[ Hacksterpiece Theatre is a regular column devoted to fun, odd, and interesting retro game hacks. ]
Greetings! Thanks for joining me once again for Hacksterpiece Theatre. This week, in the concluding segment of the "Lost Hacks of DahrkDaiz" series, I'll be examining another incomplete and "lost" DahrkDaiz NES game hack as usual — but this time it's a more recent one starring a certain iconic Italian plumber's green-garbed, typically overlooked brother.
Luigi in the Spotlight
The object of Luigi's Coin Quest is to find a special coin in each level. Every stage has at least one rounded switch block that looks similar to the "!" switch blocks in Super Mario World. Hitting this switch will reveal the coin somewhere in the level, which you then have to find and collect to end the stage. The original idea for the game's structure was that "boss fights" with the Koopa Kids would end each world. You'd then enter a warp pipe in the overworld — completing another extended transitional level in the process — and when you came out, you'd be at a new world map with new levels. Well, plans are wonderful, but they don't always work out. DahrkDaiz completed the game up to the first transitional level (including the first Koopa Kid, as you'll see in the video above), but stopped just short of World 2.
Had he finished all eight worlds, this hack would vie with Mario Adventure as one of the greatest NES hacks of all time. Yet even in its incomplete state, DD managed to squeeze in a myriad of innovative features. Let's take a look at some of them:
1. As usual with any DahrkDaiz hack, there are many extremely well-done graphics and animation changes and enhancements. There are so many that I'm not going to try to list them all — just try the game yourself and you'll see them all over the place.
2. A notable graphical change is that the Luigi graphic has a "modern" Luigi head — i.e. long-faced instead of the usual palette-swapped squat-headed Mario sprite.
3. DahrkDaiz has added a "breath bar" that represents your air supply while underwater (located in the former position of the "P" flight meter in the original SMB3). If it runs out, you die. However, if you become Frog Luigi, you can "breathe" underwater indefinitely.
4. Regular coins have been replaced by cherries. When collected, they build up your stop watch meter (represented by the graphic in the lower right-most box on the screen), which, when full, allows you to temporarily stop time by pressing Select + Down on the control pad.
6. Your previously collected power up is stored in a box on the status bar, ala Mario Adventure. You can switch between two power-ups (your current one and your stored one) by pressing Select.
7. DahrkDaiz has added a random power-up block in some stages that resembles the "roulette" power-up block in Super Mario World. It is a vigorously animated square that shows all the power-ups scrolling by within. Upon hitting it, a random power-up is ejected from the top of the block.
9. When holding a koopa shell, Luigi can kick it upwards (again, like Super Mario World) by pressing Up and releasing the "B" button.
10. Pressing Up + Select while in a Kuribo's Shoe put it into storage (the shoe will then show up in the second box from the right in the status bar). You can retrieve it from storage at any time by pressing Up + Select again.
12. The Hammer Luigi power-up lets Luigi walk on lava with impunity.
13. In one stage, there are Super Mario World-style switch blocks that toggle square "!" blocks between being in an outlined, intangible placeholder state to being actual blocks that Luigi can stand on.
14. If you collect enough points, a special power will show up in the second box from the left on the status bar. DahrkDaiz never finished the code for the abilities and is not sure if they even work. The only ability I have found thus far is called "double star time." DahrkDaiz says that this ability is supposed to either double the amount of time you remain invulnerable after you get hit by an enemy (i.e. while blinking) or to double the amount of time that you are invincible after collecting a star power-up. He can't quite remember which, or whether he ever even finished coding it. According to DD, other abilities in the game include "higher jumping and making shell based enemies stay in their shell when stomped."
DahrkDaiz worked on Luigi's Coin Quest between February 2004 to October 2004. He stopped development because he felt that the immense scale of the hack had gotten out of hand. After the taxing and exhaustingly complicated experience that was Mario Adventure, he longed to get back to basics and work on something simple again. That decision would prove incredibly ironic, considering that his most impressive, massive, and all-encompassing hack lay directly ahead of him — a work that has yet to be fully revealed to the public. It seems that a man of his ambition cannot simply stick to small projects. And I think, for our sake, that it's a very good thing. I have the feeling that we'll be hearing much more from Mr. Daiz down the road.
Gimmie Filez d00d
You can download Luigi's Coin Quest here. The game (as it stands in this file) is currently incomplete, but DahrkDaiz hopes to finish it some day when he gets a chance. I really hope he does, because it is an awesome hack. As always, you will need an emulator such as FCEU to play it. Have fun, and let us know if you discover anything new.
Have you found or made any cool, funny, or weird retro game hacks that you'd like to share? Send 'em along!