An Interview with DahrkDaiz, Creator of Mario Adventure

February 13th, 2006 by Benj Edwards

Mario AdventureJust yesterday I had the opportunity to conduct an email interview DahrkDaiz, creator of the impressive hack Mario Adventure. Mario Adventure is a completely new Mario game made from modifications to the Super Mario Bros. 3 game engine for the NES. The game was the subject of a recent piece on VC&G and has proven to be quite popular now that it has been given wider attention on our site.

Vintage Computing and Gaming: Thank you for agreeing to this interview. First off, where are you from?
DahrkDaiz: Knoxville, Tennessee

VC&G: What do you do for a living?
DD: I’m currently a student at ITT-Tech and working full time at a fast food restaurant.

VC&G: Do you aspire to be a professional game designer?
DD: I hope so one day but in reality I know game design is a tough field to crack, so I’ll continue to pursue the dream in my spare time while focusing on a realistic programming career, working for businesses to make a living.

VC&G: What’s your favorite video game? Favorite Mario game?
DD: A tie between Sonic 3 & Knuckles and SMB3. [Favorite Mario Game:] SMB3, no surprise there.

VC&G: What inspired you to make Mario Adventure?
DD: The total lack of a proper Mario sequel. I was disappointed with the Mario Advance series and I saw other people’s attempt at creating a new SMB3 experience and decided to take the matter into my own hands.

VC&G: Mario Adventure has been very popular on VC&G. It been downloaded over 11,000 times from our site in the last few days. Is there anything you’d like the players of Mario Adventure to know or keep in mind while playing?
DD: This hack was made with the hardcore SMB3 player in mind. I could practically beat the original with my eyes closed and figured it was time to up the difficulty. However, I tried to include ways to pass hard obstacles easily. Use your power-ups to their fullest abilities and you should do fine getting through the game.

Mario AdventureVC&G: What’s your favorite new feature of Mario Adventure? Also, what’s your favorite world in the game?
DD: Definitely the key collecting idea. I always liked having to back track through levels or world to get something out of the way to continue in a game. Point A to point B grows old quickly. [Favorite World:] Colossal Classics. The giant nostalgic look just has something about it that pleases me. Though I thought I could have a slightly better job with it.

VC&G: What development tools did you use to create Mario Adventure?
DD: FCEUd (emulator with an excellent debugger), YY-Chr (graphics editing), Mario 3 Improvement (archaic SMB3 level editor), Hex Workshop (hex editor).

VC&G: How long did it take you to complete Mario Adventuree?
DD: Approximately 16 months.

VC&G: Was reverse engineering the Super Mario Bros. 3 Game engine and implementing new rules, power-ups, etc. difficult? Tell us more about how you made changes to the Super Mario Bros. 3 game itself.
DD: At first it was very difficult. I slowly began to see a certain logic used behind the game. However, when reprogramming the code, I had to find unused space in the ROM, so that was pretty much hit and miss. Admittedly I did a poor job at coding it, hence all the bugs and glitches, but I did what I could with what knowledge I knew. A lot of time stepping through code and even writing code out on paper while at work during my break was required.

VC&G: Did you do all the level design in Mario Adventure yourself?
DD: Absolutely everything was done by me in this.

VC&G: Do you think Mario Adventure would work properly if somehow put on an actual hardware cartridge and played on a real NES/Famicom? Have you ever attempted this?
DD: Unfortunately, it will not. I reprogrammed the game to take advantage of a bug most emulators have, however, I did not realize at the time that it was a bug. The hack would work on a real NES, but not properly all time. The main bug being the status bar moving up over the screen at certain times.

VC&G: Have you ever heard from Nintendo about your Mario hacking exploits?
DD: Surprisingly, no.

Mario SeasonsVC&G: Have you done any previous game hacking projects? If so, tell us about them.
DD: Before Mario Adventure? No, but there were a few things I did while working on Mario Adventure and afterwards. Most of it is unknown unfinished test projects. I created a cool parallax (SNES style) background scroll in Mega Man 3 for Snake Man’s stage. I hacked Castlevania 3 to start and stay as Alucard. I completely hacked Ms. Pac-Man to have 32 unique levels, a mode to play levels at random and a pellet counter. This hack is known as Pac-Man 3 and will be available on my site once it relaunches.

VC&G: What can you tell us about your next hacking project? When will it be ready?
DD: I can tell you now the next big project is another SMB3 hack. Most people may sigh at this, but I took a different approach with this hack and differs from Mario Adventure. The scale is that, if not more than Mario Adventure. It makes Luigi and Mario be separate characters with each having special powers of their own for different gameplay, including Luigi’s floaty jump and slippery control and a new item box for Mario found in Mario Adventure. Each character has their own separate 8 worlds to play through, so this is literally two hacks in one. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen.

VC&G: Is there anything else that you’d like our readers to know?
DD: Mario Adventure is a real gem, but I’ve listened to a lot of good and bad feedback on it and this new project I’m working on addresses those issues. But I like to thank everyone who’s played this hack and given so much praise for it. It’s really inspired me to take game development as a serious career.



32 Responses to “An Interview with DahrkDaiz, Creator of Mario Adventure

  1. ganesh Says:

    is there a walkthrough for the super mario adventure? or even a time attack?

  2. RedWolf Says:

    There’s a time attack for it here:

    http://bisqwit.iki.fi/nesvideos/movies.cgi?inpure=Y

    Scroll down the page and take a look.

  3. Greg Says:

    I’m seriously considering making an FAQ if no one else feels like doing the same. I’m on spring break next week (no plans), so that is a good coincidence.

  4. angelday true Says:

    Guys, this SMB3 hack is awesome. I can’t believe someone has gotten THIS FAR in game hacking. I so much enjoy playing this gem in emulator on my Mac than spending countless hours playing World of Warcraft. Well.. 🙂

    DahrkDaiz for president.

  5. cmstar Says:

    I can get this to work on my iBook and it’s awesome. However, I can’t get it to play on any Nes emulators for Dreamcast?

  6. RedWolf Says:

    I suspect that this game’s emulator compatibility issues might have something to do with the emulator bug that DahrkDaiz took advantage of when programming Mario Adventure (see interview above about putting the game on a real cartridge). If there’s any version of FCE Ultra for the Dreamcast, it might work on that. Otherwise, I guess you’re probably trying NesterDC and it’s a shame if it doesn’t work with that.

  7. AntinousK Says:

    >>However, I can’t get it to play on any Nes emulators for Dreamcast?
    It works great on NesterDC 6.0 although I’ve had mixed success with 7.1.
    Cheers.

    http://www.dcemulation.com/dcemu-nesterdc.htm

  8. Uncle Says:

    Reminds me of another excellent NES project:

    http://www.grandhefttendo.com

    Homebrew remake of GTA for NES.
    Complete with NESHLA, the high-level coding language he developed alongside it. I wish I could figure out how to get NESHLA to run on a PC, I’d love to try it out..

  9. DangerQ Says:

    When will someone create a similar project for Super Mario World?

  10. Fabio Barros Says:

    I tried the game, and it’s no less than f***ing awesome!, but it doesn’t save my progress, for some reason. Plus, I don’t have the foggiest idea of what the first instruction of the game’s manual is saying:

    “How to Patch

    Depending on the version of the SMB3 rom you have, you’ll have to use a different patch.
    Mario_Adventure_0.ips is for the SMB3 rom Super Mario Bros. 3 (PRG 0) U.nes rom file name.
    Mario_Adventure_1.ips is for the SMB3 rom Super Mario Bros. 3 (PRG 1) U.nes rom file name.”

    I downloaded the game from this very blog, and its filename is just “Mario Adventure.nes”. And I googled for “Mario_Adventure_0.ips” and “Mario_Adventure_1.ips” and found nothing.

    Can anyone help me on this? If you just raised you hand, please post a comment on my blog (nevermind it’s in portuguese).

  11. RedWolf Says:

    Fabio,

    You don’t have to worry about patching at all, because I currently provide the complete, patched ROM already. Just disregard that part of the instructions.

  12. Sonicblast Says:

    Suburb Hack DahrkDaiz!!!

    However, can I contact you for a hint? (On world 8, don’t want to spoil anything 😉

  13. RedWolf Says:

    Sonicblast,

    The Mario Adventure FAQ might help you. It’s located here:

    http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/91

  14. Fabio Barros Says:

    Then why my game isn’t saving my progress? It saves only upon certain events, like getting a key or beating a world, for example? Because i didn’t play enought to get a key or beat a world.

  15. Sonicblast Says:

    Thanks RedWolf!

  16. noha420 Says:

    This hack rules! DahrkDaiz is truly one of the most talented game hackers I’ve seen to date. Keep up the good work! Grand Theftendo should be awesome too, but I can’t wait for “Zelda 3 Challenge: Quest for Calatia” by GameMakr24. To all you Zelda fans out ther, keep your eyes on this one. http://rha.cymoro.com/zelda3c/
    It is being made with Hyrule Magic, a simple to use “Link to the Past” editor. Give it a try, ROM hacking is simpler than you may expect.

  17. Chris Says:

    Congratulations on what I see as one of the best Mario games ever, if not the best. However, I’ve noticed a small problem in Hot Foot Caverns.

    (Spoilers to some players)

    When you get to the odd space that appears to be a stopwatch and finish that level, if a hammer bros. walks on to that space, you become perpetually stuck there and have to do it over and over again.

  18. Antisocail Says:

    DangerQ,

    Try Super Demo World – The Legend Continues. It’s a great game, but like Adventure, it’s very very tricky in places.

    http://fusoya.panicus.org/lm/dw.html

  19. [Hack] Mario Adventure pour le NES (émuler, bien sûr!) « Blogue de Babalou Says:

    […] Entrevue avec le créateur : VintageComputing […]

  20. allaalla Says:

    Can someone send me link for the original SMB3 bcoz I need it to play this nice patch >.

  21. RedWolf Says:

    allaalla,

    You can actually download the complete, patched game in a link in this article:

    http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/63

    The link is in the last paragraph, I believe.

  22. Allan Says:

    yo tengo una nueva version de mario world, se llama SUPER MOMA WORLD. Si desean obtenerlo mandeme un correo y se lo enviare con mucho gusto

  23. Seeker of SMB3Hack Part II Says:

    Responding to this:
    I can tell you now the next big project is another SMB3 hack. Most people may sigh at this, but I took a different approach with this hack and differs from Mario Adventure. The scale is that, if not more than Mario Adventure. It makes Luigi and Mario be separate characters with each having special powers of their own for different gameplay, including Luigi’s floaty jump and slippery control and a new item box for Mario found in Mario Adventure. Each character has their own separate 8 worlds to play through, so this is literally two hacks in one. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen.

    I say:
    When should we expect this new SMB3 Hack?

  24. RedWolf Says:

    Seeker,

    I have an early version of “Mario & Luigi” (Mario Adventure 2), and it’s really awesome, albeit incomplete. I was going to do a preview of it on VC&G, but the last time I talked to DahrkDaiz, he had decided to scrap all of it and start over! I haven’t heard from DahrkDaiz in many months, though, so I’m not sure what he’s up to these days. Perhaps I should email him again.

  25. ephesians_612 Says:

    All I have to say is: wonderful games! My thirst for new 2d Mario has been fulfilled; now, I have no frets about not having access to New SMB for DS! It’s been a while since anyone has posted on this site, so… DahrkDaiz, you probably have moved on in life by now (maybe not? maybe more hax?…), but I’d just like to say thanks for the amazing pieces of work you’ve given us (as of yet?). God bless!
    –612

  26. mariozonic Says:

    how do you get to the first level T.T

  27. mariozonic Says:

    this could be super mario bros 4

  28. john Says:

    is there anyway i can get this in .NES form??

  29. Benj Edwards Says:

    John, there is a link to the patched game in the Mario Adventure article here:

    http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/63

  30. Mario&Luigi VS. Koopa Says:

    So, DahrkDaiz, What’s up?

  31. SPINDA Says:

    Can someone send me sprite sheet for this game for you?

  32. Mario&Luigi VS. Koopa Says:

    Sure, SPINDA. Hey, DahrkDaiz!

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