Friday, June 15, 2012

The Thunder Discusses An SMWC Production: World 10

World 10

This is it. World 10. The last world of "An SMWC Production". Also known as for some obscene reason, World B. And let me tell you. This world has issues so serious that the hack really would have been better if it had never existed. At all. Period. This so-called Space World is just almost too horrendous to discuss and definitely not worth saying that this hack goes out with a bang. But hey, someone's got to be brave enough to point out the obvious mistakes. And that somebody... would be me. The Thunder. Of all users. Okay dokey, let's do this shit, one level at a time.

oh god brambles

First of all, why call a level that? Why use all lower-case letters? Why say "oh god" to begin with? I know bramble levels from Donkey Kong Country 2 were notoriously known for being the toughest in the game what with all that a player has to contend with, but they're not that bad, are they? Well, when I saw all the things littered around, I had to say like, "Okay, I could be wrong." Just look at all these munchers on the end of these vines. They're everywhere! They really shouldn't be here! What's wrong with using extra graphics to create stuff that looks more convincing, like floating spike balls maybe. Hell, even those Gordo enemies would work well! But no, they had to stick munchers where they don't belong. Seriously, maybe this level should have been called "oh god munchers". *sigh* I give up. Okay, the second section is actually kind of cool and I never thought to actually try something like what it has in it. We got brambles on Layer 2 moving left and right in a vertical level as you make your way downward to the midway point. Oh, and the third section... not gonna go there. Well, I kinda have to, don't I, so here we go. There's a floating muncher here. Really, SMW Central? Really? You really couldn't resist? Okay, so we learn the hard way that the hackers didn't stick in just any floating muncher. It's a sprite. And once it shows up, it's in hot pursuit of you and never leaves you alone. And I mean really. This part was just so damn difficult it once again crosses the threshold into unfair. I was kind of looking forward to using a muncher sprite for my own hack, but now that I've seen what it's capable of, I'm all for changing my mind. Oh, and what's worse than one of these munchers? Two of them! Yes, you get two chasing you to the bitter end. To top it off, the goal point question sphere in this level uses graphics that make it look a muncher. Har dee har, har, har. I get it. I didn't see enough munchers already, so what's one more? Yeesh...

Asteroid Frigate

Okay, I'll bite. This level is actually the most interesting in comparison to the others. First off, Mario gets to fly in a little pod, just like in World 4. The only issue is that you can plainly see where you'll end up if you hit the midway point, which was clearly not necessary, especially since in Lunar Magic, the level designers stuck a scroll generator there, meaning if you start from the midway entrance, you gotta go in the door pronto. But the next section really makes me envious because we got a custom sprite that changes the gravity level. And the best part is, it's ON/OFF switch activated! How cool is that?

Orbital Fortress

"Not an easy stage, but what else would you expect? This is the secret world, baby!"

Uh, yeah, I get that. It's been well established into my skull, but what I would expect is for aesthetics to be improved (munchers on vines, come on...) and make things only hard enough to be challenging, not overwhelming.

"Soon, you'll come to a Koopa with no shell on a platform. I don't think there's any safe way to get the shell to the Koopa to climb in to, so if you're not big, you're probably going to die!"

*sigh* Really? I don't know why level designers end up messing up so that you don't stand a chance without any power-ups. Why? Why, why, why? The next section is vertical and you basically have to make your way up by spin-jumping off of Thwomps. Hmm, they have their original graphics back. Does this mean what I think it does? Yep, the giant-sized Thwomp is also back!

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Oh, now this next part is very promising. You stumble across this giant red switch and the message block is telling you not to push it. But since you've got nowhere else to go, you have to push it. Cute. It's almost like an open invitation. So you get 100 seconds to get the hell out. It's actually kinda straightforward, aside from the cave-in generator that brings falling debris down on top of you, and you seem to have enough time. Huh, fancy that. But the one thing I really detest about this level is the positioning of the Thwomps and not having much space to build up enough momentum for high jumps. It's just annoying, really, that's all.

Asteroid Belt

Classic name, almost cliche, not-so-classic level, though. The Divine Koopas and Fallen Koopas have returned. To start this level, you pretty much head right, then up and to your left in order to get to a pipe. Now wait a minute. Didn't I complain about a similar situation back in World 8? Ah yes... Gaijin Cave. So again, what if you fell and somehow survived? You have a time limit, right? So if you fall once, you're never gonna make it. And look, the midway entrance that leads onward is once again in plain sight. But in the third section, you get ambushed by a meteor shower and you have to dodge falling projectiles from space.

"And every time, somehow every time these stars will get right in your way."

Well, ain't that something. From this point, it's onward ho to the... goal point question sphere. You know, I think a goal post could have been put in the level and it would have been just fine. Oh, well. Meh.

Arctic Fortress

From this point onward, the levels are reaching the utmost difficulty curve, so the last thing we want is anything crazy. Too bad that's still what happens. We got slippery sections with Ball 'n' Chain enemies and Bullet Bill launchers littering the place, we got two underwater portions with vertical spikes that slam down, topped off with hordes of Grinders that barely give you any time to pass through alive. Crazy? Hell, yeah! But that's not all! Players once again get tormented because a 3-up moon is impossible to get! That same complaint from other previous levels is back! Okay, I know 3-up moons are meant to be hard to get, but hackers, quit rubbing it in our faces by putting these things in impossible-to-reach locations. We get it. We've well established that 3-up moons are meant to play hard to get back in the original Super Mario World. Oh, and it seems that according to Lunar Magic, the level designers think they can pass off a goal point question sphere using any graphics because it gets collected right from when you enter a section. *sigh* I swear, my forehead is gonna burn up from all the facepalms I've been doing over the issues in this world and quite frankly, the hack altogether. Just use a goal post! Their graphics were not overwritten for the level! Why not just use one of those? Yeah, I kind of nitpick at that, but then again, what would be so bad about trying to avoid crappy aesthetics a proper way?

Sizzling Spires

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Okay, THAT'S it! I really, really wanna know how these custom sprites ever got inserted in this hack and function correctly! Because last I checked, these flamethrower custom sprites are from the Japanese SMW hack Super Mario World VIP Wall Mix 5 and whenever I try to use their custom sprites, my hack keeps freezing up on me in whatever level I place them in. Is that actually not the case for the flamethrower sprites? I really wanna know how this is possible. One thing that I have to give props for in this level is that the hackers were able to code their own custom paths for the creating and eating block sprites. That must have been a lot of effort. Okay, so they're actually disassembled copies and inserted as custom sprites. Guess that means the effort was a tad easier, I dunno. Oh, and next up, look at this. The Mario series have had so much mysticism in their games already, this one hack decides to expand on it by coming up with a submersible that travels through lava. Now... if you can grasp that... I mean... life under lava? So flipping crazy! So crazy, it's like a Mario game. I mean, you know in some other games that Mario doesn't dissolve instantly in lava. He either loses health or one life and that's all there is to it. But a submersible in lava? It does sound awfully original, that's for sure. However, there is a complaint. One hit... just one hit from any obstacle, and it's good-bye you. Really? Are you kidding me? Okay, what could have possibly happened to bring this on? I know it's a submersible in lava (pardon me for repeating this), but this level is one of the hardest in the hack, so you think the least that could be done is to give you a fighting chance, even if it is mystically under the red-hot lava surface. I discovered that once I was through with this section that somehow Mario ended up small. Okay, I guess that explains it, but how did the marine pop custom sprite cause this? Okay, it's a different custom sprite than the little spacecraft, but come on. Maybe the cause is actually a side effect from using custom teleport blocks that warp you to the next level instead of the level exit on screen. Well, the reason they exist is because the level exit in that section actually takes you to a hidden area with no custom music, where you need to have hit all four switches in order to go on. Now, I may not taken the liberty of running a full examination, but I'm not entirely confident that not hitting all the switches would stop a player from getting to the secret exit at the end. Okay, considering that you're carrying a key, it would be harder to fly to the other side even if you've only hit the red switch at this point. But I guess this wasn't taken into consideration.


You know, it's one thing to have a secret boss at the end of any Special World, even in an SMW hack. Don't get me wrong, it's all good and such. And usually we have a good-sized level right before the butt-kicking begins. But in this instance, we're thrown straight into a boss fight right when the level starts. It's kind of an odd thing, considering that Bowser's Castle had this long, drawn-out stretch before finally confronting the big bad face to face. Now we get no real level whatsoever, just a final confrontation beginning immediately. So here we go! The last battle!

"The REAL final boss! You have to defeat the administration of SMWC!"

Wh-what? I do? Really?!

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Finally, I get the chance to put these cretins out of their misery!

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While the idea of sticking one's likeness in his or her own hack, much less said user's avatar, sounds pretty bizarre, it adds a nice touch in the sense that we players get to school the masters. Anyways, you're up against this custom n00b boss lookalike named Megadmin (never heard of this admin before). While trying to beat him is hard enough, you keep getting interrupted with a math quiz in which you have to answer correctly or else you get hit. Now, I got two issues with this. First and foremost, it's bad enough that this keeps popping up in the middle of a battle, especially one of the hardest in the game, I might add, but you have to struggle to press either L or R while the fight goes on and if you don't manage in time you get hit. So the quiz is more or less what I call the perfect distraction. In the game Banjo-Tooie, during the final showdown with Gruntilda and the digger vehicle she inherited from her sisters, she at least temporarily stops the battle and gives you a few seconds to answer her question. And you're not trying to fight her at the same time or anything. You get a small breather. You think with all the awesome ASM put into Toadsworth's Ghost, the hackers could at least have done something to rectify this battle by either having Megadmin call off his attacks before quizzing you or having you press L or R when the message appears. Secondly, it appears that the math might be a little too complicated for the average player.  I mean, exponents?  Really?  Does SMW Central honestly think only its users are gonna play this hack?  I sure as hell hope they don't think the outside world is stupid so that only teenagers are capable of doing this shit.  Oh, and there's one more issue I have with this fight, and pardon me for possibly overreacting, but throughout the battle, whenever Megadmin attacks with the floating discs from Starcraft II, there's a constant stream of colored flashes that really irritate the living hell out of me. I mean, doesn't this run the risk of getting seizures of something?

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How many of you people remember the infamous Pokemon anime episode "Electric Soldier Porygon", in which one scene caused many seizures in Japanese kids up and down the country and some of them never made it through alive. It could have been the end of Pokemon, but it wasn't. So now we get a near repeat in this boss battle? I know the hackers probably enjoyed messing around and creating what they call these awesome special effects, but it's almost a strobe effect and it's really not too healthy-looking from my point of view.

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Well, after four hits from throwing white orbs at him, Megadmin takes the fight to the next level. In Phase 2, he zips around the arena conjuring Koopas and summoning little Pac-men to slowly drift across the screen and try to bite you. And as you might guess, you have to toss Koopa shells up at him. Now, the thing is, you have to hit him quickly, or else this happens:

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The blue screen of death. It's kind of like how Tetsuya Nomura from Chrono Trigger pretends to reset your game, but I imagine this joke was tossed in to poke fun at all the possibilities that could happen to your SMW ROM whenever a patch, tool, or sprite screws everything over. Not a bad guess at most. But the blue screen joke actually resets the field, so all the Koopas and any Pac-man stragglers are suddenly gone. Oh, and also, Megadmin has the power to shift the floor in an effort to damage you. The blocks will all change to ON blocks and you have to avoid making contact with the OFF blocks when they suddenly appear. Thankfully, the pattern is fairly simple to dodge if you know what to expect, but it doesn't help if you're trying to concentrate either dodging his little Pac-men or trying to hit him with a shell. But if there are any Pac-men, you could always spin-jump off them to stay off the ground for as long as you can. After six hits, he goes down. Hasta la vista, Megadmin! I've always wanted to do that. If I didn't have such a busy life, I'd probably make a much more sensible administrator. But, no can do, not that I care anyway.

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But the fight's not over yet! Now you have to face the master, the leader of the hack's production team, S.N.N. himself, or rather his avatar that makes me think he's a smug tyrant. He throws mugs of beer and conjures up instant death notes (if it's a play on the anime Death Note, I don't even wanna hear it), which believe it or not, are the only things that can beat him. You have to jump directly on top of the flying notes while holding the Y button in order to... pick them up, in which they turn into throw blocks, and then toss them up at the sniggering king. And all the while you're dodging his projectiles and trying to dethrone him, the Layer 3 smash is coming down on you. Wow, we haven't seen this original generator from Super Mario World this entire hack, and for a good reason. Their graphics now somehow resemble the spelling of E-H, as in "eh?" Okay, I guess that's kinda interesting. The only real snag to this battle is that the notes either kill you just like that, or you use them to take out His Majesty. Instant death is certainly questionable, considering how far you've come and then having to start over. Well, I guess that's why this is World 10, this totally secret world that no one can get to without meeting certain requirements. Also, it seems that you're not permitted to carry over Cape power for the entire fight, which I interpret as a representation of the administration's dominance over SMW Central. Enough with the punishments already! Anyways, after seven hits, you'll force the mighty S.N.N. to abdicate his position and regal dominance over SMW Central once and for all! Viva la revolution, baby!

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And that's it for this beast. Now before I bring this discussion to a final close, there's one more major issue I wanna go over. Remember when I first mentioned it back in World 8? Well, here it is. I defeated the administration, but when I went back to Peach's Castle... the message popped out and threw me out of the level! I was like... WHAT?!? I mean, what in the hell is this?! So guess what that meant?! I had to do Bowser's Castle all over again! But at least I didn't have to that dreadful Void again. It was then I started speculating and theorizing, and finally, after coming to a conclusion, I tested a few more things, and this is what I found out.

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The source of this "bug" is that apparently, these eggs and the spacesuit are more than just overworld events. They cancel each other out. By that, I mean you can't have both. You cannot have the eight eggs and the spacesuit both in your possession. So in a nut shell, you as good as cough up the eggs as well as 3000 coins to get the spacesuit. *sigh* Man, that's just... Forget it, I don't wanna say anything here. I'm just gonna wrap up.

So World 10 is full of problems here and there with many holes that could have been fixed. I honesty don't know who keeps getting brainy ideas to put munchers on the ends of vines, which would make these levels automatically kaizo. Basically, we've got yet another world that's considered nightmarish and almost nigh impossible to get past without the use of save states. Now mind you, "An SMWC Production" was not the worst hack I ever played (believe me, I've tried my hand at much worse), but that doesn't mean it was really good. I'm just saying in general that for a collaboration effort, I expected better to be brutally honest. The story seemed to be creative and fairly original as in "Peach doesn't get kidnapped" original, the custom bosses were indeed unique and most of them made for fair challenges, the custom sprites are what hackers would expect, but would probably be generally confusing to the average player, the graphics ranged from mediocre to pretty bad, considering what could have been changed and what wasn't even necessary (those damn Reggie Bills, for instance).

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Well, I guess this is it. So, it's been fun going over this piece of work that isn't really a masterpiece or anything, pointing out all the little tidbits that turned into flaws. Now I know some of you may think I've been kind of harsh and have come down on SMW Central for a lot of wrong reasons, but there were quite a few things in their first collaboration that did disappoint me. Besides, in the long run, if you come to forgive me, you'll be better people than me, and that much I can promise you.

But, wait... What's this? What's this?!?






...They're making a sequel. SMW Central's staff is making a sequel, "SMWC Production 2".


Damn you, SMW Central! Just you wait till you finish this project! I hope you learned from your mistakes the first time, because I'll get to covering all your collaboration group work...if it's the last thing I ever do!

~The Thunder

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