early days. There are other hacks I'd recommend first to brand new players in 2022, but it's worth going back to with some experience under your belt.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
That’s very cool! You should play a few levels of Korosu after that and contrast the two of them, for my sake. And that Ldad level sounds vaguely like some of the gimmick levels in Jump 1/2 and YUMP 2, which I haven’t gotten to yet but would like to play eventually.

I’m back from vacation! And pretty jet lagged, so probably no streaming for a few days yet. Yesterday, I had a bit of time, so I patched a couple of hacks and played the first level of Shellax. For something that’s touted as a beginner shell hack, I found it to be somewhat difficult (I think it took me almost half an hour to clear one exit) and also fairly rewarding. It could have used a midway, though. Looking forward to getting back to Mostly Harmless once I’m fully rested from my trip!

Also, I think we’re only a week away from the Maddie/Margo collab hack being released? Apparently it’s not very long, but after those recent race levels I’m very excited to play it.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Welcome back Mike! It's been a lot more lonely on twitch while you were away. But also

Also, I think we’re only a week away from the Maddie/Margo collab hack being released
Wait whaaaaat? I haven't heard anything about this, please tell us more.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
Remember that Maddy/Margot RHR level a few weeks back? How it was themed as a "single", complete with A-Side and B-Side? Well, singles promote EPs and LPs. The collab hack is an EP.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Yeah, and Margot said it was about a week away in Brad's chat yesterday. At least I think she did, I was pretty zonked with the time change.

Finished two more levels in Shellax! The first went by super quickly, so I briefly hoped things were going to get faster, but the next one took like 45 minutes. Which is fine, because I'm enjoying the hack and find it to be both creative and satisfying! But it looks like this will take me a good 4 hours or so to get through. Honestly, I have to say I prefer this to Memory Lane - both are made in specific styles, but I guess I prefer shells to boomers?
 
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lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
As expected, Gracie World is done. The special world really didn't mess around! Well, there were a couple of very short levels (including what might be the first single-screen rooms level? there were only two screens, but still), but the longer levels are where the gloves came off. Most levels in this hack took me 10-15 minutes to complete, but the second special level took a solid 45. Still, I wrapped up everything I had left in maybe an hour and a half? That puts the whole hack somewhere around 4 hours. I'm glad I played it! I might not run it back, but it was worthwhile to play something from Ye Olden Days of 2017. Really opens your eyes to how far kaizo has come in such a short amount of time.

I went back to Barb's list of recommended hacks to see if there was anything there I'd missed, and I saw Ninja World 2 and 3 (not sure why he doesn't like the first one). They're from VLSkoot, who's probably better known today for Papaya Mountain and My New Favorite Hack (both of which look a little too cursed for me). But I watched a bit of Ninja World 2 and it looks fun, so these are gonna be my next plays. I know ThirdWall likes VL a lot as a creator too. That bodes well...I think.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Ninja World 2 down! Overall it was a pretty fun hack. Decently polished for 2019, and generally not very hard. I cleared 17 exits (out of 20) yesterday in maybe 2.5 hours, which was everything except the special world (which is optional and separate from the rest of the game) and final castle. One level in particular stood out where you have to race a rope up a vertical section and then race it back down after the midway. It was sort of like a skytree, but without the tree. There was only one level in the main game that I actively disliked, and that's pretty good for 17 exits! I wasn't crazy about the special world either, which consists of 1) a green bean level 2) a shell level and 3) an autoscroller, but I can now say I've done a fast-autoscroll-assisted midair. So that's something!

I'm gonna move right into Ninja World 3 next. It's only 12 exits! After that, I'm kinda thinking I might finish Dancer to a Discordant System. I was 16 exits deep when I stopped playing the hack, and I've gained almost a year and a half's worth of experience between then and now. I feel like it shouldn't be too difficult to crank out the final 6 levels. I always felt kinda bad for not finishing it anyway.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Ninja World 3 was here and gone in about 2.5 hours. I think the general consensus is that 3 is the best of the trilogy, but I kinda liked 2 more! 3 was fine, and it felt like VL was a lot more confident in their level design, but there's a ton of die-to-learn, which I famously don't love. Just make your setups readable! Ninja World 3 had a lot of instances of me going "sorry, what?" and then looking up someone else's playthrough. Anyway, a lot of the hack was cool once you know what to do, though getting to that point could be annoying. Totally a fine hack, but I probably won't run it back.

I also cleared two more exits in Dancer while I was at it, because why not.
 
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lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
The Maddy (allegedly)/Margot (apparently) collab hack is out! Going to put Dancer back on hold to start this later today.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Also, I saw ThirdWall testing Ferpy's KLDC level earlier today and holy shit, it's just as mind-blowing as his GDQ race level was.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Sure Shot rules, worth playing for everyone. I have a couple of issues with it*, but nothing that would keep me from recommending it heavily.

*I didn't like the fourth level (the vertical one) because I didn't feel like I was playing SMW for most of it, and I didn't really care for the way every level ends with a gauntlet section that's longer and harder than everything before it. But the final gauntlet slaps, so maybe that makes up for some of the others.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I wrapped up Dancer yesterday. Coming back to it with a lot more experience kinda confirmed my original opinion of the hack: it's got a lot of cool ideas, but it's really unpolished. I was watching Slop the other day on his first partner stream and he did a Dancer playthrough; he said he basically only had one playtester (bsolt) and they only played through the game once. So that makes a lot of sense. He also said he should go back and rework it sometime, and I think if he does it'll turn out to be a pretty great hack. Slop's learned a lot about level design between then and now and I know he'd be able to tighten up a lot of things.

Anyway, I don't get to add it to my hack list because it was already on there! Dancer was the 20th hack I started, and it's nice to at least have it finally done. I'm getting real close to 100 though, Sure Shot was my 98th hack. What should I do for 100? (I mean, the immediate question is what should I do for 99, but y'know.) I've been secretly/not secretly hoping to get to 100 in time for my 2 year kaizoversary, and I'm pretty pleased to be on track for that.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Hmm, seems like you'd want something big and/or challenging to be your 100th hack. Like something by Morsel! But since you probably won't go for that, maybe an older hack that's pretty tough? drkrdnk actually patched fast retry into Dram World and has been playing that, I bet you he'd give you the patch file if you asked him.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
*waves from birthday vacation in Michigan* Hi! Proud of you both for the great strides you’re making. I should be back at it very soon. Also want to point out that in the Sure Shot excitement, Unintended Behavior 3 dropped. That’s on my list for sure, and I hope this leads to Mike streaming some 2 soon.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Yeah, I saw some of ThirdWall's moderation for UB3 and it looks super cursed. Gbreeze is the kaizo mad scientist we don't deserve.

drkrdnk actually patched fast retry into Dram World and has been playing that, I bet you he'd give you the patch file if you asked him.
You know, I actually thought about asking him for it, but then I saw that one jump in the rope level with something like 10 kaizo blocks around it, and I'm not sure if I want to put up with that. But the rest of Dram honestly doesn't look that bad.

Kaizo 1 any% with fast retry is also a consideration, but I feel like it might be too raw for me to really enjoy.

Anyway, I played another couple of race levels today. Stuntman Mario by IcyFruit (#12), and Shellter Skelter by Juzcook (#13, the start of season 2). Stuntman Mario was a cute level with a bunch of sections, each inspired by a big Hollywood movie. Each section had the appropriate theme song to soundtrack it, though some of the ports were pretty quaint. In any case, each section is only a few minutes long, so you don't have to hear them endlessly. I got a 14:51 on this, which (at the time) would've put me in 4th place - notably bopping both spudd and LouisDoucet. There's no way I could beat either of them in a race now, but it's nice to know I'm at least as good as a couple of the best were several years ago.

Shellter Skelter was a blast, and it was a treat to play something "new" from Juz. If you like Invictus, you owe it to yourself to play this one too. The first half of the level has you escorting a shell through various fast-paced setups, and the second half is kind of a "greatest hits" of Invictus mechanics. Snake blocks? Check. Fast pipes? Check. Thwomp obstacle course? Check. And then there's a Boo boss that's kinda like a variation on the Absolute Power boss, minus the motor skills. This was super fun, and I finished in 48:45. That would've put me 15 seconds behind Valdio in 6th place. I'll take that!

Once you beat Shellter Skelter, it unlocks a shell level that Juz made early on for Invictus, but ultimately scrapped. It's really tough, but still pretty clever, and some of the setups ended up reappearing in the green switch palace. There's one part that I'm pretty sure ended up being reworked into a section of the title level, too. I can see why he scrapped it, but I'm glad it found a home here just for posterity's sake. We don't often get to see how hacks evolve over the course of their creation! (I should mention that I didn't play all of this level because I wanted to go have lunch, but I might come back to it later.)
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I'm at 99 hacks now! Tuesday and yesterday I played No Biggie World, which I saw Barb playing and decided it looked fun. And for the most part, it was. It's a vanilla hack focused on platforming. It was a little unpolished, because it's the creator's first hack, but you can see they've got some sound ideas. It kinda felt like a hack from 2020, somewhere along the lines of Take It Easy World. The color palettes aren't always great but it's a good first effort. I hope the creator takes what they've learned making this one and can grow a bit for their next one, if there is a next one.

So now that I'm finally at the threshold of my 100th hack, the question feels a little more weighty than it has before: what should I play next?
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Oh my god, that's absolutely awful. I never spoke to Rochester but by all accounts he was an incredibly kind person. I know he had some health problems, possibly a heart condition? I'm not certain about that detail. I hope his family is okay. What a terrible thing.

Edit: In Barb's Discord, Kinkerton said that it was "unspecified health issues". Not sure where that info comes from.
 
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