Over the years we’ve been playing Super Mario World mods, we’ve seen some interesting stuff. There was that creepypasta game called MARIO, which tried to tell the story of a messed-up video game ROM hack with an actual ROM hack that readers could download and play. There was Xkas Shack, which promised a gimmick heavy mod written in pure machine code and provided something else entirely (we’ll let you experience that one for yourself).
As well as various attempts at gimmicky ASM showcases and crossovers from unknown Japanese ROM hackers. Like Brutal Mario, Super Mario LD and the Scarlet Devil Mario series.
But one thing we’ve never seen is an ARG based around a mod of the game.
Until now. Because as the title suggests, a new Super Mario World ROM hack is actually part of an ARG (alternate reality game) about the Spice Girls!
Seriously. Named Super Spice World, the hack starts out pretending to be your bog standard, celebrity focused fan game. You’ve got the main characters replaced by members of the band. Some of their lyrics are used in the game in message boxes. And well, even their songs have been ported over to the SMW engine.
At first glance, it seems like your typical fanboy hack. The kind of mediocre hack you constantly find in SMW Central’s submission queue.
However, it then turns out there’s much more to this than meets the eye. For example, in level 1 there’s a series of raised platforms with coins on them.
Seems normal, right? Yeah, that’s what I’d have thought.
But that’s not the case. Instead, the height and order of said platforms isn’t actually a coincidence. It’s a coded message!
Indeed, if you assign each platform a number between 0 and 9 (with the higher platforms getting lower numbers), then consider the coins two levels above zero as modifiers (like in an IMB punch card system), then this translates to:
69 6d 67 76 41 30 6c 6d 66 34, or “imgvA0lmf4’
Which in turn provides the following Imgur link:
That turns out to be part of a QR code with the characters ‘1/6’ at the lower right corner.
And that’s basically the meta game here. Solve the puzzles, find the QR links, piece it all together.
It’s a setup that continues throughout the whole game. There’s a cave with an actual in-game code QR code:
A castle where coloured coins are part of a code. Seriously:
Heck, there’s even a ghost house with tons of turn blocks that turn out to either be spinning blocks or coin blocks. Reading those from the top left to bottom right ends up giving you a code in binary which can be decoded into a QR code link:
All in all, it’s a fascinating experience. Like MARIO for a modern audience.
So, check it out if you’re a puzzle fan (or perhaps a die-hard fan of the Spice Girls in general) and tell us what you think. It’s certainly a very creative way of using a Super Mario World ROM hack as part of a larger story, and very reminiscent of Petscop and Ben Drowned.