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It'sa me, Kaizo Mario!

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I regret to inform the thread that I will not be finishing Halo 14 Side B. It starts out with two fun platforming levels, but then kicks into some extremely Not Mario chocolate ASM. I pushed through that to see if things changed, but on the sixth level you literally have to play the game without being able to see Mario move, and that's where I said no more. The hack is way more Reconciliation of Ascension than Halo 14 Side A, which is pretty disappointing to me. I know Saela and LightAligns are capable of making a hack full of great levels, but they can't help themselves from putting in a bunch of cursed shit instead. Can't a guy just run and jump anymore?
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
I played the first half of Halo 14 - Side A and I agree it's fun, but also, there was at least one annoying thing per level to me. The disappearing block autoscroller was super tight, the gun switch palace involved complicated inputs, and the Admiral Snackbar inspired screenwrap level went to great lengths to establish that only Mario can't screenwrap...until he can suddenly. That last one was especially annoying. I'm still enjoying the hack, it's good, but I doubt it's going to be one of my favorites this year.
 

MCBanjoMike

Sudden chomper
(He/him)
Did you guys get a look at the hack YouFailMe was playing last night? A compilation with levels by Fyre150, MmBeefStew, fryinb, MegaScott, BabaYegha and more. Looked pretty difficult, but that's a hell of a roster!

And there's a corgi on the title screen!!!!!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I saw some of it, yeah! It looks pretty good, hopefully they release it to SMW Central soon. What I saw definitely made me want to play.

Everyone made their levels under pseudonyms, but I know Arobam and QuietMason also contributed. And possibly Margot? Either way, a real murderer's row of creators.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
I finished Halo 14 - Side A yesterday! Very good hack, though I feel the last handful of exits are just a touch too tight for intermediate. But I guess that's understandable coming from creators used to working with autoscrollers.

I have no idea what I should play next. Thoughts?
 

MCBanjoMike

Sudden chomper
(He/him)
If you haven't seen anyone play it, you could try Apple Guardian. It's an Odd Sands-inspired puzzly hack that ratchets the difficulty down to be more accessible. Looked very clever from what I saw.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Hey, I actually finished a hack! Yesterday and today I played Sauna Mario World, which I'd seen Slopcore testing a long time ago and looked fairly chill in the bit of moderation I saw the other night. And it was alright! Some fun level design (shoutout to the tiny goombas masquerading as blocks from SMB3). My biggest complaint is that a lot of sections feel like they go on just a little too long, but it's the creator's first hack so I can understand wanting to Put All Your Ideas In. Either way, it was a pleasant enough time, felt like it was influenced by stuff like Ambivalence and Purgatory. Not too tough, not too chocolate-y. I'd say it gets a thumbs up from me.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I played Lush's other new-ish race hack today, Race to the Finish. I didn't like this one nearly as much as Day at the Races -- it just didn't feel as good to play through these rooms as the other hack did. Plus there was some annoying stuff like pressurized water and low gravity. Pass on this one, but do play Day at the Races instead.
 

MCBanjoMike

Sudden chomper
(He/him)
Just after midnight, I finally finished Dino Slide - it’s a bonafide Christmas miracle! First section wound up taking me something like three freaking hours, but the second went by pretty fast. I also spent a half hour on the blue switch palace, making it within a tile or so of the pipe on a few occasions. Sweet baby jesus, but that p-switch timer is right.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Hell yeah, that's a well-earned yump if I've ever seen one.

I started playing Moon today, for...no real reason? I dunno, I wanted to play some kaizo and didn't have any other ideas. Somehow the hack is only classified as intermediate on SMW Central, but this is 100% an expert hack. It's got a reputation for being super tight, and it certainly is. I've seen some neat ideas and I'm having an okay time so far -- three and a half exits in an hour and a half -- but sometimes it feels like a bit much. Not sure how far I'll go with this one but I'll keep going for now.

Jeez, December's almost over, huh? I played a lot of hacks this year! I want to go back through my notes and do a little recap. 2022 was kind of a big year for me as a kaizo player!
 

MCBanjoMike

Sudden chomper
(He/him)
I'm pretty sure "somehow" is inertia - Moon came out back when the Beginner and Expert categories didn't exist, and I expect no-one has thought to move it over. I've certainly never gotten the impression that it was Intermediate-level!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I'm not so sure about that, every other hack that you'd expect to see in Expert is there. But maybe it slipped past the mods, who knows.
 

SilentSnake

Administrator
(He/him)
Staff member
Moderator
Yeah, it's just safe to assume that every hack by cur is extremely tight. My first RHR level was the VVVVVV level made by cur, DNF. I didn't even make it to the H.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
So 2022 is in the books! While it wasn't quite as prolific for kaizo as 2021, there were still a lot of great releases this year. For me personally, I cleared 60 hacks! Well, I actually cleared more, but 60 of them were brand new to me, and I did a few big runbacks along the way -- Invictus, GPW2, and Mostly Harmless chief among them. I even went back and did 100% clears of a few hacks I'd left hanging from when we all first started playing. I DNF'd a few along the way, but I'm now at 114 hacks beaten and I'm halfway through my 115th (Moon). More than anything, this was the year where I finally started to feel like a competent player. For a long time when playing hacks, I'd typically feel like I would get through any given level by determination and willpower, but I've reached the point where I've really internalized so much about the game physics and controls and can actually express that knowledge in my playing. (Obviously we've all done a lot of this just to play kaizo in the first place, but I feel it on a deeper level than I ever have before. It's hard to explain.)

Anyway, I want to talk about some highlights over the past year. There's a lot of SMW stuff I'm still not particularly interested in, but despite being the most chocolate thing by its very nature, my hack of the year has to be Celeste.smc. There's just nothing like it. If you've played or seen this hack, you already know. It barely counts as SMW. It's wonderful.

Some more notable hacks from this year, in the order that I played them (bold ones were particular highlights):
Cuter Kaizo World
Love Yourself
Tortured Souls
Ambivalence
The Getaway
Legends of the Hidden Thwimple
Kaizo Crisis

Baby Kaizo World 2
Sure Shot
Gambol
Halo 14 - Side A
Liquid Metal
Day at the Races
Sauna Mario World


Notable hacks I played this year that came out before 2022:
Titan Mario
Flip the Switch
Super Nothing World
Brave New World
The Power Beneath
Super Gracie World
Super Dram World

Of that last list, I would say Titan Mario, Flip the Switch, and Brave New World were all pretty big landmarks for me as a player. Titan might be the most developmentally important hack I've played since my first time through GPW2. It pushed me in ways I didn't expect and really forced precision and consistency. Brave New World was an odd one -- I finished it relatively quickly, but it really reinforced a lot of the stuff I'd been learning up to that point. It made some of the weirdest tech fun and accessible, and it felt good to be able to execute most of it relatively easily. (Midair spring drops can still fuck right off, though.)

This got kinda rambly, but the main takeaway is that I had a good time playing Mario in 2022. I hope to continue having a good time in 2023!
 

MCBanjoMike

Sudden chomper
(He/him)
Those are some very impressive numbers! For my part, I finished 26 hacks in 2022 - that's one more than I completed in 2021 (and 10 of those were Nightmare Cafés, so it's actually a pretty big improvement). What really helped was being able to finish easier hacks in a single sitting, something that I never tire of. That said, I did a lot more grinding in 2021, playing most of Invictus and all of GPW2 in that time. In 2022, the hardest hack that I cleared was Let's Give Up (about 20 hours) and the one I spent the most time on was Mostly Harmless (probably like 25 hours to date). I've completed a total of 57 hacks so far, and dabbled with another 5-10 without seeing credits. I swear I'll finish YUMP 2 some day...

In terms of new releases, 2022 wasn't the ridiculous, all-banger year for hacks that 2021 was, but it certainly had its moments. For as momentous as celeste.smc was, it was such a different experience that I wound up not clicking with it and haven't been back to it since the I first played it. Instead, I have to give the nod to Legends of the Hidden Thwimple for my favorite hack of the year. Not only was it a showcase of just how far kaizo level design has come since the infamous 2019 GDQ relay race, it also sparked a week-long celebration within the community. Everybody played it, everybody streamed it, it was just a big kaizo love-in and the first major community event that I felt I got to be a part of as a player. It doesn't hurt that there are some great levels in the hack, too!

I also quite enjoyed stuff like Ambivalence and Gambol, for their straight-ahead platforming and aesthetics, and Halo 14 Side A, for its creative use of new chocolate mechanics. Of course, Sure Shot ~ featuring Sonic the Hedgehog is probably my second-place choice overall, for its endless creativity and sense of humor. I also enjoyed running a number of RHR levels, even if the process is surprisingly stressful!

That said, I think that my highlight for the year has to be (briefly) nabbing the WR in Waterworld. I pushed myself to try running a harder hack and found that, with enough time and practice, I could surpass what I thought I would be able to do. It was a bit of a grind, and I haven't felt quite ready to return to speedrunning since then, but it was a really rewarding experience that only drove me crazy like 40% of the time.

Here's to some more great hacks in 2023! There are more creators out there than ever before, and I think we'll see some really special stuff as the year progresses.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I have to give the nod to Legends of the Hidden Thwimple for my favorite hack of the year. Not only was it a showcase of just how far kaizo level design has come since the infamous 2019 GDQ relay race, it also sparked a week-long celebration within the community. Everybody played it, everybody streamed it, it was just a big kaizo love-in and the first major community event that I felt I got to be a part of as a player. It doesn't hurt that there are some great levels in the hack, too!
Yeah, you know what, upon further thought I have to tie Legends of the Hidden Thwimple for hack of the year too. That was such an amazing time for the community and I really felt like I was part of something. Plus, Ferpy's level has to be level of the year. Such a mind-blower. And congrats again on that Waterworld record! You really put a lot of time and effort into the run and it's absolutely something to be proud of, whether or not you got bopped.

I completely forgot about RHR levels! Even though I didn't actually race any of them, I did start playing a bunch in 2022. They're not always my kind of level, but they can be a nice bite-sized break from longer hacks.

Speaking of longer hacks, I finished Moon today. I didn't love it, but I didn't dislike it enough to stop playing either. I mostly just felt mildly annoyed a lot of the time. There are a lot of cool ideas in the hack, and a few sections that I truly enjoyed, but the boa constrictor tightness of every single jump ended up taking a lot of the joy out of it for me. It's not a bad hack, just not for me.

Last night I realized that I never played Quickie World 1 again after beating it the first time -- my 4th hack ever -- so I think I'm gonna run it back as a palate cleanser. I hear Valdio's got big plans for QW3 some time this year...
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Been a little quiet lately, huh? I didn't play much SMW after finishing Moon (outside of that QW1 runback). Over the weekend I played Jordan's new hack Eikro, though. I know I've been a little down on Jordan in the past, but this one was alright. He certainly put in a metric ton of effort. Just about every sprite has been redrawn, and while it occasionally leads to the inevitable issue of not knowing how to read a setup because you don't know what the enemies are, the overall difficulty isn't super high. There were a couple of chocolate mechanics I didn't like, and a final boss I really didn't like, but there are a lot of cool ideas in the hack too. It's a really solid effort, even if not necessarily a must play.

And now I seem to be back on the hard hack grind again. I've been watching om_nom play Ultraviolet over the past couple of weeks and it looked surprisingly cool -- I've been afraid of MDBattlefrog's hacks, but after watching drkrdnk's playthrough on Youtube to check out the rest I decided to give it a try today. I got through the first two exits in about 90 minutes, which I think is pretty reasonable for an expert hack! Apparently the first four levels are the "easy" ones, so I'm not letting my guard down yet. MD's design style feels pretty unique to me so far; it's refreshing. Cautiously excited to keep going with it.
 

MCBanjoMike

Sudden chomper
(He/him)
Yeah, I haven't had the energy to take on a difficult kaizo in the last week or two (the post-vacation return to school/work always takes it out of me), although I did run back Hark 2 again, along with 6-7 levels of Invictus. Definitely starting to think about speedrunning again, but I'd be surprised if it happened before February or March.

Did you see that Mega updated Ako 1 to version 1.3? It has bug fixes, custom music, Luigi sprites and apparently a number of tweaks to the levels themselves. What a world!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I did see that! It doesn't necessarily make me feel the need to play it a third time, but cool that he wanted to do a thing. I'm more interested in whatever his next new hack turns out to be since he's been working on it for so long.

As a side note, I've always disliked that particular Luigi sprite. The way his legs flop around when you jump has always looked weird to me.
 

MCBanjoMike

Sudden chomper
(He/him)
I mean I've always been a Green Mario man, when it comes to SMW, but I'll admit I find the Boogie Wonderland Luigi pretty adorable. Never actually played a hack with him in it, that I can recall.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Six exits down in Ultraviolet and it's definitely getting harder. The first five levels were all around 45 minutes each, but the last level I played took two hours. Setups are super creative and I'll see this one through to the end, I just have to make sure I'm in the right mindset when I sit down. It's a very easy hack to get frustrated with since the inputs are so specific...which I guess is what I signed up for with an expert hack. It's a good one! But definitely not for the faint of heart.
 

MCBanjoMike

Sudden chomper
(He/him)
OH MY GOD I FINALLY GOT THAT FREAKING CHECKPOINT. It took me like 45 more minutes and I died to the last mole three times. I don't know why I expected a mega mole level by Thirdwall to go well for me but jesus christ. I might save the second half of the level for later, my blood pressure needs to time drop back down first.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Hey, nice job! It's a tough section for sure. I'm pretty sure the second half is notably easier, so hopefully you'll be out of the level soon enough!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I beat Ultraviolet today! I would've beaten it yesterday, but I had to stop for dinner after attempting to finish off the last boss for a while and not quite making it. Naturally, I sat down today and beat it on my second attempt. I stopped keeping strict track of my clear times after my last post, but I don't think I spent more than an hour and a half on any single level after that. Final clear time was probably somewhere in the 12-15 hour range?

Ultimately I had a great time with this hack, and it wasn't nearly as hard as I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, it's still very much an expert hack and still very hard, but the short section lengths made everything feel completely manageable. Honestly, at this point, I think Titan felt harder to me. But more importantly, I really had a lot of fun in just about every level. The creativity on display is just off the charts. MD's got his own authorial voice in the same way that people like ThirdWall, Orka, or Morsel do, and once you know what he's asking you to do everything flows really nicely. The only thing I didn't really enjoy were all the boss fights, but they're all pattern-based so once you get your strats down they're not that bad. Overall the hack felt extremely fair for how hard it is. I'm glad I played it!
 
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