Nachos and Fried Oreos is a 15-exit "vanilla with ASM sprinkles" hack. The levels are short and sweet with a focus on action-packed platforming (inspired by the Japanese style of hacking). However, this hack is not your typical platformer. In Nachos and Fried Oreos, a game-over is truly a game-over! If you lose all your lives, your save file is deleted and you must start from the beginning.
The game includes 4 difficulties that determine the amount of lives you will start with. In addition, every level has 5 dragon coins and a moon. Collecting them will grant you a different reward based on your difficulty.
If you are a casual player and you would never touch a "hard" or "very-hard" hack, that's okay! That's exactly why we have created beginner mode. On this difficulty, you will be given infinite lives and can enjoy the hack at your leisure. Still, be aware that this hack is pretty tricky, even on beginner mode. If you are a more advanced player and love the adrenaline and excitement of beating a challenging segment, then playing on advanced/expert/master is for you!
Incompatibility notice! This hack has been known to crash on both the SNES Classic and the Super Famicom. Play at your own risk.
I wrote this a month ago, and this review is honestly kind of a mess... TL;DR: Play this hack, because it's a fun challenge! Try challenging yourself with the harder difficulties. Full review: Nachos and Fried Oreos is a wonderful hack! If you consider yourself a fan of SMW hacks, I think it's worth playing.
The basic idea of Nachos and Fried Oreos is that each level is a relatively short, linear, but difficult challenge to conquer. There aren't any secret exits, there are no puzzles to speak of, unless you consider figuring out how to approach jumps as a puzzle. More importantly, there aren't any annoying maze-like levels either. It's just you against the world with a limited amount of lives.
To begin, you've got a choice between three (and one unlockable) difficulty settings, with harder difficulties giving less lives to start with, and less bonus lives. The easiest setting gives infinite lives. If you run out of lives, you'll have to start all the way back to the beginning. Harsh! I think this hack does a good job at building tension with the limited amount of lives, so I'd recommend challenging yourself with expert mode. I'm glad to see there's an infinite life mode, so if you'd rather not deal with the trouble of being sent back to the start, choose infinite lives instead.
When it comes to level design, the developers definitely kept the limited lives in mind, as nearly all of the obstacles in Nachos and Fried Oreos are pretty fair, and don't require players to predict the future. Like what BeeKaaaay's comment below said, it's blind-friendly. While most obstacles let you observe what you're up against before tackling them, you'll definitely need some quick reflexes to pull off some of the more difficult maneuvers. This makes death and knowledge by trial-and-error unnecessary, though you'll probably find yourself getting better on each playthrough of a level.
The typical formula of a Nachos and Fried Oreos level involves taking a small collection of enemies and squeezing the most out of them. Whether it's jumping on fish, riding the countdown platforms, sneaking through a group of circuitous ghosts, misdirecting the Fishin' Boo, or dodging explosives by a hair, there's all kinds of tight, focused levels here. There's even a level with the only enemy being three variants of pogo riding Shy Guys, so this is a hack that knows what it's doing when it comes to utilizing a small variety of enemies.
All but two of this hack's fifteen levels are short, and you won't be spending too much time with each level's gimmick before you move on to the next. Since all but two of the levels are short enough, you don't really need any midpoints, though the extended-length final level mercifully doles out some midpoints. Good thing, because the final level is an absolute monster, and is probably the main reason many players won't be able to beat the hack on insane difficulty. Also, the only powerup you'll find are mushrooms. I guess having a feather, Fire Flower, or other custom powerup would have broken the levels?
While there aren't any secret exits to find in this hack, there are collectibles in the form of five Dragon Coins and a single 3-Up Moon in each level. With the "stomp on enemies to get 1-Ups" disabled, these collectibles become your only source of lives in the game, other than coins, so they're important to pick up. They aren't hidden or placed in side-rooms. Instead, these collectibles are placed on the main path in harder-to-reach areas, with 3-Up Moons almost always being the hardest collectible to get in each level. To get a moon, you may have to spin jump on a fast projectile, be brave and jump on a fast-falling platform, be even braver and spin jump on a falling bomb, or jump off a falling leaf at the right time, or lose your chance at a moon! Unless you're willing to play the level again. Hope you don't die on the way back!
You'll have to ask yourself if it's really worth risking your life to collect them. Are they worth it? I'd say they are. I found that many of the Dragons Coins weren't that hard to get, with a few exceptions (The Wrap-Scallion, Reelin' in the Blue, ACME Explosives Co.) The amount of lives you'll get from the collectibles is based on the difficulty level, with harder difficulties giving less lives. I haven't given insane difficulty a proper try yet, so I wonder if the collectibles are worth getting on that difficulty mode?
The visuals and music aren't super impressive, but they get the job done. This hack mainly utilizes graphics from Super Mario World, which results in a bit of visual clash when some of the enemies and backgrounds are imported from Super Mario All-Stars and Yoshi's Island. SMAS/YI graphical clash is very common in SMW hacking, so it's not too big of a deal. The important part is that the visuals are easy to read, and nothing really obscures your vision, though Tower of Babel made me readjust my screen's brightness.
Music choices fit pretty well. The early levels use Super Mario World music, which is sort of a boring choice, though the music becomes more varied later on.
Also, this hack has a storyline. Wait, what? A mysterious, unseen chef invites Mario to visit and survive his dastardly castle/obstacle course. If Mario succeeds, he will be rewarded with unlimited nachos and fried oreos. Obviously, this is an excuse plot, but this silly plot is acknowledged in a very, very small way at the end. The ending can feel a bit underwhelming after such a difficult final level, so I guess the glory of beating this hack is what you're meant to get out of it.
With limited lives, and tough, linear levels, this hack feels like an arcade game, or like one of those hard NES games that forces you back to the start when you die. It's a similar experience to something like Battletoads or Ninja Gaiden, though I'd say those games are harder than Nachos and Fried Oreos.
I'm not sure how long the playtime is, as it depends entirely on your skills. I'd estimate I have around two hours of playtime, maybe a little less. I got one game over at the very end, plus a winning run on expert difficulty. Completing this hack on the harder difficulties can feel like getting a one credit clear. It's very satisfying! I started the final level with thirty lives, and cleared it with nine to spare. Speaking of playtime, while it can be tragic to get sent back to the start, the hack is short enough to where it doesn't feel too daunting to try again.
To conclude, while Nachos and Fried Oreos isn't a mindblowing ASM custom boss gimmick-filled parade, it's impressive to see how much mileage it gets out of its collection of tightly designed levels. This is a hack that knows what it wants to do, and does it very well. It's also one of the very few hacks where you'll be mindful of your lives counter. It's the sort of hack where I hope other hack designers take inspiration from it. I think all of that is worth five nachos out of five.
Miscellaneous thoughts that don't fit anywhere:
This hack seems well-suited to speedruns.
The first level, The Rainbow Shoe wasn't exactly the strongest introduction to the hack. It's not a bad level, nor is it hard, but the kicked shells... I don't know. They're not that difficult to avoid, but they also don't give you much time to react compared to the other World 1 obstacles. I could easily imagine a player dying to a shell that barely entered their peripheral vision. Luckily, the next level is better, and it only continues to get even better from there.
While this hack's difficulty curve remains mostly steady throughout, Iron Toss is a noticeable jump in difficulty from the levels before, mostly due to the Hammer Bros. The red Hammer Bro has particularly good aim, and the other Hammer Bro variants are formidable foes in their own right. They're really good at throwing hammers right before you jump on them! I can comfortably call the last four levels the hardest in the game though.
Also in Iron Toss, there's a spot where a player can get stuck forever. To be fair, I was actively looking for spots to get stuck. This is where it happens. If you let the Hammer Bro hit you while on top of the blocks, or if you get hit by the muncher ceiling, once the turn blocks stop turning, you can't break through the blocks as small Mario, and you'll have to wait for time to run out. One way to fix this would be to replace one of the turn blocks with a blue block.
Reelin' in the Blue is another difficulty spike. Even when the Fishin' Boo is nerfed from its original SMW version, I'm just not good at controlling Fishin' Boo. The next three levels felt easier.
In ACME Explosives Co., it can be hard to see the blue pipes that shoot pink bombs, as they're partially hidden by the status bar. Perhaps coloring the surrounding ceiling, or marking where the bombs land could help. Or use a different status bar. Or maybe even delete the status bar entirely.
I'll admit that I didn't really like the wind blocks in Heaven's Kitchen. They're not the easiest gimmick to get acquainted with, and even though these wind blocks are introduced in a safe area, there are still a few setups that require you to learn how they work in different contexts very quickly. The Phanto enemy is also pretty aggressive in this room, too. I would have preferred to have an earlier level with wind blocks, so the player might have more knowledge on how they work, though I have a hard time imagining a good place to put such a level.
I managed to get every Dragon Coin and every moon, though I had to go back to get the moons on ACME Explosions Co. and Himeji Castle. Those moons weren't going down without a fight!
Since Dragon Coins and 3-Up moons don't return after being collected, You don't have opportunities to farm lives anywhere. There is one level, Iron Toss, with a Green Star block. They're supposed to give a 1-Up if you collect thirty coins in the level, but I don't even think there are thirty coins to collect in that level. Are there?
I found myself wishing for a midpoint on the very long Towel of Babel. A level with 800 SMW seconds without a midpoint? Ouch. To be fair, You can beat the level with around 400/350 seconds left, and I suppose the infinite lives mode needed some kind of punishment for death.
I beat Seasons of Change on my first try. In slippery mode, too. Not sure how!
I also beat the red penguin room in Heaven's Kitchen on my first try. Not sure how!
I'd just like to mention how crazy the Heaven's Kitchen level is. The whole thing is hard, but I'd like to give special attention to the wind room, black lava room, and fast tide room. That last jump is hilariously precise. Would it be unfair to call that level the border between very hard and kaizo light? It's probably the biggest reason why I probably won't be beating master mode anytime soon.
This hack may have short levels, but this review sure ended up being huge! If you read the entire thing, then I give you my thanks.