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You know, ever since hearing about them I'd always wondered if World 9 in the Lost Levels was real or a myth. I knew the Minus World in the original SMB was real, for certain definitions of "real" (it's not actually programmed into the game, more of an interesting glitch that happens when a pointer redirects you somewhere that doesn't exist), but I'd never actually seen any evidence of the mythical World 9, only reachable when you complete the entire game without warps. (I've never even finished the game; I repeatedly got stuck on 8-4, so I've never been able to do this myself.)

Anyway... it turns out they really do exist, along with some other interesting things I didn't know about. (I know it is bizarre to be saying this, but there are spoilers for the Lost Levels behind that link. If you intend to play the levels, whether by savestate or hack or whatever, don't go look at that link; it's an illustrated guide, and the levels look really nifty, and it'll spoil it for you.) The guide in itself is very nostalgia-provoking; it's all laid out with panoramic strip-screenshots of the levels, the way some of the old SMB guides I had used to. And... yeah. It's just weird and kind of nostalgic in general, just knowing something concrete about one of the things I always wondered in childhood.


( 13hp damage — Attack! )
Mar. 8th, 2008 03:28 am (UTC)
Wow, I've never even heard of world 9 before this post! Pretty nifty stuff. Do you mind if I post about this on 4 color rebellion?

The Lost Levels were hard in general! I did manage to beat it, but only with friends. The original SMB was a breeze -- LL came close to soul-crushing at times!
Mar. 8th, 2008 03:33 am (UTC)
Go for it! Just drop me a link to whatever you post there, as I'd like to see the post. :)

I just... could not get past 8-4, even with friends and the near-infinite patience of youth. And save files, too. I mean, we were doing this on Allstars and it actually let you save after each level (a testimony to the game's being so hard; SMB on Allstars only kept saves at the beginning of each world). Never have done to this day. And these days, I don't know if I could even get back up to that point again.
Mar. 8th, 2008 06:41 am (UTC)
Coolies, thanks! I'm getting one of the guys to look it over, but once I see it up I'll send you the link. Feel free to let me know if there's anything you'd like me to edit, too. :)

I played it on All-Stars as well, which was crazy! I, too, abused the endless lives and mid-level saves in Lost Levels. I'm sure someone on YouTube has beaten the game in one sitting, but it's Ikaruga-type hard: impossible unless you're inhuman and have memorized everything!
Mar. 8th, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC)
Yay, thank you! That's awesome. (And I had no idea you worked for such an xbox hueg gaming blog, incidentally. O_o)
Mar. 8th, 2008 12:42 pm (UTC)
Is it weird that I almost got teary-eyed when I saw those screens of World 9? It just kinda... got to me, somehow.

I don't know what it is, but things like that just strike a chord. Of course, I grew up on Mario, which is partially it, I'm sure... but there's just something special about secret worlds that can only be reached by absolute dedication, patience and skill.

And then rewarded with quirky layouts and secret little messages, like the game is speaking, itself, and saying "You made it. You're the elite. You earned this... Feel proud."

I'm not sure I'm making any sense. I know I'd never be able to do it myself; I suck at gaming. Yet just seeing it there... it almost makes me feel guilty, like I shouldn't see it because I haven't earned it. But I know that just seeing an image on the screen is nothing compared to what I'd feel if I accomplished it myself and got to see those levels first hand.

Such a strange feeling of nostalgia and wonder ^^; That was true gaming, back then. It shouldn't feel as poignant as this... it's 'just a game' after all. But eh, sometimes little things just make the hairs on my arm stand on end like that.
Mar. 8th, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's weird at all. You know how much these things mean to me, after all.

I think for us, the feeling of nostalgia and wonder perhaps comes from the fact that these were the first "otherworlds" we ever explored. In those heady days when we were just forming our conceptions of what the world was like, when everything was hot summers and blue skies and berry-flavoured popsicles, these were the worlds we were entering into... and they were new and fascinating and became part of our internal mythologies. Became almost religions to us, in a sense. For some of us they're still the most potent religion we have.

And seeing something from way back then and knowing suddenly that there was more to it... brings it all back, that sense of discovery and awe, how big of a deal it was to us to uncover each new world and see each new level design. And having the game tell you "I wanted people to come here, but only a few could actually make it. Well done." does sort of make you feel... embraced by the game world, like you've done something really special.

So yeah, I totally get it, and it does make me feel a little that way, myself.
Mar. 9th, 2008 11:05 pm (UTC)
I think one of the things I enjoyed the most about Secret of Mana was its unpredictable glitchiness; more than any other game I've ever played, that ROM (which I mean in the physical sense as much as anything) had a mind of its own; there were "hidden worlds," and items (such as a useless "Blat" item that you could never exhaust, always took up a slot in your inventory, cost exactly 1,206GP, did nothing if you used it, but stole the sprite and eliminated the use of whatever item was supposed to be in object 0), and even conversations "this is ... village!" that you could run into once and maybe never again...and after a while, you wonder if it really happened or if you just made it up. But almost everyone has run into some bizarre bug in SoM, sometimes annoyingly fatal to the game save, other times just strange, occasionally very cool. The process for acquiring the Mana Sword was also the coolest bug/easter egg I've ever seen, to date. There's still argument as to whether that was built into the game, or not. In my interpretation, it was a little different--the bug was a reality, even in the Mana Universe, itself. To acquire the Mana Sword, the Mana Knight had to take Flammie to Neko's hideout in the Crystal Forest, where Neko would give him the "secret" of the Mana Sowrd--resetting the world from this one spot. Like the ground that Neko stood on was the center of the world. When the universe reset, the Mana Knight would find himself back at the beginning of his journey, and then, somehow, once he had the last orb, he HAD to remember to reset the universe again inside the den of the mantis ant. Somehow, that would bring him back to this one place, with the orb that did not, in this reality alone, exist.

But if he failed to remember, or if he remembered too late, the world he knew, all the people he'd met, all the things he'd done, would be obliterated--if you remember, trying to go back to the Neko save before you'd reset the dummy save would corrupt it irreparably--and he'd have to start all over, relive all the hardships he'd suffered, and who knows if he'd be able to do it twice?

Things like that gave life to games, for me...
Mar. 10th, 2008 02:52 am (UTC)
I... wow. I did not, in fact, know about the fact that you could get the Mana Sword, nor that it required such a convoluted glitch to achieve. But, just, wow. I totally agree that constructing your own deep meanings out of odd, shaky, broken, not-quite-sense-making bits of games... it allows you to own them more, in a sense. The point where the game ends and you building your own stronger, more meaningful, more coherent interpretations of things within that framework begins... like you said, that's when the game comes to life, because you're not just passively appreciating the story any more, you're a participant in its creation. And interactivity of videogames or no, that's a vital part of making a story work for you, I think.

In any case, that was a beautiful story, and I'll probably be a little haunted by that when I next play the game.
Mar. 10th, 2008 09:18 am (UTC)

Look at trick 002. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for PAL. But there's always emulators (I've tried it on ZSNES, it does work).

The...simple _execution_ of the trick is, in itself, chilling in a way I can't describe. Doesn't matter how many times I do it, I'm acutely aware that I'm doing something _dangerous_ that could wreck my entire game (and therefore the entire story).

And if you fail...well, I'll only say that the result is simple, and empty, and horrifying.

Edited at 2008-03-10 09:19 am (UTC)
Mar. 10th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
The whole idea is quite compelling - the ideas that there's more to Neko than meets the eye, that he could be the guardian of these sorts of secrets, that there could be this one spot, looking identical to any other spot but somehow hallowed, in which performing certain actions alters the very fabric of the world. Like the little weaknesses, little breaches in the veil, that we've always wanted to find walking around this world - the idea that if you just did something, said a word, made a gesture, did some kind of action at that precise spot, where you feel that tingling in your bones and your breath sort of catches, you'd be able to do something transformative.

And I think I do know what you mean about the chilling aspect of it all. It's the game world brought, more than it ever has been before, under your complete and direct influence. The game isn't handholding you any more as to the limits of your power to affect it. You are taking that power into your own hands, completely, outside the limits that you were expected to operate within - and it's up to you to remember the precise way to restore the world. It's precarious.

Glitches make me feel a little chilled anyway, like I'm ripping apart the fabric of the world, exposing things that weren't meant to be seen; I never felt quite the same way about Link's Adventure on the Game Boy after I'd played it using glitches to cheat. You find bizarre rooms, people switch their appearances around, there are malformed, messed-up hybrids of people... it's like you've distorted reality, warped it, and you can fix things just by leaving and coming back (so maybe it's more like travelling through reality on a slightly different plane, or at a different angle), but travelling around that way is... addictive, even after you've seen the horrors of what you've done. So I think I'd appreciate the effect.

Also, regarding a different glitch on that page, Some say they have walked far enough to see Charon's Ferry. That is... fairly creepy, considering who and what he and the ferry are named for. Walking through the dark, until you find that... could you even dare ask to be taken across the sea of stars?

Also, I'm curious about those "hidden worlds" you mentioned in your first comment... I'd never heard of those, either. It makes me feel like the world of Mana is much more expansive than I'd previously known, and especially given how much I loved that game and how disappointing the later ones were, that's quite a breathtaking thought.
Mar. 10th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
The thing about Charon's Ferry is true--I have encountered that, myself. Keep walking toward the northeast, you'll find it.

The other one that I've encountered that no one else seems to, is what I just call "..." village. I accidentally landed in the middle of some trees in the Crystal Forest while messing around on Flammie. I tried to get out and was taken to the next screen. There I found some severely discolored crystal trees and an endless path with a walrus dude in it. If you talked to him, he simply said "this is ... village!" You could run to the end of the path, but if you tried to leave the screen from that direction, the game would lock up. I never got to try, but calling Flammie or going back to the previous screen probably would have put me back someplace normal.
Mar. 10th, 2008 09:18 am (UTC)
(which is to say, I highly recommend trying it sometime)
( 13hp damage — Attack! )


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