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Kaizo hacks & Traditional hacks - what keeps you away from the other side?

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Originally posted by Hooded Edge
Never been a fan of the more "trial-and-error" esque gameplay of Kaizo, personally. Standard at least lets me have some wiggle room when playing (most of the time).

I will say, I'm also not a fan of how many Kaizo hacks look same-y nowadays. I get that it's much easier to make a Kaizo hack compared to standard, but Jesus! I swear some people are just making kaizo hacks as a means of getting clout from Twitch streamers rather than unleashing their own creativity for a hack. It's why when I heard that SMWC got 200+ Kaizo hacks, I found that to be very suspicious.

These are just my thoughts though, and I'm aware I'm somewhat old-schooled, so take my opinions with a grain of salt.


this honestly took the words right out of my mouth
though i will say my attraction for standard hacks is more out of just enjoying a fans interpretation of a normal mario game instead of the mario equivalent of "i wanna be the guy"
I've never really been into standard hacks honestly. The way they use ground and enemies doesn't really appeal to me and their obstacles are largely uninteresting and do not engage the player in any significant way. The focus on aesthetics that some of them adhere to is also a tragic facet of the modern hacking experience, which sadly we may be stuck with for quite some time.

Meanwhile, kaizo uses a broader brush, the strokes are wide and large. Players are engaged by their delightful usage of ground and non-ground obstacles. Though kaizo fails in a different department, the constant embargo placed on cement blocks gives the hacks a sense of brutalism, an architectural style that I think we can all agree on has since been superseded. The strict adherence to architectural simplicity within these works runs orthogonal, though in a way parallel, to the aesthetic demise of standard hacks.

Pit hacks, oh the pit hacks. Truly holding a mirror to the future, aren't they? In time we may see the rise and fall of AI capable of beating these entities, perfecting them even. They are a vision of the years to come and the artistic intent behind each and every one of them is palpable. However, sadly we are not yet fully robotic, so I cannot in good conscience claim to enjoy these works, rather I look upon them with fear, cowering in a corner, which in a way is engaging engagement in itself.

No, personally I regard all forms of hacks as inferior to the only truly outstanding category: crust hacks.

Where standard hacks fail in their usage of ground, crust hacks excel by using multiple planes of ground, some visible, some not. The enemies are also enhanced in various ways I can't put into words. Kaizo hacks fail in their usage of brutalism, crust hacks engage in a complex architectural style that can best be described as "post-modern gothic". And whereas pit hacks are too robotic for the current state of humanity, crust hacks evoke a warm but calculated arbitrage of emotions within the player thanks to their inovative usage of powerups that have been rotated by 90 degrees. I always think it's funny that they don't use layer 2 at all, but that's just another of their ingenious ways to keep the player guessing [1].

Classic obstacles like the commonly known "drill bit" and "flag corridor" are almost completely absent; Only early works from 2013 such as "Worm is like tube" and "Crumple Man" contained setups somewhat reminiscent of them. Newer hacks in the category avoid these and opt for a more contemporary approach using slopes and ledges to give the player additional chances to gain the upper hand when trying to sneak around the "Big Cat" that is an essential part in nearly every well known crust obstacle.

Of course, this "Big Cat" is also the sole reason crust hacks were finally recognized as their own difficulty category in 2015, so I'd be remiss to not mention Smirnov539, the creator of the original "Big Cat" sprite (or as it was known at the time: "Jack the Bird"), by name here. We'll never forget you.

=== Appendix ===

Section 1

As GbreezeSunset correctly notes below, it is true that there was actually a movement back towards layer 2 crust, though as I explain in [1], this is now commonly viewed as another step in the history of BoomMax and only considered crust-adjacent because of crust's early days. I have to, of course, admit to being somewhat biased in the BoomMax/crust discussion, it's hard to draw a clear line between the two, but I would argue that the usage of layer 2 and often absent "Big Cat" do make a significant difference and do distinguish BoomMax from crust adequately. Of course there are also newer developments like the discovery of the remote control glitch in the cowering state of the "Big Cat" sprite and the addition of the "Small Dog" sprite which crust purists would be vehemently opposed to.

Regarding the 2017 attempt at a revival of the CLDC (though under a different name), I think fishcake put it best in their retirement post briefly after the contest: "crust's been dead since 2014, but now it's truly been forgoten (sic)". It's sad to say, but their words still ring true.

=== Footnotes ===

[1] Someone anonymously reached out to ask where this lack of layer 2 actually originated. As it turns out, this happened during the first ever CLDC (Crust Level Design Contest) in 2014, where one of the pioneers of crust hacking, Slam7Buster, submitted a level with a multicolored layer 2 background. They were widely shunned for this decision, as crust levels used strictly black and white layer 2 before this incident, in order to clearly differentiate it from other layers. As a result, the whole group collectively decided to never use layer 2 again to prevent such an event from recurring in the future.

Incidentally, another user, crustyX_Xguy, also used an incorrect "Big Cat" sprite throughout their level, which ultimately lead to this being the first and last CLDC, as it was considered by most to be a complete and irredeemable failure (though there were of course several unofficial crust contests under different names throughout the following years). Others claim that this was actually the first significant step away from crust hacks towards the branch of BoomMax hacks, though this genre's origins remain somewhat foggy due to the major hacking crisis in 2016 after the release of "Total BROOM".
I simply don't have the patience for kaizo hacks and for that reason traditional is my cup of tea. Don't see that changing in the future either. Prefer a hack that isn't so strict on what strategy I use as well.
Layout by RanAS, modified by yours truly.

What keeps me away from kaizo is an endless cycle of derivative work which I don't find that amusing. It ends feeling all the same, mainly now, where people are concerned to please the Twitch crowd. I would like to see something more interesting as inspirations rather than the same kaizo hacks. A good example of a kaizo hack is Action 42, which has a dinstinct aesthetics and vibe compared to your normal kaizo.

A few of the hacks are outliers, due to good ASM usage, but even then, the ASM in most kaizo hacks doesn't amaze me anymore.

Most of ASM that I see in kaizo can have incredible applications in Standard hacks, which are much more accessible to me, due to not requiring knowing technical stuff like jump control, cape control, shell jumps and obscure glitches. From a perspective of controlling your character, kaizo ain't for me. I like to have freedom in my movement, instead of being thrown in the air to do some precise cool tricks.

Meanwhile, Standard hacks have been in a serious decline, due to people really trying to mimic official games and in the end, they end feeling more boring than New Super Mario Bros. U. I'm really tired of "Nintendo level design tm", to be fair. We need more people willing to risk new gimmicks, enemies combinations, setups and etc.

One good hack that I'm awaiting is Glow, which has a very strong Game Boy Color energy, while being old-school enough. It's a project that I can't praise enough due to having a lot of passion and charm involved.

That's just one of the outliers. While the genre has been having a decline, people have been sleeping a lot for interesting Standard Hacks. Magiopolis, for example, is a love letter to old-school 8-bit videogames. And yet, projects like that get past the radar due to the public wanting more of the same Mario experience videogame thing, which at this point, after 30 years, has grown stale and lost its appeal to me. We need to give more visibility to interesting standard hacks.
Originally posted by underway
Where standard hacks fail in their usage of ground, crust hacks excel by using multiple planes of ground, some visible, some not. The enemies are also enhanced in various ways I can't put into words. Kaizo hacks fail in their usage of brutalism, crust hacks engage in a complex architectural style that can best be described as "post-modern gothic". And whereas pit hacks are too robotic for the current state of humanity, crust hacks evoke a warm but calculated arbitrage of emotions within the player thanks to their inovative usage of powerups that have been rotated by 90 degrees. I always think it's funny that they don't use layer 2 at all, but that's just another of their ingenious ways to keep the player guessing.

While I definitely agree with the above points, it's impossible to not deny the brief movement in 2017 towards pro-layer 2 crust design. Sure, some believe this brief faction broken off from traditional crust design was folly and bound for demise, but it does bring up an interesting point - perhaps these one-off branches of crust design are more reminiscent and derivative of the pre-2013 era pseudo-crust methodology that saw rapid and expansive changes to the overall crust design meta. Are modern crust hacks too dependent on the "Big Cat"? Would layer 2 introduce a more unique approach to crust and crust-inspired level design? It's definitely hard to say.

In my opinion, KooperTrooper19's hack "Nasty Soil" is one of the most defining in the pro-layer 2 post-crust movement. Use of the "Big Cat" was almost minimal, which drew outcry from traditionalists. However, the idea of placing 32 moving ghosts holes in a row was profound for the time, and the level dedicated entirely to a powerpoint slideshow on the difference between Gravel and Pebbles was a spark of genius I've only seen before from the likes of visualpaisley600's abandoned hack (which is apparently pretty hard to find, mind you).

Originally posted by underway
Classic obstacles like the commonly known "drill bit" and "flag corridor" are almost completely absent; Only early works from 2013 such as "Worm is like tube" and "Crumple Man" contained setups somewhat reminiscent of them. Newer hacks in the category avoid these and opt for a more contemporary approach using slopes and ledges to give the player additional chances to gain the upper hand when trying to sneak around the "Big Cat" that is an essential part in nearly every well known crust obstacle.

Of course, this "Big Cat" is also the sole reason crust hacks were finally recognized as their own difficulty category in 2015, so I'd be remiss to not mention Smirnov539, the creator of the original "Big Cat" sprite (or as it was known at the time: "Jack the Bird"), by name here. We'll never forget you.

The drill bit obstacles actually saw a fair bit of use during the first few years that crust design evolved and spread. I believe it was the unofficial Crust Design Contest in 2017 that really saw their demise. After multiple users stubbornly filled their levels with the drill bit (and after a highly controversial judging comment from fishcake, a 2013 crust traditionalist at the time), it seemed that the drill bit fell entirely out of favor. While it may have had a resurgence in the 2018 hack "Chicken Roast", I hesitate to even call that hack crust, as it's more of a post-industrial take on the pseudo-pit puzzle-box ethos of design, despite multiple levels employing use of the Big Cat.
Standard just gives you less creativity in my opinion. Some very interesting setups are only kaizo, and would not fit well in a standard hack.
I like to play a bit of both, for me both hacks tend to have their ups and downs.

Standard allows for more freedom and feels more sandbox-y, it allows the creator to have a larger playground and I feel like it allows for more creativity. It also works much better for larger hacks (50+ exits), although with so many levels they can start to blend in a bit, making some levels feel more filler-y. A lot of standard hacks also tend to fall into the trope of long rooms to make the levels more difficult.

Kaizo is often more memorable to me due to the way its built, as every obstacle has its use and the technical approach to level design allows for a lot of clever setups and obstacles. It also usually is more reasonable in terms of length due to the lack of powerups, and players are often more careful to not go overboard. Kaizo has however some things I don't enjoy at times as well, such as extreme trial and error (mostly noticeable in some Kaizo: Expert hacks), and the overuse of trolls at times. I don't mind getting caught by kaizo block once in a while, but if every two steps you get got by a trap placed by the creator, it can get old pretty fast.
I find standard hacks to be immersive, whereas kaizo hacks feel too much like obstacle courses.



edit: Also, what's this "crust" thing that people talk about? Google only refers to this very thread when trying to look it up.
Kaizo requires an absurd level of patience and skill using a set of rules that may don't work in standart hacks because of the different vision of game design. That's ok, i guess.

From the player's perspective, the easier the game is, the more receptive it will be. When I say easy, I mean a gradual evolution of difficulty that respects their skills.

However, some games are famous for being difficult because they were developed that way. In these cases, the fun is in overcoming that difficulty that can sometimes seem unfair.

As much as I think kaizo interesting, I don't think it fun.
I was once interested in producing kaizos but I felt super disconnected from my material. No directions and all.
"If you imitate someone, you can never surpass them."
Kaizo is fairly new to me, but i immediately fell i love with the tech, the vast limitlessness of tech. And maybe its that, the knowledge of tech itself, and beeing able to execute, if it be a wallclip throu infinity or a regrab. And in that regard, i do maybe get on the kaizo side, but what would kaizo be without standard.

Vanilla SMW is what Ive grown up with, the game that just keeps on giving and giving. On these usually grand vast platform is where all the tech is/got discovered.

As a spectator I`m a sucker for awesome executed gameplay, and if your a well driven player, no matter ifits Kaizo or Standard, If i see Jump Man do that controlled executed jump, im all in.

As level creating goes, i theorise that its way harder making an easy standard level than a eazy kaizo level, and i cant quite put my finger on it why.

But take a level as O.G Tubular, a level i known ive beaten for manymanymany years ago, and rediscovered just a couple of weeks seeing the madmen execute this level without cape or blue yoshi (or inteded strat P ballon, a very good challenge)
No way in hell ive beaten that without flying, i couldnt even remember the level, and there you have like, maybe the "easiest" level in the world and the ultimate challenge , all in one, gotta love it.

It took 30 years to get to this point, i see an ebb and flow movement, Standard being total freedom exploration, where Kaizo narrowes it down and crystallizes it. We can always find kaizo in standard, but never standard in kaizo(i dont know if i meant that, i just thought it sounded cool:P)....or something like that....give it 30 more years now with tech exploration from all the chocolate goodies we have now, I can already say I`m looking forward:)
I started playing Kaizo hacks about 3 years ago and really enjoy the difficulty, flow of the levels, required tech, etc... that it takes to complete the levels.

Maybe it's because I started out playing Kaizo that anytime I try to play something more "traditional" or not as difficult as Kaizo I find myself getting bored very quickly.


That isn't to say I can't appreciate the work that goes into a non kaizo hack, I personally don't find them that fun or interesting
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