I've been working on a hack for about 6 months. I thought I'd share my progress with you guys on smwcentral!
Title: Two Minute Mario
My goal was to perfectly hybridize SMB3 and SMW. Savestates are not necessary, although thanks to an insane amount of playtesting conducted by myself and others (perhaps in the hundreds of hours on world 1 alone) enemy placement is extremely optimized. This means that the game is tough where I want to be but never unfair. There are no precision jumps or invisible coin blocks.
A primary gameplay mechanic is the timer. In every single level Mario has only 120 time units (construed as "two minutes" in the story) to reach the goal. In many levels this is literally impossible! Thankfully, there are many ways to add to your timer - these include timer blocks (the green clocks with spinning hands you see in screenshots), time pipes (blue pipes), and more. Time pipes are key to puzzle solving (manipulating "time," i.e. room resets). It is never necessary to find every time block or pipe.
Powerups are dispersed sparingly. Mushrooms are common, but flowers and feathers must be found. There is usually 1 flower per level, although the player must locate and usually solve a mini-puzzle to access it. Feathers are very rare and the subject of a coin-dispensing minigame. Feathers often unlock alternate routes.
Areas modeled after SMB3 zones are perfectly recreated. In the "HELP" room of the castle toad jumps up and down, the animal breathes/moves, etc. The toad house (not pictured) is almost 100% identical to its SMB3 counterpart, including the ability to get only 1 item from a box.
Graphics from SMB3 are self-ripped (which took ages).
It will be a while before this is released. I'm a law student and so it can be hard to find the time (especially now).
Ignore the Koopa Kids and the extraneous "help" bubbles
WORLD MAP (Worlds 1 and 4; Worlds 1 and 4 with paths)
Holy shit dude, this looks incredible. Nice job on the graphics man! They look like SMW SMAS-ized. Or SMAS SMW-ized, or whatever. Awesome concept, too. Racing the clock, I never really thought of that.
The overworld is looking nice, and I can see no errors. I like the snowy hilltops, they're a nice change, to say the least. If A cross between SMAS and SMW was your goal, you achieved that goal quite well.
My only complaints are that the water in the sewer-like area looks quite awkward, the thwomps just don't look right, and with SMAS and SMW graphics "hybridized", we can expect a tiny bit of style clashing. No worries, though. The issues seem too minor to even list.
I absolutely love the concept of having to hit the timer blocks in order to beat the level. Those kinds of twists are what makes hacks like these stand out from above the rest.
Anyway, I can't really argue with what's been said already. In fact, if it weren't for the status bar and SMW GFX, I would've thought this was a SMAS SMB3 hack! That's how close it is. (And bonus points for ripping all of the GFX yourself and not screwing up the status bar palette.)
Damn fine. As far as paths and secret exits are concerned, this is a perfect model of what an OW should consist of. There's plenty of alternate routes through it, levels are placed on/in/near interesting places, paths are curvy, plenty of revealed tiles to make the world evolve, and the secret paths are unpredictable yet natural after their revelation.
The visuals are less perfect, yet still quite good. The islands are kinda blocky, but not square. Could do with some more angled tiles along the shores. All the perspectives are perfect. The islands are all the same height from the water, but the raised land areas are very well made.
As far as ExGFX/edited graphics are concerned, it's all great, with one exception. The snow covered green hills didn't look like hills at first glance. They looked... well.... phallic I don't have a problem with snow capped mountains, but you really shouldn't try it with SMW's elongated hills.
(semi related note: Snow capped mountains shouldn't be below green areas. The raised area at the top middlish of the screen should probably have a palette change to look snowy)
+ Islands are, for the most part, intentionally blocky. I think the biggest "offender," as most might call it, is the main world 1 island. Yet this island is shaped like an ovenmitt by design; levels include Ovenmitt Castle and Ovenmitt Fortress. Admittedly, however, some of the smaller islands could use some fixing up.
+ The phallic hill problem... I did foresee this but was somewhat unsure how to address the issue without losing the cohesive "SMW" art direction. I will try to revisit the matter at some point.
+ I will upload more and better screenshots soon. I also will make something of a sprite sheet so that you can see what (graphical) changes I have made to the SMW sprites and what custom sprites you can expect. At some point I'd like to record and upload to youtube a playthrough of a level or two.
+ A public demo will be available at some point. School and (inevitably) work, however, preclude me from setting a definitive date. It could be some time.