Since I’m writing ’bout some dumb game I’m making now, I might as well write ’bout an e’en dumber game I worked on way back in high school — & by “dumber game”, I mean a Super Mario World rom hack.
Also, I just realized that it’s been 10 years since I 1st started working on LOTFS, back in 2007. O, the time wasted.
Legend of the Four Switches was a hack so bad, it wasn’t e’en accepted @ Super Mario World Central after a’least 2 submissions.
It wasn’t the absolute worst. In fact, there are quite a few decisions I still stand by, such as the main gimmick: ’stead o’ being a straight path from world to world, ’twas simply a quest to find & hit all the 4 colored switches. Once you do that, you can go to Bowser’s Castle @ any time & complete it.
The 4 switches could be hit in any order, too. ( An improvement o’er an e’en earlier version: my original plan was to make the red switch always 1st & the green switch always last, with the player only getting the choice o’ order ’tween the yellow & blue switches. Thankfully, I realized how lame such a limit would’ve been & broke it ) . This lead the o’erworld to have the kind o’ looser division I praised the original Super Mario World for having.
That said, I could’ve done a better job o’ it: an idea I later had, though long after I stopped working on this hack, was having multiple paths that converged on a single switch.
I also tried to make this hack mo’ like an actual game in terms o’ difficulty, which makes it much easier than the average hack. I remember I aimed for Diddy’s Kong Quest level difficulty, which is my favorite linear ( i.e. non-Wario-Land ) platformer & insisted on being able to beat it without save states. Nowadays this is mo’ common, which sapped some o’ the use o’ this hack; but remember, I started making this hack in 2007, when e’en the most prominent hacks like The Second Reality Project 2 were full o’ kaizo-like elements.
Legend of the Four Switches is full o’ problems that it’s hard to sum them up — though this page gives a nice litany o’ sloppy problems. Though some o’ those problems — such as the unbeatable attic area — have been solved since then, many others — like the fade-out glitch or the glitch that makes your characters freeze after beating a switch palace — I couldn’t figure out how to fix.
But Axemjinx summarizes the true core problem with this hack, which would make it lame e’en if these glitches were fixed:
I played around 15 levels, and speaking for myself, it just seems like a slightly above-average joke hack that over-relies on item ferrying and needlessly labyrinthine levels. That’s not nonlinearity- it’s just tedium. There’s no emphasis on obstacles at all, there are plenty of empty areas with nothing going on, and it seems like the wisecracks are more important than the level design.
The “over-relies on item ferrying” is far too modest. ’Pon looking back @ these levels years ago I was shocked to find almost every level involved finding a blue & gray P-switch to continue, usually getting 1 to get ’nother to finally continue. Levels oft had pointless filler areas simply for the sake o’ avoiding linearity. I was obsessed with avoiding linear levels, with the assumption that linear levels were somehow less “creative”. But using blue & gray switches o’er & o’er apparently was.
I still stand by some o’ my nonlinear levels — mainly the earlier ones, when I still had some creativity. But if I were to redo this hack — which I’m 100% not doing — I’d ease up & do some mo’ linear levels, as well as some shorter levels. I also fell into the trap o’ thinking that long levels were also mo’ sophisticated, not unlike those people who think that large epics are mo’ sophisticated literature than short writing, which is ironically usually the opposite.
I’ll try to go o’er all 60 levels & talk ’bout what I still stand by, what I think was disastrous, & other fun background notes.
There are 2 major versions o’ this hack: a 2011 & 2012 version. The one I’ve seen in most YouTube videos is the inferior 2011 version, whereas I’ll be showing off the latest 2012 version & will point out major differences when they happen.