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Questionable Hackjam 2024 was a contest held by SMWCentral where people collaborated to build interesting, silly and otherwise unconventional hacks. This is my judging sheet in order of play.

Age of Luigi by DanMario24YT, Dark Prince and SubconsciousEye

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This feels like a collab hack. Not a hack where y'all sat down, defined core values and made design docs. More like you invited the dudes over and hacked all weekend and this is the result. And that isn't a bad thing! Gives it a rawer feel.

Because of the relative shortness, and how the levels don't really build on to make a cohesive experience, I'ma write a little about some of them.

Honestly, this might have been my favorite level in the hack. Really silly premise, but it worked out so well. Nice of you to give a quick reset, but would've been funnier if you didn't.

The secret exit was a really cool idea, but didn't really add anything to the hack. Would love to see that trick used again in another hack. Maybe with a hint about it in a later level like JUMP's Bastion in Blue. Could be cool.

After Ball 'n' Chain Torture, a nice cool down. The bouncy gimmicks actually work pretty well together and it's a fun, but kinda short level. The reset doors are prolly not necessary, but were a bit welcome after getting slapped with trout.

The Boos uses all the weird blocks and comes across as clever and charming. Really liked this one.

Climactic autoscroller. I'm not a huge fan of the musket, but it works. First half felt very focused, but the second half with the multiple paths kinda worked more for me.

Having six Boom Booms in the same room is still kinda funny.

Luigi wins by doing nothing is legit hilarious. Perfectly played anti-climax.

Long story short, I think y'all needed more testing. There's a lot of rough edges here, but there's also some good ideas and fun setups. But yeah, more testing.

Reverie by Fyre150 and Abdu

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For starters, this is a puzzle game and I love puzzles.

It's hard to write about why I enjoyed this without spoiling specific puzzles or revealing specific mysteries. Like, how do you really get into the meat of Myst or Fez without spoiling it for other people? How do you really convince someone it's worth their time to go in search of mysteries when you can't show them any of them to start?

Frankly, I just wanna tell you, the reader, to go and play this. Stop reading and just game. If you have any love of puzzles, you'll have a blast. The way everything just fits together at the end is a thing of beauty, and it's left me wanting more. You two did a fantastic job!

A Helping Hand by NewPointless and schema_tuna

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This is a fantastic experience. Was described to us judges as "keep talking and Mario don't explode", and it's honestly better than that. Thanks to pal and stream guest Squiggles, we were able to play the hack as it was intended while being in the same room. Squiggles played on a monitor while facing the couch, and I was on the couch facing Squiggles playing on the projector'd wall. It was a good setup.

Anyway, I was a bit worried that the levels would be kinda samey after the first castle, but y'all figured out clever ways to divide information and force communication. Cave of Occasional Complete Darkness is probably the strongest example. Alternating stripes of darkness with level was kinda brilliant, even if I was confounded by the number of thwomps.

Parallel park's convergence gimmick was fantastic too. And it capped off with a pretty solid, but thematic, Boos. Well done! Was a joy to play, at least from the Mario side.

As our Luigi, here's what Squiggles thought:

It's straightforward enough and having different gimmicks for each level was nice. I particularly liked Cave of Occasional Complete Darkness as it required more than simple data gathering.

Also, I learned that X and Y do the same thing.

Thanks, Squiggles!

Super Mario World Random Revolution X by Anonimzwx, Klonoz, Masterlink, Maxodex and MetalYoshi94

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This is one impressive boss fight. One long impressive boss fight.

Honestly, I'm not sure this one was for me. The first phase was pretty easy. eases you into the basic wait for ammo drops and throw them into the machine loop. The second phase ups the ante with a more deadly machine and more deadly machine gunner mooks. Then there's the first phase. Two fast very heavily armed dudes (Knife Guy and Gun Guy) just blitz you. Just one of these bosses would be a worthy challenge, but keeping track of both is really difficult. For the longest time, I assumed I could only do damage with fire flower shots, just because of the Metal Slug style run-and-gun philosophy, only realizing near the end of the stream that bounces do, in fact, do damage. There's not much feedback there, unless you land of one of them as they cross a redness threshold.

I have been informed after the fact that spinjumping is the key to the whole thing and makes the fight a lot more reasonable, so that's on me to some extent for not experimenting, but still. It's not really in the spirit of run-and-gun. I kinda stand by it. May try it again later with this knowledge.

Mario Goes to Buy Soft Tacos by Donut, Nyako, bebn legg and E-man38

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QLDC the Hack. This isn't a bad thing! Almost any of these levels would be a strong contender for "placing well"--whatever that means--in QLDC. I don't think "new addmusic ^o^" was putting your best foot forward, but dang did it pick up. There's a lot of fun weirdness here. The "hydration" mechanic, mutating overworlds, and even a brief trip to hell! Gunna call out a few levels here:

Sometimes, the simplest ideas are still pretty funny. Nice take on a classic story.

Never played a level less threatening, but more nerve wracking. It's a technological marvel that I never want to see again.

This gimmick is so good I'm not even going to spoil it here. Absolutely hilarious once I figured it out.

As an ad enjoyer, I have to say this is the Superbowl of levels...which is to say that the ads are way better than the gameplay. Well executed!

Another devilishly simple gimmick, but oh so mean. A worthwhile finale to the hack.

The ending is kinda anti-climatic, but felt almost appropriate. Really well done all around.

BEET JAM by Ahrion, StayAtHomeStegosaurus, SolveForX, NerDose and janklorde

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First first level left me confused about what this hack was, though it was pleasant to hear a good port of Bananaphone. The second level hit me in the face with your theme. I expected DDR when I heard this was a rhythm game, and this is so much more interesting. It's a cool gimmick and y'all found a lot of good ways to keep it fresh. Gravity inversion and jumping in time were probably my favorites. Gabber's slammers left me kinda cold, but there's only one good gabber song anyway.

The boss was a fantastic capstone on the whole thing. Really clever interpretation of the contest's theme. Definitely a hack I'd recommend.

Anyway, here's a picture of the Mountain Dew jam that I own cause my father has an odd sense of humor.

BOXMAN TANO and the Quest for the VIP Pass ~ A Hack by Team JANK With Extra Steps by Anorakun, Daizo Dee Von, Hwailaluta, Mischievous Marc and yogui

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Dear lord, this one's huge. Sometimes hackers go above and beyond the call of duty, and this is one such entry. If you'd split it into three entries, they'd've probably done fairly well, but it wouldn't've been Boxman Tano.

Anyway, this is another of the QLDC the Hack styled entries. Loads of cool levels individually, along with a hint of plot and some very bizarre goings on. Going to call out a few levels

Giving every SMW the chance to move just like the Megaman 2 speedrunners is kinda a fascinating idea. The fact that it works so well even with the SMW engine fighting it the whole way through each wall zip is even more amazing. It also broke my death overlay/counter, so enjoy your inflated numbers, Big Jack Horner.

I usually like the jumps cost coins gimmick, but this takes it to a whole new level of horse armor. Every single button press costing lives, and then even charging two extra on the retry screen if you use the A button is hilarious, but underneath that silliness there's a clever optimization puzzle hiding. Of all of Normal Face's levels, this is the one that's gunna stick with me.

Vertical levels are generally interesting things. You can go up and down. Maybe explore a little bit on the sides...but not here. Having a block spawn underneath Boxman's feet everytime you jump was a simple, but very effective call by Choucroute garnie. Finding enough interesting setups for two exits honestly made me love this level more.

Never played Dracula X, but if it's anything like this level, I really need to. Remaking levels from memory is a fun gimmick in general, but trying to do it from a different game into SMW takes a level of dedication that Holy Zantetsuken demonstrated with aplomb. Lots of interesting setups here. Do love shorter, but challenging sections. It's a good meta. But it could just be a shitposty name. Either way. Cool level.

After the last boss, this was a nice cooldown. I'd almost call this level Characteristic of Pac-Man's Ghost, but that'd be downplaying it. It's a cool puzzly level with some tightish platforming, but it all comes together somehow. Also, seriously, what other madman would attach the the whole of layer 2 to the third egg? The first egg, sure. Second: maybe, but never the third! Only Pac-Man's Ghost would choose the third.

The last boss is a bit rough. Would've been nice with a little less health and a little less scroll crush bug, but things happen. It's still a fantastic entry and I hope they do expand upon it sometime. Wouldn't mind seeing Boxman again.

Also, since I forgot to mention it earlier, the overworld is also something really unique. Another good reason to check out the hack.

Random Access Memoby by Alex, snoruntpyro, Lazy and Mellonpizza

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Honestly, this is a hat on a hat. Long levels that mutate randomly? Cool idea. Messing with Mario's physics every death? Also a cool idea. Both together...ehh. Chocolate in my peanut butter it ain't.

I get that you're trying to do an Art thing here. The Yoshi's House messages definitely make that clear. There's an audience for Getting Over It Core or whatever that masochistic game genre is called, but asking judges to complete this may have been a bridge too far.

As for the levels they were aesthetically pleasing. Music choices were nice. Kinda shocked you guys didn't go for slightly randomizing palettes, given the theme. I'd say if there's any level I'm tempted to go back and try to beat legit, it's prolly PUNCTURED TUNNEL. Well, maybe get the midway.

Basically, this felt like playing Mario if you have Alzheimer's. If you ever release a version where you can turn the physics off, I'd be willing to give it another shot. There's definitely something here, but the combo just makes it too inaccessible for anyone other than the complete sickos who love this kinda thing.

Cavern Collectathon by MegaMarioMan9, Runic, MarioFanGamer, Wolfram and Segment1Zone2

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Man, this one bums me out. I love metroidvanias and the occasional collectathon. You can see a lot of cool concepts if you poke around--shout out to Seg for poking directions--but it's just like a bag of puzzle pieces. You can kinda see how it would've fit together, but it's nowhere near complete. Hope y'all keep working on this. I definitely want to play a more complete version.

Just a shame we're two for two on kinda collectathon style hacks for Hackjam.