"Mario's Keytastrophe: Rebirth Edition" is not a remake of the original Mario's Keytastrophe from 2007, but rather a completely new game that acts as a (finished!) spiritual successor to the original. The goal was to take the concept that KT was inspired by - that is, single-screen key-to-keyhole puzzles - and create a hack using that as the entire foundation. I think that the style I've chosen here more accurately reflects modern design standards, so I'm hoping people will enjoy it. I have also tried to make it speedrunner-friendly by including a timer on the map, as well as multiple paths for both 100% completionists and people who just want to find the quickest route to the end.
Special thanks to Koopster for the lovely overworld on such short notice, and to Medic for the timer code.
A really fun and entertaining puzzle hack. Even a first playthrough didn't took too long. I'm pretty sure I've solved some of the puzzles not the (probably) intended way though. If only there were more levels in this hack.
What an adorably fun little game. I'm a big fan of puzzle games and this game is no exception. Sometimes the levels can get frustrating but completing them makes me feel great. The music choices are great as well and fit the levels perfectly (I especially love the use of "The Last Desperate Struggle" from Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, which is an absolute must play in my opinion). 9/10!
Puzzles in SMW being a favorite of mine, I decided to play Keytastrophe: Rebirth Edition, vaguely remembering it from playing it last winter. This is hands down one of my favorite hacks, and definitely made me want more. Altogether, this hack took about an hour and a half to complete, a good brisk .
Some of the puzzles in this hack can be a bit on the short side, taking mere seconds-- though it quickly picks up pace to fun and interesting ideas scattered throughout the map. Secret exits can lead to optional levels with no tangible benefit except completion, which is a good idea for giving the players the option on taking on the extra challenges.
While I wish there were more levels in a hack this short, a part of me is glad that the author didn't run the risk of getting repetitive. There were a good variance of gimmicks in this hack, and spread out enough to keep it interesting for the player. Some of the ideas become a bit difficult to explain: there were a couple of levels that I completed that I'm almost positive wasn't in the intended manner, I just couldn't figure out any other way.
The appearance is vanilla-esque, which is good for a puzzle hack, as this allows players already familiar with vanilla SMW mechanics to have a good understanding of the solution. That's not to say that SMW beginners can't tackle this hack-- the hack doesn't require any kaizo-like skill from the player, but may require some knowledge about how the in-game physics work.
I would recommend this hack to absolutely anyone (even those that claim not to like puzzle hacks!), and really wish to see a lot more hacks in the future bear resemblance to this. 5/5 - A top ten classic.
Here's my in-depth review of Mario's Keytastrophe: Rebirth Edition!
With just a little more spit and polish, Mario’s Keytastrophe: Rebirth Edition could be released by Nintendo as a companion DLC alongside Super Mario World for the Nintendo Switch Online service. The 2017 romhack by S.N.N. takes the key and keyhole mechanic from Super Mario World and expands it into 27 levels of single-screen puzzle platforming alongside four optional challenge courses, which must be unlocked by snatching orbs hidden within four different levels.
The game took me about four hours to play through and is a nice diversion that didn’t consume all of my free time. It’s billed by its creator S.N.N. as a spiritual sequel to the first Mario Keytastrophe rom hack from 2007. I’ve never played it, so I can’t tell you about how much of a sequel it is, but what I can say is that Rebirth Edition is very well designed and uses lots of clever and ingenious mechanics that caused me to think very carefully while also taking care to avoid crossing the line from ‘challenging’ to ‘overwhelming,’ at least for the most part. The challenge is not so hard that causal players will quit in frustration, although some platforming that I was required to perform in a couple of later levels created some odd difficulty spikes. If you like brain teasers and can stomach repeating a couple of tough platforming sections just to get the key to the keyhole, this romhack will probably be a lot of fun to play.
Box Art: Mario's Keytastrophe: Rebirth Edition
At first glance this game seems to be a very vanilla experience. That is, that it would just use assets and mechanics from Super Mario World. But before I’d hit the first required castle it became extremely obvious that the mechanics that were being introduced in each were as chocolate as they come, which means that they did not exist in the original Super Mario World.
Most of the new mechanics are very thoughtfully designed. Mario’s fireball melts ice blocks a la Super Mario Bros 3. When hit from below, the arrow blocks temporarily spawn up to three blocks in a row in the direction the arrow is pointing. There are red blocks that disappear as soon as Mario jumps off them, and resurrection blocks revive Mario if he touches them after he dies. There are timer blocks that appear in two different puzzles that pause falling platforms until Mario interacts with them and freeze all other physics for a small period of time before movement automatically resumes. When winding down with this game at the end of each day I would always preview the next puzzle before I turned my SNES Classic off because of these and other inventive mechanics. I didn’t want to wait until the next day to see what would challenge me next.
And that’s not just due to the mechanics, but also because of how they are used in conjunction with the original Mario World mechanics like block grabbing and shell tossing. They are mixed together in unique and surprising ways, making most puzzles different from each other. For example, using the original game’s on/off switch to control the path of a moving Thwimp between ice blocks was a delight and strongly reminded of the ice block puzzles in Twilight Princess, except that the “block,” the Thwimp, would automatically move in a clockwise pattern and the only part you controlled was the on/off switch to turn the red blocks in the puzzle on or off in order to guide the Thwimp to its destination.
And the way the game teaches you each chocolate mechanic is classy, too. Rather than ramping up in difficulty level by level, the difficulty curve is broken down by mechanic. Each one is introduced with a single level to itself and a text box or two that helpfully explain what they are and how to use them. Many times there are one or two more levels after the first one that require even more careful thought about how to use that same mechanic to find a solution before another mechanic is introduced with a simple puzzle. This was especially evident when we got to the snow levels after one rather challenging course. The first snow level was nearly as easy for me to figure out as the first level, but the next two became more and more challenging. The third one especially had me thinking for a long time about how to solve it.
The challenge of each puzzle lies in your knowledge of the general play mechanics of Super Mario World as well as with experimenting with new mechanics that eventually come into play. You grab items, flip switches, toss shells, or perform any number of other actions to retrieve the key from a seemingly-impossible spot and then carry it to the keyhole. And if you get stumped or softlocked, pressing the L and R buttons together will completely reset the puzzle, allowing you to try again. This feature is a life saver, pun intended. I didn’t have to die and go to the overworld to try again. I could just reset as quickly and conveniently as I wanted. And you will need to reset many times during this game.
The first puzzle is super easy and only exists to teach you the basics of how to play. Later puzzles do get harder, and a couple of them had me thinking for nearly an hour. This can be a good thing, but sometimes the difficulty seems to suddenly spike in a way that made me feel like I’d missed a previous puzzle that was supposed to teach you something important about how to play later ones.
After breezing through the first six puzzles, I sat stumped in frustration on the seventh for a good forty minutes because the moving snake blocks, a mechanic that had appeared in a few previous puzzles, were required to be used in a completely brand new way that the game never hinted at. I didn’t notice any clues that implied that I could manipulate them outside of triggering them to start moving. It seems to me to an odd choice that the solution requires using snake blocks in a way that wasn’t previously implied. But when I finally did figure it out, I was surprised that I ended up with the biggest grin on my face. I was happy that I’d solved the puzzle rather than being happy that I never had to play that puzzle again.
That’s a huge point in favor of this game because I’m not the biggest fan of brain teaser games. I want to quit whenever I get stuck instead of stopping to think about how the parts of the puzzle relate to each other, so I was surprised to find that solving the puzzles that stumped and frustrated me mostly added to my enjoyment of the game and actually made me want to keep playing, even with the seventh puzzle’s odd solution.
There was one notable exception, however. The “Hydrologic” puzzle required me to perform a tricky kaizo maneuver in order to solve it. It’s easily my least favorite puzzle in the game. If you’re a kaizo novice like me or are playing on any kind of emulator that introduces lag like RetroArch on a SNES Classic like me, then you can forget about easily getting the key into the keyhole, although it’s possible because I did it. In all but this puzzle, the input lag was not a factor. But here, I was only happy because it was over. There’s nothing more frustrating to me than knowing how to solve a puzzle but being unable to because you can’t do the platforming required. Thankfully most puzzles are fairly laid back. There were perhaps three levels that increased my anxiety levels to uncomfortable highs due to the constant fear of dying to flames or failing a crucial kaizo platforming maneuver. In another game that wouldn’t be a bad thing, but it comes across as a disruptive change of pace here.
The backgrounds and music are all custom, and I think they are from the SMWCentral library because I’ve heard some of them in other rom hacks before, but I don’t count this as a mark against it, and this romhack may well have been the first to use these tracks for all I know since I’m still pretty new to this community. Either way, the title screen music choice is rockin and while none of the other music particularly stood out to me other than some of it feeling familiar, none of it became grating after listening to it on loop.
You’d also think that for a game composed entirely of single-screen puzzles that you’d be staring at a motionless monotony of static sprites for the majority of the time you’re playing this game. But it’s almost as if S.N.N. anticipated this potential shortcoming because he added scrolling background and foreground layers to several levels. It’s like he knew my eyeballs might dry out if I didn’t have some movement on screen to help me refocus and blink from time to time… or at least to help make the puzzles feel more like regular Mario levels.
Most of the game uses standard Mario World sprites, but there are plenty of custom ones as well. S.N.N. made good selections here because each custom sprite and background feels like they fit in with the original game.
The overworld map, created by Koopster, is also a beauty with lots of interesting features, colors, and no weird perspective issues. There were several times after completing a level where I honestly had no idea where the path would go because it literally sends you all over creation, and in counterintuitive directions. There is no wasted space and no boring design here. It’s one of the more varied and interesting overworlds I’ve seen to date.
S.N.N. also commissioned Medic to create an in-game timer for speedrunning that appears on the world map screen. I’m not sure if it’s considered legal if you want to appear on the game’s leaderboard, but casual players can keep track of their play time using this feature, and speedrunners could easily use it as long as they finish in a single play session since this game does not require any resets to complete fast.
Sadly, the game just ends when you finish the final puzzle. There’s no credits sequence, just a Yoshi house with two text boxes. As a kid I always wanted to see good credits sequences at the end of the games I played, and if the game had just a mediocre one, it just felt disappointing. To this day Super Mario World’s is perhaps my all time favorite because of the curtain call featuring all the enemies from the game. It would have been great to see something.
Mario’s Keytastrophe: Rebirth Edition offers some genuinely fun and unique puzzle platforming for nearly anyone who enjoyed Super Mario World and is into puzzle games. It’s chock full of chocolate gameplay mechanics which are utilized in clever ways but it’s still slightly rough around the edges by retail game standards due to no credits sequence and a couple difficulty spikes, one of which is a “kaizo-ish” platforming level. Yet the fact that I’m even comparing it to a retail game speaks volumes about the overall quality of each puzzle and that unquantifiable ‘fun factor’ the game has that makes it one of the best rom hacks I’ve played.
Rating: Really Great
+ Puzzle platformer that’s just the right length and challenge
+ Well-designed chocolate (custom) gameplay
- A couple puzzles feature anxiety-inducing platforming
- No credits
Such a fun game! Thank you for making it accessible for people - I am not a kaizo player and it was great to know I could solve puzzles using logic rather than trickery. The fire level did annoy me a bit but the mechanics in each level were so good. Completed in 3:03 with only the 4th challenge level not completed.
Just finished it! All exits! Final time 1:28:47 (This overworld timer is one of the best/most useful features i've ever seen in a hack!)
This is an awesome puzzle hack! The levels are mostly pretty simple but really well executed! The puzzles tend to be pretty straightforward in guiding you to the solution, yet require enough effort to be satisfying once you get them!
There's a good variety of levels and themes, as well as very creative ways of using each trick/block/sprite, making for a fresh experience from start to finish!
The overworld was really well made, it's a really nice extra touch to unlock all the paths through many different themed lands as you go through the hack!
The songs were pretty good as well, and very fitting to each level's theme!
I felt like a few levels were a bit too simple though (but i guess that's mostly because i'm used to watch CarlSagan42 play through Super Mario Maker puzzles that take 1 hour each to solve xD), but those are mostly the begginign ones, which is expected to happen.
Also, it's nice that the solutions usually aren't too strict, so sometimes we can solve a puzzle in slightly different ways.
Even though sometimes i felt there were things that aren't needed at all for the solution, i don't know if some puzzles have extra items, or if i just solved it in an unintended way :p
This hack is pretty neat. A few of us SMW speedrunners have done blind playthroughs or blind races of this hack, and I've done several speedruns using some intended strats (and some very broken and cheesed strats ) that I've practiced. I will probably continue to do runs of this hack for a little while.
The hack is very clean, the levels are well-designed, and the overworld and level titles are creative. I have a few nitpicks, however.
1. There are actually 37 exits in the game, but the star-36 shows up on the file select screen after collecting 36 OR 37 exits. I have tested this by collecting all the other exits then beating Finale and by collecting all exits except Perpetual, then beating Finale. Both scenarios result in a star-36 file. Obviously, in a speedrun completing all the exits, all 37 would be required, but it is strange that the title screen is capped at 36.
2. In certain levels, restarting the room causes Mario to instantly die. The only two levels in which I have seen this occur are Olympus (restart when the moving spikes are covering the tile on which Mario would respawn) and Indiana (restart as Mario dies).
3. When pressing L and R to reset a level room, if this is performed during a keyhole animation, the level is correctly not reset and the keyhole animation finishes (although Mario returns to his small powerup state). If L and R are pressed during an orb fanfare, the level is reset but the orb fanfare restarts, resulting in a short period of silence.
Really well made. This is what I tried to make with Lost in Puzzle Land-- except this is actually fun and you actually have to try and figure stuff out. I wish it were longer, but oh well. I'd also say that the difficulty is easy, not normal.
Also that's a really anticlimactic ending :V
A very well made and solid hack. Took me quite a while to figure out some of the puzzles in certain levels, but the moment I got them I felt very satisfied. Beating these puzzles is a great reward on its own.
When it comes to a puzzle, the most satisfying part is that "eureka moment" you have when you finally piece together the solution to the puzzle you've been stuck on for over half an hour. Most ROM hacking puzzle designers tend to accidentally omit the very thing that makes a well-designed puzzle so satisfying.
This hack is a pleasant exception to that rule.
Almost every single stage in this hack is a well-designed, deceptively simple puzzle that forces the player to think outside the box a bit. Each one will provide you with a sense of satisfaction once you complete it, and while a few of them may be a bit frustrating due to requiring some physical dexterity in addition to mental dexterity, it's certainly a fun hack to play through due to how many times you say "YES! I finally figured it out!"
If I were to criticize some things, though, it would be some slight lack of polish here and there. Graphically, the hack is very consistent within the levels. Between them can be a bit of a different story, ranging from mid-90s RPG-esque backgrounds to simplistic and cutesy tilesets. The music can be synthesized rock tunes, Mario haunted house tunes, generic ice level tunes - and each of them will use completely different sample sets, making the music choices feel a bit disjointed and less-than-cohesive. There are also a few bugs scattered across the hack, and sometimes you'll work with what you've got to solve the level and not even find the intended solution - yet beat the level anyway.
But, you could say the lack of polish and argubably inconsistent aesthetics can add to the charm of the hack, and you wouldn't be wrong. It's certainly a fun experience regardless and I'd highly recommend playing it if you're into brain teasers.