Yes, we know downloading ROMS is technically illegal - but so are jaywalking and incest, and that’s never stopped any of you. Before Nintendo gets all pissy at us, we’re not telling you to download these games. Hell, we’re not even recommending them. The truth is you are better off dusting off your old systems, or hitting up the Virtual Console. Any amount of charm or notoriety in these hacks is perfectly encapsulated in a screenshot, and in general, they’re a very poor substitute for the originals.
When hackers start painting their own world inside the code of existing games, it can get mildly amusing, sure. But would you play Super Mario Bros. 3 all the way through just to catch the occasional glimpse of a swastika, a penis or a swastika made out of penises? Of course you wouldn’t! Most of these "upgrades" are the artistic equivalent of fart clouds and sets of genitals scrawled onto images in an aged health class textbook. Join us as we mock a buffet of hack art today, all the while saving you the trouble of playing through dozens of misguided passion projects.
Every day we’re getting closer to a world where all of our favorite game characters can coexist in the same universe, sometimes even in the same game. Back in the day, that wasn’t the case. Dream team-ups like Kingdom Hearts and Marvel vs. Capcom were still years away. So, the only way to get around tight-fisted game companies locked in heated competition was to mash it up yourself. Quality be damned.
Hack of: Sonic the Hedgehog (Famicom bootleg)
Less mash-up and more train wreck, this 8-bit paradox hoists Mario into Sonic’s Green Hill Zone and... well, it sucks, dammit! They’ve given the fat-assed Italian all of the hedgehog’s speed, but none of the jumping ability. We’d complain about cheap deaths, but there are also several areas where you’ll never be allowed to die, thanks to a poorly implemented ring system that turns spiked pits into digital purgatory.
Oh well, since this is the only way to enjoy a Sonic and Mario team-up, we’ll just have to settle. What’s that? Smash Bros. Brawl? Never heard of it.
Sonic Jam 6
Hack of: Super Mario Bros. (SNES All-Stars)
Conversely, Sonic does fare better in the Mushroom Kingdom, though not by much. Apparently ripped from the SNES All-Stars version of the original SMB, it at least looks superior. The hedgehog can now hurl fireballs just like the plumbers do, but strangely - instead of being midgetized - a pre-mushroom Sonic appears Knuckles red. Why not? We’re surprised he’s not throwing vegetables.
Above: Red vs Blue
Jumping is just as clunky and unforgiving as Somari, and Sonic’s trademark speed just doesn’t lend itself to these iconic levels, possibly due to the tall green pipes every three feet. Even worse, the horrendous variation of the Mario theme would appear to have come from the Keytar of Satan himself.
Super Castlevania 2
Hack of: Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
When gamers sit around in their wicker rocking chairs and ponder who should’ve been in Super Smash Bros. Brawl - as we’re wont to do - Simon Belmont is inevitably mentioned in the top 3. Other than some notable appearances, there’s not all that much “Super!” about this Castlevania hack. If anything, it should make you appreciate the Kirby-less, Metroidvania direction the series is enjoying now.
Above: Since when are vampires, banshees and swamp creatures not enough?
Mega Man in the Mushroom Kingdom
Hack of: Mega Man
While this hack is well done and pretty damned inspired, it’s extremely unwieldy. Even old timers who know Mario and Mega Man inside out will have a hard time playing. Something about a Goomba lifting off the ground and zipping around like missile is just plain disorienting, as well as impossible to get used to. You’ll get just as much enjoyment, if not more, by just looking at screens of the game than actually playing it. You’re welcome.
Above: Sorry Mega Man, but your sister is in another castle
Spiney Dodge Ball
Hack of: Super Dodge Ball
The title says it all. It’s the same great game, with the ball replaced by one of Mario’s most problematic enemies.
But we gotta say, it could’ve used a Brimley hack... (You'll see what we mean on the next page)
Above: Aim for the eyes