Neo Mario Galaxy is the very first big and completed Super Mario Galaxy 2 hack of all time. I decided to finally mod one of my favorite games of all time when I discovered a trailer for SMG2.5 in 2014. Unfortunately, I had a lot of trouble dumping the game's files and getting the proper tools. Once I finally figured everything out, SMG2.5 was already cancelled... The same year, I joined Kuribo64 which focused on SMG modding in the past. As the time passed, I got my first custom levels working. While the level design was not great at all, I wanted to go for my own full-sized SMG2 hack! That project was initially known as Super Mario Galaxy 3.A. Luckily, I came up with a better name: Neo Mario Galaxy, a new SMG2 experience! I gathered a small team (shoutout to Splitwirez at this point) of interested people and worked on a few ideas and concepts... but things never really took off, there was little progress. The only galaxy with decent progress was Galactic Greens, also known as Galactic Apex. You can find a bunch of videos revolving around this specific galaxy on my Youtube channel. Up to 2017, I developed a few more custom levels that were not related to NMG at all.
In May 2017, I decided to combine all of my best ideas and finished levels and put them into one big thing. About 4 of the 8 galaxies were already finished or in a playable state by that point. The first teaser showing the reincarnated project was uploaded in June. In the course of one month(!), I was able to finish the four other galaxies as well. The Neo Mario Galaxy Discord server was founded by me around that time and I met some nice and helpful people there. That server is now Luma's Workshop. On July 26th 2017, the first playable version of Neo Mario Galaxy was released to the public. Oh boy, it was major success! The downloads rapidly increased and Twitch streamers began playing the game. Nowadays, there even is a small speedrun community dedicated to playing NMG. Over the years, the game received a few major updates to improve level design and add in more custom code shenanigans. In 2020, I remastered Neo Mario Galaxy to include more custom content and models. A few galaxies were drastically redesigned as well.
To this day, Neo Mario Galaxy remains the most famous Super Mario Galaxy hack ever. It has been downloaded over 20.000 times and people still continue to play, stream and speedrun the game.
Captain Toad Treasure Tracker is one of those many underappreciated titles. This game is a hidden gem, a masterpiece regarding level design and creativity. Super Mario 3D World introduced Captain Toad puzzle levels, but these are rather lackluster compared to the stages you can find in this game. In fact, the Adventures of Captain Toad levels from SM3DW feel more like a tech demo. It came as a surprise that this game was not only rereleased for the Nintendo Switch, but also introduced a free multiplayer update and Special Episode DLC. The base game also contains four very large and creative puzzle stages based on some kingdoms from Super Mario Odyssey.
It does not end here, however. Presumably by accident, the Nintendo Switch version covers an insane amount of unused content. This includes debugging assets, various leftover models from Super Mario 3D World, unfinished prototype models, several unused objects and tons of unused stages. Among these are the levels that were shown in the E3 2014 trailer. One level that can be seen in the trailer is seemingly lost in the final game, but its unfinished setup and models still exist! So I decided to restore the unfinished concept by turning it into a well-polished level. This includes improved shading, object placement, sounds for objects, Pixel Toad, custom text and a preview picture. It was a lot of fun to mess around with this level. Maybe there will be more custom levels for this game in the future.
The first The Legend of Zelda game did not age well due to its heavy reliance on the game's manual and confusing world design. Nevertheless, the game was a major success back in the late 1980s and it introduced one of the largest video game franchises of all time. It may be one of the first (more or less) open world games in history. Around 2018, I became interested in developing my own small games from scratch. As I did not want to bother with my own game design and conceptualization, I wanted to recreate the original Zelda game in Java to learn the essentials. While the project had great progress overall, I wanted the game to grow larger. I realized that the NES style was not visually appealing at all and the code contained a lot of bugs and problems. Especially the assets manager was pretty much non-existent and all objects used the same animation frames at the same time...
In 2020, I rebooted the project and a lot of progress was done in a short amount of time. First, I decided to go with Link's Awakening's graphical style as it looks very nice, even today. Then, I began to experiment with the underlying core of the engine and got the basics done. Some day, I discovered a promising but discontinued project by Iris Hurt who recreated Link's Awakenings engine in GameMaker. It turned out that they originally worked on a The Legend of Zelda remake by themself as well. They mapped the entire maps of Hyrule and Level 1. Their work is great and should not be lost in time, so I converted their maps to use for my engine. Now, one could be asking why I did not continue their GameMaker project. However, my plan was to create my own engine in order to practice and learn more about game development in general, so that was not an option.
ZeldaDX is not only a remake of the very first Zelda game. I also planned a lot of extra content and aspects to spice things up. For example, the rings from the Oracle games make a return in this remake. More dungeons and the integration of the Second Quest are among the considered features. As of now, there are no playable builds and the project is kept closed-source for the time being.
My very first real program was a save game editor for a game you may have never heard of: Blast Corps, an action puzzle game created by the legendary developers at Rareware... before the Microsoft disaster happened. I played it a lot when I was a young kid and messed around with cheat codes and the RAM of that game. Honestly, the controls and graphics of this game did not age well, but the kickass soundtrack and fun levels still make me play the game occasionally. The first version was developed in late 2016 and it... wow, it was really bad code. I guess every programmer's first program suffered similar problems. Nevertheless, it did a decent job at editing save game files.
Blast Corps uses 512 bytes of EEPROM data to store the player's progress. I found it hard to believe that these few bytes could store all the information like the player's name, unlocked levels, clear times for all the levels and more. Funnily enough, a bunch of bytes are not used at all meaning that there is still space left. I was able to make out the format by inspecting the value changes whenever I progressed in my playthroughs. However, there was a big problem for me to grasp... checksum values. To put it shortly, this is a number that is used to verify the integrity of the stored save data. In other words, an invalid checksum makes the game interpret the data as corrupted and the player is forced to create a new save file. Huge thanks to queueRAM who documented the game's checksum algorithm.
In Autumn 2020, I reviewed my old code and decided to rewrite the entire tool from scratch. This was pretty interesting because I could directly check how my coding skills have improved over the years. It may be a simple save editor, but this program will always have a special meaning for me since it was my very first proper programming project.
Back in 2016, I modded Super Mario 3D Land for a short period of time. The game had a somewhat functional level editor and a stage format that resembles Super Mario Galaxy's so I got used to the game's essentials very quick. I experimented with several assets and objects to create small custom levels, but most of them were scrapped due to bad level design. Nevertheless, one of the levels I worked on was a recreation of Flip-Swap Galaxy from SMG2. SM3DL does not have many electrical-themed obstacles and enemies, so I decided to go with spiky elements instead. The Boomerang Flower - one of the new power-ups introduced in this game - also makes an appearance since it is rarely used in the original game. This is the only finished original level of a scrapped project called - you guessed it right - Neo Mario 3D Land.
Super Mario Galaxy 64 is a hack of SMG2 which consists of remaked levels from Super Mario 64 and its DS upgrade. While it aims to stay faithful to the original game, it is not an exact remake, as several assets and mechanics have been altered for a more unique experience. This is how MTLenz – the project's creator – describes his mod. Just in time with Christmas, a Holiday Special demo was released in 2017 to promote the game. It featured recreations of Cool Cool Mountain and Snowman's Land as well as a winter-themed version of Bob-omb Battlefield. Whereas the first two levels were created by MTLenz himself, I designed and created Li'l Brr Battlefield. To this day, I would rank it among my best custom levels considering level design. Despite the apparent camera issues, the boss fight against Sorbetti is my personal highlight in this stage. This galaxy shows a lot of potential and I would really like to see a remastered version with updated models and cameras.
Before I created ACDLCinst, I researched and documented Animal Crossing City Folk's DLC format as I wanted to find out how to create my own items. I know, this has been accomplished already a decade ago by the people over AiboHack. These people added crazy HDLC (Hacked DLC) items that swarmed people's save files. Among these items were the infamous Shiny Blue Pikmin hat, Guitar Axes, Lightsabers and more. My younger self was fascinated by this and it further boosted my interest in video game modding in general. However, I cannot recall how and why I got the motivation to look into this matter back in 2019. Anyway, I was able to break down the basics needed to create my own items and I started to write Python scripts to help me with that. That is exactly what ACDLC does; it can be used to create the actual item binaries. It also contains backups of all officially distributed items. Like the unreleased DLC, these were dumped from the Skyward Sword Save Data Update Channel. My first custom item was flooring, the so-called Gracie tile which you can see in the screenshot above.
However, there was no way other people could receive DLC or my item since the shutdown of Nintendo's older online services. Luckily, RiiConnect24 was founded, which provides a great service to reconnect your Wii to the internet and download DLC again. I talked with larsenv about distributing the DLC items using the RiiConnect24 servers and he helped me understand how DLC is distributed. This required even more work to be done, since I had to deal with even more new formats. Here is where ACWC24 comes into play. This tool can be used to set up the actual distributable packages, including the DLC header, letters and actual item data. It caused a lot of trouble first, to say the least... Nevertheless, I managed to fully understand the basics of the DLC system and I got the first working distributables done and injected them into my save file. What a success, Pete actually delivered the letter and special item!
As far as I know, RiiConnect24 uses ACWC24 along with scripts that generate the different distributables automatically. To be honest, this project would have been a big success a decade earlier, but I was too young to grasp the idea of programming in general.
This section is dedicated to projects that have been abandoned over the years. Every programmer will be confronted with this situation sooner or later. I am 100% sure that I forgot about a couple of projects here.
When the Spaceworld demo of Pokémon Gold & Silver leaked, I immediately knew what has to be done. Lack of motivation, though... All of the maps were already imported and a couple of new areas were implemented as well. Some time in development I encountered a strange glitch that messed up Pokémon sprites on the status screen... There is another mod of Pokémon Crystal that recreated the Spaceworld demo in a much better way than I had anticipated.
A mod of Pokémon Sword and Shield that aimed to improve the base game with improved base stats, readded moves, new items, new encounters, improved trainer battles and much much more. Although a decent amount of work was finished, I eventually lost motivation since there are enhancement mods of these games already.
Originally announced as a spin-off for Neo Mario Galaxy featuring variations of the secret levels in Super Mario Sunshine. The only published build contains three really bad levels. Nevertheless, Turnlog Galaxy was included in Neo Mario Galaxy. A remastered version of the Yoshi level was recreated for Neo Mario Galaxy but scrapped again.
There were a few Neo Mario titles that have been scrapped. One of them was a hack of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. There was a halloween-themed demo in the works but all that remains is an unfinished ghost house level. A couple of new objects (well, reskins) include Fake Star Coins and Giant Monty Moles.
The series of scrapped Neo Mario hacks continues! At some point I wanted to create a pack of custom levels for Super Mario 3D Land as well. An unreleased five-level version consisting of one new level and four remixed ones was finished but never released.
A Java clone of the very first The Legend of Zelda game that I programmed back in 2017 and 2018. Although I made decent progress, I scrapped the project due to really bad code and unoriginality. Instead, I started working on ZeldaDX which is a Gameboy-style remake of the first Zelda game. Most of the items did not work. Only the bow had a proper function if I remember correctly.
A Pokémon fangame created using Pokémon Essentials. I do not recall much about this project, but it featured a tropical islands setting. Some of the islands were named after chemical elements. The game also had secret bases and some sunked ship dungeon.