Mario has been a platforming mascot for nearly four decades thanks to its constant innovation and ability to bring players joy. However, as Mario has changed to accommodate a wider range of markets, some have sought to revive the game’s status as being “Nintendo hard” by creating their own level plans through tools that allow users to take a game’s ROM and treat it like a box of Lego, building whatever they want out of the parts and tools provided. Despite Nintendo’s release of “Super Mario Maker,” an innovative title that allows players to build their own levels with a drag-and-drop interface, the “Mario hack” community continues to thrive.
2006 saw the establishment of SMW Central, an online community dedicated to ROM hacks of “Super Mario World.” “S.N.N.,” head administrator for SMW Central, remarked that activity in the community surged in 2010. Much of this boom can be attributed to a YouTube video uploaded in 2010 that claimed to have discovered a new power up in Super Mario World through exploits performed within the game. While one user believed the item was made with “Lunar Magic,” a level-editing program; the truth was that this power up, a “laser suit,” was created in a hack by user “KPhoenix.”
The aforementioned Lunar Magic program, designed by “fusoya” and released to the public a decade before Super Mario Maker, uses a drag-and-drop interface similar enough to Super Mario Maker’s that some people believe Nintendo took inspiration from the former in making the latter. One of the recurring events that have kept SMW Central alive in a post-Super Mario Maker world is its “Vanilla Level Design Contest.” The premise of this annual contest, which routinely sees over 100 submissions, is to make the best level possible using only Super Mario World’s base resources. Camaraderie is also fostered through the many collaborative submissions, where two or more level designers will combine their tastes and skills to create something truly special.