Hello. My name is Michael Stark. You might know me as an administrator on board2. Several years ago, I made a Mario World hack named "Mario's Return." While I liked the core of it, it had many flaws and could have been much better than it was. It also had a number of very odd glitches. I thought about showing it to some friends of mine about a month ago, but realized that there was just so much about it that was utterly ameteurish in terms of design... It would not have been very flattering for me.
With that in mind, I tossed around the idea of going back through it and fixing up a few things from here to there. It didn't go anywhere for awhile, but at one point, I found spare time, and I set to work. It quickly developed beyond just making it a bit better; I wanted this to actually be something worth playing, rather than the forgettable trash that most ROM hacks end up as.
I went through many levels, especially the most linear ones, and touched things up, adding a few extra paths and items here and there, and adjusted the difficulty curve to be in general more forgiving but basically just more consistent. I also completely remade a few parts which I just didn't like. One level in particular, Secret 3, was basically utter trash, and I replaced it completely. I went out of my way to find complaints about the previous release and address them. For various reasons, I couldn't address all of them, but I won't say I didn't do my damnedest. I also rewrote pretty much all the text in the game, as it was quite poor before.
In addition to general touchups and making it suck less, I also added a small amount of completely new content. I added a new Big Boo fight to replace a Reznor fight in the secret path of the last fortress. Further, one of the most common things that people said is that there's no real 'reward' for getting everything. Now, however, completing the secret world grants a new final level, which is... Interesting. I like how the whole thing turned out, to be certain.
Still, if you have played the original "Mario's Return" then there's not much that will surprise you - this is very much the same hack, it's just been polished.
This is a beta not in the commonly-seen sense of "I want to show something off even though I'm not done," but rather in the professional sense of "I think this is done, but if testers find problems then I will address them before distributing the completed product." One thing in particular that you should keep in mind, however, is that this is very much a hack from 2006, and I have kept my old sensibilities. There's little ExGFX, and all graphics retain their simple, "everything is the same style, nothing is out of place in Mario World" aesthetic. I also am retaining the game's original music, because I like it, and I feel that it fits. There are a few custom sprites, but nothing made with Sprite Tool or what have you, because that tool was not available to me when I released the hack the first time. With that said...
I liked the design: for how traditional it could look like, I loved how it is varied, how the author used many gimmicks and ideas in order to keep the fun factor up. It's a pretty challengy hack, I wouldn't suggest this to newbies, since it's kind of hard; there are also a few exits that require you to know SMW's glitches very well. An example is "Space Paradise 5", where you are supposed to use a springboard to enter in an horizontal exit enabled pipe; "Star World 4" is yet another example: I had no idea about how to get the silver P-Switch, and Yohsi's tongue won't reach it. I suppose there's another "glitch" that makes you able to get the switch. It didn't surprise me though, since you can see the author makes a "shell jump" in the title screen movements. After a while it may seem repetitive, since the author will run out of ideas for its gimmicks, but I don't mind it much, since, again, it was fun and challengy to go trough levels. Good job.
Aesthetic-wise, this hack is nice. The graphics have been changed, but it still manages to keep a vanilla feel in it. It really feels like an alternate Super Mario World. Not much more to say here.
Didn't find any issue worth of mention, except for some levels which suffer some slowdown due to the big amount of sprites.
Overall, a fun and challengy hack. I'd recommend it.