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Modders revamp Super Mario Odyssey on hacked Switch hardware

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Super Mario Odyssey modder TheSunCat takes you through his insanely difficult custom level for the game.Since a simple method for unlocking most Switch hardware was revealed back in March, much of the hacking community has been focused on developing homebrew software/emulators for the system. But a small community of Super Mario Odyssey fans has been using their expanded Switch access to modify the game with new costumes, gameplay features, and even entirely new levels.

The modifications started a few months ago with simple save file edits that let players overflow the game’s coin counter or unlock all the game’s costumes, including some costumes that have yet to be officially released. From there, hackers started to figure out how to make cosmetic edits to in-game files, leading to mods that replace the power moons with old-school power stars or give Mario a Sonic the Hedgehog outfit, for instance.

And why listen to that boring Mario music when you can replace it with “Despacito” (or watch a “Despacito” music video on a screen in Snow Kingdom)? It wasn’t long before the hackers were digging into the game code to modify the way Super Mario Odyssey plays, too. Hacker Simon Aarons created a mod that lets players run with super speed and “moon jump” to otherwise impossible heights.

Others have made mods that let Mario breathe indefinitely underwater or play as Bowser in unintended areas of the game. The most ambitious mods for Super Mario Odyssey, though, involve creating completely new levels for the game using a rudimentary level editor that allows creators to move, alter, and replicate in-game objects. YouTuber TheSunCat seems to have taken the concept the farthest so far, releasing a custom level named “Kaizo Darker Side” that makes the standard game’s hardest challenges look downright easy (here’s another Sun Cat custom level that requires some ridiculously precise long-jumping).

An early community

Building custom levels and cosmetic hacks for Mario games is far from a new concept, of course; Super Mario World level hacks alone have had a thriving Internet subculture for years.

But the process of modifying a Mario title usually starts years after the game is first released–and only with the eventual help of PC-based emulators and patching tools.

The publication of a simple hack for the Switch hardware has short-circuited that process a bit for Super Mario Odyssey, letting a mod scene develop on unemulated versions of the game and on official hardware while the game is still popular on retail shelves. That’s a big difference from the wild world of Breath of the Wild modding, which runs through PC emulation of the Wii U version of the game.

The closest analogy we can think of for this kind of direct, hack-based game modding in the console gaming world is Mario Kart Wii, which saw a community of custom track makers develop shortly after Wii system hacking started to become widespread. The process for modifying Super Mario Odyssey files still isn’t all that user-friendly, and the tools for making the mods aren’t all that robust.

The mod community itself is relatively small for the time being, as well.

Still, we can’t wait to see what else modders are able to add to Mario’s latest adventure (and, perhaps, other Switch games) in the future.

Listing image by Twitter / SimonMKWii

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