You remember what I mentioned last time about shortcuts in each of the worlds? Well, they still exist, but World 4 technically has two shortcuts! The first one leads to the world's castle, as usual, for the sake of speed runs, but the second one, get this, takes you straight to World 5! Now, the hack has done a pretty good job so far of preventing the player from warping ahead a world or two, though there's nothing wrong with that, but it looks like this is as far as the hack goes regarding warping because you have the option of skipping the castle of World 4. But why? Isn't something drastic supposed to happen if you get all eight of these eggs?
Oh. Oh yeah, that's right. So why would you be able to skip a castle? Why now? Or is there some event later that gives you all the eggs regardless? I just don't get it. But let's just move on. I wanna get this over with.
World 4 begins, as usual, with a cut scene, in which Mario and Luigi find the missing Toadsworth. Turns out he was kidnapped by Bowser's minions and now has quite a few interesting things to say.
"While they had me, I heard great blips and bleeps and ding-a-ling-a-lings, as if I was being put into some sort of machinery...
...and I heard one of the goons mention the phrase "virtual reality"."
...and I heard one of the goons mention the phrase "virtual reality"."
Now, you might wanna keep this particular sentence in mind, and as a spoiler...
WARNING! SPOILERS! This post contains spoilers regarding the Super Mario World hack "An SMWC Production". View at your own risk, or try not to look for that matter, if you want to play the hack and find out for yourself what happens.
...it has to do with the final boss of the game.
So now Toadsworth decides to accompany Mario and Luigi on their quest for a while until he can get to the bottom of what Bowser's plotting. Yeah. Good job, old fart.
Huh, looks like you can get Cape power here. Interesting. Well, this level is pretty much straightforward, so I guess I can't really complain here...
Hey, it's Yoshi! Wow, and I had thought that Yoshi wasn't even in the hack because of the lack of No Yoshi intros at the start of each level. Now he's here!
But it's too good to be true. Turns out, you have to leap off his back to get over this icy pillar. Go figure.
Anyways, in the next section, you get to play Gradius and shoot stuff while dodging obstacles. Now wait... what's with those Goombas? I know they're trying to shoot at you, but aren't they actually behaving like Roketon from Super Mario Land? Does that mean the creators found an actual custom sprite of it instead of just its graphics that came with the collection of custom Super Mario Land sprites? Okay, I'm pissed, SMW Central, I really am. The custom sprite pack I mentioned has graphics of the enemies Torion and Roketon, but no sprites for them. Okay, these shooting Goombas aren't exactly behaving like Roketon, but the point is, this hack gets to use something similar and we don't get jack! What did we do to deserve this?
Oh, and here's another example. Yeah, this hack is starting to get cool stuff despite me lashing out at it earlier, and yet no one on SMW Central so far is sharing it! God, I don't what to make of it.
Frigid Lake Cavern
I... WANT... THOSE... FLURRY... SPRITES!! Seriously, I've been dying to get my hands on these little guys to use for my own hack because they would definitely have a use somewhere. But no, SMW Central has to be stingy and... wait a minute... Okay, stupid me. They have the Flurry sprite. But it says it needs this xkas_def.asm or whatever to work and it doesn't seem to exist anywhere on the site. Real cool, SMW Central. I'm not amused.
You know, I really hate it when messages like this pop up in the middle of a level and I'm trying to play it, especially at a point where I need to concentrate. Oh, but on an interesting note. Those icy projectiles not only freeze Mario in place, but they take away his Fire power. That certainly adds a nice touch, so I can't really complain about that. And the rest of the level speaks for itself.
More graphic changes for the enemies! Man, this is never gonna stop, is it? Not only that, this seems to be the first level in the game where the player needs all 5 Dragon Coins to get to the secret exit. Now normally, this could be a big deal, like if you were to die after getting them all and they wouldn't reappear until you reset the game, but it seems that this hack found a loophole and did what might just be more hex editing to remove that bit of programming.
You know these levels are gonna be long when there's no time limit. At least the creators took care of the whole "TIME UP" thing, that's for sure. I'm sorry, but I really don't wanna get into discussing this level because it's way too long and tedious, even for me. Long levels are one thing, but it's another issue when they're hard to complete without save states. However, I will point out that this level uses some kind of wind that changes directions and affects Mario's jumping distances. It also features a nifty little sprite that while Mario is on it, it moves in whatever direction you press. The elusive secret exit that takes you to World 5 is hidden here. But there's one snag.
"This last part is just annoying, with the wind. For some reason though, if you're in the air and let go of the direction you're holding, it stops pushing you."
So... yeah. Good luck with that.
This is another kind of level where you have to find P-switches and use them to get past blocks and... Oh, God... Those awful Banzai Reggie things are back. That's not all that's bad, though. Some parts of the screen tops are littered with invisible coin blocks. Now, if you wanna stop Mario from going higher than the screen top, at least block off the whole ceiling or do something more aesthetic. Because from what I see according to Lunar Magic, it's still possible for Caped Mario to fly above the top and through the level, which completely contradicts yet another SMW Central tip.
Tip: If you give the player a cape, be sure they can't cheat and fly over the level with it!
This level also has a 1-up in a completely pointless spot because there's virtually no way the player can get to it, and a point where the player has to bop a Reggie in order to squeeze underneath a pipe that prevents Mario from jumping across a gap. So yeah, I'm gonna say that this level was pretty badly designed. Now personally, I like creating challenging levels for my Super Mario World hacks, but you're certainly not gonna catch me dead making awful levels like these, especially when those damn Reggies are capable of putting eyes out.
Yet another straightforward level, which sort of makes up for the fact that Zephyr Manor was incredibly long and tedious. But look! The Bullet Bills have proper graphics! Yay! So why can't we see original Banzai Bills? Huh? Ah, forget it.
This is definitely one of the easier castles in the game. However, Layer 1 is translucent, so chances are, you might have a slightly harder time seeing all the enemies lurking around, so just try not to rush this level.
Hey, look! It's the first boss that isn't a giant-sized enemy! No, it's... Undine, one of the more popular custom bosses of SMW Central that, believe it or not, is up for grabs! Now, I'm sure some of you have seen demonstration videos on YouTube and such that show how Undine works as a custom boss. It's pretty simple and straightforward to use, but beating it is a different story. During the battle, a somewhat crudely-drawn wave tries to push Mario into the water and if it covers him up, it sends him down to his doom like an undertow. But you have to use the wave to soften the landing of Undine's ice balls that she conjures and sends your way. Then you pick up the ice balls and hit her with them. After three hits, she's done for. Easy, right? Well... not exactly. You see, you also have to dodge icicles that she creates with magic that jut up from the water and with the wave liable to be still pushing you around... Yeah, I'm gonna say that the bosses have stepped their game up quite a bit. Also, the wave seems to move faster the more times you hit Undine.
Well, that's World 4 for you. Now here's my review. The levels seem to be getting a little better, with the exceptions of Zephyr Manor and for a few parts, Nippy Expanse. Zephyr Manor is not only long, but it has a secret exit as well. Is it worth it? Well, that depends if you're all for possibly skipping the rest of World 4 and taking your first trek into World 5, although you can always go back. The one thing I don't get with that is if it's absolutely necessary to go through all eight castles for these eggs. Yeah, I'm gonna wager my chips and say that it isn't, because I'm willing to bet that obtaining the eight eggs happens when a certain overworld event triggers. This event would presumably allow the player to enter Peach's Castle and be able to buy the spacesuit for 3,000 smackers. But yeah, overall I'd say World 4 isn't too bad considering what it could have been based on Worlds 2 and 3, but it's kind of sad that SMW Central might just be stingy about some of their hard work. I know they might say it's only for the hack, but it'll be interesting to see if this hack is actually worthy of keeping sprites, music, and such all to itself instead of just being distributed so anyone can use it. Guess we'll soon find out.
This means war, SMW Central!