Brutal Mario

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ROM Hack as Retrospective

System Requirements:
Super Nintendo Emulator, ROM Patcher, A Computer of Some Sort

I should probably be ashamed of myself, but I'm having too much fun. I still have a couple of medals to earn in RunMan, and I've been skimping on my Spelunky sessions. I tried to rekindle my old friendships with Fallout 2, Deus Ex, and Alpha Centauri but I can't seem to find the time. I've got tons of games at my disposal, but whenever I get free time I turn to this unassuming ROM hack of Super Mario World. You probably think I'm crazy but hear me out, because this game is a fucking masterpiece. Brutal Mario is the Cowboy Bebop or Tarantino flick of platformers, take your pick. Either way its a masterful blend of Nintendo's best, and if you have any fond memories of the SNES era you shouldn't miss it. If the above seems like hyperbole, just check out the screenshot there. That's a boss fight with Mammon´╗┐ Machine from Chrono Trigger. I rest my case.

Super Mario World is popular among ROM hackers simply because it's well-known and awesome, the definitive hop-and-bop platformer. Every aspect of its design comes together in perfect form, making a cohesive package that has yet to be topped. Most hacks don't tap into this potential, however, and squander in mediocracy. They either poorly implement the game's mechanics or try to turn it into something it's not. Mario's Adventure, anybody? The people who do actually know what they're doing typically go and make absurdly insane outings that only a diehard player could complete. To conquer them one would require fast reflexes, knowledge of glitches, and countless save states. And these games should be made. (I'm actually going to do a write-up for the archetypal one once I can get past its first level.) But Brutal Mario's different, and I couldn't be happier.

This is obviously a labor of love, as the developer knows her stuff. This game is highly allusive and drops constant references to other works like its Gaiman's Sandman. Super Mario World is its core, but set pieces, backgrounds, and enemies from assorted titles and other Mario games all make appearances. These additions are far from being a cut-and-paste hodgepodge though, as they're carefully woven together to create an enthralling experience. The nod to Tarantino and Shinichiro Watanabe is duly earned. Instead of being a pure homage, though, the game throws constant curveballs at you. I played one level where the On/Off switch actually changed the enemies in the level, and another one that was fully destructible via Mario's fireballs. These subversive quirks are made all the more apparent because they're within the Super Mario World engine, something that is so well-known and played.

The boss battles are what this hack is best known for, and they're reason enough for a download. Bosses are typically the one shortcoming in the Mario franchise, but not here. There are dozens of encounters and they're all throwbacks to various 16-bit games. Oh, and they are a lot of fun too. There is the occasional level that drags a bit, but other than that Super Nintendo fans shouldn't pass this up.

N.B. You'll need a Super Nintendo emulator and a patching program, both of which I linked to. You'll also have to, ahem, acquire a clean Super Mario World ROM, but you're on your own for that.


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Super Mario War

While not nearly as referential, if you're looking for a good multiplayer mario game you might be interested in checking out Super Mario War. At the very least it'll be interesting to see how the multiplayer on this fan-made title stacks up against the upcoming Wii title.

Other notable SMW hacks

Other notable SMW hacks include the slew of Automatic Mario levels available on Youtube, which play themselves without any player input; some of the more advanced (and Japanese) ones are timed so the sound effects sync with the theme song to some anime or another.

There's also Kaizo Mario, which involves a nearly I Wanna Be The Guy-esque level of tricky jumps, traps, glitch exploitation, etc. Particularly the classic "die after you reach the end goalpost" fake-out.

Thanks for the Heads Up

The "archetypal insane difficulty" Mario hack I mentioned in the write-up is Kaizo, and it's fucking hard. I'm trying to beat it without referencing Youtube videos, but I'm finding it nigh impossible at this point. If I can ever beat that blasted first level I'll do a write-up. =p

"Return to Dinosaur Land" is a vanilla hack, and has some nice level design. "The Second Reality Project" is one I just started, and it's alright. But really guys, there isn't much out there. Be forewarned (if it isn't already apparant), there be a lot of shit out there. If anybody has any other notable ones just drop a comment here.

Oh, Dessgeega's site has links to tons of cool Super Mario Bros. hacks, if you are so inclined.

Emulator question

So i got it all patched, but i'm still not getting it to work. I'm trying to run it on my NDS (R4). Is it emulator specific?


Hhm, I know that in general there are some compatablity issues with portable-based emulators. I think the problem is that when the game was patched, it made the game require more RAM than typically allotted. There's a lot of technical shit running behind the scenes to get this running. If I were you I'd experience it full-screen on your computer via the ZSNES emulator linked above, as there aren't any problems with it. Just make sure you aren't playing any commercial releases, now. =p

Work on a Mac?

I'm trying to get this to run using SNES9x. I got a SMW Rom and did the patch using IPS patcher. Said the patch was complete, but when I try to run the patched file I get the orange type, and then the screen goes black. Anyone have any luck getting this to run on SNES9x for Mac OSX?

Aww ... "BAD ROM" :(

This sounds amazing! Unfortunately, upon applying the IPS patch, ZSNES gives me a "BAD ROM" error and a black screen for the new ROM. I've tried starting with both a v1.0 and v1.1 ROM of SMW. Dang it! Anyone got any ideas?

The problem isn't with the

The problem isn't with the ROM hack, it's with your Super Mario World smc. file, you might want to look around for another ROM. Either that or you forgot to unzip the SMW ROM before applying the patch, something I was absentminded about when I first tried out ROM hacks.