Super Better World 2

So, after starting a sequel in 2015 to a Super Mario World ROM hack I made when I was just a preteen, it has finally been finished two years later.

Some familiar faces in this level from Super Better World 2.

I have spent a hell of a lot more time on this than I ever would have wanted to, but it is finished now, so I can finally reap the rewards of releasing it and moving on. Let me provide some context of how this all came to be…

When I first discovered Super Mario World hacking, probably at around age 11 give-or-take, I was absolutely blown away by it. Lunar Magic was (and is) a fantastic editor. Very user friendly and expansive, even for someone as young as I was at the time. I dabbled around in it for a while, and I created a lot of poorly-made and barely-complete hacks. They were bad, obviously, but it was an absolute blast to create something like it. At the end of this initial stint with Super Mario World ROM hacking, I made my most well thought out game to that point: Super Better World. The name refers to how it was “better” than other ROM hacks I released around that point, specifically one that I gave to a Let’s Player who tore the game a new one. I wanted to make something more complete, fun, and not too difficult. Compared to my other works at the time, I feel I accomplished that. However, it was still quite a bad game when looked at from an objective viewpoint. But hey, it was a lot of fun to make, and I was proud of it at the time. Can’t be upset with that.

The original Super Better World. Looks harmless in screenshot form, eh?

Another reason for the creation of Super Better World was a friend of mine. He had a PSP that he would run emulators on, and he was able to play Super Mario World ROM hacks on it. So, when I made the hack, I created it with the intent of him being able to play it on his PSP for his entertainment.

Fast forward to 2015. Super Mario Maker is coming out, and I am with that same friend who I made the original hack for. I thought, “wouldn’t it be funny if I made a sequel to that old ROM hack I made all those years ago?” Then, Mario Maker comes out, but it encourages (and only supports) single level experiences. I was hoping it would let you stitch together  multiple levels into a world, but that was never the case. Then, a grand idea popped into my head: make a full-fledged sequel hack using Lunar Magic. It is something I kinda regret now, to be honest. I started it not too long after, and I spent two years on-and-off in my free time making it. There was a lot of work involved for such a rudimentary hack, and I can’t help but want that time back for use on a project more practical, more worth my time. There are so many more impressive SMW hacks out there, so who cares if I made some maybe average hack? I started realizing that the further I got into the project, the more time I sunk into it. But now, it is all over, and the best I can do is hope that I can enjoy watching friends play it.

Title screen for Super Better World 2. Look at all of those fancy graphics I didn’t make!

Since this project was originally made for the same friend mentioned previously, I wanted to tailor it to his experiences. I included a lot of music from other games he has played (Pokémon, Super Mario Land), and tried to make the game reasonable enough for anyone good at Super Mario World to be able to complete with enough practice. Also, because I wanted this to feel special, I wanted to put the hack on a physical cartridge for play on an actual Super Nintendo. Fortunately, I was able to realize this goal.

Physical cartridges for Super Better World 2 that I commissioned. My friend took the golden one on the left, and I kept the silver one.

So, with all that said, I want to mention a personal note. I have started becoming more distant the past few years with the friend I have been mentioning. I thought that creating this ROM hack would be a fun way to rekindle some of that great chemistry we used to have years ago, but it just hasn’t been the same with him. He is at this point in his life where all he does is watch Twitch streams of DOTA and sleep. As far as I’m aware, he struggles with depression and motivational issues, and can’t keep a job (or hobby that isn’t DOTA, for that matter) for any extended period of time. His life kinda sucks, and I don’t know what his future is going to hold, but it probably isn’t going to be good. I still want to be his friend, support him, and all that good stuff, but I feel like now it is at this point where that is now next to impossible. A few days ago I got the physical cartridges for Super Better World 2 in the mail, and I ordered one for me and one for him. I went over to his house that day to surprise him with it, hoping we could enjoy it together. When I gave it to him, not much reaction. He thought it was kinda cool, but didn’t want to play it, and I went home. I know it may sound selfish, but it is emotionally draining to work on a ROM hack for two years and receive no more than a halfhearted “thanks” from a consistently emotionally devoid friend who I specifically made this for. But… whatever. At this point I’m just rambling about personal issues.

The download for Super Better World 2 is on the “Completed Works” section of this blog. I have included a lot of stuff in this package, including the original Super Better World, the label art for the physical release of Super Better World 2, and a modestly thorough readme.

Nothing feels better than running a hack you made on the physical hardware.

I really, really hope you can enjoy it (I need people to for me to feel this was worth it).

Advertisements
Posted in Life | Leave a comment

Idea for an ORG Archive

Well, Summer is about to get into full swing, which means I finally have more time to work on hobbies and creative endeavors. Since the beginning of the year, I have been very busy with college work such that I have not had any time to do anything for myself (save for the few ORGs I made when I had a few hours to spare). Now that I am only taking one class (an online one, at that) with only the search for an internship/part time job eating an additional few hours, I finally have time to dive back into my projects. The first one of which is a Super Mario World ROMHack that I started a few years ago. It is essentially something I am making for some friends of mine so we can all sit down and have a good ‘ol time while I laugh at them dying countless times to my creation. My original intent was to start and finish it during Winter Break of 2015, but things do not ever get finished that fast, eh? This was never a project that I wanted to use to showcase my skills/design a particularly good game with, but rather just something I wanted to make to enjoy between some friends. It has been going on for too long at this point, so I am hoping to wrap it up by the end of the month, and I am even looking to get it put on a Super Nintendo cartridge. Just need to find somebody willing to do it.

In the meantime, I have still been making ORGs at a reasonable pace. Ever since I started making them in 2013, I surprisingly have not gotten bored of making them, even though it is a near-obsolete format and much too simple. I have been meaning to upload some of the more recent ones to this blog, but doing so just reminds me of how inconvenient, inefficient, and unsustainable my way of doing things is. This brings me to an idea I recently came up with. Over on the Cave Story Tribute Site Forums, there exists a project to archive all of the currently existing mods into a database, which would make finding mods extremely simple. In addition, I have been honing my coding skills in college, and I have become interested in web development and databases. So, what would be a more perfect marriage than to create a website for my currently inactive polese.us domain with the intent to populate it with a database for user uploaded ORG files? Not only would this be an invaluable resource for the community considering there is absolutely no uniform ORG collection, but it would be a fantastic way for me to build up my web and database development skills, which I can then use as a portfolio of sorts to demonstrate what I can do. My head is already brimming with ideas on how to approach this, and fortunately I believe this would be much easier to implement than a mod database (because ORGs are much easier to sift through than mods). If I can ever set aside a chunk of time to refreshing my memory on some web/database topics and moving my domain to an actual web host (I am currently using Google Domains which only allows you to redirect to another website), I would be very excited to put together something like this.

At the moment, I am busy with other projects I feel the need to finish first, but the idea to create a uniform database for ORG files will be in the back of my mind for a while.

Posted in Cave Story modding, Life | Leave a comment

The Past Couple of Days

There hasn’t been much to talk about on the modding/music side of production, so I’m gonna go on about a significant event that has just unfolded within the past 48 hours.

To provide some context, I have been deaf in my left ear ever since I started Middle School (so probably 2006/2007ish). It happened totally out of nowhere, with the only warning signs being a dizzy feeling and some nausea the night before. Of course, I didn’t make much of those signs, so I went to bed. When I woke up, my hearing was gone, and it was replaced by this ringing noise (think of a constant, high-pitched “EEEEE” going through your head at all times). It sucks, but I’ve still been able to live a comfortable life despite that happening. Having conversations with others can be more of an issue than it needs to be, with noisy places and 1-on-1 conversations where the person is on my left side are problems I’ve never (and never will) been able to escape. But, you know, it’s fine. I have a positive outlook on it as a whole. If anything serious could have happened to me, I’m glad it was only this.

That is, until, the night of the last day of May (two days ago from this post). During the night, right before I was about to go to bed, my good ear started acting funny with me. A new ringing sound came up, and everything started sounding more compressed (think of it like when you get water stuck in your ear after a visit to the pool or beach). Honestly, I wasn’t very concerned, even given what happened in the past. After all, the symptoms were totally different from the ones I had when I lost hearing in my left ear, so I knew it at least wasn’t the same issue. So I decided to sleep on it, hoping it would solve itself by the morning. It didn’t. After I let my mother know, she was very concerned and scheduled an appointment with my Ear-Nose-Throat doctor (one of the best in the field). The results of the checkup weren’t satisfying, in my view. I didn’t get a good answer as to why this was happening, and all that happened was that I got prescribed steroids to reduce what they think is inflammation in my ear.

So here I am now, already having taken two doses of the steroids. Still have that constant ringing sound going on, and my quality of hearing hasn’t improved at all (but to be fair, it hasn’t gotten worse either). I am worried about the future… it’s bad enough losing one ear out of nowhere, but when you’ve only got one ear left and you don’t know what the heck is gonna happen to it, that’s a scary thought. I have already been doing a lot of deep thinking about what may happen in my life if I undergo total deafness. That’s such a horrifying thought to me, due to how much my life revolves around music (as it does with most people), and my newfound love for transcribing music. I’d hate for all of that to go away at only 20 years of age.

The only thing I can do now is take what I’ve been told to take and wait. Worst case scenario, I’ve already been thinking about the last song I want to listen to ;P

EDIT: It’s been about two months since I wrote this, and fortunately everything seems back to normal. Thanks to those who showed concern! The problems concerning my ears will never end, but at least this one has been resolved.

Posted in Life | Leave a comment

Soylent – Day 2.0

Well, I just so happened to be visiting the Soylent website out of curiosity, and now they are selling “Soylent 2.0.” Since clearly my curiosity wouldn’t be satiated without trying some, I ordered a 12-pack for $30. And this time it doesn’t come in bags, but rather a traditional plastic container already made, like a common soda or water bottle. To be honest, even though the powder in the bag was very simple, the extra convenience of the bottles is much appreciated (and attracts newcomers to the drink as well). However, from the looks of the bottles compared to the bagged powder, you’re getting less out of the former. This includes nutrition too, which is a shame, but if the taste is better then it is justifiable. And the taste was, by far, the most disappointing part about the previous version.

So I opened the bottle and gave it a whiff. There was a faint aroma of freshly baked sugar cookies. Wow. My brother and I got curious, so we went to our mom to ask her what she thought. Instead of smelling it, she tasted some of it and recoiled with disgust. Here we go again, I thought. I tried some next and, against all expectations, was pleasantly surprised. It actually had the lack of taste that I was expecting with the original version of Soylent that I tried, and the aftertaste was that of the smell of cookies I previously mentioned. Certainly not nearly as tasty as homemade cookies… more like slightly expired store-bought cookies that still taste faintly of its original form but lack sweetness and maybe even have some of those healthy oats in them that most of the kids hate nowadays. Something like that. Regardless, it was hands-down the better version of the product. Even the sandy texture of version 1.4, while not entirely gone, is hardly noticeable anymore. Truly, this is the Soylent that I originally hoped for.

Another significant observation to point out: I ordered this about 3 days ago. When I ordered 1.4, it took about 180 days to arrive (for those of you not counting, that’s 6 months).

So, I believe this Soylent is deserving of the version upgrade to 2.0. Virtually everything has been improved upon at the expense of some of the nutrition. With that said, I think it is a good way to get newcomers into the Soylent scene while trying to find the perfect balance between nutrition and taste. But if for some reason you prefer grits instead of milk, the powdered version is still readily available.

Sorry Noxid, I think I can finish off this batch on my own. ; )

Posted in Soylent 1.4 | Leave a comment

ORG Page Updated

It’s been several months since I last updated the blog section of this site, so it’s long overdue for a new post. Today, I simplified the Public ORGs page (and added some new ones) and re-added the blog section to the home page of the website. Hopefully now everything is more compact.

About modding, however: Cave Story X Mega Man has not been worked on in a long time. My attention is focused elsewhere, but unfortunately I cannot give out any details at the moment. Since I have virtually no progress to report upon… I’ll leave the updated title screen theme that I finished many months ago for your listening pleasure. Assuming the mod is finished, this won’t be the final title theme, but rather just a substitute for the title theme currently in the game.

Posted in Cave Story modding | Leave a comment

Soylent 1.4 – Day 05, Day 06, and Conclusion

The final days of Soylent went by as I expected them to. I drank it with just the water added, but I still wasn’t enjoying it. On Day 05, I finished my supply slightly early and I was still hungry surprisingly, so I had a sandwich before I went to bed. On Day 06, I decide not to fill the whole container with water, so the Soylent was more concentrated in the mixture. Needless to say it was a bad idea and it tasted worse because of it.

I was planning on going a full week, but at the end of Day 06 I realized it wasn’t worth it. I only had about a quarter of the container left, but my family went to Chick-fil-A and asked me if I wanted anything. I asked for a chicken sandwich, ate it, and realized that I wasn’t benefiting from forcing myself through the last day and a half. I dumped the rest of the Soylent I had in my fridge down the sink, which officially ended my six days with the drink. I still have roughly another week’s supply of it because of my brother’s early departure with it, so I’m stuck with even more until I can find someone to give them to. I can finally go back to normal food.

 

Overall, experimenting with Soylent for the time I had it was less interesting than I imagined and was not worth it. The taste was a total turn-off for me, and the texture didn’t help matters either. Of course, the main draw is the nutrition, but I haven’t felt any better since I started the drink. I wasn’t eating a particularly nutritious diet before this. Probably better than others, but Soylent certainly offered me more numbers. If I had at least felt supercharged from drinking this by the fourth or fifth day, perhaps I would have something nice to say about Soylent. Unfortunately, I didn’t experience any upsides, and I was craving real food the entire way through. I can safely say that this drink isn’t for me.

Posted in Soylent 1.4 | Leave a comment

Soylent 1.4 – Day 03 & Day 04

After the retrograding taste that was peanut butter Soylent, I knew I had to switch the flavor the day after. Only three days in and I already had a different combination for every batch I made. Needless to say, I was expecting it to go down smoother than that.

For the third day, I chose Nutella. Everyone loves Nutella, so Soylent should taste way better with it, right? Well, the day went the same as it did with the peanut butter, but worse. It wasn’t so bad at first, but eventually I couldn’t stand it. It was to the point where I was seriously considering quitting even though I had plenty of the stuff left. I even had to cheat and eat normal people food just to get through the day. Two bags of chips, three biscuits, and some french fries: it was so refreshing to eat something tasty even though it was garbage for my system.

The day was about over, and I couldn’t finish my remaining supply. I only had a medium cup’s worth left, but I couldn’t stomach it. At this point, I decided that perhaps I was too tough on vanilla Soylent (that is, untouched Soylent. Vanilla flavored Soylent, on the other hand, sounds pretty nice), so I didn’t blend anything with the powder but water for the next day’s supply.

Surprisingly, the day went by rather nicely. The taste wasn’t as bad as I remembered it being, and I have been able to stomach everything at a reasonable pace. As I type, I only have half of a cup left of my drink, and it’s almost 9PM. I actually might need to eat something before I go to bed so I’m not hungry. It seems like the rest of the week should fare pretty well.

Posted in Soylent 1.4 | Leave a comment