Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Thunder Discusses An SMWC Production: World 4

World 4

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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?

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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"."

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. 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.

Permafrost Caverns

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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...

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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

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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.

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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.

Foresty Snow

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.

Zephyr Manor

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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.

Nippy Expanse

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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.

Frostbite Heights

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.

Boreal Bastille

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.

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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!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Thunder Discusses An SMWC Production: World 3

World 3

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I've come to notice that for the past two worlds, there have been shortcuts through finding secret exits that skip about half of each world's levels and go straight to its castle. Now, it is said that shortcuts exist in hacks for the possible purpose of what is called speed runs, which is, in a nutshell, a quick play through. Not a bad idea, considering all the hell you'd probably end up going through. But while the past two shortcut levels had it easy, the one in this world is absolutely, ridiculously tedious! So to waste less of my time on this, I'm gonna do less explaining of how to actually do the levels, like Weeaboo Manor from the last world, and more on actually discussing what's in the levels and of course what's wrong with them. Is there anything wrong with World 3? Oh yes. Definitely. So let's get this over with.

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We start with yet another cut scene in which Mario learns through Peach texting him that Toadsworth is missing. That's actually quite odd, considering that Peach is clearly at her castle and Toadsworth is the kind of guy who wouldn't leave her side for a minute being the overly worried steward that he is. Luigi then concludes that Toadsworth left some time before they did because Mario had been sleeping in. And the only thing they know? Toadsworth had gone north of the Mushroom Kingdom before he went missing, so they think they might find him in wherever they are. Now since I played through the whole hack, I obviously know what all this eventually leads to, but since it's a spoiler (possibly irrelevant because this hack is old now), I'm gonna be Mr. Nice Guy and not tell. But I will say this much and tag a spoiler to it to be safe.

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.

Mario and Luigi do find Toadsworth, but not till the beginning of World 4.

Now then, let's move on to World 3's levels.

Underground Falls

You know, I actually don't know what bigger level tiles represent to be honest. Sometimes I think they point out that the level is longer, but there's plenty of stuff in this hack to prove otherwise, so I'm just gonna ignore this altogether and talk about the level itself. Well, what do you know! Quicksand blocks! I have to admit, they've always made hacks more interesting since their existences in Super Mario Bros. 3 and I guess I can't imagine for the life of me what the excuse was for not including them in Super Mario World. But never mind that.

"The biggest troublemaker is right at the start, just wait for the football kicker to launch his ammo, then take him out and move on."

The only "trouble" I see with this is that the level designers apparently chose to stick a ramp against the wall that leads smack into this Puntin' Chuck. And there's no straight ground leading to the ramp, only slopes. Jeez, what's the point of all this? This is sheer redundancy! The ramp is totally unnecessary. And the only reason for the Puntin' Chuck to actually give you any trouble is because you're trying to go up a slope and jump up to have to bop him on the head. Biggest trouble in the level? Nope. I don't think so.

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Okay, now we're swimming through waterfalls. Well, considering this was technically done in Super Mario Bros. 3, it's really not worth a fuss.

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But here's something that might be worth a complaint as far as aesthetics go. We have Spike Tops acting like muncher tiles. This means that these gray Spike Tops are not sprites at all. They're objects. Call me a nitpicker, but I really don't think there's any worth in this. I know hacks might wanna show off and decorate things a bit instead of possibly boring players to death with the same old shit from Super Mario World. Oh, and notice those coins pointing down to that quicksand pit. They only appear when a P-switch is it and the coins obviously indicate that there's something in that pit. And there is. Lo and behold, it's the secret exit! Of course, the P-switch is completely unnecessary. All it does is point out the way to go, that is if you're not using Lunar Magic to cheat, which I ended up doing because many of the later levels were ridiculous to solve on my own. But here's what bugs me. The teleport blocks below this quicksand pit leading to the secret exit were placed individually instead of a group. That's just crazy! They were all the same Map 16 tile, so why didn't the level designers just expand one block instead of shoving in three? That doesn't make any sense. But moving on now, so we come to a second ramp. This time, it's more worthy because you have to run up the wall, but unfortunately, there's a good chance of running smack into a Clappin' Chuck at the top. Kinda sloppy, really. I seriously think the staff members and moderators were slacking off, I really do. The Spike Top statues are annoying enough.

"Sand in ya shoes!"

Sorry, pal, but even humor isn't gonna cut it here.

Cave of Lost Pride

Oh. My. Freaking. God. I almost don't wanna discuss this level, it's so long and dreary.

"You might lose your sanity, too!"

Hell, yeah! I mean, look at this level! There are objects that look like enemies, multiple paths, sideways vines (I don't care for the reasons they're there, they just shouldn't be), ON/OFF blocks, spikes, munchers, twists and turns... Where do I even begin?

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Now, I know that at SMW Central, users continually joke about munchers, having them do what Cookie Monster from Sesame Street does whenever he gobbles down a cookie. And look! The animation is making the munchers even say it! It's like a nod to their little joke! Oh, and... what's this? What's this? Munchers on the ends of vines?! Good. Lord. I don't believe it! This hack is so over! You know what munchers on the end of vines do to any hack? It turns it into a kaizo hack! Is that what the creators wanted? A kaizo hack?! This is... this is like... difficult incarnate! Man, just looking at this level again even in Lunar Magic is just making me lose all desire to go on with this level, so I'm just gonna stop here. So... good luck getting through this level in one piece. If you do, you create a shortcut to the castle of World 3. Is it worth it? Hmm, I dunno... You decide.

Unearthly Hollow

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I'm gonna be brutally honest here, if I haven't been already, but I really don't like the setup of this level. It's really confusing more than anything. The trees are objects that are passable, but it took me a while to figure out that I could stand on top of tree branches. Really, I have to be harsh with this one. The layout and design is not good. It's gonna boggle people's minds. Seriously. And then there's the ghost house structure in the middle of the level.

"Here, the background and foreground sort of blend in to eachother, so watch your step."

Well spoken. Hackers, way to make a hack more complicated than it already is. I don't know about you, but I really could do without foreground and background that look strikingly similar to each other. It's bad enough already trying to figure out what to do in the level, especially in later worlds where you don't even get any real hints.

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To get the secret exit, I had to bring two trampolines to designated areas of the level where I needed them. And only just now I learned that using the so-called reset pipe while carrying one was also an option. Didn't even think about that.

Mining Outpost

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Now this level wouldn't be so bad if wasn't for the absolutely crude custom Thwomp sprite and the poorly designed section to go with it! The Thwomp pretty much follows you around and tries to crush you from above. One thing that really sucks about the section is that these outlined blocks are actually solid, and yet the Thwomp goes right through them. Okay, seriously, if you're gonna make a block act solid, even for only Mario, then make it look solid.

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Remember those Goomba blocks from Super Demo World: The Legend Continues? They didn't look that bad and they gave players the impression that enemies could just waltz right through them while Mario couldn't. No such hints with the ore-crushing Thwomp. So why couldn't the level designers just create a Goomba block or something more decent than those outlined blocks? Well, it actually doesn't matter because this section was difficult enough without them.

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And getting the secret exit is no easier. Well, getting to the section that leads to it is relatively simple, but getting through the section itself is a nightmare.

"It's the Hellivator."

Definitely yes. As impressive as it is to use the vertical scroll custom generator, it's still not pretty trying to get through. You end up having to dodge two Grinders and two Thwimps as you ride what only looks like an elevator upward. Things get really hairy when the Thwimps drop in, but if you manage to survive, the secret exit is yours for the taking. Good job. You actually survived.

Switch of Many Hues

Really? Switch of Many Hues?

"Many switches of many hues, but the one you want is big and blue."

Then why not just call this level Blue Switch?

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Apparently it's because there are these colored switches that make respectively colored blocks solid or passable and you have to use this to your advantage somehow. The Fuzzy graphics look really bizarre here, almost to the point where you can no longer tell what kind of enemy it's supposed to be, and the one thing wrong with that is that if you don't know what the enemy is, you don't know what it does and you have to figure it out. Geez, isn't this hack difficult enough already? Apparently not, because in the next section you have to use the colored switches to get a Fuzzy across the room just so you can spin jump off it to reach the door. This of course was extremely complicated for me, so I don't even wanna discuss it. Anyways, if you can get past all this shit, the Blue Switch is yours for the stomping.

Danger Mines

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For the record, I'd say I was more disturbed about this level's improper entrance than most of it being in black and white.

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Look at this. With Mario's starting position coming only halfway out of the pipe, it's insanely obvious that the level entrance is now considered improper. And moderators actually allowed this? Aren't they supposed to be these extreme nitpickers, hell even like the Guardians of the Universe from Green Lantern? Now they're just opening the doors to allow all the level errors they like? This is just crap! Oh, but don't worry. It gets worse from here. In a section that's not black and white, but all fiery, there's a sprite command with a setting that should never, EVER be used - a Fast Auto-Scroll. Put plainly and simply (and I don't give a damn what the hell the circumstance is), this kind of sprite is not meant to be used in any hack at all. But guess what? Hack, you've gone and done it now. You used this sprite command, which is more than capable of ruining this hack if it hasn't reached that point already. So what is this, hackers? Every staff member and moderator on SMW Central is extremely nitpicking about even the smallest cutoffs, and it's bad enough that they're probably going around saying, "We're in charge of SMW Central and we can do what we please" like the corrupt users they usually are, but now they've decided to ultimately slack off by not even bothering to fix a simple improper level entrance and abusing a sprite command thinking they can get away with it? I don't believe this. It's absolutely exasperating.

Tip: Use palettes that don't sear the eyes. A blazing bright yellow and a night-black are not eye-pleasing.

Hmm... Well, I wouldn't say this section completely contradicts this tip. I mean, my eyes didn't really burn trying to get through it or anything.

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The Blargg graphics are back (I don't know why they look like that, so don't ask) and now we have classic Piranha Plants coming out of lava. Now this wouldn't be a bad thing if the lava wasn't crooked. Again, call me a nitpicker who contradicts, but Piranha Plants coming out of lava look better if the lava is nice and smooth instead of jittery like we would expect it when riding the skull sprites. I'll accept the fact that Mario has to be big in order to reach the secret exit because it involves destroying a turn block with a simple spin jump, though. That's about the only real decent thing about this level. That and the secret exit leads back to the sewers for the convenience of getting back to Toad Town in a hurry in case you need to do some shopping.

Buzzy Bridge

"A nice, simple one exit level."

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Yeah, it's kind of like a breather after dealing with all the insanity World 3 had to offer. In fact, the only complaints I have about this level are the upside-down Buzzy Beetle sprites. Really, they're not all that good. They fall rather slowly and whenever they hit Mario, they temporarily vanish. All this amazing custom boss stuff and they can't make a proper upside-down Buzzy Beetle. It even turns into a regular Buzzy Beetle when it lands instead of spinning in its shell! Typical.

Oh Man! It's Hell!

"One of the most item grab-happy levels in the hack, fortunately it is really easy to find what you need, if you just pay attention to coin formations, and jump at impossibly high walls, you'll almost always find the invisible blocks needed to reach the items."

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Hey, wait a minute. Didn't I already file a complaint about hugging walls just to make invisible blocks appear? Those are not obvious hints! What part of that do these level designers not understand?

Sinister Dungeon

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This level actually starts off pretty good at first, but then in the next section, the level lives up to its name. Now we have a problem. See what happens is that throughout pretty much the remainder of the level, Mario's controls will be reversed every few seconds and then go back to normal. Now if the status of Mario's controls would just make up its mind, it wouldn't be so problematic. Like there's one level in the currently incomplete hack known as Brutal Mario in which Mario's controls are reversed throughout the level and they don't change back to normal or anything. Nothing the ZSNES can't go around. Maybe that's why the controls are constantly flipping here. Anyway, it's pretty obnoxious to deal with.

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What's this? Another giant-sized enemy that thinks it can pass itself off as a boss? Well, this one's pretty nicely made actually. To damage Giant Green Koopa, you pretty much have to keep stomping on its head. However, whenever he slams into a wall or slams the ground, he can stun you, in which he gets enough time to ram you for damage. After enough hits, he'll spring into the air and come down on you along with four regular green Koopas, which are more of a nuisance than anything. When you hit him for the final time, he will attempt a suicide attack by charging at you straight into the wall. You win.

But this hack certainly doesn't win and World 3 is just the beginning of all the things that can prove my words. This world has inaccurate level entrances, sprites that should never exist, confusion as to where anything is, kaizo references, issues from previous worlds, and of course overly difficult sections. I'd say World 3 alone contradicted quite a few of SMW Central's tips.

Tip: Make your levels increase in difficulty as you go up.
Tip: Try to make a hack that is both hard enough to be challenging and easy enough to be fun.
Tip: There's a fine line between difficult and unfair. Avoid the latter.
Tip: Fix any errors you see before any demos; "I'll fix it later" isn't a good excuse.
Tip: Make secret exits hard to find. Don't just give all the secrets away.

The last tip seems to be contradicted quite a bit, as throughout the first series of levels, pathways to secrets were put where it became insanely obvious to the player that the secret exit was right there. In the later levels, I ended up looking through Lunar Magic just to find them because at that point I was getting fed up with the difficulty curve of the hack in general. So overall, World 3 is where the hack problems really start to be noticeable. As an art school student having taken a Game Design class already, I'll say this much. I seriously think hackers need to start thinking about what makes a good game instead of just what makes a good hack. And I mean really, because there is such a difference. Well, now that this beast of a world is all done, World 4 is next on my list. Are we to expect similar problems that World 3 had the pleasure of introducing us to? You bet we are! And of course, that's not a good thing.

This means war, SMW Central!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The End of Phineas and Ferb? Not a Chance!
Look, it's bad enough that fans and users ask the age-old question "Who is Phineas' real dad and who is Ferb's real mom", it really is.  But now we're hearing stuff that the television series Phineas and Ferb is gonna end?  Oh, dear lord!  The stupid things these fans will ask!  Think about it.  The series has high ratings and it's getting a fourth season.  I know fans are probably asking what happens after that, but get real!  Phineas and Ferb is not ending anytime soon!  Don't bet your chips on it!  And fans, please stop asking those stupid questions regarding Phineas and Ferb's other parents.  Because as far as I'm concerned, they don't even exist.  Besides, why would anyone wanna know when it has no relevance to the show?  Who in the blazes wants to drive us insane by asking such a ridiculous and unnecessary question?  Put your hand down, Ferb.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Thunder Discusses An SMWC Production: World 2

 World 2

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Am I the only one who noticed Mario's unusual behavior in this cut scene, much less throughout most of the cut scenes?

One down, seven to go. At this rate, we'll have Peach's cake in no time.

SLIENCE! PEACH IS WAITING FOR...I mean, ah, er, uh, a trap? No, this couldn't possibly have been a trap.

All right. Let's get going. Though, shouldn't you have let her known where you were going before we took off?

Whatever, Mom.

Doesn't that kind of bug people? Believe it or not, I have seen in other fictional stuff where similar behaviors, shown by their main protagonists no less, leads these characters into becoming villains. You heard me.

There was Jaden Yuki from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. He was so hell-bent on rescuing his friend Jesse that he went through leaps and bounds, practically ignoring his other friends around him, including his so-called best friend Syrus. In the aftermath, after they decided to abandon him, Jaden became the evil Supreme King.

Then there was Vakama from BIONICLE 3: Web of Shadows. He became overconfident right from the start of the movie's plot line and Matau eventually got all up in his face about it, pretty much blaming him for their Hordika condition. So Vakama struck out on his own, gets captured, meets Roodaka (very manipulative) and is eventually tempted into becoming a bad guy.

So now we got Mario not exactly acting 100% cheery, yelling at Luigi and getting a bit overconfident. I know, he probably wants those eggs really badly because Peach is his love interest and it's her birthday and all that, but really. Well, fortunately, we don't have to worry about seeing Mario's dark side or anything crazy because it actually doesn't happen. So let's just drop this for now and move on to the first level of World 2. Yipee.

Craggy Heights

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Okay, so we got these deluded enemies known as Cragnons which can't even be taken out, so they have to be avoided. Got no problem with that. Next we have the return of the Muths from Super Paper Mario, which actually function the way the Big Bully custom sprites do. Again, nothing too special, save for the fact that they're tring to push the player into dangerous terrain or off a cliff. But yeah, nothing out of the ordinary, right?

Hydro Hills

"It isn't actually all that wet."

Not all that wet, huh? Then why call it Hydro Hills? Oh well, moving on.

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It seems that if you haven't figured out you can spin jump off Torpedo Teds by now, you're pretty much screwed. Cause in this level, that's just what you gotta do. After the midway point, you go through this cave with more enemies around, but that's nothing too hard. It's just Buzzy Beetles, Spike Tops, more Koopas, Chargin' Chucks, and even one unnecessary Blargg. Actually, I don't know which perplexes me more - the placement of the Blargg, in which it can't even harm the player at all, or the graphics they chose for it, which makes it look like some lava crocodile or whatever it is. To be honest, it just looks like the Blargg was just put in randomly to show off its graphics. Not the way to go, SMW hackers.

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As for the secret exit, it's just too damn simple! Use the P-switch to free the key, bring the key into the cave, and get to the keyhole. Bingo.

Weeaboo Manor

Hoo friggin' doggy.

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This is one of the first real complicated levels. As a start, there are Anti Boo sprites that creep up to you while you look at them. The second section is much worse and a lot lengthier. Basically, you gotta use ON/OFF switches and carry items to find your way out of what could be the game's first hellhole. If you can actually make it to the exit, you'll create a shortcut to the castle. Big deal.

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And the secret exit? Surprise, surprise! It's cleverly hidden! Just before the door that leads to the ON/OFF nightmare room, two stacked coins are right in front of a wall, which you can actually jump through! Take the P-switch and bring it to the broken staircase, where if you hit it, the coins will point to another fake wall! Inside is a door that can only be exposed by the P-switch. You'll have nowhere to go, so just find the key and the keyhole and be done with this beast of a level.

Yellow Switch

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The secret exit of Weeaboo Manor leads to the first of the four switches, and boy is this such a simple level! Just get the Starman item, plow through the Pokeys, and hit the switch at the end of the level.

"Isn't that just grand?"

Flooded Crater

Oh, boy...

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Get this. Even the author of this hack's walkthrough (Vic Rattlehead, was it?) is starting to express negative things about this hack.

"Author's note: I hate when pipes are used for torpedo launchers"

Okay, it's not a completely grammatically correct statement, but still, it's a good note to make. I don't like Torpedo Teds coming out of pipes either. That's just got mass confusion written all over it! Not to mention, this isn't the only level in the game that does this! Aw geez, first we got dead-end levels on overworlds and submaps, now we got Torpedo Teds coming out of pipes! What is wrong with this group hack?! There's also a so-called bonus room with lots of coins, but there's also a group of enemies and in the end, you find yourself placed earlier in the level and you've all but wasted your time. Not cool, hack. Not. Cool.

P-Switch Peak

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You know that SMW Central has disassembles of original SMW sprites? Well, that must be exactly what is used in this level, disassembles of P-switches. Why is that? Because their time has been shortened and in Lunar Magic, they are identified as custom sprites. So you start this stage going left, pick up a hidden custom silver P-switch behind a bush, and carry it into a cave where you use it to get past some munchers guarding a custom blue P-switch. Okay, you now have two options at this point. You can either carry the blue P-switch all the way to the right and use it to get past the blocks that bar you from getting the midway point. Or, you can use it to get a trampoline. If you get the trampoline, you'll have no choice, but to use it to spring up where four coins are lined up into a bonus room. Either way, you'll reach the midway point, so the level continues. Yay. Eventually, you'll enter a cave where you once again have to use silver and blue P-switches to continue. Well, at least the level's aptly named. But there's a snag. Once you enter this cave, you can't go back, as apparently the pipe you come out of is a reset pipe, which... well... resets the puzzle you're in. Not that it's probably necessary because the puzzle seems simple enough if you get know the level. The silver P-switch is used to turn munchers on turn blocks into coins so you can hit them and bring down a custom blue P-switch. This in turn is used to get past some blocks so you can get to the end of the level. Yeah. Well, maybe the reset pipe is necessary after all, you know, in case a switch timer runs out and you somehow screw up.

Football Canyon

I thought Weeaboo Manor was crazy for a level, but it actually pales in comparison to this monstrosity! Football Canyon is such a long level, I'm actually gonna cover the secret exit on the way to the normal exit. Speaking of that, a lot of this hack's levels seem to do that. I know it's common for a hack, but yeah. I actually don't really despise long levels to be honest. But maybe it's because I'm used to using save states in just about every SMW hack I play.

Okay. Football Canyon. Here we go.

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The first thing you do here is expose an invisible coin block to get up a high wall where a Puntin' Chuck is. Okay, but there's no hints or anything that indicates you gotta do this. I mean, I don't think it's common knowledge for players to hug the wall and jump assuming there's gonna be some invisible block to give them a lift up, so this could have been exposed a little better. Next up, we have a trampoline guarded by a Pitchin' Chuck and a Chargin' Chuck. I'm gonna bet a few chips here that the level designers intended for a player to grab the trampoline and get past the Pitchin' Chuck somehow, but that doesn't really work, so it's better to take out the Pitchin' Chuck first. Later, there's a message advising you not to kill the Chargin' Chuck ahead. If you want the secret exit, then you'll have to follow this advice.

- Warning -
Don't harm that Chuck if you want to find the way to the sewers.
It'll help you to get through some obstacles.

The sewers? Hmm, that can only mean one thing, that this secret exit will eventually take you to the sewers that you had access to back in World 1. So these sewers are considered warp points in a way that serve as shortcuts leading to each of the worlds in this hack. So there's no Star Road or anything in this hack. That's actually quite original... well, at least for a hack. So I guess the more appropriate word for this is interesting. Back to the Chargin' Chuck, the reason not to kill him is... Wow, look at this! How many test plays did this puzzle take before it was completed? Look at it! And you gotta navigate Chuck through it! Okay, I just got one minor complaint about this. Right before the part where you trick Chuck into smashing all the turn blocks, it gets a little tight to squeeze through without taking a hit. But it's just a minor setback compared to what's coming in future levels. So if you can get Chuck to smash these turn blocks, you can then get the key. But hey, if you don't wanna waste your time playing this little game and you just wanna take him out just because, you know, that's cool too. Just keep in mind if you don't, it's no key for you. Either way, prepare yourself for a dreadfully long cave coming up.

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The next message block tells you of some apparent danger wherever bones are present. Better heed its warning because one misstep and... Whoa! It's a Sand Croc! From Cave Story! As a matter of fact, all of the custom sprites in this section are actually enemies from Cave Story! This whole cave is a cave story! *sigh* I really wish that joke wouldn't work. Anyways, to get the keyhole, stick to the low path beneath some strange custom blocks that prevent you from jumping up above them and you'll come across this...updraft. Wait...are these...what I think they are? Are these the elusive Wind Up Down blocks?! I've been dying to use these for my own hack! So you jump into this updraft and press down to lower yourself. If you end up reaching the top, there's no going below, so try not to. Stick to the low point and you'll eventually find another updraft that whisks you up to the keyhole. As for the normal exit, I almost don't wanna cover this because it gets a little tedious, but here we go anyway. In the next section, you end up lagging behind a Hothead, which gets boring. Next up, we're back with dealing with Cave Story enemies again. This next part gets really tricky. You have to bounce off an enemy to get up a ledge, squat and jump to grab a key, and move quickly before a Sand Croc snaps you up for plumber a la mode! Yeesh. Now, how many save states did this take me to accomplish? Either I can't remember or I lost track. This time, the key is used as a bridge to get across two munchers. *sigh* Why not just have one? Why do these level designers keep making tasks even harder than what they already are? Anyways, you then have to use a silver P-switch to get past munchers and grab a blue P-switch. Next, you have to trick a Sand Croc into popping up so you can use his head and get up a ledge where you can use the blue switch to get past more blocks. It's either that or hug the wall and jump to reveal an invisible coin block. Please don't tell me wall hugging is the only hint you get to revealing invisible coin blocks in this hack. Please! Now the next section is actually quite intriguing. As SMW hackers all know, floating and/or stacked munchers are an automatic no-no in any hack, so instead, we make graphics for them. In this case, it's Boos. Make your way to the Starman item and run across the Boos to the end of the section. Hey, what do you know, the Big Boos here have their original graphics intact! Once you get out of the section, it's straight on to the goal post from here. At last, we're done!

Swampland Passage

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I'm gonna take a stab that hex editing was used on the upside-down Piranha Plant sprite. While it obviously doesn't show in Lunar Magic, it does show in-game and apparently uses the same tile as the classic Piranha Plants. Nothing special, just something worth noting, which I discovered while using Lunar Magic to dive into this hack.

Since this is yet another straightforward level, I have no real objections to it, but one thing does stand out like a sore thumb. There's a goal point question sphere sprite at the end to make it look like Mario is leaving via a pipe. Okay, so they couldn't use a goal post in this level, but still, why not just have a goal post in a separate section?. The original Super Mario World did that quite a bit. Now this is what could be nitpicking coming from me. Anyways, clear this level, and you have access to the sewers from World 2! Bravo!

Grinder Castle

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By the way, I really don't like the Thwomp graphics used in this hack. They just don't really look like them, that's all. But enough of that, let's get down to Grinder Castle business. First off, there's some rather clever animation that tries to pass off as stationary Grinders. But even the message block states that a player cannot spin jump off them, so they're more of an annoyance than anything. Also, you have a choice to go to a whole shitload of trouble for a blue P-switch and when you finally find out what it's used for, guess what? There's practically nothing of value past the blocks that you use the switch on! Just a power-up and a multiple-coin block! That's it! This is so freakin' annoying! So, on to the last section. Who's up for a little game of 'Guide the Koopa'? Cause that's what you gotta do! You have to use ON/OFF switches to control Layer 2 foreground and get the Koopa to a point where you can borrow its shell and get past some turn blocks. My God, that's cheap! The first time I did this, by the time I figured it out, I had less than 100 seconds on the timer, so I was all but forced to die. So this is yet another level with a poor time limit, especially if the player stupidly decides to take a longer detour to get the P-switch with no apparent purpose. This is just crap, I tell you.

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Fortunately, to make up for all that, the boss of the second castle, Giant Monty Mole, is kind of easy. All you gotta jump on his noggin when he pokes out of a hole in the wall several times over and you win. Easy, right? Well, not easy as pie, mind you. You see, after a hit or two, he starts throwing rocks at your location, so you gotta start dodging. You can actually take out the rocks pretty easily too. Just jump on them. And after you beat him, you see a cool destruction sequence and the level is OWNED!

And with that, this review of World 2 comes to an end. Now, I gotta say, it did pick up the pace quite a bit, but there were a few points that could have been toned down here and there. Add on that two of the levels were hellishly long, which actually isn't worth complaining over as much levels that need longer time limits.

Tip: A good time limit is your average time + 100.

I seriously think there's more to this tip than just what it says. Generally, I think that by average time, it means how long it takes to explore every area of the level, not just the linear path. I'm gonna guess that for the most part of this hack, beta testers and level designers only created time limits based on durations spent in the level's linear area, in other words the main path. I know they don't expect us to dawdle or anything, but I don't think they expect us to explore the entirety of their levels either. This is a complaint I issued back in World 1 and it apparently exists in World 2 as well. Kinda makes you think what could possibly be waiting in the worlds ahead. Ugly graphics, limited time, megalomaniac puzzles, whatever there may be. Well, World 2 is done, World 3 is next. Oh, joy.