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// article by SoyBomb

I made a mistake. I hate to admit it (usually because there is no need to do so), but I was wrong. I wrote an article about a bunch of Super Mario Bros. hacks that I had previously declared to be unplayable past the title screen. Turns out you actually CAN. I feel lower than an aquifer, and my apologies run deep like the majestic river. In an effort to right what has been wronged (in this case, you), I present the many horrors that lay within these nasty hack-beasts.

This hack is pretty awful. Aside from the fact that you spend the entire time swimming, it actually freezes after a short while in the spot noted in the right screenshot. Recommended for people with a very short attention span.

This one's far more playable than its pitiful demo where Mario gets stuck on the number 4. The colours are far darker than usual. The entire game is only three stages long, consisting of the span from 3-2 to 3-4. There are other strange phenomena in play here as well. Fireballs actually just hover in space. The bouncing Starman looks far more sinister. And for some reason, the Princess is blindfolded...

SBM1-95 is only two levels long, but that doesn't mean they can't be the best dog-gone levels ever, right?! Eh... I guess so, if you consider transforming Bowser's fireballs into spears and replacing the castle theme song with music from Dragon Quest III as the method of becoming the best.

It's gray, it's cloudy, and you can't get very far. It's everything you want from a Super Mario game... or possibly a typical North England town.

If it's a challenge ye be seeking, a challenge ye shall find here! Not only is everything darker than a... uh... darkroom... but jumps are extremely difficult to make, and every Hammer Brother in the Mushroom Kingdom wants you dead. Today. Right now. Even Goombas aren't as friendly: they sure don't stay squashed for long. Not even half a second. I can't get past the second level because the leaping requirements are just too outrageous (mostly because of poorly placed low ceilings). Can YOU?

Mario still looks like a prison escapee from the 1930s. Unfortunately, his daring escapades are short-lived, as this pit a few screens over take care of any hopes and dreams he may have had concerning the outside world.

Much has changed in Mario's world. The layout of levels has definitely been altered, and as you can tell, the graphics stand out more (including Japanese font). Plus, mushrooms have been replaced with what appear to be medicine bottles. More importantly, however, is that Goombas and Bullet Bills move at alarming speeds now. Duck and cover is the name of this game. Actually, it's "SMB1-152", but that's no fun. The second screenshot is about as far as I could safely get. There's no hope afterward.

Okay, this one DEFINITELY doesn't play. That's a shame because I really wanted to explore a vast open-world conceptual piece where hills are gray and clouds hover low to the ground in existential fear.

The timer begins at 100, and you're off with adrenaline pumping through every crevice in your body... until you get to this point and realize that the game doesn't want you to win. Plus, you only get one life, just like actual life.

Walking in a winter wonderland never felt so dull. If getting past the first spinning fire chain isn't enough of a thrill, how about getting stuck on the other end of that ledge? Why do people create adventures that go nowhere?

Aside from the title screen, this game is EXACTLY the same as the original Super Mario Bros., right down to the fun, something many of these hacks lack.

Now this one is trouble! There's a readily-available mushroom at the beginning, but if you take it, you can't pass the rest of the stage because you need to fit through a narrow wedge of space as regular Mario. Of course, getting to the end is hardly worth it, as you need to be Super Mario to break blocks and hit the axe at the end. Hmmm... isn't that just a pretty pickle?

This is the entire game, all in one screenshot. Grabbing the mushroom doesn't help you. Walking in the ground blocks is possible. And if you walk a bit too far to the right, the game will actually PULL Mario along. I didn't exactly want to be standing there.

Let's see what we have here, shall we? A small corridor filled with coins, leading to a dead end featuring three tiny fire chains and a Buzzy Beetle dancing in one spot. There are more coins, but we can't get at them. Alright, guess it's back to the fetal position for me.

Everything plays like it should in a normal game, except that Goombas, mushrooms, and Koopa Troopas like to move in the opposite direction. Is his face THAT grotesque?

While making notes for this one, I wrote down the term "superweird." Is that unusual? Basically, SMB1-222 is all the regular stuff from the original, just dumped out all over the floor and then reassembled with instructions supplied by Ikea. The first level is reimagined as though it's in a castle. And the second level, oh! I don't even know what it is. Plus it loops indefinitely, so don't worry too much about progress.

Goombas, mushrooms, Koopa Troopas... they all tend to FALL in this hack. Defying the laws of matter and physics, they just FALL. Everything else is fine, but... why are the Goombas falling?! They just fall through the floor! WHAT IS GOING ON I DON'T—

Nothing beats having a game where you basically get yourself stuck. Terrible, terrible design rules, although the lifts WILL take you through those tasty-looking Caramilk blocks (Caramello blocks for our American friends). You'll still get wedged in a pipe. There's no fun to be had here. Let's clear out in an orderly fashion...

So, what's so special about this hack? Oh, just that Mario CAN'T JUMP. Our leaping hero has lost one of the key factors of his ongoing fame. The levels have therefore been redesigned so that he can walk/run through without having the need to jump. It's actually an interesting concept, at least for a short while. I miss jumping. The fun part happens near the beginning of the second level when you can hit an axe and "win" the game, although the screen (plus Mario) end up scrolling to the right until he is killed by a Koopa.

Two Thirty-Four, a momentous milestone in the Mario hacks. Why? Because there are blue Goombas, that's why! Do you need any other reason? I think not! Mario's abilities have also been edited slightly: he now jumps much higher, and his fireballs travel in a straight line horizontally. How did I get that high score? I must be a gaming wizard!

For the most part, this is the first level of Super Mario Bros. with little deviation, save for the end where you suddenly encounter a half-flagpole, half-axe mutation. Hit the axe, and the ending music plays while Mario keeps walking into the edge of the screen. That's divine.

Not much to say about this one, except there's really awful design choices at play. You can't finish this one because the axe at the end at the level is right underneath a layer of bricks you can't break, so why even bother playing? Move on.

Ah, this was the one that replaced the "1 PLAYER GAME" choice with the word "LECTURE". As soon as you spawn, you fall into the abyss below with no chance for survive make your time. Looks like this one goes in the trash pile, alongside many others here.

Similar to SMB1-174, this one is short and sweet, leading to an impenetrable wall that ends your quest as quickly as it began. Judging by the slightly scrunched look on Mario's face, he's not all that happy by this impediment to his princess-saving.

This one had the potential to be better than the original (or quite possibly the best video game in existence, bar none), but they just HAD to stick a fire chain moving at the speed of sound right there at the exit from Mario's corridor. There is absolutely no way to pass this by, save with a Game Genie invincibility cheat. I'm not that kind of person, though. Er, I don't think I am...

If you look at the left screenshot above, you'll notice an orange platform. It doesn't seem out of the ordinary, but it's the key. Hopping on it will transport you extremely quickly to the right (so quickly, the screen won't really keep up with you well). You'll automatically hop from one orange platform to the next, until you reach the end of the line, where you have to jump off quickly or fall to your death. Of course, then you're stuck at the end with nowhere to go. A reflection of life?

Alright, who's the yutz who was playing Tetris in here? I can't get any farther than this... and this is the first screen! Well, I can at least practice my jumping against a smooth surface.

SMB1-253 is essentially the same as the original but with far more pirahna plants occupying the pipes. Can someone bring out a spray bottle with vinegar in it? We need to spritz these plants quickly before they grow and bring their buddies, Crusty Crabgrass, with them.

Mario is in a silhouette style here, and it actually reminds me of all those screens from Super Smash Bros. that say "A new challenger approaches!" The levels have been redesigned, and you need to be extremely cautious, lest you wish to suffer bitter failure. Unfortunately, I could not get past the first level, thanks to the brutal leap of faith in the right screenshot. Made me sad, it did.

Another giant brick wall cut me off! The hacker/designer/sadist decided to add a second wall and a tiny spinning fireball afterward, likely to taunt me and rub it in my face that I shall never succeed. I did, however, succeed: I shut it off.

We conclude our romp through Hack Avenue with another Super Mario Bros. hack that closely resembles the original. But wait... something is off... wait a second! The Fire Flowers are missing! In their place are... Hammer Bros. suits! Excellent! And they work rather well, just like they do in Super Mario Bros. 3! That's actually a welcome change. It's nice to end on a high note, isn't it?

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