The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

The Legend o’ Legend of the Four Switches: Part 2 – The Red Switch

( Note: an idea I unfortunately hadn’t thought o’ implementing till now: each level’s music, most o’ which is custom [ stolen from SMW Central, adaptations o’ songs from real games ], as well as the game it’s originally from & whether or not it’s a spot-on adaption [ labelled “same” ]. I’ve also gone back to the previous post & added them. )

World C: Shroom City Mainland

Music: “Map Medley”, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

I don’t know how good a name that is for this area; like I said, none o’ this game was broken up into any kind o’ coherent “worlds”.

Unfriendly Forest

Music: “Forest Area”, Kirby’s Adventure

I question whether I should include this in this world, since it has nothing to do with cities; & as you’ll see soon, we won’t be staying in this world for long, anyway.

Early on I considered this 1 o’ my better levels. I just think it’s all right now. It does have a subtle quality in how fun the jumps are if you do them correctly. Unfortunately, thanks to both the jitteriness o’ trying to record emulator playing & my weakened game-playing skills after years without playing not only this hack, but Super Mario World in general, I don’t show off this level particularly well.

1 thing I will say ’bout this level is that I think I did do the nonlinear thing well. This 1 feels legitimately open-ended & has multiple paths & uses almost everything, rather than having a bunch o’ useless fluff everywhere. If I had any complaint, it’d be that there seem to be a few too many basic jumps & naked Koopas.

I would e’en say I don’t mind the use o’ the P-switch here. ¿Have I mentioned yet that I had an affinity for making you go somewhere to get something that allows you to get past something blocking a path right @ the start, like Wario Land 4?

I still stand by the trick to getting the keyhole — ’specially since it’s not e’en necessary; you can just run & jump up there if your timing’s right. In fact, from what I’ve seen o’ people playing this level, I don’t think many have gotten frustrated, since all always found an easier alternative. I like that: it’s a cute li’l trick that you get o’er with soon. It’s like a parody o’ bullshit jumps in bad Super Mario World hacks, but thankfully doesn’t make you endure 1 in actual.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

  • P-Switch level count: 6 / 7
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 switch: 1
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 o’ the same switch: 1

World D: The Darkness

Music: “Welcome to Crocodile Island”, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

Hmm… Isn’t this familiar…

Flaming Femurs

Music: “Hot Head Bop”, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest ( Same )

This music’s so amazing that I didn’t mind having to hackily turn off sound effects seemingly arbitrarily to get it to work well.

Surprisingly, the sound doesn’t crack @ all in this playthrough, e’en though I always remembered kicking a Koopa shell somehow disobeyed the sound-effect-canceling sprite.

You’ll see soon ’nough that I like very dark levels — not for any sake o’ difficulty, but simply for aesthetics, not thinking @ all what problems this might cause for anyone who didn’t have a monitor as bright as mine or had weaker eyesight.

This actually might be the only time I intentionally used the darkness as a form o’ difficulty, @ the end with the blocks that blend in with the background. This level also originally had a block that was s’posed to change the palette to a brightened-up version to simulate turning the lights on, but I couldn’t get that to work without causing the palette to become a psychedelic mess, — & that’s not s’posed to happen till much later in this hack — so I had to scrap it.

These layer-2 rooms are god awful. I don’t think I’ve e’er done 1 well & knew it e’en @ the time, but forced myself to do them ’cause I tricked myself into thinking they added variety. The timing’s always off, forcing you to wait, which is always boring & awful. & this is the least-awful iteration.

Finally: the message box that tells you to jump into the lava to find a secret key isn’t just a parody o’ those cliché schoolyard rumors; in a much earlier version o’ this level I actually had that as a way to find a secret exit. That was back when I thought the best puzzles were those where I just changed the behavior o’ a block & hoped the player randomly guessed that the game rules changed for no reason — ’cause that’s always great game design.

Otherwise, there’s not much to say ’bout this level. A’least it’s short & simple for once. O yeah: & no P-switches.

  • P-Switch level count: 6 / 8
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 switch: 1
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 o’ the same switch: 1

Cave of Misfortune

Music: “Mt. Moon”, Pokémon Red & Blue

I still think this level’s great & am still proud o’ the main gimmick. Too bad I suck @ games & fucked it up in this video.

’Nother detail I’m glad I added was changing some hex code so that the Koopas are no longer in the shells that pop out o’ the ?-blocks, which always made me wait for them to pop out & fall into a pit on earlier versions. Forcing yourself to play your own games the natural way is a great way to push yourself to optimize things, just for your own selfish goal o’ minimizing tedium.

I do worry that the secret exit might be too easy to find. I think if I were to do it now, I’d make it look like there’s a full ceiling, ’stead o’ that conspicuous line o’ empty dirt, while still having the beanstalk eat through it. This would do what I just mocked as lazy earlier, but in this case I think it’s fair, since the idea that vines eat through solid dirt isn’t necessarily solid, as evidenced by the fact that it ate through that solid middle dirt in the current version. If anything, the conspicuous line o’ empty dirt looks too much like cutoff, which was surely the core reason why this hack wasn’t accepted by SMW Central.

Also, I’m not sure what I was thinking when I designed the palette for the secret room. I’m also not so fond o’ how it’s the same thing as the main level. O well: a’least it’s short.

  • P-Switch level count: 6 / 9
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 switch: 1
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 o’ the same switch: 1

Volcanic Valley

Music: “Hot Head Bop”, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest ( Same )

& now we get into some true shit. You have no idea how many deaths I had to edit out — & most o’ them were caused by the wonky hit detection o’ these slopes. In particular, the last slope before the pipe is, I think, impossible to do ’less you’re small or you’re super dexterous ’nough to duck & slide jump before falling into the lava. The saddest thing is, it’d be easy to solve, too: just make the slopes go deeper into the lava. That’s how Nintendo programmed the lava after all: the top block doesn’t kill you; just the body below it, allowing some padding before you die.

The inner caves are no better. They’re mostly the same, but now there’s a boring-ass skull-raft ride, which is so slow, it sucks. & as, um… raocow says in the video, the raft disappears if you let it leave the screen. & since you need to to enter the pipe, — e’en if you had a cape & could float o’er to it, the raft is the only ground you could use to enter the pipe — leaving you utterly fucked.

This was the 1st level to legitimately piss me off. It won’t be the last. E’en the lack o’ P-switches doesn’t save it.

  • P-Switch level count: 6 / 10
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 switch: 1
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 o’ the same switch: 1

Shroom o’ Darkness

Music: “Mt. Moon”, Pokémon Red & Blue

Hey, it’s 1 out o’ a million o’ these. ’Cept without the cool bonus items that Super Demo World had which actually made them interesting. Look: you get to pay to get o’erpriced powerups you can easily get in a regular level; ¿isn’t that a great reward for all that bullshit?

But a’least you get some advice every Super Mario World hack-player knows.

Also, this doesn’t count for the P-switch count, since it doesn’t e’en have a goal.

Dead Shallows

Music: “Ghost House”, Super Mario World ( Same )

I was proud o’ this level till I found out The Second Reality Project already did its main gimmick years before me.

Going through the level backward underwater to get a P-switch you obviously couldn’t get, & using that P-switch to go through the main room a different way are cool, but not used to their best extent. I think putting them together is a waste o’ 2 good gimmicks. I love how I just threw together 2 clever gimmicks & did li’l with them while o’erusing P-switch puzzles & layer-2 bullshit in a dozen other levels ’cause I apparently didn’t have ’nough variety.

I thought I remembered an info box @ the end o’ the water room hinting that you should try to go through the 1st room ’gain without using the Torpedo Ted; but maybe I removed it ’cause I thought the solution was too obvious.

  • P-Switch level count: 7 / 11
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 switch: 1
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 o’ the same switch: 1

World A: Valley o’ Bowser’s ( revisited )

Music: “Valley of Bowser”, Super Mario World ( Same )

The Haunt

Music: “Shade Man – Ghouls ‘N Ghosts”, Mega Man 7 ( Based on 1st stage theme from Ghost ‘N Goblins games )

I remember this level being harder; surprisingly, I had less trouble this time than with “Cave of Misfortune”. Must’ve toned it down.

I know I must’ve toned down the P-switches, since I remember the original forced you to get both a blue & silver.

That said, other than the atmosphere, there’s not much to say ’bout it. There’s a subtle cleverness to the jump down the hill, which was much worse in earlier versions; I remember the jump through the plants in the upper part could be done quickly & flashily, which I don’t do, ’cause I’ve lost all skills I’ve developed in this game; the fact that you can use the silver P to go through the part easier is nice; though this was done better in other levels.

O yeah, & there’s keys all o’er, as some kind o’ joke… I guess. You’d have to ask teenage me. There’s no secret exit in this level, & there’s no keyhole anywhere.

  • P-Switch level count: 8 / 12
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 switch: 1
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 o’ the same switch: 1

Sea of Sangre ( revisited )

Music: “Decisive Battle”, Final Fantasy VI

’Course, anyone watching the video o’ the 1st trip must’ve noticed that this was a red level with a secret exit.

Though it’s mo’ a hindrance to this level than a help, I decided to show off that there’s a red Yoshi hidden @ the top o’ the beginning o’ this level as an easter egg. The game’ll mention later that there’s 1 o’ each special color Yoshi in each level ( technically 2 levels for the blue Yoshi, thanks to the wing bonus ); but the red Yoshi’s the only 1 that’s hidden ( the others you have to encounter to 100% the game ), & most playthroughs I’ve seen hadn’t found it.

This is ’nother level that’s rather hard to comment on simply ’cause it’s just OK. I guess I thought having the goal in the middle o’ the room clever, though I bet I’ve done it better in ’nother level. Also, having ’nother “Find the P-Switch” puzzle loses whatever points it might’ve gained. Same with a long-winded bridge-building puzzle that’s only made bearable by flying & hitting them all @ once. I guess maybe that could be a clever way to reward those who think o’ that; I didn’t plan it but came up with it while testing the level in a desperate attempt to speed it up, since I tested these levels dozens o’ times.

Note how I tried to make this a trainer’s wheels version o’ Koopa hopping by making there by ground below. Also, ’twas pointless, since by this point it’s immensely likely you have a cape & can just fly o’er everything. You can see in the video that I started to do just that, only to stop & decide that I probably ought to show off the way you’re “s’posed” to do it. These trainer’s wheels are e’en mo’ odd if you do this exit on the way back, which is what I expect, you’ll have to go through much harder challenges ( ’specially if you play through that “Volcanic Valley” bullshit ).

  • P-Switch level count: 8 / 12
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 switch: 2
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 o’ the same switch: 2

Lab of Darkness

Music: “Fight Against an Armed Boss”, Super Mario RPG

’Stead o’ castles or fortresses, this game has laboratories, with a li’l green & gray icon I drew myself. I actually still like this decision, though I wish I’d picked better Mega Man graphics to steal.

It cracks me up how there’s a cutscene showing Luigi jump off Yoshi, as a way to keep the game from glitching with Yoshi’s existence, & then slowly walking inside ( after Luigi the Magician makes the door open just by looking up @ it ), only to start you outside the castle ( to keep the darkened palette o’ the 1st inside room from infecting the cutscene ). Maybe it’s just the entrance to the courtyard.

Also, if this is s’posed to be a lab, ¿why’s it look so much like a castle? Just gotta use your imagination. It reminds me o’ when I was young & had to pretend a green hacky sack was Kirby & Leonardo’s blue triceratops ( from some prehistoric TMNT toys ) was Bowser. That’s just what you have to do when your resources are limited.

But this level blows. It’s too many mediocre sections taped together. I can’t help noticing that the best levels I did were those that were concise; this is bloated. The graphical gimmick — having the 1st section be dark & the 2nd section light — isn’t used beyond looks, & looks tacky. I guess in fairness, you can skip some o’ it; I only wish you could skip the worst o’ it: that god awful layer-2 section right after the 1st room.

Like always, the main goal is to find a P-switch & bring it back to the 1st dark subroom to get past a brown-block wall in ’nother sublevel. Unlike the other levels, I don’t like this use: it only adds fluff to a level that’s already stuffed with it. There are actually 2 places where you can get the P-switch, & this version makes those places much better; in the original, the P-switch in the light room was in the hall that led to ’nother room that already had 1, whereas going the other hallway & through the room that it leads to would give the player no P-switch @ all, while leading them back to the start. Considering the midpoint in the light room, that takes them back farther than if they’d died.

& then we have the final boss. I couldn’t figure out how to get the “Custom Boss” sprite to not crash my game & didn’t want to reuse the Koopa Kids, so I made up li’l puzzles with regular enemies & called them “bosses”. 1 I truly liked later; but here we just have a joke. I still think it’s all right. It’s a 1-time thing, & a relief after what a pain in the ass the level itself is.

“The Angry Exterminator” is a reference to some silly rom hack. I made a few satirical references to other rom hacks — making satirical references to other works in the same medium is something I oft do; but the truly good 1 comes much later.

  • P-Switch level count: 9 / 13
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 switch: 3
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 o’ the same switch: 3

The Red Switch

Music: “The Axem Rangers Drop In”, Super Mario RPG

But the true boss isn’t the lab, but the switch itself.

I like this dynamic: a ( s’posedly ) all-round-hard castle-like level followed by a simpler, puzzle level. I also like the aesthetics. It’s just too bad the design o’ the levels themselves were mostly lame.

This 1’s unquestionably the worst. There’s no focus @ all. It starts with a bunch o’ mindless jumps, has some awkward but easy section to get a spring, with an awkward way to get out ( which makes it impossible to bring Yoshi back with you & keep the spring ), & then has some dumb “run, but duck under the spikes” strewn round a long, empty hall ( which made bringing Yoshi impossible, anyway ). Padding. It ends with a short flight section that would be better if a better version wasn’t done in the Yellow Switch.

  • P-Switch level count: 9 / 14
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 switch: 3
  • Levels with mo’ than 1 o’ the same switch: 3

& this week’s journey ends with the best glitch: when you return to the map, you’re stuck on the switch. I have no idea why this happens, but I couldn’t fix it, no matter what I tried. You just have to reset the game. Good thing this game autosaves almost everything — ’cept Yoshi, which means it didn’t matter whether we could bring Yoshi with us or not.

Next week we truly explore Shroom City Mainland, starting with… ugh… a truly tiring level.

Posted in Legend of the Four Switches, My Crimes Gainst Art, Programming, Video Games