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Frequently Asked Questions

Don't worry, we all need to start somewhere—if you're a beginner and still need to find your way around, chances are the F.A.Q. will answer a lot of the questions you may have. Before asking in the forums, it's wise to check this page first!

If you have suggestions for the F.A.Q., feel free to contact a staff member.


SMW Hack Terms
Vanilla From and/or related to the original SMW (e.g. vanilla graphics, vanilla samples, etc.).
Chocolate Unrelated to the original SMW. In other words, custom.
Kaizo Referring to very difficult hacks which follow a specific design philosophy and a specific type of level design. Often, this means that the levels do not give a choice to the player on how to play them, but rather force specific strategies. Kaizo: Light is supposed to be beatable without tools, Kaizo: Hard is supposed to require tool usage.
Pit A subset of kaizo that is intended to only be beatable with heavy tool usage.
Troll A particular genre of hacks that mess with the player's expectations. Further info here.
Base ROM A patch that already contains certain resources (e.g. graphics, music, sprites, etc.), but no levels, intended to be used as a base for a hack or level.
Contests and Events
VLDC (Vanilla Level Design Contest) A level design contest where levels must be designed around only what the original SMW provides, with a few additional tweaks.
CLDC (Chocolate Level Design Contest) A level design contest that allows unrestricted use of the full spectrum of custom resources.
BLDC (Base ROM Level Design Contest) A level design contest where levels must be designed around what is already provided in a base ROM.
OLDC (Old-School Level Design Contest) A level design contest that forbids all custom resources, only allowing use of Lunar Magic with strict restrictions in order to emulate the feel of the early days of SMW hacking.
KLDC (Kaizo Level Design Contest) A level design contest focused specifically around making kaizo levels.
HLDC (Halloween Level Design Contest) A level design contest themed around Halloween.
WLDC (Winter Level Design Contest) A level design contest themed around winter and the associated holidays.
12DBCLDC (12 Days Before Christmas Level Design Contest) A level design contest where participants must create 12 levels, each with a different theme provided by the host.
24hosmw (24 hours of Super Mario World) A short, surprise contest that pops up from time to time where participants only have 24 hours to hack SMW based on a given challenge.
YILDC (Yoshi's Island Level Design Contest) A level design contest where participants create a level in Yoshi's Island.
OWDC (Overworld Design Contest) A contest where participants create an overworld.
SLDC (Special Level Design Contest) A level design contest where participants must choose the theme for their level from a set of options provided by the host.
ExGFX Contest A contest where participants design specific graphics with certain restrictions and/or a theme.
LMCC (Lunar Magic Creativity Contest) A contest where participants create an illustration within Lunar Magic.
Super Famicompo A single-round contest where participants create SNES music, with a few restrictions.
72hoSPC (72 hours of SPC) A pop-up contest where participants must create a song for SMW under specific conditions within 72 hours.
SMW Central Idol A multi-round SMW music contest where participants must compose or port a song under specific conditions. This contest isn't held anymore.
Mad Scientist ASM Contest A multi-round ASM programing contest where the goals for each round are given by the host.
Mosts An end-of-year event where people vote for other users for various silly categories.
C3 (Central Creativity Convention) A twice-a-year event where people are encouraged to show off what they've been working on, SMW-related or not.
Workshops (ASM and others) Events that are held from time to time, similarly to a class, to help teach people about various aspects of SMW hacking.
Secret Santa A Christmas event sometimes held where users create SMW levels for other users, similar to gifting for real-life Secret Santas.
Rereg (Reregistration) When somebody with an existing account creates an additional account. These are generally against the rules.
Blue ban A timed ban that limits what parts of the site a user can access.
Brown ban A permanent ban that prevents a user from accessing SMW Central completely.
Banvade (Ban evade/Ban evasion) Circumventing a ban one way or another. This is against the rules and often results in a harsher penalty.
PR - Public Relations The folks who take care of setting up contests, social media, and anything else that has to do with the site's community and image.
Staff The folks who moderate resources around the site and help with its general upkeep.
Team Leaders/Section Managers The folks who are responsible for managing particular sections of the site, including resources, YI, and Discord.
Administrators The folks who manage the site in its entirety. They're also responsible for user requests such as password resets.
GD (General Discussion) The main section of the forum where any form of discussion that doesn't fit elsewhere goes.
B&G (The Bar & Grill) An ongoing discussion thread in General Discussion, similar to a real-life bar.
RC (Reality Corner) A subforum where people come to talk about serious or personal issues. Joking around is not tolerated there.
Ninja When somebody else posts a response to a thread as you were writing yours.
PM (Private Message) A means of communication on the site for sending messages between users. While technically private, these can still be read by administrators, though this is only done in extreme circumstances.
Trophies/Badges Icons handed out on user profiles as prizes for contests, or as thanks. Think of them as similar to achievements in games.
.smc (from Super MagiCom) A SNES ROM; the file format is named for a popular brand of copier used to dump ROM data way back when.
.sfc (from Super FamiCom) A SNES ROM; the file format is named for the Super Famicom console (otherwise known as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System outside of Japan).
.mwl (from Mario World Level) The file format used by Lunar Magic for exporting level data.
.m16 (from Map16) The file format used by Lunar Magic for exporting Map16 data.
.s16 (from Sprite Map16) The file format used by Lunar Magic for custom sprite displays in the editor.
.dsc The file format used by Lunar Magic for displaying custom tooltips for tiles.
.ssc The file format used by Lunar Magic for displaying custom tooltips for sprites.
.msc The file format used by Lunar Magic for displaying custom music track names.
.spc (from SPC700) An audio dump of the SNES, used to preview songs before inserting them into your ROM.
.mml/MML (Music Macro Language) The language used when writing music for SMW (and certain other old consoles.) MML is also sometimes used to refer to the file containing the song data, and while it can be a file extension, AddmusicK reads .txt files only.
.bnk (from Sample Bank) An obsolete file format formerly used to insert custom samples for SMW music.
.brr (from Bit Rate Reduction) The current standard file format used to insert custom samples for SMW music, now preferred over .bnk
.asm (Assembly) The programming language SMW is written in. Also used as a catch-all term for any form of custom code inserted in the game, such as blocks and sprites.
.bin (from Binary) The file format used for storing graphics. Also formerly used for blocks with the very old, original BlockTool.
.cfg (from Configuration) A file format used for storing assorted configuration parameters. Occasionally found with patches, but nearly always refers to custom sprites, where it contains a sprite's various functional properties.
.json (from JavaScript Object Notation) A human-readable file format that contains assorted configuration parameters. Associated with custom sprites much like .cfg.
.pal (from Palette) The file format that stores palettes.
.palmask (from Palette Mask) A file that defines which colours in the current palette should be overwritten when importing a new palette from a file.
.zip/.rar/.7z Folders that are compressed to save space.
LM (Lunar Magic) The Super Mario World level editor, and the most fundamental SMW hacking tool.
YY-CHR The most commonly-used graphics editor. Works with several filetypes, not just SMW's .bin files.
Floating IPS A BPS/IPS patcher tool, essential to apply BPS patches to a ROM. Works with several ROMs, such as SNES and SM64 ones.
GPS (Gopher Popcorn Stew) A tool for inserting custom blocks.
AMK (AddmusicK) A tool for inserting custom music.
PIXI A tool for inserting custom sprites.
STEAR A tool for remapping vanilla sprite tiles.
Asar A tool for applying patches to a ROM.
UberASM Tool A tool that allows insertion of code that runs with specific timing (during a level, on level load, while on the overworld, etc.).
Golden Egg The Yoshi's Island level editor.
Other Tools
Blockreator A tool that lets you generate simple blocks for insertion into SMW.
Daiyousei An alternative sprite insertion tool as of yet never officially hosted on SMW Central.
Tessera An alternative sprite insertion tool.
PetiteMM A program that converts MIDIs of a specific format into raw MML data, which doesn't work with AddmusicK without tweaking.
Tweaker A program that allows you to edit the properties of SMW's original sprites.
Status Effect A tool for rearranging the status bar.
HxD A hex editor, which allows you to directly change game code.
Legacy Tools
AM4 (Addmusic 4.05) A predecessor to AddmusicK, simultaneous with AddmusicM.
AMM (AddmusicM) A predecessor to AddmusicK, simultaneous with Addmusic 4.05.
(Romi's) SpriteTool A predecessor to PIXI.
GIEPY An alternative sprite insertion tool. Has a few unique features over PIXI, but ultimately received insufficient techncial support.
BTSD (BlockTool Super Deluxe) A predecessor to Gopher Popcorn Stew.
Block Tool A predecessor to BlockTool Super Deluxe.
xkas A predecessor to Asar. Stands for "cross-knight assembler".
TRASM Very old and obsolete tool, predecessor of xkas.
TinyMM A predecessor to PetiteMM.
ZSNES A once-popular SNES emulator dropped in light of security exploits as well as generally inaccurate emulation.
bsnes/higan A SNES emulator generally regarded as offering the most hardware-accurate emulation available.
Snes9x A dependable and commonly used SNES emulator. Modern versions offer emulation accuracy comparable to that of bsnes/higan.
ZMZ An emulator that uses the interface of ZSNES with the core of either Snes9x or higan.
General SNES Terms
Emulator A program that simulates an SNES, or any other console, and allows you to run ROM images meant for it.
TAS (Tool-Assisted Speedrun) A speedrun of a game or hack that is done using precise input commands frame-by-frame, allowing for perfect precision.
ROM (Read-Only Memory) In the context that concerns us, a ROM is a file containing all the data for a game. Note that these are illegal to distribute if copyrighted. More generally, ROM data is static data that can be read by the game but not altered.
RAM (Random Access Memory) A section of memory that can be read from or written to, used to track all of the dynamic aspects of a game (player position, coin count, current level, etc.).
ARAM (Audio Random Access Memory) A subset of RAM that specifically contains data relating to audio, such as loaded samples and echo.
OAM (Object Attribute Memory) A 544 byte region in memory that controls various sprite tile properties such as position, appearance and palette.
MSU-1 (Media Streaming Unit 1) A chip that allows the use of MP3-quality audio on the SNES.
SA-1 A chip that is more than twice as fast as the SNES's standalone processor.
Super FX A chip that allows the SNES to render polygons.
DMA (Direct Memory Access) A feature of the SNES that allows for both rapid data transfer and modification of visual properties.
HDMA (Horizontal (Blank) Direct Memory Access) Allows the SNES to change display options mid-screen, allowing things like wavy effects, gradients, or parallax.
Mode The SNES has multiple video modes, which change things like how many layers there are and how many colors are allowed on each layer. There's also mode 7, which is special because it allows things like rotation and scaling effects; it is used in most boss battles in vanilla SMW. SMW otherwise uses Mode 1.
Sprite One of a set of individually positionable entities on the screen. In SMW, these include enemies, powerups, Yoshi, and the player.
Object A collection of tiles in a fixed grid. In SMW, an "object" can generally refer to a single item built from several such tiles, such as a pipe or a slope.
Palette The set of colours that can be applied to a certain element on screen. In SMW, the first 128 colors may be used by objects, the last 128 colors by sprites.
Hexadecimal A base-sixteen counting scheme used by the SNES in a lot of places.
GFX (Graphics) Usually references to graphics that are already in SMW.
ExGFX (Extended/Extra Graphics) Refers to custom graphics.
Layer 1 This is the layer which contains most of the main foreground objects in SMW.
Layer 2 This refers to a layer of tiles behind the main level. In most cases, this is just a background image, but it can also be interactive in some levels, in which case it can scroll separately from the main foreground.
Layer 3 This is the layer that the status bar is on. It's more limited in colour than layers 1/2. It is usually only used for the layer that the status bar is on, but can also be used for a simpler background when layer 2 is in use already.