So, I’m making a game – sort of…

We are living in a Mario World...

So what’s happened in the past month? Well modern gaming is going through another lull period, akin to the last generation’s second year in where we saw an abundance of titles pass us by, leaving us dry for the rest of the year. COVID-19’s lasting effect on development has finally hit, and gamers are now feeling it with nothing to rely on but the ol’ backlog. But don’t get me wrong, there’s some great games out right now to sink your teeth into; some which we’re yet to review, so keep an out – we’ll also have a list of titles to keep you busy during the dry spell that will keep you keen. But with that said, my attention to the PlayStation 5 and XBOX Series units have been a little disparaged by this lengthy pause, trying to find something anew to rekindle my interest in video games in general. To say that I have fallen out of love is definitely an overstatement, but I was close.

“Love in the Time of Iso…” pays homage to Wyatt Croucher’s “Love in the Time of Lexapro” from Casio Mario World.

A few months back, I sat down and spoke to prominent members of the SMW Rom Hacking community, to understand their love for one of the Super Nintendo’s greatest achievements in Super Mario World. Now, I find myself encroached and fascinated by its lofty heft of customisation, that would leave Super Mario Maker fans seething. It’s been eye-opening, and has re-invigorated something in me that’s been dormant for over a decade; that being homebrew gaming/rom hacking. Retaining minimal knowledge has definitely helped ease myself back into the fold, but learning a litany of assembly coding and re-educating myself on HEX values has been an addictive experience. Taking apart the fundamentals of Super Mario World and coding a reverse-engineered sprite, or injecting code to have Mario sink not swim is crazy-fun, but designing my own universe around me has been utterly jaw-dropping.

HDMA Colour coding, and retexturing different sprites to look insanely different; even reprising old foes such as Wart from SMB2 into SMW, only to have him wear an inconspicuous disguise, make for some comical moments that are only a taste of things to come. How about turning the floor into a P-Switch trap? Or swimming through lava, and melting in water? These are merely examples of what “Map16” can do in Super Mario World; a powerful tool that edits blocks that you can cloak for either useful means or wrong-doing for your own amusement. Tools such as “Lunar Magic” and “YY-CHR” are essential in recreating the Super Mario World experience, alongside “AddMusicK”; allowing developers to inject their own Music into the game which can be created by the person themselves or picked from an amazing library of original music and ports on SMWCentral.

“Smug Juice” Contains references of the SMW Community, and named after a huge nerd.

“UberASM” ports through assembly code that can be injected into specific levels of the game, while regular assembly code or “ASM” as it’s commonly known, is injected universally. These are key programs that will help push you through the beginning stages of Super Mario World Rom Hacking, and can teach you so much about the SNES Hardware itself. As simple as it sounds, there is a learning curve that will take time before you land on your feet and begin zooming through your hack like a Lunar Magician, but if you have had experience in the past with programs like acmlm’s “SMB3 Discombobulator”; one of the earliest WindowsGUI based SMB3 rom hacking utilities, “Mario Improvement 3”; same as the previous but for MS-DOS and can edit SMB3 levels for Super Mario All-Stars, and “Reggie”; New Super Mario Bros. Wii level creator, then you’ll find it to be an easy drive over the hump before getting into the nitty-gritty.

The aforementioned programs I had used 20 years ago, when I was only 13. I learned how to hack Super Mario Bros. 3, while also dabbling in SMB1 & 2 with their respective editors. Lunar Magic was around at the time, but in its infancy was not as extensive as it is today. Influences such as Celeste, VVVVVV have had an enormous impact on the SMW Hacking community, even having Maddy Thorson herself returning to the community she once considered her home-base to create (allegedly) Super “Super Sonic Saves the World” World, with prominent community developer Dtothefourth (or D4), where the player portrays the Blue Blur himself, to save the world. The hack itself is a hilarious melding of many experiences including SMW, Sonic (obviously), Super Smash Bros., Celeste (again obvious), Diddy’s Kong Quest, and many more titles.

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SMW has also seen Celeste “recreated” in some respect, with SMWCentral community member MarkAlarm, and his widely popular rom hack “Celeste.smc”, becoming the perfect love-letter to the 2018 Game of the Year. The upcoming SGDQ 2022, will showcase the title in a race between GrandPooBear and MrMightyMouse_, where the two competitors will race toward the game’s Any% finish (Any% being the title’s non-completionist finish rate). For myself, creating my own game or rom hack thus far has been insightful, and an exciting way to keep myself from having a “falling out” with video games in general. For the enthusiast that may be wondering? Is it “chocolate”? Is it “vanilla”? Is it a troll hack? Is it a kaizo? Well, all of it. It’s something for everyone, and I’ve been fortunate to receive advice from the likes of Juzcook (a massive nerd, and creator of Invictus), LUSH_50 (Creator of the Nightmare Cafe series), Wyatt Croucher (Creator of Casio Mario World, and a huge inspiration), and many, many others.

All I know right now is, I’ll be taking my time on this, as I don’t want to rush something that no-one will remember or even have fun with. I want it to be the full package; an amalgamation of experiences from old to new, modern to classic and the other way around. Taking the foundation of Super Mario World, and stretching it out like dry play-dough before it breaks apart then placing it back together to see if makes anything new, or exciting is half the fun, but it will be the final product that I hope to sculpt to perfection, something I never thought I would dive this deep into in this lifetime, but here I am. Ready to actually make something that people will potentially play and get something out of,… or at least I hope. I will keep you guys posted on the game’s progress!

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