Archive for the 'Hacksterpiece Theatre' Category

Hacksterpiece Theatre: Luigi vs. Mario (Mario Adventure 2)

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

VC&G's Hacksterpiece Theatre[ Hacksterpiece Theatre is a regular column devoted to fun, odd, and interesting retro game hacks. ]

Ever since DahrkDaiz released Mario Adventure over two years ago, fans of the NES hack masterpiece have been ravenously hungry for a sequel. After my coverage of Mario Adventure earlier this year brought the hack back into the public eye, DD and I planned a full-scale release of Mario Adventure 2 on VC&G when it was complete. He sent me a demo version back in March, and as much as I wanted to show it off, I decided to hold off until DD completed the project. Unfortunately, that hold became indefinite as DahrkDaiz abandoned work on Mario Adventure 2 over six months ago and has since moved on to other things. It seemed that the sequel that everyone was waiting for would never see the light of day.

Luigi vs. Mario Title ScreenFast forward to this month: fans of his work have been so persistent in pestering Mr. Daiz about when Mario Adventure 2 would come out that he finally publicly released the incomplete version last week on Acmlm's Board. Now that the cat's out of the bag, I guess it's safe to take a look at DahrkDaiz's masterful, but incomplete sequel to the beloved Mario Adventure.

But wait a minute: Where did all this "Luigi vs. Mario" business come from?

Identity Crisis

Luigi vs. Mario Panda SuitSome of you may be confused by the names I'm throwing around here. The hack featured in this article started out as "Luigi vs. Mario," but at some point DahrkDaiz decided to use it as the basis of Mario Adventure 2 (likely after seeing the incredible explosion of popularity caused by VC&G's article on Mario Adventure). From that point on, the hack had an instant identity crisis, because the main concept of Luigi vs. Mario was to have two complete games in parallel — a quest for Mario, and a separate quest for Luigi. That plot wasn't necessarily appropriate for a sequel to Mario Adventure, so DahrkDaiz began to change various aspects of Luigi vs. Mario to fit its new Mario Adventure 2 title. Luigi vs. Mario is an incredible feat of programming with tons of new features, and ironically, it might have been the incredible depth and ambition of those very features — and the confusion that resulted when he tried to force Luigi vs. Mario into the mold of Mario Adventure 2 — that made DahrkDaiz abandon it earlier this year.

Panda Suit, Anyone?

Luigi vs. Mario Mouser SuitThere are so many incredible new features, power-ups, levels, and elements in Luigi vs. Mario that I'm not quite sure where to begin. Personal highlights for me include the new Mouser and Panda suits. With the Mouser suit, you can throw Bob-ombs, ala Mouser in Super Mario Bros. 2, and with the Panda suit, you can walk upside down on the ceiling in some areas! It's really absolutely stunning what DahrkDaiz has managed to cram into this hack. Due to the incredible complexity and depth of this hack's new changes and addition, the game is probably best explained by the author himself. At the bottom of this article, I've reproduced the manual that DahrkDaiz created in HTML for Mario Adventure 2 / Luigi vs. Mario, which he sent me back in March 2006. I've edited it some and cleaned it up a lot, but otherwise the text remains all his. For now, though, you should get the hack and see it for yourself.

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Hacksterpiece Theatre: Return to Zebes with Super Metroid Redesign

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

VC&G's Hacksterpiece Theatre[ Hacksterpiece Theatre is a regular column devoted to fun, odd, and interesting retro game hacks. ]

When I first played Super Metroid in April 1994, it was the most incredible gaming experience I'd ever had up to that point. Period. The atmosphere created by its top-notch graphics, music, and gameplay was palpable, enveloping me deeply into an incredible world of sci-fi fantasy and exploration.

Super Metroid LogoThere was only one problem with this otherwise excellent game: once you had finished it — exploring every nook, finding every secret, and collecting every power-up along the way — you had squeezed nearly every ounce of replay value out of the game. For years I wished so badly for a new Super Metroid, even if it were the exact same engine with a completely new world to explore. Well, my friends…in 2006, that wish was granted. Fans of this seminal work can explore the planet Zebes all over again in a new hack by Drewseph and crew called, quite simply, Super Metroid Redesign.

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Hacksterpiece Theatre: The Lost Hacks of DahrkDaiz, Part 3 (Luigi's Coin Quest)

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

VC&G's Hacksterpiece Theatre[ 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


Shortly after completing his 2004 magnum opus, Mario Adventure, DahrkDaiz got straight to work on a totally new hack of Super Mario Bros. 3 which would feature Luigi in the starring role, eschewing the usual Mario vehicle cliché. Luigi's Coin Quest, as it would be titled, would have numerous similarities with his previous SMB3 hack, but would greatly improve upon them. Over the next eight months, only one world of this epic project would be finished. And yet, despite being incomplete, the resulting work is one of the most sophisticated and highly playable examples of sheer technical mastery in the field of NES game hacking that the gaming world has never seen.

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Hacksterpiece Theatre: The Lost Hacks of DahrkDaiz, Part 2 (Pac-Man III and Mega Man Challenge)

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

VC&G's Hacksterpiece Theatre[ Hacksterpiece Theatre is a regular column devoted to fun, odd, and interesting retro game hacks. ]

Welcome back to Hacksterpiece Theatre, and thanks for joining us for Part 2 of our series on the "Lost Hacks of DahrkDaiz." Last week, we took a look at Mario Seasons, a nifty Super Mario Bros. hack. This week, I'll be showing you a couple more early NES hacks from DahrkDaiz — one of Ms. Pac-Man and another of Mega Man III.

Pac Man III

Pac-Man IIIPac-Man III is an inventive hack of the NES version of Ms. Pac-Man that adds new boards, new colors, new features, and new eyeballs.

Yes, new eyeballs. Ms. Pac-Man has appropriately been changed to Mr. Pac-Man for this hack, but for some reason DahrkDaiz, in his ceaseless quest for NES graphical enhancement perfection, decided to give Pac-Man bulging white eyeballs (if you'll recall, Pac-Man was originally eyeless in the first Pac-Man). After playing this game for about thirty minutes, those disturbingly googly eyes have a startling way of being permanently etched into your brain.

Pac-Man IIINightmares aside, this is a really fun hack. DahrkDaiz designed 32 new levels for a wide-eyed Pac-Man to chomp his way through. Some of them are on the traditional side of things (ho-hum square-ish), while some are quite devious (invisible walls!). Never one to just modify a few tiles and walk away, DD had to provide a completely new feature or two. In this case, he provided a new way to play the levels: on the title screen, you can select either "Linear" play, which takes you through the boards in sequential order, or "Random" play, in which (surprise!) you play the boards in a random order. DD also added a pellet counter in the upper-right portion of the screen which keeps track of how many pellets you have left to eat before completing the board.

I've never been a huge Pac-Man fan, but all these new features combined make Pac-Man III feel like an entirely new game to me that is definitely worth a try. You can download the complete Pac Man III game here. And as always, you will need an emulator to play it (I recommend FCEU for Windows).

Mega Man Challenge

Mega Man ChallengeHonestly, this next hack is nothing too special, but I thought I'd include it for completeness.

DahrkDaiz intended to make Mega Man Challenge into a "Mario Adventure" for Mega Man III. That is, he was going to completely overhaul the game. But for reasons unknown to me, he never got very far. The only stage he finished was the "Snake Man" stage, which has a new level layout with new graphics, an impressive parallax-scrolling background, and a new acorn-dropping enemy. DD also added the ability to switch between your weapons with the select button. Like I said, it's not much. But if you want to give it a try, you can download it here.

(Update 06/15/2006: DahrkDaiz has send me a version of Mega Man Challenge with the Top-Man stage completely redone. However, the Snake Man board is not complete in this version. You can download it here if you're interested in seeing some wicked-cool atmosphertic effects added to Mega Man III.)

In our next episode, I'll be profiling another fun Super Mario Bros. 3 hack by DahrkDaiz that I've never even mentioned before on VC&G. This time we'll get to take control of Luigi and help him find his lost coins…

Have any cool, funny, or weird retro game hacks that you'd like to share? Send 'em along!

Hacksterpiece Theatre: The Lost Hacks of DahrkDaiz, Part 1 (Mario Seasons)

Tuesday, June 6th, 2006

VC&G's Hacksterpiece Theatre[ Hacksterpiece Theatre is a regular column devoted to fun, odd, and interesting retro game hacks. ]

Hello, friends. Welcome to my new regular column on VC&G, Hacksterpiece Theatre, where I hope to profile for you the best, worst, and most interesting retro game hacks in existence.

Mario SeasonsBack in March on Vintage Computing and Gaming, I profiled what I called "The Best NES Game Hack of All Time," Mario Adventure. Shortly after the hack exploded across the Net, I tracked down the author of that masterful piece of SMB3 modification and conducted an interview with him. He goes by the name "DahrkDaiz" in the online retro hacking community, and it is my belief that he is likely the most talented NES game hacker out there today. After many conversations with him about hacking, he agreed to send me some of his earlier NES game hacks that have been relatively "lost" as of late. And by lost, I mean that they were once available for download on his site, but have not been for quite some time. In this inaugural column of HT, and the first in a series of "Lost Hacks of DahrkDaiz," I'll be profiling one of his earliest hacks, Mario Seasons.

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Mario Adventure: The Best NES Game Hack of All Time

Tuesday, February 7th, 2006

Mario AdventureIn a way, I think we all thirst for a new 2D side scrolling Mario adventure. It's some sort of basic human need, along with eating, sleeping and reproduction. Why, just last week I was about to keel over for want of Mario when, at the last minute, I found the greatest NES game hack of all time, Mario Adventure. But this isn't your usual game hack, mind you. You'll find no giant buttocks glued onto Mario's forehead, no nude Mushroom Retainers, no Super Tokin' Brothers with Luigi replaced by a white Rastafarian with a cannabis leaf for a hat. Nope, this is a real game — a new game, crafted with care and aplomb using the Super Mario Bros. 3 game engine. Who executed this masterful feat? Look no further than intrepid homebrew coder "DahrkDaiz," who completed the game over the course of sixteen months, sometimes coding on paper during his breaks while working at a fast food restaurant (check out our interview with Mario Adventure's creator here). Now that's what I call dedication. This man deserves serious recognition for the creation of this masterpiece.

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