Playing some NES hacks – James & Mike Mondays

Playing NES hacks is a tradition that goes all the way back to the very first episode of James and Mike Mondays. This week we sat down and just browsed through an Everdrive N8 packed full of them. We’re always looking for more suggestions of hacks to play, so please let us know if you have any good tips.  The comments below this post is as good a place as any to post your recommendations.

It seems like the vast majority of hacks simply change the graphics in the game, such as Riddler Tennis and the RC Pro Am Mario Kart hack we tried in this video.  While I appreciate the work people put into these sprite hacks, I’m more interested in hacks that drastically change how the game plays, such as redesigned levels.  That being said, changing the graphics AND the level layouts is even better.

Castlevania: Stairs of Doom was interesting.  I was sure that we were about to play a game intended to troll the player but it was built off a solid concept.  It definitely demonstrated that there’s more than can be done with staircases in Castlevania than we’ve seen in the base games.  I’m glad there’s so many different Castlevania hacks that have been made, and I’m still working on trying them all.

If I could make a Castlevania hack of my own, it’d be it a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe conversion.  You’d play as He-Man and use the Power Sword instead of a whip.  Perhaps the Mummies could be Two-Bad and Frankenstein could be Tri-Klops… there’s lots of possibilities.  Levels would take place all over Eternia, there’d be a Castle Greyskull level and it ends with a final fight with Skeletor at Castle GreySkull.

Dead Double Dragon Twins was funny, but unfortunately the joke gets exhausted pretty quickly and there’s not much else to explore beyond it.  Druggy Final Fight was a graphical hack that added visual gags into the background and changed the text dialog to be hilarious, and I think it worked better because you have to keep playing the game to discover more of the changes.  Still, without any significant gameplay alterations, there’s not a lot of staying power with these simple graphical joke hacks and there’s not much reason to play them more than once.

Super C: Out of Control was great. James and I are both decent at Super C, and it’s a game we have played together many times.  Taking a game and ramping up the speed and insanity seems to be a really solid concept to base a romhack on.  You can see in the video how James instantly got fired up as soon as he started playing, and he wanted to keep going.  It’s frantic and exciting.  I might try to beat this one on a Twitch stream someday.

I recently got an NES N8 Everdrive, SD2SNES (SNES) Mega Everdrive X7 (genesis) and one for GBA, which also lets me play GameBoy Color and original GameBoy games.  Ultimately, I still enjoy collecting real carts but if you want to play romhacks, putting them onto these devices provides the definitive experience.  You completely bypass the limitations of emulation by playing on real hardware, and you can play them on a CRT monitor.  An emulator running on an LCD monitor just isn’t the same, and you really have to try it out to see the difference for yourself.

I’ve played through a few great hacks. Superstar Mario World is probably the best Mario hack I’ve played as of the time of this writing.  It’s packed with all brand new level designs, great color choices and a difficulty I found to be just right for me.  It also includes a very smart mechanic where collecting 100 coins makes Mario invincible for a short while instead of giving you a 1-up, and then discarded the whole concept of a life count.  I found myself much more interested in collecting coins because of this mechanic, and Nintendo might want to take this as a cue to investigate how stale the 100 coins = 1up system has become in Mario games and try out different schemes. I also liked the inclusion of Super Mario Bros 2 bosses like Try-Clyde and Fry Guy. I wish they could have snuck Clawgrip in there somewhere.

I also got to play Castlevania: The Holy Relics which was fantastic. It was about the same difficulty as the original game, which resulted in a fun experience.  While insanely hard romhacks have their place, it’s also nice seeing people target difficulties that you would expect from mainstream NES games of the past.  It got everything right.  Everything is different, including new enemies and bosses.  They also included a new game mechanic in the Relic system that makes it feel like a true new entry in the series rather than a simple romhack.  I consider it to be one of the truly essential romhacks that people interested in hacks should play, and definitely something a Castlevania fan should experience as well.

I’m definitely excited about romhacks lately.  The level of creativity that can go into them and the joy they are providing are genuine.  And the most exciting part is the vast amount of unexplored possibilities.  They are a very effective stimulus for the retro gaming community.  There’s so much that can be done and I can’t wait to see what people come up with in the coming years.






7 thoughts on “Playing some NES hacks – James & Mike Mondays”

  1. Metroid : Rogue Dawn !!!

    …I had to use the “alternate” patches on my Everdrive-N8 though… the ‘Zero-Suit’ or ‘No Corner map’ patches, specifically, for some reason…

    You guys should also try the 2P Co- Op SMB1 hack 🙂

  2. Metroid : Rogue Dawn !!!

    I’m so glad that you two decided to cover some ROM “hacks” recently, and Castlevania – The Holy Relics was at the top of my list of recommendstions…

    If you enjoyed that one, then you will certainly enjoy Metroid : Rogue Dawn, it’s a prequel to the original title and the person responsible for the Castlevania hack had a hand in this one.

    Metroid : Rogue Dawn is truly remarkable and deserves to be considered as a real franchise title…

    …I had to use the “alternate” patches on my Everdrive-N8 though… the ‘Zero-Suit’ or ‘No Corner map’ patches, specifically, for some reason…

    You guys should also try the 2P simultaneous SMB1 hack; it’s a damn laugh riot! I know that your viewers would love to see that, and you won’t be disappointed…

  3. Captain Tsubasa 2 Super Striker is a real treat if you understand how to play it even with the Japanese. Too bad you skipped it in the video. It’s basically a story RPG soccer game based on a popular ongoing soccer anime/manga series from the 80s. This game specifically has amassed quite a fanbase abroad for its very attractive graphics, innovative command system gameplay and a kickass soundtrack. People are still making foreign language hacks for it (although an English unofficially translated version does exist)

    And by the way, it’s also a Tecmo game and I believe it shares some staff with the people who made Ninja Gaiden. The cool cinematics also gives it away. In Japan, this game and its prequel are included together in the exclusive Shonen Jump edition of the Famicom classic. (basically, this edition has a bunch of manga-inspired games for the console)

  4. Great episode Mike! I would love to see you guys play through some of those point and click NES games. Shadowgate, DejaVu, and Uninvited would all make for great JMMs

  5. Great episode of James & Mike Mondays and I’ve seen your streams of the hacks you have been playing on Twitch.

    I’m big on hacks myself i would suggest some Zelda ones but since you played the randomizers that’s basically what the hacks are.

    There is one i have of Super Mario World where it is basically Mario 1 through 3 in 16bit form with SMW mechanics. I have so many hacks I forgot the name but i’ll look for it and hit you up on Twitch.


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