Thursday, December 20, 2018

Adventures of Super Mario Bros 3

Do the Frog Suit!
I always keep a sharp eye when browsing through secondhand junk... For five bucks, I snagged the entire animated series of SMB3.

Thwomp definitely takes pride in his work.
My favorite part of the show was seeing the 8-bit baddies brought to life as cartoon characters on my Saturday morning TV screen.

 The joys of torturing younger siblings...

With a castle full of spoiled teenagers, the Koopa Klan is about as dysfunctional as The Osbournes.

Princess Toadstool aboard the Doom Ship
with King Koopa and his minions.
The Princess is captured, yet again...Who didn't see that one coming?

"The dungeon???"
In fan favorite episode "Kootie Pie Rocks", Bowser finally has enough of his daughter's over-dramatic temper tantrums and threatens to lock her ass in the dungeon... Now that's just good parenting.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

SMB3: Wrong Warp (7-1) to Princess

A fascinating Super Mario Bros 3 glitch has been found that skips ahead to the game's ending with Princess Toadstool. The setup may seem complex at first, but completing SMB3 in mere minutes is rather incredible (and controversial).
After nabbing the first two warp whistles and traveling to World 7, a glitch in World 7-1 can have Mario rescuing the Princess in just over three minutes of playtime! (Imagine if all girls got off that quickly...)
This trick completely bypasses the entire Dark World, even Bowser...

A screen-wrapping jump the wrong way into this pipe in World 7-1 is a known glitch that sends Mario  outside the level boundaries, normally crashing the game... But three important memory values can be manipulated with Koopa shells, tricking the game into rolling the end credits.

It's easiest to perform the trick with the help of Raccoon Mario's tail. The location value for a Koopa constantly changes as they move back and forth on screen. Stomp or kill one, and the co-ordinate is set to that value until they respawn or another enemy takes their place.

It doesn't work every time because it's difficult to line everything up. Most of the Koopa shells need to be placed perfectly, to the pixel. (This trick also cannot be completed in the Super Mario All-Stars version)

I found the following videos helpful...
The first video is 10 minutes long - And even if your mind is blown by all the technical details, it's really interesting to see what's happening behind the scenes in the game's code... Which helps to understand why these variables are so important to make the glitch work. The second video is a simple explanation. Third video is a simple playthrough performing the glitch.

Super Mario Bros. 3 - Wrong Warp (10:06) by Retro Game Mechanics Explained

Super Mario Bros. 3 - How to do the 7-1 wrong warp glitch! (Easy setup) (7:17) by Taven Webb
(video is taken from handheld device, but setup is easy, as advertised)

Completing The SMB3 Wrong Warp Successfully (3:57) by Antique Girl

A collection of notes and screenshots from a few successful attempts:
First step involves knocking the level's first Koopa down to the bottom of the screen instead of outright killing him... (He'll be used at the end of the trick to set the last value.) Kill all three piranha plants, which clears out the memory slots for the Koopas to be placed.

Next Koopa is taken up the pipe with you, and outright killed (eliminating him from the equation) by kicking him into a wall near the next Koopa and Paratroopa. Those two remaining baddies (plus our surviving Koopa back near the start of the level) will help set the three values needed to load the Princess chamber.

The first shell is easy to place. Immobilize the pacing Koopa Troopa between the question blocks and carry him to the far right side of the right question block and kill him by running him into the block and kicking him up against it. His last on-screen position is now set.

Move left on top of the pipe and hit the Paratroopa with your Racoon tail, quickly hopping down to catch his shell. Carrying it back down with you.

Bounce this Koopa shell and stomp it so the shell lands precisely beside this pipe. This is the most difficult variable to set, because a single pixel to the left or right and the value will be wrong. Fortunately, you can re-position the shell if needed before you move on to the last step. (Note how the white pixels of the shell are lined up relative to the outline of the pipe.) Just hop back down the pipe before he rouses to set that value.

Back to the start of the level to find the first Koopa. This value is relatively simple to set. Because the final pipe glitch is easier to perform with small Mario, Super Mario holds this Koopa shell right beneath this pipe.
Jump up into the overhead pipe as the carried Koopa begins to shake himself awake... . Once at the top of the pipe, as soon as the Koopa touches and shrinks Mario, immediately slam down so Mario goes back down the pipe, which should freeze-frame the final Koopa in the perfect position (shown above right).

Performing the pipe glitch at the start of the level (after everything else has been set), the screen temporarily goes black, and the same messed up textures appear...

But if everything lines up, and the correct values are in place, Mario returns on screen standing on this block. A simple jump with 'A' can trigger the game into loading the Princess room and end-game sequence, plus an arsenal of P-Wings for your efforts.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

SMB: Wrong Warp (4-2)

The traditional way to find Warp Zone in World 4-2 of the original Super Mario Bros is to climb a vine hidden in an overhead block. Located barely one screen to the right of the vine, happens to be a pipe that leads to an underground coin cache.
By virtue of the Warp Zone and the Coin Cache being so close together, it's possible to trick the game into sending you to the Warp Zone area instead of the Coin Cache.
Normally, Mario's on-screen position is beneath your coin count. By shifting him far enough to the right, closer to the "W" in "World", (with the screen still scrolled to the left), the game will still have the value for the Warp Zone area as your destination instead of the coin room. When Mario re-appears on-screen after going down the pipe, he's loaded into the Warp Zone without the vine.

There are a few different ways to shift Mario the required 20-30 pixels to the right for this trick to work.
The most popular method is with a "Backwards Bump".  Mario's on-screen position changes by several pixels anytime he brushes a wall while jumping backwards - He moves ahead slightly further than the screen scrolls.

Another technique involves jumping or sliding under the first set of blocks by crouching as Super Mario. Stand up while underneath the blocks, and the game will shift Mario through the wall and to the right of the screen.

As long as Mario is still shifted to the right when he enters the pipe, he'll go directly to the above-ground Warp Zone area.

 (The glitch even works in the Super Mario All-Stars version)

The ability to skip past the vine and onto Warp Zone saves precious seconds for speed runs. It's also really neat to learn what's happening behind the scenes... The first video features the evolution of all fastest known routes leading up to and including the discovery of "Wrong Warp". The other clips specifically discuss the World 4-2 Wrong Warp glitch:

4-2: The History of Super Mario Bros.' Most Infamous Level (20 min, 30 sec) by Summoning Salt

Darbian explains Wrong-Warp (3:23)

SMB1 4-2 wrong warp tutorial/explanation (3:44) by andrewg1990

Monday, February 5, 2018

SMB: Minus Mario

The "Minus World" is a neat little glitch that can be performed in the original Super Mario Bros. A fun trick, though it never made much sense. So why does the "Minus World" even exist in the first place? And why is it an infinite looping copy of world 7-2?

Turns out that jumping through the wall actually tricks the game into loading the wrong warp zone... But that's only part of the what's happening. Just stumbled upon this really interesting video that explains it all...

Why the Minus World Glitch Happens (8:38) by MagicScrumpy

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Time Warp: DKC3

Didn't expect to find myself back into Donkey Kong Country 3, but after re-experiencing the first two games in the series, I was only going to play a few levels of DKC3, now I find myself halfway through the game.

Since DKC3 seems to be the easiest game in the series, as kids we'd race against each other to see who could finish DKC3 in the fastest time. (Of course at the time, we didn't know about the HARDR and TUFST codes to make the game more challenging...)
I'm sure while searching for bonus levels, most of us stumbled upon a few of these mysterious invisible barrels that will teleport you to the end of the level. Not referenced anywhere in the instruction manual, in a time before the Internet, I was fascinated by these warp barrels. Most involve Kiddy Kong tossing his lighter cousin Dixie up in the air to reach an invisible barrel that materializes when touched.
In retrospect, Funky Kong may offer a clue at the start of the game... Sure, "reach the stars" is probably just an expression... But there are clearly stars on the warp barrel. Oh yeah!

Definitely didn't find all the warp barrels back when I first played the game. Turns out there's a warp barrel hidden in every single one of the game's first 10 stages (first 2 worlds) in both DKC2 and DKC3... Allowing you to be defeating DKC3's second boss in 4 minutes of game play.


Anything from the Lost World automatically comes to mind when considering the most challenging levels in Donkey Kong Country 2. Everything you've learned is put to the test, forcing your skills to be sharper and your reflexes quicker than ever before as you explore five mysterious worlds of jungle, fire and ice.

As if the levels themselves weren't difficult enough, each stage contains a bonus level that's easy to miss, and considerably hard to get to. In the Lost World, DK coins are awarded for completing bonus stages instead of Kremcoins.

The big goon Klubba lets you pass into the fabled Lost World areas for fifteen Krem Coins per stage. What a ripoff. I'd kick his ass if it wasn't for that club.

Jungle Jinx (accessed via Crocodile Cauldron)
Wonder where all the manufactured tires came from... Not only are you required to bounce along the huge monster tires as they roll over pits of spikes, but the things will also bowl you over and crush you into a wall. Bonus level is snagged relatively easily ; When you find the letter "O", roll off the cliff to the left and perform a mid-air jump into the bonus barrel.

Black Ice Battle (accessed via Krem Quay)
Who doesn't love a snow and ice level? This one's actually pretty tame compared to other Lost World locales. Not too far off the beaten path is a canon ball inside a chest. Carrying the canon ball with you until you meet the Zingers that are guarding the "G" letter, and a bonus room.

Klobber Karnage  (accessed via Krazy Kremland)
Many consider Klobber Karnage to be the most difficult stage in the entire game... Klobbers everywhere, speedy and agressive. The trick is to be quicker than they are, know which ones you can just jump by, and which Klobbers you need to stomp - In order to use their barrels as weapons against the Klobbers waiting ahead... And know that one bad move and they'll bump you into a spike pit.
An easy to miss bonus at the end of the level. Cranky Kong does offer a clue to it, and it is marked with a lone banana.

Fiery Furnace (accessed via Gloomy Gulch)
A bit of precision barrel blasting that takes some practice. The real challenge here is making it to the bonus barrel with both Kongs intact, while avoiding Cat-O-Nine Tails and Kutlass. It's a fairly difficult bonus level, requiring you to navigate a barrel through a narrow thorny bramble maze full of Zingers. After the bonus game, you're automatically sent to the end of the level, and gotta restart from the beginning if you failed the bonus game.

Animal Antics (accessed via K.Rool's Keep)
Most players will have the Animal Antics stage near - or at the top of their list for most difficult stages in the entire game. Five segments, each played as a different animal buddy. The bonus is hidden in the part with Squitter the spider, just past the save barrel. Unlike most levels in the lost world, you can retry the bonus if you fail. Helps offset the fact that the rest of the stage is so frustrating.
Navigating Squawks the parrot through the windy bramble maze is when things start to get crazy... And just when you think you're done, you gotta take Rattly the snake through some Zingers and spike pits.

One more battle against Kaptain K. Rool before you'll finally get some respect from Cranky Kong...

I truly had an amazing time conquering the Lost World in Donkey Kong Country 2, and enjoyed seeing the game's real ending for the first time in two decades... That was back when games were games.

Monday, January 8, 2018

DKC2: Most Difficult Levels

Donkey Kong Country 2 is a great game with so many amazing worlds... Lots of favorites, but somehow it's the ones that you get stuck on that you seem to remember most.
Many people despise any stage with barrel blasting.... Others aren't crazy about levels where you play as Rattly the snake. Snow and ice locales are never popular. But the most disliked stages seem to be ones where the game dictates the pace by forcing you to climb higher and faster to avoid being crushed, burned or eaten... Or if there's a fierce wind that's tossing you around.

Bramble Blast (3-6) was incredibly frustrating as a kid, but took me two attempts as an adult. Bramble Scramble (4-3) is consistently challenging during every play through. Both feature the lovely melody of the Stickerbrush Symphony track, which I truly believe helps you from going insane with rage when you repeatedly die in the bramble patches.

Gusty Glade (5-3) is another fairly disliked level. The sporadic wind can present some challenges, and can leave you cursing and swearing as you get tossed down a pit. Arctic Abyss (6-1) gets a mention, as many players despise it. Not a fan of snow and ice in any game that doesn't involve a puck.

Windy Well (6-2) gets votes from many players. Leaping over, under, and through Zinger wasps is never fun, especially with the wind thrashing you around. I completed the level and got the DK coin, but died a bunch of times getting the bonuses. The game doesn't allow much backtracking here, which means a trip back if you missed something.

Toxic Tower (6-5) makes the top of many players' lists as the most challenging level in the entire game, which is rather fitting as the last level in the regular world. Requires lots of quick jumping and patience to charge up Rattly's super jump while the acid is continually rising. Last bonus level is found using Squitter. It's fairly well hidden, as the lone banana clue is hidden behind a Zinger bee that you might not bother to kill as you're frantically trying to escape the tower.

Some levels are ridiculously hard until you figure out how to beat them... Others remain challenging even afterwards. Sometimes, it's the bonus games or DK coins that give you a hard time.
In selecting the following levels as "most difficult", I've tried to balance all things into consideration - the stage itself and the extras. Here is my short list for "most challenging level" in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest:

Web Woods (5-5)
Patience is the key in web woods. Lots of enemies and pitfalls, but as Squitter the spider, you can fend 'em off with webs and climb yourself anywhere... But a few things make the level a bit tricker than most. 
First off, is a rather unconventional bonus area unlocked by following one of Kannon's cannonballs back towards where you came. There's a familiar banana arrow to guide you, so it's not that hard... But having to navigate ALL the way to the end of the level target again for another chance to snag the big shiny DK coin as it flickers on screen for an mere instant is absolutely infuriating.

Chain Link Chamber (6-5)
I find this level to be a bit like Web Woods in the sense that you gotta carefully make your way through the level again, re-enduring the tediousness of dodging all obstacles and hazards to snag everything.
Got through the level OK... Managed to snag the DK coin hidden by the letter "N".... But the bonus levels seem to be well hidden. Especially the bonus area hidden between these two Kannons.

Screech's Sprint (7-1)
The last stage before you go on to fight Kaptain K Rool, so naturally, it's gonna be a tough one. Getting past Cat-O-Nine Tails and Zingers, a nearly impossible jump unless you're using Dixie, plus a jump over thorns to an overhead bonus cannon that's fairly well camoflagued behind the leaves, just before the save barrel.
Racing as Squawks the parrot against Screech through the thorn maze is no easy task, but just like the craziest Mario Kart tracks, you memorize the tight spots, and find ways to shave seconds off your time until you can burn the competition.

These two "gems" from the DKC2: Lost World get honorable mentions:
*Klobber Karnage (8-3): Fast and aggressive, one wrong move and Klobbers will run you into a spike pit.
*Animal Antics (8-5): Particularly the part where the wind tosses Squawks all over around the thorn maze.