Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Thunder Discusses An SMWC Production: World 9

World 9

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We're closing in on the end of this hack, and about time too. So after all the excitement at the end of the World 8, it's time to wind down and go back to the way things are. World 9, also known as for some strange reason, World 0, is known as the sewers, and it essentially serves as a shortcut that links together all the other worlds so you don't have to take the long way around. If you count the number of pipes, you get eight. But what's this? There's a star tile at the very end. Could that be the way to the elusive Special World? Looks like we're gonna find out. But first, the levels. And there's only four of them, making this by far the shortest world in the hack, but it more than makes up for that by connecting to the other nine worlds.

Deep Dark Drains

This was actually the first level in the hack I ever played, which is understandable because you have access right at the start. Of course, because of that, and because you aren't meant to have access to the other worlds just yet, this level seemingly does nothing when you clear it except add on one exit to your total. In fact, for the record, only two of these sewer levels actually do things instead of just bumping up your total exit number by one. Now let's get into the level itself. It's not too bad for a possible first level, but there is one thing that I think could have been fixed. The time limit is only 300 seconds. Now it's perfectly probable for me to say why a longer time limit is necessary. For one, I complained about short time limits back in World 1 for exploratory reasons. I mean, they did put a shop in this hack and the player has a six-digit coin counter. That means it's more than likely that the player is gonna want to explore the entirety of a level looking for coins and try to snag every last one. The time limit in this level makes it seem like no one has time for that. It's just go, go, go, right to the finish, no time to get coins, no time to get a snack. 400 seconds, which is a perfectly average time limit, would have sufficed just fine. I did not see any reason why this level couldn't have had it.

Catacomb Calamity

Wow, look at all these coins. What does this mean? Why are some of them blue? Okay, this seems to be another straightforward level with no real blunders as far as I see. They even have a reset pipe in case you mess up with the balloon part. They also have that block that gives you a 1-up if you collect 30 or more coins (easy enough). The rest of the level speaks for itself, so it's another case of once-in-a-blue-moon no complaints.

Time Up Tunnels

This level has blue and red blocks which do completely different things instead of opposites, which one with a simple mind would expect. The blue blocks are solid to Mario yet passable by enemies and red blocks are pretty much the return of those awful and annoying time-draining custom blocks. But there does seem to be one bug with them. Sometimes the timer will stop altogether before going through another round of torture. I had to use that to my advantage back in the Toxic Utilities level. So throughout this level, we're expected to try to avoid stepping on red blocks as much as possible, which is easier said than done, and at the end, you get the option to do the level all over again with a much shorter time limit and be on the lookout for the Yoshi coins just for a few extra lives. My patience of course ran thin and I didn't even bother, so I just went straight to the goal instead. The end.

Tightpipes to Space

You get kicked out of this level if you don't have a spacesuit. So at this point we can assume that World 10 isn't just any Special World... it's a Space World! Now I just discovered another mysterious bug in this level, but I think it will be best if I save it for my discussion on World 10 because it might make more sense. Anyways, you start the level having to go down and fast because you only got 200 seconds. So you think this might be a simple little gateway level of sorts. Well, think again! There's one more section to go and it has unlimited time and no music. What is this place?

"In the next area, your patience will be tested. The switches' timing can only be understood by listening to the area."

Hmm, 'kay. So we get a bunch of sound effects playing and then an ON/OFF sequence is triggered. Okay, so timing is the key here, got no problem with that. But I do have one hell of a problem with one particular point of the level that should have been erased. There's a part with two turn blocks and two gray cement blocks on top of them. And the floor and ceiling prevents you from taking a detour. The door nearby only takes you back to the beginning, so that doesn't help. The only real clue you get is coins in the shape of an 'r', but what kind of a hint is that? How in the hell are we expected to get past those turn blocks?! What are we supposed to do?! The throw blocks further back aren't gonna last that long and the turn blocks certainly don't spin forever! What?! What is this?! The message says that your patience will be tested, but that's just cock and bull because I obviously lost my patience with this section! I had no choice but to fly over the top of the screen with Cape power and continue the rest of the level airborne. *sigh* Fortunately, this is the only real thing that totally botches this level. The rest of World 9 is somewhat of a breeze, and I'm well aware that hackers probably wanted to keep players out of this Space World without a fight. But seriously, the level designers went too far with this prank. I was pissed.

...Wait a second... I was supposed to use a Chargin' Chuck to break down the turn blocks. Well, stupid, stupid me! Not that I can believe they could run under those cement blocks anyway. I guess that's why the door was there.

Okay, so overall World 9 is considerably straightforward mainly owing to the prospect that a player will try the levels as soon as they are unlocked. There may be only four levels, but the seemingly impassable obstacle in Tightpipes to Space is seriously wrong and should never have existed without at least another hint. There were no real visible hints showing how one might be able to get past it and it was a waste of time for me to figure anything out. After all, regarding the Chargin' Chuck tactic, I hadn't had to use it since World 2, so how was I to know? There's no boss battle in this world, but that's kind of understandable, seeing as this is mainly used as the connection to all the other worlds. Okay, that's nine worlds down. Only one more to go. This is the hack's last chance to be good, as the only two things I got out of it so far were an awesome bonus game and a way cool final boss fight. So what's in store for us in this Space World? It's time for us to explore... where no plumber has gone before... to infinity and beyond...

This means war, SMW Central!

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