Super Mario World FreedoMN; A Quick Review
At long last, the English speaking world has a hack which can stand alongside sMW YEAHH, Scarlet Devil Mario and Mario :p:p:p in ASM and gimmick quality. We've now thanks to the work of Micheal Nguyen got a choconilla type gimmick hack that can rival many of the Japanese ones for custom bosses, sprites and clever gimmicks. Never the less, here's a review of what could be one of the defining hacks of the generation.
They're a mix of vanilla Super Mario World graphics and entirely custom drawn sprite, boss and foreground ones made by the author. Usually the customness is pretty subtle (very much like how SMW YEAHH made its graphics fit into the default style for the most part)
Never the less, the foregrounds are simple but effective, as are what custom backgrounds do happen to exist (this hack tends to keep vanilla backgrounds for whatever reason). The sprite graphics on the other hand are much better, they're of a style completely unlike the default and just bristling with creativity and personal touches. They're also in what looks like a cross between an anime style and that found in the old Mario Kart adverts, and they also have a few resemblances to the type of graphics found in Wario Land The Shake Dimension.
But it's not perfect unfortunately. Why? Because the hack creator didn't redraw everything, and hence there are quite a few inconsistencies between his fancy custom style and the drab, boring stylings of vanilla Super Mario World GFX. It also causes problems with scale, since vanilla sprites are usually 16 x 16 while this hack's custom sprites (of which there are many) are closer to 32 x 32 pixels in size or larger. As a result, the water bug and NSMB spider enemies in this game look absolutely massive in comparison to the normal enemies around them, as do the custom bosses and the late game edited Hammer Bros.
Never the less, it's good, but would have scored full marks if all the graphics in the game were redrawn to match a single consistent style.
Decent. It fits the levels in general, but it really doesn't stand out as too memorable, and feels a bit chiptune like due to non use of samples or modern custom music.
A review site would probably class it as elevator music, or functional but not particularly outstanding. Not that it's too bad a thing, many people said the same about Wario Land Shake It's music and that game had some pretty good background themes.
Creativity, Custom elements
Now this is where the game shines. You know where on the official site the maker says there are hundreds of new enemies? He is not kidding. In fact, to some degree, the hack even seems to have its own versions of custom sprites you can find online, since the Bullies and Rocky Wrenches for example act completely differently to the common ones by Romi and SMKdan. This reminds me a lot of Brutal Mario and how carol made his own Bumpty and Ptooie sprites, and while it's not a bad thing, you can definitely tell the versions in this hack are rough around the edges.
But the enemies that are new and original are great. You've got the Scuttlebugs from New Super Mario Bros, the Skeeters from the same game and even Hammer Bros which throw multiple hammers at once. You've got stationary and moving Blockhoppers. You even have what seem to be Mario and Luigi style Anubis enemies in Bowser's Castle, and those helicopter type creatures from Super Mario Galaxy 2, which come in their own different coloured variants. It's very impressive, and reminds me a lot of how SMW YEAHH introduced Koopa Elites and psycho Rexes, or how Brutal Mario introduced all those Seiken Densetsu 3 enemies in the last few levels. The custom enemies here though go beyond both of those, there are more new gimmick sprites in this game than even what you can find in Brutal Mario, which is extremely impressive.
Where it really begins to shine though, are the bosses. They are interesting. Not dull one attack bosses like those in Super Mario TKO and Super Mario Bros 3X. Not slow paced, boring bosses like in Brutal Mario and Scarlet Devil Mario, which take about twenty minutes to defeat and are entirely based on preset patterns. No, these bosses are both original and varied enough to be fun to defeat. Some of the highlights are:
Bowser Jr, based off his New Super Mario Bros form. However, the shells he throws seem a bit weird, like they're not really shells and hence don't stop when you jump on them. Might want to change that.
Petey Piranha (there's a New Super Mario Bros obsession in this game, and considering how overused SNES era stuff is, that's for the better). He flies up and down shooting at you, and even when he's down fires fireballs and such like.
Wario. He becomes Wario Man part way through the fight, which is a nice touch.
And not to mention, the later bosses, which include Kamella, Giga Bowser and the Shadow Queen/possessed Peach.
However, there is one use of SMW Bowser which doesn't fit in, and probably should be changed to a custom boss.
Outside of sprites, the selection of blocks seems decent enough, but I'll withhold judgement due to the fact I can't really tell which ones, if any the creator coded himself.
In conclusion thereforth, the creativity and sprites get 10/10, for being good enough to give me hope in SMW Central and the English community.
Pretty good. It's better than Brutal Mario's vanilla version overworld, and it's never bland or empty, but it's not particularly over the top fancy either (with only one section having custom graphics). This is a bit disappointing if you ask me, the author could definitely have drawn some brilliant overworld graphics if he put the work into that.
But it's still good.
Perfect. It is honestly one of the few fancy hacks I know which has both good level design and good ASM, something which I originally thought to be impossible. I always enjoyed each of the levels and seeing what interesting themes came next, and I definitely enjoyed seeing what custom sprite or enemy what suddenly appear and change the feel of the level.
On that note, the bosses in this game were actually fun to fight. I already said they're well designed, but to any boss creators, you need to take notes from this game. Never once did a boss feel like it was getting repetitive (*cough* carol *cough*), nor did it feel like it was over too quickly (*cough* most English boss coders *cough*).
However, a few minor criticisms which don't really affect the rating. First off, I thought the secret world was kind of lousy. The levels were fun, but you didn't really get anything, just the Green Switch Palace. My advice is to move the palace somewhere else and instead put a bonus castle level there like the VIP series and the SMW Central collab did. With a fancy custom boss like Tanasinn or Megadmin. Seeing as you're good at boss making, this should be easy, and it should be even easier to delve into Mario history and make your own version of another RPG villain.
Secondly, the ending doesn't seem to activate. Not sure if I missed something, but I beat all three wings of the final castle and not one activated an ending of any kind. That should probably be changed, it's always nice to know exactly when you've truly beaten the game.
Still, as it's a fun game which doesn't do a whole lot wrong, it gets a perfect rating.
This is an excellent hack, and one which hopefully won't be overlooked as many other good hacks have been in the past. It's also the exact type of hack raocow would love to play, as well as the type of one SMW Central would probably have featured in the past.
Congrats, you have made a brilliant game. Well done.
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As for Mario's Nightmare Quest? Well, it's currently on Fusion Gameworks, ROM Hacking.net or the GCN at the moment.