My list of the most influential hacks for players who are improving their skillset to intermediate and beyond. Or just creators who are seeking to find ideas. This is a short list, and my opinion, but they stand out as a resource for improving skill and defining creativity. How did these hacks influence you?
The absolute hack for teaching d-pad control. Unfortunately I believe the creator expressed harmful beliefs and discrimination, but the hack is still available. The levels are relatively short (one-screen), so you can play it alongside anything else. 96 exits. I took my time to clear it, but the result was techniques learned that I use in all kaizo to this day.
Bunbun World 2
, Peachy Moat World
, and Dancer to a Discordant System
The current gold standard for platformers with a very fair difficulty.
The Saturday blind races are an excellent way to learn fresh setups, and just generally improve. I highly recommend playing through them.
An all-time favorite of mine. Incredibly inventive and very well themed. Only 11 exits.
Super Cool World
A top hack of its era and difficulty. Perhaps a touch more challenging than Akagore or Quickie World, but I don't hear it mentioned for how exceptional Super Cool World is compared to the rest.
Super Ryu World 2
Another very inventive hack for its time, both in chocolate, aesthetics, and setups. Also a creator who expressed harmful beliefs and discrimination, but again the hack is still on SMWC. The star world level is very input heavy, so don't feel like you have to beat it right away.
Three intermediate+ hacks for pushing the bar:
Riff World 2
The next big step up from Invictus (without being a Grand Poo World grind). I simply applied the retry patch myself, after grabbing the first level's midway. Anybody complaining about it took more time to write out their opinion than I did to use Asar in the command line.
Super Swunsh World 2
It's long and challenging, but one of the newest and most fresh chocolate hacks - if you're into that.
A Grand Poo World-like challenge from the creator of Comfort Zone, but with only 12 exits you won't have to set aside 70+ hours/years. Very satisfying to clear.