Have you ever wanted to create your own Mario Party boards? Wished that something similar to Lunar Magic or Super Mario Bros X existed for the Nintendo 64 era Mario Party games?
Well if so, it seems you might be in luck! Why? Because as of earlier today, the first beta for Mario Party board editor PartyPlanner64 has been released. Available online here, the editor lets you create boards for Mario Party 1, 2 and 3 and comes with a whole host of interesting features to boot.
For example, you can import your own board backgrounds. Change the scenes played when the board is first loaded and the characters get given instructions. Choose the background music for your boards. Change the name and description for the board.
Basically, you can customise most aspects of the board in order to really make it feel unique.
That said, there are a few things to point out here.
Firstly, this is a beta. As such, it will likely have bugs and glitches, like other programs in the early stages of their development. So watch out for those, and report anything broken to the project’s issue tracker on GitHub.
Secondly, the editor doesn’t work with ? spaces yet. It’s not surprising, given that said spaces cause board specific events to occur (like rolling boulders, volcanic eruptions or position changes for both Toad and Bowser) and likely involved complex code behind the scenes, but it does mean your possibilities are a bit more limited at the moment. So if you want a board with complex custom events, you might want to wait til the final release. Or maybe figure out how to mod them in yourself.
But for the most part, PartyPlanner64 seems like a fine tool for making Mario Party boards. So check it out, see what you can create and then post your creations online at places like Gaming Reinvented or Mario Party Legacy. Let’s make Mario Party great again!
Beta for PartyPlanner64 Released (Mario Party Legacy)
Where Nintendo ROM hacks are concerned, there are a few games that usually come to mind. Super Mario World. Super Mario 64. The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. Pokemon… you know, all the normal ‘popular’ games that people modify on a regular basis.
But do you what’s a lot less common?
Super Mario Land 2 hacks! For whatever reason, far less people seem interested in working with Mario’s Game Boy adventures.
However, that may now be about to change. Why? Because Skelux (the creator of Super Mario Star Road) has just released Vivian Land, a Paper Mario themed mod of Super Mario Land 2 for the Game Boy! Compatible with both the original Game Boy and 3DS, the title changes the game to star everyone’s favourite shadow siren in an adventure across all new worlds and levels, all with their own stylings and concepts.
Here’s a trailer for it:
So yeah, if you’re a fan of the Paper Mario series (or just want to try a Mario Land 2 mod for a change), check out Vivian Land: 6 Shadow Stars today! You won’t regret it!
When it comes to Super Mario 64 hacks, two names tend to be the first that come to mind. One is Super Mario 64: Last Impact, whose developer we interviewed about a week ago. And then there’s Super Mario Star Road.
Aka the most well known Super Mario 64 ever made. Released in 2011 by a hacker named Skelux, it featured 130 new stars across a wide range of interesting levels, as well as numerous ASM additions and custom mechanics years before most hacks had anything to match.
In fact, the game became so popular and well known that it was featured on mainstream news sites, unofficially referred to as a Super Mario 64 sequel and even got some people claiming that it was the best Super Mario 64 ROM hack of all time.
So to commemorate it and bring a bit more attention to its 3DS sequel, here’s our exclusive interview with Skelux himself!
As is the norm, let’s start with a personal question. Can you tell us a bit about yourself in general?
I’m some kangaroo Australian weirdo who has been ROM hacking as a hobby for nearly a decade. I’ve spent quite a lot of this time refining various skills for this such as coding, 3d-modelling, musical composition, and image manipulation among others. In present times I also work as a waiter which I’ve been doing for a couple of years, and moving into teaching IT by the end of the year.
What got you interested in the Mario series?
I’ve been playing Mario games since I was a kid, and found interest in modifying SM64 when I stumbled upon Toad’s Tool 64. After that I collaborated with someone in making the first major SM64 hack, The Missing Stars. He did most of it, I just made a couple of areas, most notably The Secret Woods level.
So why Super Mario 64 in particular? Any reason you got into hacking that game rather than say, Super Mario Bros 1, 3 or World?
Hacking 2D games has never really interested me much since there are more creative limitations, but every now and then I make something, i.e. the Legend of Zelda (NES) hack I made several years ago, or the Super Mario Land 2 (GB) hack I’m currently working on which will be released probably by the end of the month.
Onto the original Super Mario Star Road now. What inspired you to make the game?
I made Star Road because no one else had really made a full custom-model SM64 hack yet. I’m not too proud of most of the level models and game content these days, as they are extremely dated compared to my current standards and abilities. The DS port I’m making serves to correct that.
And what inspired the level design here? Because it’s pretty different from the original Super Mario 64 in feel, and seems a lot more focusing on precision platforming…
The main point I make with my level designs is never to use the same theme twice. Other than that I just tried to be very creative and make the levels fun to explore.
It was also a very technically advanced hack for its time, with stuff like custom enemies and blocks being present in later levels. How did you learn to program for the N64 to make this stuff possible?
There were a few documents to get me started, and the rest I figured out myself. A lot of the functionality of current SM64 hacking is only possible because of the extensive updates I have made to the level-editing software. Many of the issues with the software at the time lead to limitations in the original Star Road, such as levels with small boundaries and a low polygon count, and buggy music importation. This especially affected the music level, ghost level and lava level, since the game would crash if there were more than about 1500 polygons.
People’s reactions to Star Road have generally been pretty positive over the years, with some people calling it the ‘best Mario 64 hack ever’. Did you expect this amount of popularity or acclaim?
Above: Star Road actually got a magazine feature about it in Nintendo Gamer
I wasn’t expecting it to be quite this popular, no. I’m hoping my DS port can receive the same level of attention.
Do you ever think you made some of the levels too easy or too hard though?
The difficulty was somewhat inconsistent, I didn’t put a lot of thought into it really.
A few general questions now. What’s your favourite level in the original Star Road, and why?
My favourite might be the toy level, I just feel there are a lot of creative ideas in it.
And your least favourite?
My least favourite is probably Mad Musical Mess, it was pretty bad compared to what I had originally envisioned – again, this was a result of buggy software.
So it seems you’re remaking the game as a Mario 64 DS hack. What’s the reason for this? Did you just want to try out a different game engine?
I like playing around with a variety of different game engines, plus I want to make a version of the game which doesn’t have all the drawbacks of the original – including being able to play it on real hardware.
I also hear it makes some fundamental game design changes, like toning down Gloomy Garden or removing those bee enemies. Is that true? And what other changes do you have in mind for the DS version of the game?
Yes, it is extremely different. If you’ve played the original Star Road, the DS port won’t just feel like a port. The level designs are very much improved, matching my current standards for game design.
What about Yoshi, Luigi and Wario? How does the game accommodate them?
I haven’t entirely figured that one out yet, I might be replacing Wario and/or Yoshi with different characters.
They have new Power Flower abilities too. Does the level design now incorporate those?
And they’re also usually locked up. Do you plan new levels to unlock them as playable characters? Are Goomboss, King Boo and Chief Chilly still the bosses in said levels?
Yes, there are new levels where you unlock the characters, and some cool new bosses, none of the originals.
Two weeks ago, a technically impressive mod called Super Mario 64: Last Impact was released. Developed by a guy called Kaze Emanuar and featuring a ton of custom content, the game quickly became a massive phenomenon on the internet and was covered by all manner of sites. Like GoNintendo. Or My Nintendo News or Nintendo Life. Heck, the latter even made a video of it!
Indeed, it got so much hype, some people said it’s the best Mario 64 hack of all time.
But how good is it really? How does Kaze’s work compare with an official game?
Does it make the same mistakes as 90% of ROM hacks and fan games? By featuring a difficulty curve that’s simply broken to hell? An killing players through tricky jumps right off the bat?
Well, no. As the review shows, Super Mario 64: Last Impact may actually be one of the better designed, more ‘fair’ ROM hacks I’ve ever played. It’s not as easy as the original, sure, but it’s also not broken as most of the other mods for the title out there either.
But let’s look a bit closer, in the official Gaming Reinvented review of Super Mario 64: Last Impact!
Starting with one of the aspects the game does far better than its source material; the graphics. Put simply Super Mario 64: Last Impact’s graphics are ten times better than those in the original Super Mario 64, and honestly about on par with some of Rare’s games from the era. Indeed, if it was released in the N64 days, this game would have gotten a ton of acclaim for its visuals.
So why does it look so good? Well, three reasons really:
- It uses art from later games. Like say, ledges and tileset graphics from the likes of Mario Kart and the Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker. Even compressed to N64 standards, these look a ton better than the equivalents from the original time period.
The themes are interesting and varied enough to stand out. Oh sure, you’ve got a few grasslands, a desert and a beach world, but that’s only the boring stuff here. In addition to that, you then have a space station, a world made of food, a casino and even Rainbow Road from Mario Kart as explorable worlds.
They’re just more visually interesting and unique locations than say, yet another ice world or yet another volcano world.
- Character models seem a lot more rounded and detailed than those in most actual Nintendo 64 games. Yeah, the ones from the original Mario 64 didn’t change much, with Mario and Bowser being about the same as they always were. But the new enemies like the giant Piranha Plants, the space aliens and the Blarggs feel much better modelled than most characters from the olden days.
Either way, it’s impressive, especially for a fan made game.
But the graphics aren’t the only great thing here. Oh no, the soundtrack is pretty good too…
Because damn, the mix of ported songs and original compositions both sound excellent and fit the levels absolutely perfectly.
On the ported front, you have some really impressive renditions of songs from the likes of the Zelda and Final Fantasy series. What’s stranger, these actually fit some of Last Impact’s worlds at least as well as they did their source game. Forested Temple may have been composed for Final Fantasy VII, but it fits Last Impact just as well:
Deep Castle from Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside story works well in Big Beast’s Belly:
And Mario Party’s ‘danger’ theme works just as well in Last Impact’s mini games as it does in the actual game’s ones:
But as good as the ports sound, it’s the original music where Last Impact really shines. Because you see, this game doesn’t just use music from other titles. Oh no, it comes up with many of its own songs, and those are absolutely incredible.
Like say, the two final boss themes from the game, which are brand new for this ROM hack:
Or the Dusky Doomed Dales theme, which really does sound appropriate for a middle ages village in the middle of a witch hunt:
Ah, how times change! The original Super Mario Star Road was a Super Mario 64 hack released in 2011, and showed the world just want Super Mario 64 hacks could do. New levels, new graphics, new music… it was basically a big showcase of how Mario 64 mods could more than texture edits and minor game tweaks.
And now, it seems Skelux is doing the same thing for Super Mario 3D Land! Why? Because as you can see here, Super Mario Star Road 2 is now a 3DS game:
Yes, the game has now been transferred from the Super Mario 64 to Super Mario 3D Land, with all the physics changes that implies! Even more interestingly, it seems like the level design hasn’t been compromised in the process, with this mod making the 3DS title more open world like and less like linear like the original game.
Now admittedly, this won’t be too well received by everyone. After all, Star Road 2 looked like a bloody great Mario 64 mod based on its own debut trailer. And some Mario 64 fans don’t like the mechanics in newer 3D Mario games all that much. So some won’t be happy by this engine switch.
But hey, I’m sure this will still be an incredible mod none the less. Perhaps even one with multiplayer or interesting custom enemies and items added in!
So what do you think? Do you like the look of the new Super Mario Star Road 2? Or do you prefer the older one and wish it’d have stayed a Mario 64 ROM hack? Post your thoughts here or on our social media channels today!