Let’s Interview: Newer Super Mario All-Stars Creator CLF78

Newer Super Mario All-Stars

As you likely know, many fan projects never get completed. Whether it’s due to a lack of interest, team disputes or legal issues, many games and mods end up scrapped long before the work is done.

However, just because one team gives up on a project doesn’t mean the project has to die with it.

No, other fans can and do pick up these works and give them a new lease of life. Examples have included Super Mario Sunshine DS (where Hailbot and SolarZ continued the game after Fiachra moved on), as well as the URA Zelda Restoration Project and Mushroom Kingdom Fusion.

And the focus of today’s interview is no exception. Yep, this time we’re speaking to CLF78 about his work on a Super Mario All-Stars remake called Newer Super Mario All-Stars, a project which has had quite the interesting development history.

Including an entirely separate continuation by a less than stellar developer called cad111, whose butchery of the original game actually inspired CLF78 to get involved with the project at all.

So let’s see what he has to say about New Super Mario All-Stars, his plans for the future of the game, and those underwhelming previous attempts at finshing it off!

Starting with a bit of personal background. Who are you? Who is CLF78?

I’m a 20 year old Italian dude who loves customizing and tinkering with stuff. I’ve made NSMBW mods since 2010 and I’m incredibly still not tired of doing it.

Why CLF78? Where did that username come from?

When I was 10 or so, I used to follow a particular username pattern when registering on websites; I would take the site’s topic, then appended “fan” to it. When I signed up on RVLution (the main NSMBW modding forum at the time), the topic was custom levels, so the resulting username was customlevelfan. Since it looked pretty lame, I then added a random number to it, so the username became customlevelfan78. As time passed, that particular username stuck and I eventually shortened it to what it is now.

What about your interest in gaming? What was your first game?

When I was little, I actually used to despise video-games, so I joined the gaming world quite late into my childhood. My first console was the Wii, which my father bought in early 2008, so the first game was obviously Wii Sports. However, I would consider Mario Kart Wii (which I later got as a gift) to be my true “first game”.

Back then, I wouldn’t play for more than half an hour a day, but MKW seemed really fun to play, so I began devoting more and more time to it. I still remember the first time I won against the CPUs, and how proud I was of it. Sometimes my dad would also join me and my sister to fool around, good times.

Did Super Mario All-Stars itself play a major role in your childhood, given you’re remaking it in New Super Mario Bros Wii right now?

Not really, although i’ve played the 25th Anniversary version to see how the originals play out.

Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition
The limited edition version of Super Mario All-Stars released on Wii gave CLF a chance to try the originals

Still, times change. So what games are you playing right now?

Honestly, I still play the same games I used to play. I couldn’t afford the newer consoles at the time (and I wasn’t exactly a “good kid”), so I had to stick with the Wii and 3DS. My PC wasn’t particularly powerful either, which meant most PC games were out of my league. This situation went on for quite a while, making me lose interest in most new games. As a result, I mainly stuck with Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7, which I still regularly play with friends.

Any games you’re looking forward to playing in future?

I’m kinda looking forward to getting a Switch, once hacking it becomes fully risk-free. I’ve mainly followed Mario games during my life, so I’ll make sure to try the ones for Switch. Who knows, maybe mod those too!

What are your thoughts about those 3D Mario remasters Nintendo is supposedly working on? Are you excited to see Mario 64, Sunshine, etc reimagined with updated graphics, sound, etc?

After seeing demos like Super Mario 64 HD or Sunshine levels imported in SMG2, I’m definitely stoked about them! I’m sure Nintendo will do a great job, considering that these are among their all-time best games. Hopefully we’ll see some extra content as well.

Caption: Seeing things like Super Mario Sunshine levels in Galaxy 2’s engine was an inspiration for CLF78

Onto some game mod questions now. What made you decide to start modding New Super Mario Bros Wii?

I found out about Reggie! Level Editor back in 2010 thanks to a YouTube video, which showcased a custom level. At the time, I already had some experience under my belt thanks to NSMBe (the NSMBDS level editor). However, I didn’t own NSMB (nor a DS for that matter), so I had to test my edits with an emulator, which I didn’t enjoy. NSMBW was obviously the better choice in my case, so I instantly jumped ship, and the rest is history.

Caption: This might have been that custom level. Or it might not. Quite a few custom level videos popped up on YouTube in 2010.

And why did you decide to mod that game instead of say, Super Mario 64 or Super Mario World?

I was an oblivious kid, and I didn’t know those games even existed 😛

Did you work on any mods before this one?

My earlier work mostly consists of various levels with no particular connection to each other. My only attempt at a full project before this one was in 2014, and that one was lost when my old PC died, since I hadn’t made any backup (always backup your work, people!). Looking back, it was probably terrible.

What other NSMB Wii mods do you recommend people play anyway? Aside from Newer Super Mario Bros Wii?

Many of the ones listed below are one or two worlds long, as few longer than that have ever been completed [the ones i linked are trailers/webpages only, the others only have playthrough footage]:

Are there any upcoming mods or hacks you think seem promising right now?

Yeah, there are a couple which definitely deserve recognition. Some of these are for different NSMB games, but I figured I’d mention them anyway:

  • Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii Plus – Of course I can’t not mention this one. It’s an upgraded version of Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii, and it has already amassed quite the following.
  • Super Luigi Land Wii – Another Luigi-based mod by the team behind Dark Moon. Just like that one, the levels seem to make use of the Luigi physics really well, so it’s going to be an interesting one for sure.
  • Super Mario: Green Star Groove – This mod has been in development for a long time, and I personally love the themes the author has come up with. There’s also a demo available which contains 14 levels.
  • Super Mario Bros. Next – This project is set to become the Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii of NSMB2, as the amount of additions they made to the game is astounding. Definitely not to be missed if you have a modded 3DS. There’s also a special available named Sunset Shores.
  • Super Mario Moonlight World – A NSMBU mod with amazing graphics and stages. It has recently been repurposed from a full 8-world mod to a shorter one, which will hopefully make it to completion.

Caption: Super Mario Bros Next is basically what New Super Mario Bros 2 should have been.

Caption: Whereas Super Mario Moonlight World is one of a number of very promising NSMBU mods in development right now.

Any promising hack creators you know about here? Like say, those who might be able to revolutionise NSMB Wii hacking as a whole?

There aren’t that many promising individuals in the NSMB communities, especially NSMBW, as most people migrated to other games in the series.

Worth noting is J’Chol (aka John10v10) who is planning to take his own twist on NSMB, and he definitely has the skills to back that up.

As for NSMBU, look out for AboodXD. He is currently working on a mod that is sure to revolutionize the NSMBU modding scene. I can only tell you that much as the development of this mod is kept private for the time being.

Lastly, I would like to mention Bent, who used to work on Newer Super Mario Bros. DS and is now modding NSMB2.

But hey, enough of that for now, let’s move onto Newer Super Mario All-Stars itself. What made you decide to continue this project?

There are two main reasons. The first one is that, after all these years, I’ve begun losing my creativity. That feeling when you open the level editor and you just stare at the empty canvas, not knowing what to do, is the worst; as you think you’ve learnt everything there was to learn, the most important element is gone. However, I found that if I work with any template, even the most basic, I easily get things rolling, which is why I decided to stick with this remake.

Secondly, as the project progressed, I realized how cool it’d be to play all the retro games in the NSMB style. The other version feels like a chore to play, so it needs a proper replacement.

And who else are you working with? What’s the team like for this game?

Initially I did everything myself, because I didn’t want to rely on others and keep an eye on everything, although I found myself asking favours every once in a while. After the first demo’s release, some people asked me if they could help, and I gladly accepted. Right now the team is still really small:

  • Mimicry is the main artist and works on the tilesets and the backgrounds.
  • Hus made the logo and contributes with tilesets/backgrounds every once in a while.
  • Stage13-10 makes the graphics for the world maps.
  • sam999 makes the level drafts (basically things like laying out the ground and the enemies), which I then work on.
  • AboodXD helps with code edits from time to time.
  • I do the rest of the work, including testing both on Dolphin and Wii.

How disappointed were you with the version Cad111 released anyhow?

I was extremely disappointed with the mod (due to the generally terrible graphics, the amount of unfixed crashes and the poopy workarounds used in the stages), but even more so with the author himself. He took the project from its true author WITHOUT crediting him and made it worse. He once tried to leverage people against Skawo for refusing to help him. To this day, he keeps asking people to donate for updates that will never happen. It’s so bad it’s almost funny.

The Macro Zone Disaster
Yes, this is a screenshot from Cad’s version, with cardboard cutout ants
A Wario Battle?
Cad’s solution for the Wario battle was apparently to use a random JPG and stick it on screen
money begging
Nintendo might not be happy about cad begging for money for this game. Or marketing it like an official game…

Yeah, that makes sense. It’s certainly a far cry from the original games in terms of quality, even ignoring the ridiculous static images used for boss fights. Still, was there anything good in that version?

Surprisingly, yes. I found some custom enemy models by the previous author which are pretty well made, so I’m probably going to reuse them, with proper credits this time around.

Poison Mushroom Screenshot
The Poison Mushroom model/sprite was good enough to keep in this version

How are you going to make sure your version of the game is much better overall?

For starters, I believe I’m much more passionate in my work. This is not about cold hard cash, but it’s about making a great game mod, one that lets you relive old classics in a newer and fresher environment. Additionally, I feel that I have the required experience to back such an insane effort, unlike the other version’s author. And last but not least, I love doing random experiments with the game, and some of these can lead to exciting additions.

Are you going to remake everything from the original games, down to the enemies, items, bosses and gameplay mechanics used?

King Totomesu Battle
Fortunately, King Totomesu is basically a Bowser reskin in Super Mario Land 1
Dragonzamasu Battle
As are Dragonzamasu and Hihoi. So they should be easy enough to recreate

I cannot personally guarantee that will happen, but what I can promise is that attempts will be made for every element. Of course some of them are less feasible than others, but it’s better than not trying.

What game do you think will be trickiest to remake overall? Personally we’d guess it’d be either Super Mario Bros 2 or Super Mario Land 2, but you might have some other ideas…

In my opinion, Super Mario Bros 3 will probably be the most difficult one. All the new power-ups, enemies and mechanics will require tons of work. Not to mention it’s the biggest out of all the remakes (there’s about 130 stages, which is the amount of Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii’s levels). Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Land 2 surely have many new enemies, but I don’t believe they’ll be a problem as much as SMB3 will be.

Super Mario Bros 3 is the game CLF78 thinks will be hardest to remake

Most importantly though, how exactly are these elements going to be remade? There don’t seem to be many custom elements in New Super Mario Bros Wii hacks, at least not outside of projects by Newer Team. What’s involved in adding new enemies and mechanics to this game anyway?

I’m not very well-versed on the subject, so i’ll just quote a post from a friend of mine:

NSMBW (and most of the NSMB series) uses something called the Actor system. It probably originated in NSMBDS, but we know for sure all later games use it as well. To put it in a simpler way, it works like an all-you-can-eat: there are multiple types of food (bases), and any person (actor) can choose whatever they want to eat (use).

So, when you make your own actor, you decide which bases to inherit from and take the properties out of them (some of the bases also inherit from other, more generic ones). Each actor then has their own list of states, each of which represents a specific behaviour the actor will follow. For example, Koopas have a walking state and an in-shell state, among others.

Finally, regarding collision, it’s made by 3 basic elements:

  • ActivePhysics, which manages hitboxes. It comes in multiple shapes, such as rectangle, circle and trapezoid.
  • Colliders, which tell CollisionMgrs where to walk on, what is a wall, etc.
  • CollisionMgrs, which are basically sensors that trigger when they hit Colliders or ground tiles.

These alone cover 75% of the sprite’s functionaility. The rest includes setting up a model and eventual animations, handling movement, spawning sound/graphic effects (like poofs) and more advanced properties.

Is this stuff going to eventually be more accessible to the community? What would it take to make custom enemies and objects as easily usable in NSMB Wii hacks as their equivalents in Super Mario World or Super Mario 64 ones?

Caption: Brutal Mario isn’t a good comparison to make to anything, but it’s at least a little indicative of how much… technically capable the SMW community has been compared to the NSMBW one.

Well, those games have a much bigger following, simpler graphics, and many mods disregard console support entirely. Still, there are two areas where improvements could be made:

The compiling system is unclear and uses outdated tools, whose support for the various OSes is spotty. Steps have been made, recently.
The code base that NewerSMBW uses is quite messy, as the Newer Team programmers never got around to finish the cleanup they had planned.
I personally believe we will not reach SM64’s or SMW’s level of simplicity, but solving these would get us a good part of the way.

And why has it been so tough for people to modify NSMB Wii to the same extent as other Mario games? It still seems strange seeing a community where custom elements are fairly thin on the ground, especially given it started all the way back in 2013 or so…

There are almost no programmers left in the community, as they mostly moved on to NSMB2 and NSMBU. Other people simply lack the necessary knowledge (or are too lazy to learn) to expand upon Newer’s modifications. I don’t see this situation changing in the near future. Once again, I hope to be proven wrong.

Boomerang Flower NSMB
The fact people are learning how to add more custom powerups to NSMBW gives us hope things will change in future

Still, enough tech for now. What changes are you going to make to Newer Super Mario All-Stars’ level design to accommodate the new engine? After all, many previously challenging levels seem like they’ll be trivial to complete with NSMB Wii’s extra abilities…

I’ve only remade Super Mario Bros. and I’m in the process of remaking SMB Lost Levels, so I can only talk in those games’ perspective:

  • The most significant change is that all jumps and gaps are wider, as there would otherwise be no challenge at all.
  • Things like decorations and coins are distributed according to my own vision, not necessarily respecting the original placements, as they play a relatively minor part in gameplay. This also applies to power-up blocks, in some cases.
  • Still talking from an SMB1 perspective, I had the option to disable wall-jumps in the levels, but I decided not to, as I believe it would have taken the fun out of the game. This is a remaster, not a remake.
  • There are many level-specific changes: for example, I opted to replace the brick ceilings from the underground stages with stones, as it would be extremely easy to get up there and skip the entire stage. There’s no fun in that. There are dozens of these kind of edits, and each one has a good reason behind it.

Do you have any plans for extra levels or optional content? Super Mario Land 1 definitely feels like it could do with some…

The original plan was to have extra worlds for any game without them, but I ran out of level slots so some games will have to do without them. The current plan is:

  • Super Mario Bros: Boo Races from Super Mario Bros Deluxe
  • Super Mario Bros. 3: World-e from Super Mario Advance 4
World-e
Super Mario Advance 4’s World-e will hopefully be in this remake

There are also two bonus stages, which are remakes of the Mario Bros and Donkey Kong arcade games.

Caption: A Donkey Kong arcade remake is also part of this project, as a bonus level

How will multiplayer work in this hack? Will NSMB Wii’s co-op mode even function in some of these remakes?

Multiplayer will be actively supported, but compromises will have to be made in order to keep gameplay fun for everyone, while not straying too far from the original level design.The extra modes have always been broken in Newer, so I don’t think I will be fixing them.

What about cutscenes and story elements? Do you plan to include different endings for each of the included games, or will they just cut back to the menu?

The games are now tied together in a bigger story, so the original games’ story elements will be altered to fit the new narrative. As for cutscenes, they might not be fully cinematic like they should, so the player will be able to control the character.

One thing the previous version of this game lacked was consistency, with Cad’s version having some questionable choices of graphics for various levels. How do you plan to fix this? Are you going to create fitting NSMB style graphics for every enemy, object, tileset and background included in these games?

All graphics will be in the NSMB style regardless of the game, perhaps with further details added onto them. There will also be graphics ported from various games (for example NSMBU and SMM2), but these will be a minority.

SMB1 Remake Day
All remade games are getting their graphics redone in NSMB style.
SMB1 Remake Night
Here’s what night time SMB 1 levels look like in the remake

Still, let’s assume everything turns out fine, and the game finally gets finished in the next few years. How do you plan to market it without Nintendo sending a cease and desist notice?

I’m not the kind of person who loves advertising their product. My favourite ways of spreading awareness are playthroughs and word of mouth, as they are the most genuine types of advertising you can have. I don’t think Nintendo would be against such an innocuous campaign but, alas, they’ve exercised their iron fist on similar products time and time again.

Do you ever worry about the game being shut down in general? Because remakes certainly seem to attract a lot of ire from the company and their lawyers, especially professional looking ones like AM2R or Super Mario 64 HD

As of right now, I’m not that worried. However, if the project starts gaining lots of traction, then I’ll have to keep an eye on it.

What’s the press coverage for this game been like? Have any major publications written stories about it yet?

The project has remained mostly under the radar, save for MayroSMM’s playthrough of the demo, which was a pretty big exposure boost, and for which I’m extremely thankful.

When do you think this project might start getting more attention anyway?

This is not exactly something I actively worry about, but I’d say that people will start paying more attention once major breakthroughs will happen, such as the reimplementation of important gameplay mechanics.

Either way, let’s start wrapping things up now. Do you have any other plans for NSMB Wii hacks or mods once this one is finished?

No, this will be my last project, then I will retire. It’s been a decade and it’s time to move on.

What about mods of other games? Are there any other titles you might want to work on future?

Sometimes, when I get tired of working on this mod, I switch games and do something else (usually Mario Kart Wii mods, but sometimes other things). Some people wanted me to check out NSMBU, but I’m not keen on it since I don’t own a Wii U and CEMU doesn’t run properly on my PC. As for future games, I really don’t know, maybe I’ll stumble upon one that will catch my interest.

How about original games? Do you have any interest in pursuing game development as a career in itself?

To be honest, it’s not my main option. Sometimes, a hobby should remain as such. But if the chance comes, I would gladly give it a try.

Finally, what advice would you give someone wanting to get started with mod/ROM hack development anyway?

There are five golden rules. They aren’t fixed though, as there have been several exceptions in the past (including Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii itself!):

  1. Start small. If you’ve just begun modding the game, don’t start an 8-world mod with outrageous claims like new power-ups, enemies and whatnot. Perhaps make it one world, and stick with existing elements if you’re not experienced with making new ones.
  2. If you need help, don’t beg people to join your team. Most people recruited this way won’t be productive or will lack experience. Instead, begin working on your own, prove your project’s progress and quality, and people will eventually ask you to join themselves, which means they’re actually interested in contributing and will be less likely to slack.
  3. If you’re leading a team, it doesn’t mean you have the right to slack while others do the actual work. Remember, these people are helping you in their free time, for free! They definitely won’t appreciate seeing you do nothing, and will ultimately quit if you persist. So make sure to contribute to your project, and be a responsible team leader.
  4. If your motivation is waning, take a break and do something that you actually enjoy. This means your project will be delayed, but you will ultimately benefit from it. I’ve personally taken several month-long breaks from the mod, and it helped a lot.
  5. This final rule is a bit of an inside joke in the community. Does your project include the term “Newest” in its name? Is the project’s logo the first thing you’ve made? If any of these two is true, your project is doomed from the very beginning.

Hah, you definitely shouldn’t call your project Newest anything then! Guess it’s the New Super Mario Bros Wii equivalent of saying the word Macbeth in a theatre.

More seriously though, there’s definitely some good advice there CLF. As we’ve said in quite a few interviews now, overambitiousness is likely the number 1 cause of failed game mods and fan projects, as seen by the likes of the URA Zelda Restoration Project and most Ocarina of Time 2D attempts.

And you should definitely be careful with who you hire for your team/how you run your team too. No one likes an ‘idea guy’, especially not one who sits back and assumes others will do all the work. There’s a reason those struggle to get team members or employees. Or why the team members they do get usually turn out to be terrible at their jobs.

So be realistic about your goals, and be careful who you decide to work with. Otherwise your dream project could indeed end up going down in flames.

Still, what did you think of the interview? Does it make you excited about this Super Mario All-Stars remake, or the content it might have in it?

Tell us your thoughts on the matter in the comments below, on the Gaming Latest forums, or on our Discord server today!

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