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.
Honestly terrible hack, everything is designed pretty awfully. I constantly throws unneccesary objects at your face which sole purpose seem to be to get you out of your flow. The custom bossfights are also terrible. I highly recommend not playing this.
That’s the only way I can describe this hack. It’s so much fun, it’s so creative, it’s hard as heck, and super rewarding. SMW: Gaiden is one of my favorite standard hacks of all time, and I’m sad it’s over. It’s 124 exits of really tough Mario platforming, and I enjoyed virtually every minute of it.
On the surface, some levels look innocent enough, but it’s not until you realize what the level asks of you that you say to yourself “Welp, looks like I’m in this for the long haul.” There’s a good variety of level difficulties and ideas, so you are not going to get bored or too comfortable with any particular designs or obstacles. This game will kick your ass, but you will keep coming back for more.
While Gaiden has primarily a vanilla design, this hack does have custom sprites, but they honestly don’t look out of place. It definitely doesn’t feel like the creators just stuffed their levels with custom sprites because they could; rather, the sprites felt appropriate and gave each level a sense of uniqueness and challenge. The few custom sprites in Gaiden honestly should have been in SMW in the first place – they fit the hack theme so well. The
final Bowser fight
is also one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in a video game, not only in a SMW hack but, like, in any game.
Similar to what Morsel said, Gaiden truly feels like a true sequel to the original SMW: it’s tougher level design that’s out to get you at every moment.
Even with this praise and love for the hack, I do have a couple issues with only one level and a suggestion for Gaiden 2 (which I sincerely hope happens because I want more pls gimme):
Maou Koopa’s Castle -
Level 1B0 (green background with wood pillar smash): I could never clear this room without a cape - the final jump seems way too far to be possible without one – is that the intention? Additionally, I couldn’t find a consistent way to spawn the pillar smashes, so sometimes I’d be blocked at the end of the room through no fault of my own. I guess I can’t blame this room too much since it’s in the first pool of rooms, but it still caused me some trouble.
Level 1B8 (Left swimming room): Is it even possible to clear this room as big Mario? I couldn’t figure out how to get under the spikes at the end while also avoiding the firebar. Making the player lose their powerups and get the checkpoint as small Mario puts the player in an extraordinarily difficult position after this room.
Right before the checkpoint: having the bridge break unexpectedly with absolutely no indication is beyond fucked. I would have gotten the checkpoint after about an hour if not for that map16 troll, and that death added another 75 minutes or so to my attempts. Granted, 2 and a quarter hours for this checkpoint given the structure and design of the level isn’t awful, but I was so pissed when that happened, especially as small Mario.
Suggestion: the World 8 ghost house secret exit was way too cryptic. I honestly tried to solve it on my own, but I ultimately looked in Lunar Magic to see how to get through it. The fact that the player has to get lost just to even find the message box with the hint to the four levels with other hints (which is also way too obtuse imo) was pretty frustrating. I really do wish I could have made more success with the puzzle because I love those kinds of things, so I hope that any future puzzles allow for more opportunities to actually figure stuff out.
Overall, SMW: Gaiden is an amazing hack that will put your skills to the test. It’s tough, unforgiving, pretty, and downright fun. If you are into this style of game/hack, you owe it to yourself to play through it.
Should I get excited about the bosses or temper my expectations? Nit trying to poke fun or anything, just looking out for my emotions.
There are some edited vanilla bosses. They're pretty funny and surprisingly tough. I have not seen any custom bosses yet though. Maybe they're closer to the end idk.
I finally beat #6 Wendy's Castle after weeks of trying, so that was very exciting. I am now more than a little concerned that I will never see the end of this hack though, considering that it's taking more than one day (or week) to clear a single level
Very fun hack that has an old-school vintage romhack feel to it. Pays homage to an era where people weren't obsessed with "good" level design, with a ton of fun and evil levels. Only flaws are not being able to save after each level and not having fast the overworld patch considering the level count. I highly recommend this if you have the stones for it.
I only have 80 exits so far and I'm up to the World 6 castle, but I can say that I've been enjoying this hack very much so far! I would recommend this hack to anyone who likes hard Mario hacks. Seeing "various Japanese romhacks" in the list of inspirations made me want to try it out.
It is difficult to describe what makes the level designs interesting. It feels sort of like what a full version of NOT SO SADISTIC MARIO would have been like. Levels start out as standard 8-bit/16-bit Mario platforming, but even early on, you'll find the difficult platforming you would expect from a hack rated "Very Hard". It pulls no punches and will freely trick/troll/trap you to death, even when you're fully expecting it. The levels look simple, but everything's placed in just the right way to kill Mario, and very little error is allowed. I don't think every level is a winner, but the moment-to-moment is almost always engaging, or at the very least you'll always need to be on the edge of your seat and pay attention. It's the kind of hack that makes me want to take notes, or the kind of hack that I think to myself "man, I wish I made that!"
How mean is this hack? There's no shortage of "think fast!" moments, which I personally am not always a fan of, but you'll grow to anticipate it. There's the occasional bonus room to get extra lives, but some of them are evil and may even send you backwards in the level like SMB2J. Honestly, it can be dumb and annoying, but at least some of these trolls are creative or funny (#4 LUDWIG's CASTLE has a funny troll in it) At times, it feels like Poison Mushrooms are more common than normal powerup boxes. Red Piranha Plants feel more common than Green Piranha plants, and a few enemies have different behavior, guaranteed to catch you off guard more than once. Also, the castle levels at the end of each world always seem to be way harder than the levels before it. Needless to say, SMW Gaiden is mean.
As I approach the end of this hack, I just KNOW that the levels are going to start becoming extremely long and not have any checkpoints. I can see it coming a mile away!!
I'm not a huge fan of the vast majority of music being Super Mario SNES music, but at least it makes the soundtrack feel consistent, and the overworld music selection is nice, more varied, and breaks up the Mario music. Graphics are a mix of SMW and SMAS, with the occasional custom palette to spice things up.
Currently, I've been stuck on the World 6 castle for over two days now. Can't even reach the midpoint. I recently finally beat the secret exit of KONPEITOU PIPELINES 3, so progress is still being made. I would like to write a longer review when I finish this hack. I might sound a little harsh on this hack, but I really do want to see it to the end. For all of its rudeness, being able to conquer this hack will hopefully prove satisfying.
I'm gonna say flatout that I love and hate this hack. I love it for some of the custom ASM stuff to this game and the overworld. Some levels were fun too....but that's where my hatred for this hack comes in. The difficulty for this hack wasn't a fun difficulty. It was annoyingly hard and it only served to be more frustrating and the reward just feels bittersweet.
Would have loved the ability to save on the overworld. I've had to leave my nt on just because I don't have the time to go through an entire world or replay castles just to save. As the game went on, the lack of autosave or allowing the player to save just became too much. I understand that it's probably an homage to the kinds of hacks that inspired this, but it still feels unnecessarily mean and inconsiderate of a players time, especially considering the difficulty and random difficulty spikes of some levels.
Fantastic! This style of level design is one of my favorites, and it is executed brilliantly. Despite all the rude tricks, they usually made me laugh rather than cry; nothing was overly frustrating, and progress was always on the horizon. Creativity was also quite high, with lots of setups I have never experienced before but still enjoyed parsing. Great work, and I hope the authors do well in their future endeavors!
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.