Very nice hack from what I've played thus far, though I seem to have found a rather problematic bug...
If you die in Bowser's Castle (second visit) after hitting the midpoint, when you reenter the stage, you shoot out of a cannon pipe and end up here:
You can't move to the right, and moving to the left causes you to take mysterious damage. There doesn't seem to be any way of exiting this area other than pressing start and select, which renders the stage impossible to complete if the midpoint is hit.
On a more minor note, the midpoint in Confusion Forest 5 doesn't seem to have any effect at all...
All right, with the castle glitch fixed, I managed to play all the way through. Extremely impressive all around. Despite the lack of ExGFX, the hack manages to pull off a very distinct visual style and mood. The storyline twists and non-linear overworld travel are nice touches as well--I especially like the Bowser battle/Princess rescue occurring so early in the game. I'd really love to see this followed through to its completion.
A few more specific comments...
1. Mario's looking rather pale on the overworld. Are you sure he's feeling all right?
2. I quite prefer your dark blue pallet to the original game's, which always seemed to veer just a teensy bit too much toward the purple side. However, the blue Koopa Troopa's shoes now suddenly get darker when it's knocked out of its shell. Then again, these are the same shoes that can change color depending on what shell their owner is currently wearing, so maybe that's not so odd.
3. The post-castle #3 message makes reference to Lemmy's "back castle". I'm assuming this is supposed to be "black castle", unless his front castle exists as a hidden stage
4. Putting the special item boxes directly inside abnormally irksome stages probably isn't a good idea. If the player accidentally picks up a powerup or gets hit causing the item to fall from the box before the point where it is supposed to be used, they are forced to trek all the way through the stage again in order to get another. I can understand why you might not want them to have such easy access to the special items (especially the spring board), but it seems a rather skewed trade off for the points where they're essential...
5. Time limits are just a little too stingy in a few stages. It doesn't really affect the difficulty of any particular stage, but I do end up hearing the "hurry up!" fanfare quite a lot, which of course is extremely emotionally distressing. Personally, I always thought the timer itself was a bit of a relic--an unnecessary holdover from rush-to-the-right can't-even-go-backwards style of the original SMB. SMW, on the other hand, allows much more opportunity for exploring and fooling around, and I always liked to take advantage of these. And honestly, the timer doesn't even have any in-game explanation. Why is Mario plagued by a mysterious countdown? Why does it cause him to die when it runs out? Why does hitting a goalpost nullify it? 'Tis one of the great mysteries of our time. Again, that's all just my personal preference; it's hardly an intrinsic flaw as is.
6. In the forest part of the last level, a flopping Cheep-Cheep briefly changes into a Piranha Plant stem. Such an amusing reversal!
7. Swoopers and spike tops make hilariously good stand-ins for metroid enemies. Bullet Bills less so, and they shoot out from odd places. The one who appears a significant distance above the recessed pipe especially bothers me.
8. The readme is a filthy liar--there is too a yellow switch palace in the game! If you press right after beating the last stage, Mario will walk off the map. Press up after this, and you can access the palace. It will even distribute the yellow blocks once you beat it! What it won't do, however, is save, and you can't get back onto the map once you walk off, so this beating it won't really do you any good, but it's fun to do in any case.
But that's all a mass of absurdly minor quibbling. What you've got here is an extremely enjoyable hack which manages to feel fresh and innovative without drastically altering the game play or throwing in most of the traditional bells and whistles. Excellent work on all fronts.
I just played through your demo, and I’m afraid it still needs a lot of work. While it makes some notable improvements over its predecessor, it still unfortunately suffers from many of the same faults.
- Your music choice is, as before, excellent. This was your previous hack’s biggest strength, and it’s nice to see that this one follows suit. I especially like the Sonic 3 boss music (a tune I’ve always enjoyed, though most midi adaptations are notably…off).
- Visual style, on the other hand--though better than the original--is a little bland. Far too many stages consist of homogenous brown or grey brick mazes. If possible, try to give each stage (or at least every few stages) a distinctive look. If you put the same efforts into your visuals as you do your music, you could have on of the most atmospheric hacks out there.
- The difficulty is a little crazy, even if you’re aiming for a decidedly difficult hack. Perhaps if these stages occurred later on in the game, they wouldn’t be so bad…but for the first world? Yikes. The difficulty is very uneven, as well; the first stage is quite easy, the second extremely hard, and the remaining stages fluctuate wildly (the castle actually being easier than most of what precedes it). There’s no consistency.
- It’s also nice to see you cut back on the auto-scrolling, Bullet Bill generators, and flashing shells. Almost every single stage in the first MiM featured some combination of these three, which made it a chore to play, and I don't mind their absence this time round. However…
- Enemy and obstacle placement is still a little cheap. You blindside the player FAR too frequently. Worst of all are the seemingly endless number of enemies that fall without warning from the sky. Tricky obstacles are fine, but obstacles that can’t be avoided because the player didn’t even know they were there in the first place are just cheap. And when every single stage is filled with these…well, that’s no fun at all.
- There’s a severe lack of power ups. I only noticed two in the entire demo, and the first one doesn’t appear until level 4. It’s no fun being small all the time.
- While some of your puzzles are fairly creative, they tend to demand some fairly unreasonable maneuvers to complete, leave little room for error, and aren’t very forgiving when one fails to get them exactly right. A good example of this is the vine block in the castle—a nice idea, but the tiny space between the block and the edge of the gap makes it absurdly difficult to hit, and every time you miss, you have to run back past the three follow spikes (which, dope that I am, I seem to forget about every single time). There doesn’t seem to be any reason for this, just bargin-basement difficulty for its own sake.
- Levels are too short and too repetitive. Too many stages consist of working through a cramped, enemy-filled maze, grabbing a springboard, and bringing it back to the beginning of the maze. Try making the stage a little longer while spreading the enemies and obstacles out a bit (no need to throw everything at us at once!). Make sure your player feels as though they’re exploring an interesting new world, not simply racing through a grueling obstacle course.
- Try to vary both the mood and layout of your levels. Give us fields to run through, mountains to hike up, oceans to swim across, and towers to climb. Have us go travel through a sewer, a black hole, an abandoned military base, a subway tunnel, or even a giant wheel of cheese. Don’t limit us to repetitive brick mazes, as the player will quickly lose interest.
-Err, where’s the boss? There’s a boss room, to be certain, complete with pits and throw blocks, but nobody seems to be home. The only way out I to kill yourself. This seems a rather significant oversight, as it makes the stage impossible to complete…
I apologize if I sound overly critical here—I do like your general idea, and I think there’s some seeds of good design in here, if not very effectively organized in the present demo. Try to better develop an overall framework for how you want your game to progress, and try to design your levels around that, each flowing into the next. Make them a little longer and a little less crowded—feel free to challenge the player, but don’t make them feel as though they're constantly under siege. Good luck, and I hope to see lots of improvements in your next demo.
The fermata is sort of an unsettling symbol. It looks like a single, piercing eye, staring into the depths one's soul. That's pretty eerie. Eerier than an Eerie, infact, the latter of which is not, admittedly, very eerie at all. On this note, you might consider placing them in the aforementioned ghost house that you are off to be on-working in order to better terrify the player.
That said, the fermata isn't really a note per se, and thus a block bearing it cannot rightly be called a note block. Perhaps purity of noteness could better be preserved while still cultivating originality by employing a proper note but adorning it with the tremolo symbol? This has the added advantage of having greater thematic significance, which is of course something we all seek in our note blocks.
It is nice, but not especially spooky. I wouldn't mind having floors like that in my own house, in fact (I do not live in ghost house). Yet I suspect it should have a rather different effect once the background is added.
Very nice, though for some reason I always imagined Rice Beach to be perpetually overcast, with whiter sand (so as to be more rice-like). I appear to be the only one to imagine such, however, so pay that no heed. Cloudy beaches are sadly underrepresented, though.
Er...I have to admit, the sudden switch to a cactus-based hero strikes me as a little...well, insane. Don't get me wrong; I love cactuses. Were you to develop a seperate, whimsy-filled hack called "The Adventures of Cesare the Cactus" centering around the cactus qua cactus, and drawing on all of the crazy hijinks that a cactus is wont to encounter in its daily comings and goings, I'd support it in a heartbeat. But in the context of Dark Horizon as hithero presented in this thread, a cactus in the lead role seems a very bizarre, shoehorned-in element.
And then of course there are the difficulties arising from a cactus's physical makeup, which is quite different from that of Mario, and suited to decidedly different activities. Cactuses are notoriously poor jumpers, being, on the balance, somewhat lacking in the limb department. They're completely incapable of climbing vines. Swimming is right out. They can't carry objects with them (not koopa shells or spring boards, at least), nor kick them, and they're ill-suited to wearing capes (especially of the sort to be swung as a weapon), as such garments have a tendency to stick to their thorns, which inhibits movement and is extremely uncomfortable besides. Sure, a cactus-themed hack (or "hacktus", if you will) could certainly be done, but it would require a complete rethinking of how the game might be played. The Mario-to-cactus transition is a formidable task indeed, not to be taken up lightly, and not a thing that will easily submit to being thrust upon a work already in progress.
In the end, though, it is your hack, and if you think you can make it work, by all means, go for it.
This is the funniest post of all time even if it wasn't meant to be.
Well, it surely wasn't meant in deadly earnest, even if it's (sort of) trying to advance a legitimate point.
I have nothing against any hacktuses that various folks may now be tempted to attempt. I think it's just important that the hack be based around the character as such. Perhaps I've just seem too many inept hacks in which the author would simply stick a two-tiered pokey in Mario's place, and have it do such decidedly un-cactusy things as spin jump, wear a cape, ride on Yoshi (ouch) and so forth. If one wants to use a character other than Mario (especially one so different as a cactus), it's worth considering how this character might behave differently from Mario (e.g. what can Mario do that this character can't, and what can this character do that Mario can't), and designing various puzzles and obstacles according to these differences.
But again, if you've got some good ideas for how a cactus hero might handle, and some interesting level ideas that draw on this, by all means, start hacking that hacktus.
I just finished playing through...very nice overall. I think my favorite part was the switch palaces, which were absolutely crazy--but in a good way.
Very nice to see custom bosses, though I have to agree that Larry was sort of disappointing. The bosses are also a not as...satisfying to hit when they don't make the "bwow!" sound. Different dying graphics might help a little as well...Morton looks positively thrilled that you've defeated him.
As regards the first world...it doesn't bother me so much that it's linear so much as that the levels simply don't seem to have as much character as those in the second. It's always good to start things off with a bang. Also, Ivy Grove doesn't appear to contain any ivy, nor is it a grove (I like the way the level looks despite this, though). The tops of a few of the cannons are messed up in Bullet Time, as well.
The music is pretty nice; I especially liked the water theme, the castle theme, and the remix of the bonus music. The other tunes aren't as remarkable at first, but they definitely grow on you over time.
Re-entering the ruined castles is a neat idea, by it seems odd that the foreground is trashed while the background is completely untouched. It's as though a bomb went off inside, but graciously decided to leave the walls intact.
On the whole, though, it was great fun to play, with interesting levels and lots of secrets. I look forward to seeing the next version.
I played through this while it was awaiying moderation...to be honest, it needs a lot of work.
The most notable aspect of this game are the graphics, which are very...strange. They have almost a sort of cubist paiting look to them, which is actually sort of cool, and suits the bizarre nature of the story. Unfortunately, they don't match with the environments and backgrounds at all, and some of the smaller graphics are difficult to make out (the buzzy beetle replacement looks like a glitched mess, and I can't tell what any of the powerups other than the feather are supposed to be). The strange phrasing of the message blocks and post-boss messages is pretty funny as well.
That aside, though, there's really very little to recommend about this hack. The majority of the levels are obvious edits of the originals. The castles are the most flagrant of all; almost nothing is changed in them. The overworld is glitchy and ugly. The secret exits don't seem to do anything (provided I'm finding them correctly), aside from one which causes an endless overworld event then freezes the game. The game is also very short, and there are far more enemies listed in the ending than appear in the game itself, suggesting it was originally supposed to be much longer. In brief, it doesn't seem as though much effort as put into this hack at all.
Plus there's one level in which hitting the midpoint then dying causes you to be trapped in an inescapable chamber forever. Intentionally. What's up with that?
Ha. This idea is hilarious. I remember back when I was a wee lad, and neither I nor any of my friends could beat Tubular...One fellow claimed he seen it passed once, and that it was followed by a long series of even stranger and harder stages, the last of which was known as "Spinning Gears", and featured, fittingly enough, a large maze composed of spinning gears. No one can fault them for deciptive labeling.
Of course, soon after this, I finally did beat Tubular, and everything that followed it, as well. Imagine my disappointment to find not an ultra-difficult gear maze at the end, but a relatively easy stage with green time apples and an exaggerated appraisal of my playing abilities written in coins. And the "strange new world" I was promised earlier in the area? Identical to the old one, but with an uglier palette and three or four weird graphic replacements.
Of course, when I informed my friend of this, he then claimed that the gear stage was accessable through a super-secret exit in this last stage. I wanted to believe him--after all, the Special World did look as though it could contain a good twice as many levels as it did--but alas, the star next to the exit tally told a different story...
Anyway, I'd really love to see you folks follow through with this. And hopefully the content of the new levels will be just as enticing as your young imaginations made it out to be...