Sundry Sunday: Commercial for Atari Mario Bros.

We love weird old game commercials from before (or in this case during) the crash, before games and game ads began skew quite so much towards the stereotypical tastes of teenage males, and before companies like Nintendo became such jealous guardians of their products.

And just look at all the effort that must have gone into this commercial! This isn’t just people sitting in front of a TV raving about a game, these actors are wearing costumes and running from puppet creatures on an actual set! And this may well be the first human actor to ever portray Luigi in front of a camera (he may look like Mario with his color scheme, but his hat says Luigi, and he’s calling Mario for help). It even calls back to the theme song of Car 54 Where Are You. It’s a shame that the game couldn’t possibly have moved enough units to justify this production.

Goldeneye on Switch Online and Xbox One

Ordinarily this would be the kind of thing that intrepid blob reporter Kent Drebnar would cover here some week, but this is too big to hide as just one of several links in an omnibus post. At long last, one of the biggest N64 games of all is getting a rerelease on Switch Online (oh, and Xbox One as well), even if you have to get the Expansion Pack to play it. It should be playable when, or soon after, this post goes up! It even offers widescreen support and online play!

All images in this post (except for the last one) from MobyGames.

While it couldn’t save the system in the face of competition from the Playstation, there is no denying Rare’s Goldeneye 007 moved an awful lot of Nintendo 64 consoles, and until now, 25 years later, unless you wanted to pirate it, the original cart and system was still the only way to play it. It remains the most iconic James Bond video game ever made, and it may still be the most popular. They got so much right when making it, both with respect to the franchise and to doing a console-based first-person shooter right.

WARNING: the following paragraph will make little sense to people who weren’t both N64 players and internet readers at the time when it was new:

The spirits of countless N64 IGN readers rejoice this day. a golden eye is an eye tat is golden! Sadly, all record of eye tat boy is gone from their current website, Google is of no use at all in ferreting record of it out of the present-day web, and it’s too much trouble to dredge its memory up from the Wayback Machine. So it goes.

The gaming landscape has changed so much since then. When shrinkwrapped Goldeneye 007 boxes first saw store shelves, Rare was on their way to becoming one of Nintendo’s most beloved second parties. People largely came to see them as like a British branch of the company, then the Stamper brothers wanted to sell, Nintendo somehow said no to buying, and as a result the company began largely to languish, until around the time Viva Pinata came out. Since then, the people who made it left Rare and went on to make the Timesplitters games, which are still fondly remembered.

Such is N64 Goldeneye’s legend that Activision once actually released another James Bond game by that name, that actually wasn’t a port or remake of the original but was more of a reboot of it, with the Daniel Craig version of James Bond included.

Goldeneye 007’s twin release on both the Switch and Xbox platforms must have required some deep licensing mojo, but perhaps not even as much needed to wrest the rights for a rerelease of a James Bond movie tie-in game from the Broccoli family, as well as the likeness rights from Pierce Brosnan. With that many owners looking for their pieces of the financial pie, the stars must have aligned mighty right for the game to see the legal light of day again. Someone, please go check R’lyeh! Cthulhu must be about to awaken!

“a golden eye is an eye tat is golden!!!!”
(image source)

GoldenEye 007 Shoots Its Way Onto Nintendo Switch Online This Week (Nintendo Life)

News 1/24/22: Pokemon Collecting, Universal Mario World, Commodore 64 of Theseus

“We scour the Earth web for indie, retro, and niche gaming news so you don’t have to, drebnar!” – your faithful reporter

Let’s make it quick this week-

Oli Welsh at Polygon tells us what we already knew, that No Zelda Game is Closer to Breath of the Wild Than The 1986 Original. We can’t recommend it whole-heartedly though because it gets in some digs on the older game, saying it’s nowhere near as much fun as Link to the Past, a statement I disagree with.

Hope Bellingham at GamesRadar tells us that U.S. Customs wrecked a sealed-in-box copy of Pokemon Yellow valued at over $10,000. I rather disagree with that valuation too. I thought all the misguided young people were losing their money in crypto these days? (Note: GamesRadar is one of those sites that waits until you start reading an article then puts up a blocking box begging you to subscribe. Hint to GamesRadar: NO, and if I were interested in subscribing my generous impulse would have been destroyed by your prompt!)

Image from The Guardian, probably ultimately from a promotional photograph

At the Guardian, the very British-named Oliver Wainwright reviews Super Mario World, not the game but the theme park in California, a part of Universal Studios Hollywood. The verdict: 8/10, good graphics, some replay value. I’ve been in a melancholy frame of mind as of late, so seeing those brightly-painted dioramas makes me wonder what they’ll look like in twenty years, when Universal Studios’ attentions have drifted to another big thing. Nothing ages quite as badly as a happy prop painted in primary colors.

I said I was going to make this quick, let’s keep moving. Maya Posch at hackaday talks about a project to build a Commodore 64 using new parts.

Ollie Reynolds found some Donkey Kong design documents on Twitter, from the days when it was planned to be a Popeye game. He found them retweeted by blogfriend Mike Mika of Digital Eclipse, who in turn found them looking through Mario history site Forest of Illusion.

Masahiro Sakurai talks about Kirby Air Ride

Just about everyone respects Masahiro Sakurai! I’m no different! He’s made some wonderful games, and even his more obscure works are really cool and fun!

I’ve linked to his series on game design before, released on Youtube with Nintendo’s help. It’s really popular! We try not to link too frequently to the same series or blog, instead waiting to find something in it that connects with me personally, in the hopes that whatever it is will be something that connects with my readers as well, and that’s why I’m linking to him talking a bit about Kirby Air Ride.


Like The Speed Rumbler, I feel like I have to say something really specific and detailed about KAR. (What a cool and appropriate acronym, both in the context of Kirby and Speed Rumbler!) Especially City Trial, which I think is just waiting for some interested party to revisit an expand. In the meantime though, enjoy Sakurai talking about what may be the most unique Kirby game, even in a series containing Star Stacker, Pinball Land and Tilt ‘n Tumble.

Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games: Kirby Air Ride (Youtube, 7 minutes)

Romhack Thursday: The Legend of Zelda Automap Plus

On Romhack Thursdays, we bring you interesting finds from the world of game modifications.

Last month we brought you Metroid + Saving, a passable attempt to make a classic game, that has a number of quirks related to it being a fairly early NES game, less frustrating to newer (younger) players. This week’s hack is another with that theme, snarfblam’s hack of NES The Legend of Zelda that adds a working automap to the game.

Like Metroid, finding your way around 128 screens of Hyrule is challenging, even if the game isn’t as large as, say, the Gameboy Link’s Awakening, which had 256 screens. But the limited number of tiles also decreases each screen’s visual distinctiveness, especially up in the mountainous regions.

The map appears in the upper-left corner of the overworld screens, which you can see in these screenshots. A special touch is that the map isn’t revealed all at the start but fills in as the player explores, and doesn’t consist of blank squares to show explored areas but even shows some detail. Places where screens are blocked internally are shown on the map, which is a great aid to both navigation and memory.

It immediately becomes evident that, like with Metroid + Saving’s mapping feature, it’s how the game should have been written originally, and probably would have been if design trends had evolved just a bit further at the time.

There are a couple of other graphical niceties in the hack, like health being shown in the life meter in 1/8th-heart increments. But overall the map is the main attraction here. It’s such a fundamental change to the game that the much more involved hack Zelda Redux uses it too. It is also worth trying out, if you still find the original Legend of Zelda to be a bit too hardcore for you.

Zelda Automap Plus, by snarfblam (romhacking.net)

Zelda Podcasts

Ryan Veeder has made (and continues to make) podcasts about playing various Zelda games.

The Hero’s Path is about replaying Breath of the Wild. 54 episodes, about 42 hours in total. Here’s the RSS link.

The Complete Guide to Koholint was his first Zelda podcast, and it discusses each of the 256 overworld screens of Link’s Awakening. 256(!) episodes. They vary in length between one minute and 47, with most being just a few minutes long. RSS.

The Complete Guide to Termina covers various elements of Majora’s Mask. It’s at 21 episodes, and is ongoing. RSS.

A Non-Invasive Gameboy HDMI Adaptor

This one’s crazy. The Gameboy does not have external video output. In order to get its display to appear on a screen other than its built in LCD dox matrix, you absolutely have to at least crack open the case. Don’t you?

Well, actually, yes, if you always want a perfect image. Sebastian Staacks (an awesome name) figured out a way to do it that mostly works. It’s a cartridge that goes into the Gameboy, that itself has a slot into which you plug the cartridge that you wish to play. Simple, right?

No, no, wait. There’s a problem. The Gameboy doesn’t expose its video through the cartridge port. There is no pin leading out providing a video signal that can be converted for display. There’s no way this could work!

Well, there is a way, kind of. The device contains a Raspberry Pi that runs its own Gameboy emulator, that it tries to keep synced with the version running on physical hardware. It does this by watching bus activity exposed to it through the cartridge port!

But while there’s a lot that it can do with this information, there’s also a lot it can’t see. It can’t, for example, see directly what buttons are being pressed. However, by watching how the cartridge reads the cart ROM, it can deduce what inputs were pressed.

The process is not perfect. While it can spy some memory accesses, a few things escape its inspection. While it can recreate the layout of the starting blocks in Tetris Game B, it can’t catch their randomized appearances. Also, while a Raspberry Pi is much faster than a Gameboy, it’s not fast enough to carry out its display in the same frame as the main unit, so it lags behind a couple of frames. Still though, it’s a very clever idea, and it’s amazing that it works as well as it does!

Sebastian made a Youtube video explaining and showing off his work, here. (It’s the same one embedded above.)

There Oughta Be A Game Boy Capture Cartridge

News 1/5/2022: DidYouKnowGaming, Pocket Card Jockey, Unionization

“We scour the Earth web for indie, retro, and niche gaming news so you don’t have to, drebnar!” – your faithful reporter

Hiya hiya hiya Earth pleps, it’s your favorite alien gaming newscaster, here again with all the news that’s fit to blorp! Let’s get underway–

Ethan Gach at Kotaku notes that Nintendo had a video from DidYouKnowGaming about a failed pitch for a Zelda game that Retro Studios put together, but DYKG managed to get it reversed! Judging by the fact that like 90% of the posts on this blog seem to be about Nintendo one way or another you might think we’d be on their side in this, but nuh-uh! Nintendo abuses copyright law way too much, it’s good that this video was allowed to stand, yet it’s bad that ultimately Nintendo doesn’t suffer from these egregious actions. They can effectively throw out these legal threats with impunity, and their fans will just forgive them every time! I know that it certainly makes us feel a little bad about talking up their games so much!

So, more Nintendo stuff. At NintendoLife, Ollie Reynolds says that 2023 will be the year of 3DS GamePass. They even got an unshaven video maker on their staff to make the case for it. I mean, we’d like nothing better than to see that, but Nintendo themselves largely gave up on the 3DS and all its features years ago. It’s a nice thought though!

Pocket Card Jockey
Official image, from the Mobygames site

Also from Reynolds, good news: Pocket Card Jockey is getting a new edition! And they call it Game Freak’s secret best game! Yes, sweet vendication! And to think they gave its 3DS incarnation a “solid” 7 out of 10 at its release. But wait, there’s also bad news: it’s not coming to the Switch! It’s an exclusive release for Apple Arcade! Seems pretty boneheaded to me, but I don’t have an internal skeleton so what do I know?

While we’re on the subject of folk with heads of bone, Chris Moyse at Destructoid tells us that, in one of the most ridiculous decisions within memory, Square-Enix is doubling down on blockchain support in their games.

Mega Man Battle Network
Image from Mobygames

We love it when we can link to an article outside our usual stable, so here’s an article originally published in Japanese on Rockman Unity, translated into English and presented on Rockman Corner, an interview with the director of Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection about its upcoming release. Those games don’t get nearly the love they’re due, and it’s nice to see them given another chance to shine. Particularly, we’re told that the link cable battle play of the original games has been replaced with online matchmaking!

And to continue the upbeat tone at the end of our post this week, an article on Vice from Emanuel Maiberg about the formation of the biggest union in the US games industry!

Romhack Thursday: Super Mario Bros. Tweaked

On Romhack Thursdays, we bring you interesting finds from the world of game modifications.

The 2D Super Mario Bros. games illustrate pretty well how game design tastes were changing through the NES era. Super Mario Bros. and Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 still follow an arcade-like paradigm, where players are expected to lose many games before they finally rescue the princess. (Obviously, Vs. Super Mario Bros, being a coin-op game and which was released between those two, adheres to an arcade play ethic out of necessity.)

But Super Mario Bros. 2 is more of an adventure, where a skilled player might finish it on their first try, and an experienced Mario master can amass so many extra lives in Super Mario Bros. 3, as soon as World 1-2, as to make finishing it on the first attempt quite possible. Then when we move into Super Mario World we have outright game saving, and the fear of the Game Over screen recedes almost completely. That is the structure that all the later Mario games have followed, where losing progress is fairly unlikely.

I am not here to claim that this is a bad thing, and of course, even Super Mario Bros. offers to let the player continue on the world they lost on with the use of a code. But the code is still a secret, and while it isn’t a bad thing, it is a different thing. Super Mario Bros. with the copious extra lives and rule changes of later games, would be much a different experience to play through, even if all the levels are unchanged.

The romhack Super Mario Bros. Tweaked, created by Ribiveer, makes those changes. The worlds are exactly the same, but many subtle aspects of SMB have been brought into line with its sequels. Here is a list:

• Starmen count the number of enemies you defeat while invincible, increasing scoring, and if you get enough you start earning extra lives. This change alone will earn you tons of extra lives.

• Extra lives over 10 are displayed correctly on the level start screen, and are limited to 99. Mario’s state on the start screen is properly updated based on his powerup state.

• If you hold the jump button down while stomping on an enemy, you get extra height. This happens in Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 as well, of course.

• Consecutive stomps and enemies defeated by shells and Starmen increase the pitch of the enemy defeat noise as points increase, as they do in Super Mario World and later 2D Mario games.

• Taking a hit while Fiery Mario reduces you to Super status. Also, if you make a Fire Flower appear, then take a hit before collecting it and get reduced to Small Mario, collecting the Flower still advances you to Fiery state.

• Reaching the top of a flagpole awards you not points but an extra life.

• Invisible extra life blocks aren’t disabled if you failed to collect enough coins in the previous world’s third level, as explained in our previous post.

• Collecting a powerup in midair no longer ends your jump.

• The conditional scroll stop at the end of 1-2 and 4-2, which is broken in the unmodified game, work now, making it much harder to reach the famous Minus World. It’s still possible to reach it; the patch author promises a surprise if you do.

Some of these changes mean that players get a lot more extra lives, greatly decreasing the game’s difficulty. Consider that now, 38 years after the game’s release, far fewer play Super Mario Bros. than they used to. Someone might dust off their old NES some time, or play it on Virtual Console or through Nintendo Online on Switch, or emulate it by some other means.

But most people now who play SMB are probably people who are at least very good at it: streamers and speedrunners. People who don’t need the game to be made any easier. A patch like this might open Super Mario Bros. up to people who always thought it was too difficult, though.

It does feel a touch fairer, without that expectation that players will lose over and over. If you always found the first Super Mario game too challenging, give this hack a try. The challenges are pretty much the same, but you’ll have quite a few more chances to learn to overcome them.

You can now binge on extra lives as easily as you can in later games
You don’t have to trigger the game’s secret condition to make extra life blocks appear
Oh almost forgot, some of the Cheep Cheeps are green now

Super Mario Bros. Tweaked, by Ribiveer (romhacking.net)

Animal Crossing New Horizons (Lack Of Recent) Updates

This is a bit of an expansion over a couple of Mastodon posts I made yesterday. (On what account? Here!)

Animal Crossing New Horizons was an amazing hit for Nintendo. It hit right at the start of the pandemic, and so quickly became the second best-selling game on the system.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? 27 million copies. Super Mario Odyssey? 23 million copies. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? 29 million copies. These are all very high sales figures. Nintendo has made bank during the Switch era.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons? 40 million units sold. That’s over 2.4 billion dollars in gross revenue, and not even counting Nintendo Online subscriptions and the paid DLC! The only Switch game to surpass it has been Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which has sold 47 million units.

You’d think a game like that would have a long support life, but you’d be wrong. Three years in and it’s been over a year since the last meaningful update. Nintendo has largely abandoned the audience of the most popular Animal Crossing game ever made, by a huge margin.

Why is this so strange? Most games don’t update after a couple of years, after all. There are games that have made a go of a long-lived, if no perpetual, update cycle. Team Fortress 2 famously went on for like a decade of frequent updates, and while Valve has cooled on it since it still sees a lot of play. Stardew Valley is still updated from time to time, and it’s an indie game, although one with a very low overhead.

Animal Crossing, however, has, from the beginning, been a form of gaming that almost demands to be played for a significant period of time. People have played the Gamecube version for many years, keeping their island alive through decades of real time.

Before consoles could connect to the internet, of course, they couldn’t even be updated. But with the introduction of the internet a lot of options became available. The possibilities for a game-as-service approach to Animal Crossing have been great and, in large part, unexplored.

Image from Animal Crossing Wiki
Image from Nookipedia

The thing that really made this all visible is the New Year’s Arch item. The first year the game was released, they made available an archway, made of balloons, with the number 2021 set at the top of it. Then for 2022 they made another version of it, but notably, it didn’t involve hardly any new geometry; it was just the 2021 arch with different colors, and a 2 in place of the 1. It looked almost a if it had been auto-generated, like maybe the game itself had support to make arches programmatically. The item’s catalog description, which was identical for both arches, is even careful not to mention the year on the model: “An arch bearing the Gregorian calendar’s number for the new year.” Why be so elliptical about it if it wasn’t intended to be reused many times?

Behold them in their generic splendor

But no, that wasn’t the case. 2023 saw no new arch at all. The first two arches now stand out in the inventory as a stark reminder of that brief window of time when New Horizons saw active support. Ten years from now, people who come back to the game, or (heaven help them/us) never left it will still see only those two arches, mementos of the time when the game was new. It’s not like a new arch would be a huge addition: there’s obviously already a content pipeline that can be used to add new items fairly easily, and a 2023 arch made along the lines of the 2022 one would probably be about five minutes of work.

No one expects Nintendo to add new features indefinitely, or always for free, but the lack of a new arch, the lowest-effort update imaginable, makes it clear that absolutely no additions will be coming to the game, probably ever, not even extremely minor things like updated yearly items. ACNH updates were something that Nintendo could have comfortably milked for years. It’s not like we aren’t already paying them for online server access.

Animal Crossing is not like other games, but Nintendo doesn’t seem to realize that, has never really understood what the series is about. The archway is just another example. And it doesn’t make a fan of series want to buy any new versions if they know they’re going to be supported only for a brief period of the game’s lifetime.

Romhack Thursday: Super Mario World Coin Chaos

“We scour the Earth web for indie, retro, and niche gaming news so you don’t have to, drebnar!” – your faithful reporter

You could consider the act of creating a romhack to, itself, have difficulty levels.

The easiest kind of hack to make, usually, is the simple graphic hack. Most game engines don’t really care what its characters look like, it just tells the hardware where in memory to get the data to display the game objects. If you only change the graphics, the rest of the program is none the wiser. That’s why there were so many dumb visual hacks in the early days of romhacking.

Up one level of difficulty is the level edit. These can be pretty hard if unaided, but many games these days have bespoke map editors. Many classic-era games don’t store their area data internally as tilemaps, meaning it’s not quite true that you can change game levels to just anything, and many of these programs are not simple to learn or use, but it beats finding and editing pointers directly out of the game’s binary code.

A fairly difficult thing to do is to modify the game’s engine itself. Platformer engines are complex mechanisms, especially back in the days when they had to be highly optimized in order to leave time in each frame for other necessary game logic. Many Game Genie codes modify engine operation, but many of those same codes make the game glitchy and prone to crash. Especially if the modifications involve the creation of additional game states, that not only must interface with the rest of the game’s code without breaking things, but must also have room found for them inside a typically crowded game program.

Super Mario World Coin Chaos, by Jp32, doesn’t change the engine much, but makes them count. A few of them:

  • Mario has unlimited lives, which isn’t an uncommon change for a hack like this.
  • Mario’s health isn’t determined by his powerup state. 1Up Mushrooms have been repurposes to add a hit point, up to five. Powerups affect his abilities but don’t give him any extra hits.
  • Fire Flowers grant a limited number of fireball shots. One level, Frozen, starts Mario out with them, and offer additional shots.
  • While underwater, holding down Y allows rapid swimming, as if Mario were holding an item.
  • The level Automatic is an autoscroller, but with a twist: Mario doesn’t have free travel throughout the screen, but moves forward automatically at walking speed.
  • The level Climb grants Mario a wall jump! Like many game wall jumps, it’s hard to get used to, and requires tricky timing.
  • Yoshi can fly forever, but Mario takes damage as usual while riding him.

The biggest change, though, is that instead of trying to reach a goal, Mario is trying to collect coins by whatever means he can. When he gets his 99th coin the level immediately ends.

In difficulty, the game isn’t Kaizo-hard, but it heats up rapidly. The first level is about as hard as a later Super Mario World level, and it gets tougher from there. There are two tracks of levels and the player can progress along either, but both are pretty tricky. I’ve gotten about two-thirds the way through so far, so if there’s any objectionable content after that point, well, mea culpa.

The variety of themes and how they affect the 99-coin objective make this a hack not to miss. It’s not very long in number of levels, but there’s a lot of challenge here waiting for you. Good luck!

SMW Coin Chaos (by Jp32)

Romhack Thursday: Zelda Ancient Dungeon

On Romhack Thursdays, we bring you interesting finds from the world of game modifications.

In the world of romhacks, the term “Ancient Dungeon” has a specific meaning.

Way back in the SNES days, there was the cult favorite JRPG Lufia and the Fortress of Doom, a.k.a. Estpolis Denki. While overloaded, and most agreed harmed, by its ludicrous encounter rate, it had a good number of interesting innovations. It had an end-of-game stat report and a kind of New Game Plus mode, called “Try Again,” which reset players to base level but increased player experience and gold earned by four times. It had hidden Dragon Eggs throughout the world that could be collected and redeemed for special advantages near the end of the game, whereupon they would be scattered throughout the game, and refound, for more advantages. The game also had “Forfeit Island,” a place full of shops where every item the player characters ever sold throughout the game would make their way, and could be re-purchased.

Its prequel, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, had even more play innovations, including visible monsters and a Zelda-like system of items that could be put to various uses on the exploration screen. Another thing Lufia II expanded on was the first game’s “Ancient Cave,” which was a dungeon that only a single character could enter. It didn’t take up a large portion of the original game, but Lufia II expanded it greatly, turning it into its own alternate game mode, that could be accessed from the main menu after completing the game.

Probably inspired by the Mystery Dungeon games, this version of the Ancient Cave was a 100-level randomized dungeon that reset players to Level 1 and no equipment when they began. It’s a completely optional challenge in that game, but many players found it highly interesting.

In romhack circles, an “Ancient Dungeon” is a game that completely tears apart its original game and turns it into a randomized play experience like Lufia II’s Ancient Cave. A similar implementation is Mega Man 9 and 10’s “Endless Mode,” which has also been recreated in romhacks for other Mega Man games.

Most Ancient Dungeon hacks are for JRPGs, but now we have one for Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda, and you might find it worth checking out.

The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Dungeon takes its name literally, in that the whole game is just one dungeon. There are no overworld screens. Each room contains a number of enemies, sometimes easy, sometimes hard, sometimes few, sometimes many, and sometimes a boss. They still drop items when you kill them, so you can build up lost health if you’re careful.

The creator of the hack managed to include the overworld enemies in the dungeon rooms, and also include monsters who are not ordinarily found in the same dungeon in the same room, by dynamically loading monster graphics during room transitions. That’s a pretty decent technical trick!

The layout of the dungeon is completely random. Monsters are chosen dynamically as you go. Many Ancient Dungeon hacks are actually computer programs that do the random generation themselves, and write that layout to the rom, so if you play the same version multiple times you’ll get the same dungeon each time, but that does not happen here.

The game shuts the doors out of each room until all the enemies inside have been defeated. Sometimes when you clear a room, a random item will be left. Once in a while this will be one of the game’s major items, like a Sword or the Ladder. You often get Heart Containers or other major items from beating bosses. There are also rooms where an old man offers to sell you another item using the rupees that you find along the way.

This Ancient Dungeon hack doesn’t map logically. Often you’ll enter a room with one exit, which will lead to a different room than it was when you were there before. This doesn’t mean your choice of exit is completely meaningless though. You’ll still enter the next room out of the opposite side of the screen as you left the last room, which can be important if you’re expecting a boss in the next room.

One thing about this hack is that it ramps up pretty slowly. When Link has full hearts he can shoot his sword, which can make quick work of many screens of enemies. If you take even half a heart of damage, though, you’ll go to only short-ranged attacks until you can build it back up. Getting far demands a lot more care than normal Zelda. You might find Water of Life as you go, which you may have to make a difficult choice as to whether to use it quickly and get your sword back, or save it for when the monsters get tough.

In my first test play I mostly ruled at it. I’ve played a ton of Legend of Zelda over the years, and I even managed to-carefully-destroy a three-headed Gleeok with just five hearts, a Wooden Sword and a Blue Ring. But I still lost, on Room 155, when I was unexpected thrust into a room with three blue Darknuts and three blue Wizzrobes, not a pleasant sight when you only have those five hearts and Blue Ring.

The hack does not allow for saving your progress, and unless you cheat by using savestates you lose everything you’ve done when Link gets his ticket punched. 155 rooms is a long way to go to only have five hearts to show for your progress.

I don’t know if I’ll try it again. Zelda’s dungeon rooms sure get monotonous after awhile. It could use a lot more variety in graphics, and its colors don’t even change throughout all those rooms. But this hack was released very recently, and I look forward to seeing what creator arnpoly does with it in the future!

Youtuber LackAttack24 did a successful hour-long play of this hack, if you’d rather watch than try it yourself:

The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Dungeon, by arnpoly (romhacking.net)