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12 of the craziest Mario hacks

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The revered Mario games have never been cakewalks, standing the test of time with masterfully-tuned challenges that’ll keep you on your toes. But to some, that simply isn’t enough – gamers looking to truly test their running-and-jumping prowess can turn to the modern-day trials of Mario hacks. These are ROMs which have been greatly altered via editing tools to play in completely different ways compared to the originals. In addition, nearly every video on this list demonstrates the power of a TAS, or tool-assisted speedrun: playing the ROM in an emulator that enables constant use of save states, rerecording, and greatly slowed-down gameplay. This allows play at a level far beyond the capabilities of a mere mortal (which often includes rampant abuse of glitches and shortcuts).

Here’s a carefully-curated list of some of the craziest, most punishingly difficult or insanely laid out levels and worlds. If you haven’t yet seen the unfathomably difficult trials set forth by some of these Mario hacks, prepare your jaw now for ridiculous amounts of floor-hitting. Be warned: With each page, our picks get progressively crazier. 

THE STARTERS


Super Demo World

A hacked version of: Super Mario World

What makes it crazy: This hack is big enough to be a full-sized game. If you’re looking to get into Mario hacks, this is probably the best place to start. The difficulty is definitely scaled up compared to the original, but you won’t pop a blood vessel trying to beat the earlier stages. With a substantial amount of level variety, some awesome Mario 3-style airship levels, and a plethora of secret exits, this hack has a little bit of everything. Also, instead of questing to save Yoshi eggs, Mario just wants to cook up his breakfast, scrambled style.

Our favorite part: The jellyfish-infested depths of Water World 3 (21:24) serve as an early example of how tricky some of the devious level layouts can get. 

Super Mario World 2+2

A hacked version of: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

What makes it crazy: Actually, the craziest aspect to this lengthy hack is how kind it is to the player. Unlike the punishing, obscenely difficult hacks that SMW is known for, this creation captures the cheerful essence of Yoshi’s Island with new levels of equal or lesser difficulty compared to the originals. That’s not to say that it’s too easy, mind you – it’s just very laid back, and we can actually enjoy ourselves playing it instead of smashing our keyboard or gamepad with a blind fury after dying for the 99th time.

Our favorite part: Searching for those elusive red coins in all-new hiding spots. That “ba-da-bling!” of collecting them is oh so satisfying.

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20 comments

  • OrsonZedd - January 29, 2014 4:45 p.m.

    Why are more than 75% of these hacks just boring, stupid ass, "can't possibly beat them because the creator was a sadist" hacks? Why not focus on some hacks for their creativity, story, or custom behaviors? Here are some Mario hacks i've played that bare only a superficial resemblance to Super Mario World
  • AuthorityFigure - August 14, 2012 6:01 p.m.

    TWELVE hacks? That's a lot to get through. What about the best five or seven or something.
  • DirkSteele1 - August 14, 2012 6:05 a.m.

    Only completed Super Mario World on the SNES a few months ago. Think I might download a few of these, place them on one my SNES Flash carts and try playing them on original hardware sans any tool assists. Better start writing my obituary!
  • EroticInvisibleMan - August 13, 2012 10:40 p.m.

    >Not including any of the VIP hacks List invalidated.
  • GR_LucasSullivan - August 14, 2012 9:49 a.m.

    Hadn't heard of those before; Youtube research proves they are indeed crazy, lol. Thanks for expanding my knowledge, yo!
  • J-Fid - August 13, 2012 9:50 p.m.

    Three tunes from the second-to-last video: Beware of the Forest's Mushrooms, Super Mario RPG Dr. Wily's Castle, Mega Man II Yoshi's Island, Super Mario World I know there were a lot more songs, but alas, I could only recognize three.
  • TheNPC33 - August 13, 2012 9:03 p.m.

    I can't even visually process that Item Abuse game. It seriously hurts to think about playing some of these.
  • tehtimeisnow - August 13, 2012 7 p.m.

    mario ganes suck and there destyroing the industy cuz we need a real innevation not mario cuz mario games r the same game over and over again and the grafics suck its rated e so people shuold just stay away from mario unless they want hte game industy to b destroyed
  • IceBlueKirby - August 13, 2012 5:32 p.m.

    Jesus Christ. I thought I was good at Mario games, but I wouldn't last a second in any of those hacks. (without assisting tools I mean) The Automatic Mario videos were really cool and enjoyable though.
  • jackthemenace - August 13, 2012 5:30 p.m.

    I quite enjoyed this, despite not being a big Mario fan. What'd be nice would be a similar one for Pokemon- recently, I started playing Flora Sky, and I find the original story's are far more interesting than just playing through the same 5 Generations that I've already played to death.
  • Moondoggie1157 - August 13, 2012 4:27 p.m.

    I really tried to enjoy these, but I couldn't. I think it's because Mario has always been about precise platforming, timing skill and what-not. To see levels that were made just from and for pure exploitation seems pointless. Now, if there were similar hacks in an open sandbox game, I might think otherwise. But I dunno, knowing that there was no skill involved (aside from a level editor) it kinda makes them worthless.
  • Slider64 - August 13, 2012 3:41 p.m.

    Is it just me or when you see TAS (Tool Assisted Speed-run) you immediately ignore everything about that video, they feel completely meaningless at that point and I just can't care.....hey were clearly cheating and ruining the point of this game....woo-hoo
  • Darkhawk - August 13, 2012 3:53 p.m.

    Agreed. There's absolutely zero skill involved in this whatsoever. How about some actual proper hacks?
  • GR_LucasSullivan - August 13, 2012 4:11 p.m.

    They're more for entertainment than demonstrations of skill, methinks.
  • Craza - August 13, 2012 8:20 p.m.

    What you said. Most TASers will admit that they do it for fun and to entertain others, not to show off some sense of "skill". I think they're fun to watch myself, but I love good ole fashioned speedrunning more.
  • Slider64 - August 14, 2012 3:02 a.m.

    Its not just about the skill for me its just completely boring and pointless when you make TAS. My brain shuts off and is like this is fake and silly.I guess its a reaction people have to Professional Wrestling
  • Craza - August 15, 2012 3:09 p.m.

    Well, I love watching videos of glitches and exploits of various video games both new and old, so that's probably a large part as to why. Plus, there's that small bit of amazement you feel after seeing one of your favorite childhood (Or present favorite) games that you struggled and toiled to beat for dozens of hours be completed in about 10-20 minutes. I watched Ocarina of Time be completely ripped apart once speedrunners discovered you could wrong warp from Dodongo's Cavern to escaping Ganondorf's castle while it crumbled. The game could be finished (From start to landing the final blow on Ganon) in less than 30 minutes, all as child Link. It was absolutely intriguing to watch the first few times, then it got old.
  • veryweirdguy - August 14, 2012 3:22 a.m.

    Most games, especially early Marios, gives the player a series of rules and physics and asks them to use them to get through a level. TAS is just changing the rules, not comparing it to the normal game. As long as they're honest about using them, I see no problem. (It's not as if these levels are designed to be played without TAS.)
  • tyler_14_420 - August 13, 2012 3:39 p.m.

    I knew about the Nico Nico Douga auto-play but never the Quad-Level Jap-Rock one. Cool article!

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