In search of the princess, Mario finds himself led directly to the foot of the Mushroom Kingdom's most seldom challenged mountain, M2. In spite of any anxiety regarding the less then reassuring success rate (1 in 108), he continues without hesitation.
What started as a simple level design exercise spiraled out of control into a full-fledged pseudo collab. Main influences include SMB2J and various Japanese romhacks. We hope to have succeeded in capturing that same feeling.
If you're not being thrown into a HEY THINK FAST bit, you're instead probably trying to thread a needle with a long stretch of highly precise motions that require quite a bit of finesse to pull off. A very demanding hack.
Gotta say, it was painful to complete this hack. But first, I'm gonna say that it has much polish in various aspects. Presentation, most of the level palettes, enemy variety to the point that each stage feels distinct and yet, traditional. For it's sheer ambition, it's a great project.
But then, I stumbled in the worst aspects of the hack. It captures TOO WELL SMB2 Japanese level design, as well the inspiration of other japanese hacks. To the point that it subtracts from the overall experience with unexpected trolls, one of them forcing the player to redo an entire stage, because someone thought it was funny to make the player kill themselves after a rough section of platforming. Other bad troll includes one stage where a blue koopa is very close to Mario to the point that one milisecond, you already take damage from a kicked shell. Also, there's one that the player starts falling out of nowhere and has to react quickly, in the same manner of the Squid Adler (Volt Kraken) stage from Mega Man X5 (same energy). When the level does not try troll me I blast through the levels. But most of the time, it's a frustrating experience at best. The fortresses and castles have a lot of too precise platforming moments, along with nasty trolls. And it's such a shame, I enjoyed most of the levels, but because of a few bunch, it left a sour taste.
Overall, I give 3/5 for this hack only for it's sheer audacity, but because of some questionable level design choices, I detracted two points.
I can't praise this hack enough. Many hacks have been compared to or have paid lip-service to The Lost Levels--this is the only one that feels remotely authentic. Even putting it in that box is a disservice to it as I doubt Nintendo could have done a better job with the concept. In an ideal world, this extraordinary achievement would become the new gold standard of SMW hacks.