Saturday, June 2, 2007

Mario Hacksploitation

Online prowling for obscure bits of Mario trivia has led me to SykoGrafix, a pop culture site that includes two installments of a feature on rare, illegal NES hacks, FreakyNES. Both volumes one and two of FreakyNES showcase some great Mario hacks. Diehards probably already know of them, but I figured it couldn't hurt to post them here.


mario wears a tank top, apparently

Well-known among both Mario and Sonic enthusiasts, Somari is the Master System version of the original Sonic the Hedgehog title reworked to feature Mario as the hero. Mario seems to be a bit taller than he appears in his licensed games. Oddly, he also has the spin dash move, which Sonic did not pick up until Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The Wikipedia page on Somari claims that it's unknown exactly when the game came out, though the screens claim that the "Somari Team" released sometime in 1994, possibly in Hong Kong, South America and South Africa.

ROMs of it are available online, though many come with the warning that gameplay is a little woogy — it is, after all, a hack — and can freeze up without warning.

For more on Somari, check out the following sites:
Mari Street Fighter III Turbo

If the mental leap it took to implement Mario in a Sonic game was a small one, this one clears the moon. A hack of Street Fighter II for the NES — a system for which the title was never released in the first place — plus a bunch of weird palette swaps of the original cast and, for some reason, Mario. Check it out.

The fellow who posted the YouTube video above claims Mario plays kind of like a cross between Ryu and Dhalsim, which I guess makes as much sense as anything else in this strange, strange game.

Kart Fighter

Easily one of the better made Mario hacks out there, Kart Fighter features the original eight racers from Super Mario Kart duking it out, Street Fighter-style. Many have dubbed this a spiritual predecessor to Smash Bros. by virtue of being the first chance gamers got to see Mario and company beating the crap out of each other.

the cartridge art

Note that the above image is a slight re-styling of Nintendo's official art for Super Mario Kart, just slightly redrawn so that it doesn't look like anybody is driving a go-kart, Peach isn't wearing a crown and Mario's hardly in the image. However, everyone is still in the same basic position and standing in the middle of a raceway, now for no apparent reason. Compare:

and what the cartridge art was going for

As the below screenshots indicate, the game looks surprisingly good. Those backgrounds are mostly created specifically for the game, I think, as are the character sprites.

clearly, some of the mario kart special moves have carried over.

toad has never looked so mad. or so tall.

princess lana + chun li = kart fighter peach, apparently

not only do certain characters appear under their japanese name,
but yoshi does so under the strangely over-anglicized yossy.

Some background graphics, however, come directly from the Capcom NES title Little Nemo: The Dream Master, one of which — the mushroom forest — is seen in the Luigi vs. Yoshi fight on this page.

Here's a clip of the game in action.

For more Kart Fighter, check out the following sites:
Tiny Mario Adventures and other such nonsense

There's tragic little info on this title available online, but I'm guessing that's because it sucks. It's the NES Tiny Toon Adventures with Mario subbing in for the main character, Buster Bunny. But if I remember this game correctly — yes, I'm admitting to actually having played the original in my youth — the game gives players a choice between playing as other characters too. That would explain the Sykografix writer noting the odd phenomenon of Mario suddenly turning into Plucky Duck.
notes that various forms of this game are also known as Super Mario Adventures and, for some reason, Mario 16. Also, the between-stage cutscenes apparently still feature the Tiny Toons cast, leading to an overall nonsensical and half-assed feel. However, the screenshots posted there seem to tell a different story, given Mario's prominence. Also, the overall look of the game seems different enough from the screenshots glimpsed in the FreakyNES article that they might be referring to two completely different Tiny Toons-Super Mario mash-ups.

Here's what I got, from whatever game it may be from.

who is that blue ninja-looking fellow? i suppose we'll never know

however, that's definitely tiny toons villain montana max depicted in the statue.

What can be made of all this? No clue. Some questions are better off unanswered.

In closing, I'd like to say that I don't know who made this games or what possessed them that any of this would be a good idea. (Though I suppose they may have made a quick buck here and there.) But I'm glad they did. And an extra thanks to SykoGrafix for listing these rarities together — again, in FreakyNES Volume One and Volume Two — and prompting me to look into them.

And for more phony Mario goodness, check out "Psuedo Mario, Then and Now."

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