This hack started as a small collab lead by aterraformer to be mostly vanilla with modern ASM technologies, very inspired by the original VIPs. It later expanded to much larger proportions and was headed by worldpeace (Cool|Cruel creator and winner of the 8th Annual VLDC). Some levels still retain the original feel, while many others have embraced more chocolate aspects.
-Intricate dragon coin reward system
-Dragon coins save upon collection
-Hint movies for more cryptic secrets
-Overworld pause menu with level information
-Multiple checkpoints for longer levels
-Retry system for the harder levels
This is version 1.01. Changelog is included in the zip.
I must say, this is by far the most astonishing hack I've ever played. There are still plenty to be done in order to unleash its secrets and I have no idea where to begin, and that's terrific! Congratulations JUMP Team.
This is one of the most interesting hacks I've played in a while. There's a lot to digest when it comes to this hack, so let's get started.
First of all, this version of the hack isn't the most recent. In order to get the best JUMP experience, I'd suggest downloading version 1.03.1 (the current version as I type this). Some levels have been made a lot more fair, and more fun as a result, and some levels have been changed entirely. The newest version is at Raocow's Talkhaus, unless it gets uploaded here.
Now, onto the review.
Story: Not much to say here. The hack doesn't place emphasis on the story, so it could pretty much just be a retelling of SMW. Score: N/A
Graphics: A lot of the hack uses vanilla graphics, which is typical of a collab hack. However, when they're changed, I feel that the graphics look really nice. There are a few levels that look really nice, though some authors put more emphasis on looks than others. For example, Daizo is one to make his levels stand out graphically, and Isocitration made a really nice looking Miscellaneous Monument. For the most part, however, the hack doesn't stray that far from vanilla graphics, so you're not gonna suddenly feel like you're in a completely different game or anything, but there are several creative uses of palettes and vanilla resources to make the game look nice. 8/10
Music: This is one part that I think the hack does really well. Now, once again, not every level has custom music, but when there is, it works. For example, the track that plays during Shattered Dreams sounds epic, like an insanely difficult final castle should. There are also several other levels scattered about that make great use of custom music (Keep a Positive Altitude, Swim with the Stars, etc.) I wish there had been more, but as the hack goes on, there are a lot of great combinations of music and level. 8/10
Level design: Most of the levels are great. There are a few janky levels at the beginning (as well as a couple later on) that are not great, but overall the levels are really fun to play. Maybe not the flashiest around, but from a pure gameplay perspective, they're really fun. Also, most of the levels do their best to avoid unfair situations or cheap difficulty. Even most of the very hardest levels in the hack feel fair, as if every death is your fault. If a level is REALLY hard, there are plenty of checkpoints around (some added in 1.03.1), so nothing feels impossible. There are a few exceptions to this overall really good level design, several of which are at the beginning, so the hack doesn't make the greatest first impression. However, other than those, I think this game nailed the fun factor.
However, above all else, I'm amazed at how creative the hack gets with vanilla resources. Some of the levels don't include any fancy ASM gimmicks, but the level itself is so creative that I was amazed that it was possible. A lot of the puzzles come to mind. And some slightly alter vanilla resources, but in really neat ways. 9/10
Difficulty: This hack handled the difficulty curve in a very clever way. Are there some really hard levels mixed in there? Of course. However, the great thing about this hack is that every really hard level is optional. If you're having trouble with something, there's always an alternate path around it, so even casual players will be able to beat Bowser without too much trouble. There are a few spikes here and there, but overall nothing on the required paths are too bad. However, completionists will have a much tougher time, because the optional levels in this hack can get really brutal, though never to the point where you have to resort to using save states, surprisingly enough. Even the most difficult levels have a sense of control to them, despite being at Kaizo levels of difficulty. And life farming is made easy and quick the later you go into the game, so you won't have to worry too much about running out.
One thing I really appreciate is how this game really makes you earn some of the better rewards. For example, the green switch palace. Usually it can break things quite a bit due to giving the player plenty of access to feathers. However, this time, the mapmakers put it behind a string of really difficult levels. Now, I do think that the green switch palace itself is somewhat overkill with how cryptic it is, but thankfully there's a hint movie, so if you get frustrated you can use that.
ASM/gimmicks: I think this is honestly what makes the hack so great. Not just that there are creative gimmicks involved, but that they're used in such a way that they enhance already solid levels. Here's a list of gimmicks that I think make the game so great.
1. Dragon coins have a purpose. Once you get enough of them, you can unlock permanent powerups, special world levels, hint movies, and even lists of who made rooms inside the two multiperson levels. This is by far the best implementation of dragon coins I've seen in a hack, and it really gives you a motivation to collect them all. They save when you collect them too, so don't worry about having to do an insanely difficult level all in one go.
2. The level information screens. These show who created the level (so if there's a creator who you know makes extremely hard levels, you can decide whether or not to postpone a level), what powerups it filters, whether you can save, and whether it has the retry system for convenience. There's even a special upgrade you can purchase that makes exit hunting much easier.
3. The permanent powerups. Some are mere conveniences, like the boots to make map travelling faster. However, others can make the hack much more fun. For example, the quad-core, which lets you shoot more fireballs at once, and the motor, which lets you change to spinning state in midair. You're gonna want to get used to using this. It's a very useful skill to have, though it requires quick reflexes to make use of.
4. The gimmicks in the levels. Not only are the gimmicks interesting, but the levels complement them really well. For example, one level turns YOU into the Big Boo, and you have to avoid the objects that would normally hurt it. This ends up becoming an interesting little puzzle, where you have to really think before you move. Another one is about not making too much noise, or you'll wake the enemies. I loved these interesting ideas that also kept level design in mind while using them. The ASM is integrated so well into the hack that it sometimes feels like professional designers made these levels.
5. The humor. Some of these levels were downright hilarious. One of my favorite levels involves a strawberry milkshake that is so mind-alteringly delicious that it messes up Mario's brain and reverses your controls when swimming in it (okay, it's just reverse-control water, but it's presented really well, and the level is really fun). Some of the sound effects will keep you laughing too.
I have no choice. I must rate the gimmicks a 12/10. They give this hack a charm that I haven't experienced for a long time. I might come back to this hack multiple times.
Overall, I love how this game kept throwing interesting things at me. I was never bored while playing it. Partly because collab hacks are usually a mess due to different people creating the levels, and partly because the levels are just so damn creative that each one has an identity of their own. It's not getting that 10/10 rating from me (that is EXTREMELY hard to do), but damn does it get close. This is a hack that I think everyone should play at least once.
This is really awesome! It's the best hack I've ever played! However, I found a bug on "Salty Roasted Peanuts". You can ride Yoshi all you want but you can't leave with him. Or can you? I was able to go through the side exit with Yoshi, and now I have him.
This might be my all-time-favourite hack. I really have nothing to critizize about this hack.
I think there were 3-4 levels that I didn't like so much, but they weren't terrible either. This is impressive for such a huge collab hack and I don't think I ever experienced something like this before. The most stunning aspect about this hack is how everything works together:
- Yoshi coins have never been used that well before in any hack.
- Videos help you to solve difficult puzzles, to avoid frustration.
- You can skip most really complex levels by finding secret exits or alternate paths in other levels, if you wish to (or the complex levels are not mandatory at the first place).
- Multiple midway points, retry functions, shortcuts after you beat a level etc. are used to make long or insanely hard levels possible without savestates.
- Hints in certain levels that help you with other levels.
- Even more cool features that I don't want to spoil here.