Category Archives: Superstar Saga

’00s Mario RPGs’ Item Drops: Weights? Rates? Let me Elucidate…

Random enemy item drops have long been a focus of my Mario-RPG stat-gathering and what-not – there’s just something satisfying about getting extra items or missable equipment when it’s not guaranteed, and I always thought it’d be nice to know the odds.

Well, over time, I’ve gotten proficient enough in memory hacking and assembly to be able to interpret the routines and/or RNG calls responsible for item drops in the first three Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario games (since those are the ones that I’m the most experienced with, and whose systems have widely-accessible emulation), and the ways they represent the possible item drops in data form, and then use that data to determine what items to drop and when, vary wildly from game to game.  Hence, I’ll go into detail in how it works for each of these six games (links to the actual drop data will be at the end of the post).

Paper Mario (64)

This is the Mario RPG I’d been curious about drops for the longest, and somewhat ironically, it took me the longest of these six to find out anything concrete about how item drops are determined; these findings here are the first I’ve gathered on the matter.

Let’s take a look at Pleasant Path Koopa Troopas’ item drop list, since they’re one of the first to be able to drop multiple types of items:

Global Rate Item 1 Weight 1 Item 2 Weight 2
5 Mushroom 3 Koopa Leaf 7

This means that 5%* of battles against enemy sets led by a Koopa Troopa will drop an item, and of those items, Mushrooms and Koopa Leaves appear with frequency 3 and 7, respectively (30% and 70% of the time there is a drop, or 1.5% and 3.5% including the overall drop chance).

* Note: As alluded to in my Power Bounce article, Paper Mario 64’s RNG is weird in that it generates numbers from 0 to N inclusive (ergo, N+1 different values) when called with rand(N), meaning there are a lot of cases where there’s one extra value than intended. This is no exception, so the global drop rate is actually 5 out of 101, and though I haven’t checked, it’s possible that the weights between different items might get slightly messed up as well (probably giving the last item +1 weight, if so).

Also of note, both Paper Mario and Paper Mario: TTYD’s drop tables are assigned by encounter, not by enemy type, so it’s possible I missed a couple more battles where the drop tables are different the ones listed for the enemy type.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

I’ve already gone over this at length in a previous article, but I might as well have it here too for completeness’s sake. While most enemies only have one or two possible drops in PM64 (aside from a few weird ones like Shy Guys that have up to five), a good number of enemies in TTYD have up to five items + three badges that can be dropped.

Here’s a sample drop table (take a guess what enemy’s, at this point):

Item Hold Weight Random-Drop Weight
None 200 300
Super Shroom 10 10
Maple Syrup 0 10
Thunder Bolt 10 10
Point Swap 0 15
Fright Mask 0 10
Happy Flower 0 2
Flower Saver 0 1
Flower Saver P 0 1

Notably, all enemies have the same “None” weights, normal items’ weights are either 5, 10, 15, or 20, and badges’ are 1 or 2.

The hold weights are used to determine whether an enemy will hold an item/badge in battle (or have Ms. Mowz steal an item/badge, if they are holding nothing).  For example, in this case, the enemy will hold a Super Shroom 10/(200+10+10) = 10/220 = 4.54% of the time.

For drops, there are three possible scenarios; the game will either try to drop a held item, a random drop item, or nothing.  The relative probabilities of these cases are as follows:

Held Drop Random Drop No Drop
Normal battle 1 1 2
Normal battle (N Item Hog badges equipped) 1+N 1+N 2
Pit of 100 Trials battle 1 1 3
Pit battle (N Item Hog badges equipped) 1+N 1+N 3

If the held drop case is selected, then one of the items the enemies were holding in battle is dropped at random (items used by enemies are considered, but not ones stolen by Ms. Mowz); if no enemies were holding items, nothing will be dropped.

If the random drop case is selected, a random drop is selected from the front enemy’s random drop column, weighted accordingly.  For example, the chance of a Flower Saver being chosen is 1/(300+10+10+10+15+10+2+1+1) = 1/358.  Given there being such a high weight for no random item, in addition to having to have the random drop case selected in the first place (a 1/3 chance with an Item Hog, or 2/7 with an Item Hog in the Pit of 100 Trials), getting any random drop is pretty rare, especially badge drops.

If the “no drop” case is selected, or neither of the above cases result in a drop, Item Hog has a 40% chance of dropping one of the following items (Dried Shrooms being three times as common).  (* In the Japanese version of TTYD, the chance is 50%, but only if the held drop case was selected.)


Super Paper Mario

Compared to the wealth of complication in TTYD’s system, SPM’s is much more straightforward; essentially the same as the original Paper Mario’s.

Here’s the drop data for a normal Goomba:

Global Drop Rate 4%
Item Name Weight
Dried Shroom 100
Cake Mix 100
Big Egg 100
Honey Jar 100
Shroom Shake 200
Catch Card 50

Pretty straightforward.  Notably, poison-inducing enemies often have 100% global item drop rates (as might be pretty evident when playing the game).  Doesn’t mean you can’t get unlucky in a pinch and get a Catch Card, though.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Unlike the Paper Mario series, M&L games have been pretty consistent about the pools of items enemies have to draw from from the very beginning – at most one standard drop, one rare drop, and every enemy in a battle can independently drop one of its items. Superstar Saga is a bit of an oddball in how it handles those two drops, though.

Here’s Bob-omb’s data, for an example:

Normal Item Weight Rare Item Weight
Nuts 6 Red Pepper 10

Uniquely to the series, only the “normal” item can drop under normal circumstances, and the chance of it dropping is just the normal item’s weight out of 31 (yes, 31; they only had five bits to spare, I guess).  So Bob-ombs drop Nuts about 19.3% of the time.

If you equip the Gameboy Horror SP accessory, then you always receive the Rare Item if the enemy has one, no matter what the weight is (even 0, which does happen; Troopeas in the US version have Super Nuts as a 0-weight Rare Drop).

Swing Bros. Advance is where it gets interesting; here, and only here, are both items treated as weighted item drops.  In Bob-ombs’ case, then, you’ll get Nuts 6/16 (37.5%) of the time, and Red Peppers 10/16 (62.5% of the time).  Note that Woo Beans cannot be stolen in this way, but their weight does contribute (so Tanoombas with their “Woo Bean, 20 / Green Pepper / 10” table only drop Green Peppers a third of the time, and nothing the other two-thirds), and there’s no way to get an item with a 0 weight.

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time / Bowser’s Inside Story

Only recently did I discover how these rates are actually calculated, but it’s consistent between these two games (and possibly later games in the series as well, but I have no experience with their data).

Here’s Shroob Rex’s pair of items:

Normal Item Global Item Rate Rare Item Rare Item Rate
Mix Flower 15 100-Point Pants 15

Until recently I’d been interpreting these as each having a 15% chance, since nothing in Partners in Time had more than a 50 for either (although some enemies in Bowser’s Inside Story did, leading to confusion on my part about enemies whose “rates” summed to over 100, but no further research).

As it turns out, though, the numbers are misleadingly ordered in the data; it turns out this means that Shroob Rexes drop an item 15% of the time, and 15% of those items are 100-Point Pants (thus meaning 12.75% / 2.25% overall rates for the items, respectively).  Equipping the Treasure Badge skips the first check entirely when the enemy is defeated by a Bros. Item, meaning 85% of Rexes drop Mix Flowers, and 15% drop 100-Point Pants.

I don’t offhand know exactly how the Item Gloves work in BIS, but I imagine it might cap some enemies’ global drop rate so as not to get an item every attack from bosses (though notably, likely not Shroobs‘); might be worth looking into in the future.

Item Drop Data Resources:

Paper Mario (64)
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Super Paper Mario (data reverse-engineered / extracted by aldelaro5)

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story

That’s all for this post, stay tuned soon (hopefully) for an in-depth look at evasion badges in Paper Mario: TTYD.  In the meantime, join my Discord server if you have suggestions for other mechanics you’d like to see get a deeper dive, or just want to chat Paper Mario or what-have-you.


Superstar Saga’s Stateside and Overseas Stats – A Side-by-Side Size-up

Well, this post has certainly been entirely too long in coming, and hearing a credible rumor of a potential upcoming remake / port of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for 3DS, this absolutely would be the time to get this out there.

I’ll go ahead and say it; much as I love the first three Paper Mario titles, and have done more than a fair number of playthroughs and mechanics-investigation, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is easily my favorite Mario RPG, hands-down (and the rest of the M&L series doesn’t even come close to that title).  May be to some degree due to nostalgia (even though I’d already played PM64 many times by the point I was introduced to MLSS); there’s certainly nothing like playing through Superstar Saga with a sibling on a GameCube Game Boy Player w/ 2 controllers hooked up.  At any case, I’m a huge fan of its simplicity, the fast-paced action as a contrast to PM64 / TTYD’s nearly chess-like calculated strategy, and its brazenness in throwing the Mario brand’s familiar locales and art style to the breeze, while still throwing in a bunch of nods to its roots (and even some fascinating cut content doing the same with other Nintendo properties at the time!).

All that praise aside, the one thing that stood out to me as subpar about Superstar Saga, even on the earliest playthrough, was that it was hardly the best balanced game.  Items give ridiculous amounts of restoration for a casual player (no one in their right minds will have 120 HP upon reaching Little Fungitown), Mario’s Bros. Attacks dwarf Luigi’s in attack power (even with the Bros. at similar POW), the bosses’ EXP curve is all over the place (Cackletta gives 900 EXP at her first appearance, when the previous boss gives 260 and the next at most 300), and the Mush Badges deal downright ludicrous amounts of extra damage per hit, especially if you’re already good at dodging attacks.  Strangely enough, though, a good chunk of these oddities are absent in the Japanese release of Superstar Saga.  Indeed, despite the North American and Japanese versions being released only a week apart (and having been built only slightly longer apart than that), there are a staggering number of balance differences between the releases (to say nothing of the much-needed Heart Blocks in hard-to-leave areas, and a few welcome user interface upgrades; more on that on TMK’s excellent localization changes article).  Presumably the versions diverged and were developed in parallel earlier than that, but whatever the case, let’s see just how many things were altered…

Enemy Stats

Obviously there’s too many changes to note in plain text here, given that there’s over 100 unique enemy targets in the game, each with a dozen or so salient parameters.  The full sheet of stats can be found at the bottom of the post, alongside the stats for items and such; meanwhile, I’ll note some of the more notable changes here:

  • Beanbean Castle Town enemies got their EXP yields shattered compared to the middling amounts in the US version.  Sharpea and Sworm both yield 2 (whereas the latter used to give 14), and the tougher ones yield 7-14 (rather than 16-20).  In addition, Lakipea got a massive SPEED increase, and Tanoombas’ stats were dramatically increased across the board (in exchange for a 20-coin reward).
  • The EXP curve was smoothed considerably in most areas; notably, Bowser’s Castle enemies all yield from 90-130 EXP (adjusting the outliers 80 for Sniper Bill / 40 for Boo), and several enemies (notably “????”) from Gwarhar Lagoon give considerably less.
  • EXP / coin oddities caused by improperly assigning those stats to different forms / parts of the same enemy / boss were mostly fixed.  De-winged Parabeanies and Paratroopeas give more EXP than in their winged form rather than less, Chomp Bros. no longer drop their wallets alongside their Chomps, Mom Piranha yields coins regardless of her final color, and the boss EXP curve is much saner (Cackletta gives 300 instead of the unintended 300×3, Trunkle 500 instead of 1000-1030, and Wendy and Lemmy’s fakes no longer give that odd 1 coin apiece).
  • The Koopalings’ HP and DEF are a lot more variant, and their EXP climbs steadily from 550 to 850 rather than being a flat 800 apiece.
  • Not stat-related per se, but Cackletta’s final form allows you to get the first turn regardless of SPEED, rather than likely killing you outright if your Bros.’ SPEED are both under (the fairly high value of) 120.
  • Thankfully, for the completionists, Piranha Bean no longer has mutually exclusive one-time item drops (pawning off his rare drop on Ludwig instead).

Item / Equipment Stats

Again, a lot of changes, but these are among the most notable:

  • Non-MAX Item restorations were reduced considerably; Mushrooms and Nuts both restore 25 / 45 / 75 HP, and Syrups restore 20 / 35 / 55 BP.  In exchange, the prices for the MAX items (including 1-Up Supers) and Nuts ballooned considerably.
  • Red / Green Peppers’ effectiveness were halved, from a +50% boost to POW / DEF to only +25%, and sell for only 30 (to 60) coins rather than 50 (to 100).
  • Turn-order affecting clothing was made preposterously more expensive; #1 Trousers and Beanstar Pants (which were for some reason made Mario- and Luigi-exclusive), as well as Peachy Jeans and Scandal Jeans were all put in the slowest-growing STACHE discount group, and their base cost is upward of 1,000 coins apiece (for comparison, nothing was sold for over 600 in the US version).
  • A handful of the later “standard” equipment got bumps in price and stats (i.e. Casual Slacks got boosted from +70 DEF / +20 HP to +70 / +30, and General Badge changed from +45 POW / +15 BP to +55 / +12, in exchange for ~doubled prices).
  • If First Strike was considered broken before, apparently Random G was considered worthless; both Harhall’s and Random Slacks got substantial boosts in stats (+60 HP to +100 HP, +60 DEF to +90 DEF).
  • Finally, Mush Badges got a three-fold and much-needed nerf:
    • The added damage from each Mushroom shrunk from ~0.20 / 0.20 / 0.25 / 0.30 to ~0.08 / 0.10 / 0.12 / 0.20 for each normal / Super / Ultra / Max Mushroom, respectively, for a total possible boost of 48 damage per hit rather than 93, most of which comes from expensive Max Mushrooms.
    • The badges no longer have a base POW stat increase, but nominal increases in BP instead.
    • Their prices roughly doubled (probably could have stood to be higher still, but oh, well).

On the note of STACHE, item discount rates were generally slowed across the board in the JP version, both intrinsically in the discount growth functions, and extrinsically from the Bros. getting less STACHE from level-ups (especially after 40; more on that later).

Here’s a comparison table of how many STACHE points are needed to make each of the six STACHE “discount groups” hit a given buy discount in the US version:

Rate DG 0 DG 1 DG 2 DG 3 DG 4 DG 5
6% 0 20 33 36 52 81
10% 13 22 34 38 55 85
15% 14 23 36 40 57 87
20% 16 30 41 43 59 89
25% 19 32 50 46 61 91
30% 21 35 53 51 63 95
35% 25 37 55 56 73 101
40% 29 40 58 68 80 110
45% 40 47 60 81 84 122
50% 53 57 75 106 103 146

And here are the respective rates in the JP version:

Rate DG 0 DG 1 DG 2 DG 3 DG 4 DG 5
6% 0 22 33 45 55 78
10% 15 24 36 49 57 80
15% 19 27 39 53 60 82
20% 22 33 43 58 62 85
25% 26 39 52 63 65 87
30% 31 42 55 70 78 93
35% 37 45 58 79 82 105
40% 47 55 67 89 91 122
45% 65 73 92 113 116 147
50% 90 98 117 138 141 172

Bros.’ Level Up Progression

Not a lot of huge tweaks here; in the JP games, Mario & Luigi both get a BP boost during the early levels, have slightly higher POW / DEF respectively through the mid levels, and (similar to most successive games in the series) get substantially lower stat gains after level 40.  The EXP required for level-ups wasn’t tweaked at all between versions, notably.

Here’s the sum of the Bros.’ natural level-up stats through levels 10, 40, and 99 in the US version:

Lv. 10 20 15 29 24 34 14
Lv. 40 56 28 96 89 93 91
Lv. 99 86 45 181 166 210 193
Lv. 10 25 18 27 27 22 12
Lv. 40 65 37 85 98 70 85
Lv. 99 98 58 163 185 163 210

and in the JP version:

Lv. 10 20 22 30 24 34 14
Lv. 40 56 35 100 87 93 83
Lv. 99 76 50 152 137 147 144
Lv. 10 25 27 27 28 22 14
Lv. 40 67 46 85 106 70 89
Lv. 99 87 62 137 155 125 149

Attack Power

Since I haven’t as of yet done a post on Superstar Saga‘s battle mechanics, here’s the base damage formula used by solo and Bros. attacks:

Solo attacks:
0.4 * (Attacker POW – 1/2 * Defender DEF) * (attack constant K)

Bros. attacks:
0.4 * (Attacker POW – 1/2 * Defender DEF) * (success constant S) * (attack constant K)

(Enemy attacks are calculated the same way as the Bros.’ solo attacks, with an attack constant of 1.)

As it turns out, all of the solo attacks have the exact same constants between versions, but for the sake of completion, I’ll list the basic attacks’ constants here as well (yes, the Hammer constants do vary based on the type of Hammer!):

Attack Normal (Mario) Lucky (Mario) Normal (Luigi) Lucky (Luigi)
Jump 1.20 2.30 1.00 2.00
Normal Hammer 0.90/1.00/1.10 2.10 1.00/1.15/1.30 2.50
Super Hammer 0.80/1.00/1.20 2.10 0.60/1.13/1.36 2.50
Ultra Hammer 0.80/1.05/1.30 2.10 0.80/1.10/1.40 2.50
Hand 1.15 2.20 1.15 2.20
Counterattack 0.50 0.50
First Strike 0.50 0.50

Most of the Bros. Attacks’ base attack constants and success constants were changed between versions.  Rather than list all of the possible constants for all possible Action Command combinations for all attacks (since there are a lot, and they’re all in the doc at the bottom anyway), I’ll just list the (success constant S) * (attack constant K) products for each attack’s perfectly executed form, and whose POW is responsible for dealing the hit.

Here are those constants for the US version:

Attack S * K (Normal) S * K (Advanced) Attacker
Splash Bros. 3.60 3.17 Mario
Swing Bros. 5.76 (max speed) 5.76 + a marginal amount Luigi (M+L on Advanced)
Chopper Bros. 3.66 (for 10 hits) 4.56 (for 5 hits) Mario
Fire Bros. 2.0 (for 8 hits) 3.60 (for 8 hits) Mario
Bounce Bros. 3.00 1.20 apiece Luigi (both on Advanced)
Knockback Bros. 2.88 4.90 (for 5 hits) Mario
Cyclone Bros. 2.16 (for 5 hits) 2.52 (for 6 hits) Mario
Thunder Bros. 0.60 2.10 Luigi

And here are the constants for the JP version:

Attack S * K (Normal) S * K (Advanced) Attacker
Splash Bros. 2.76 2.64 Mario
Swing Bros. 4.80 (max speed) 4.80 + basically 0 Luigi (M+L on Advanced)
Chopper Bros. 3.48 (for 10 hits) 3.96 (for 5 hits) Mario
Fire Bros. 3.08 (for 8 hits) 3.96 (for 8 hits) Mario
Bounce Bros. 2.94 1.56 apiece Luigi (both on Advanced)
Knockback Bros. 2.40 4.08 (for 5 hits) Mario
Cyclone Bros. 2.31 (for 5 hits) 2.90 (for 6 hits) Mario
Thunder Bros. 1.56 2.86 Luigi

In addition to balancing the attacks, the JP fixed a bug where the fewer Action Commands were landed during Thunder Bros., the stronger the stat-dropping effect would be on its target (presumably due to setting the multiplier directly, rather than subtracting it from 1.0). Here are the (outrageously broken) effect strengths in the US version:

First Command Second Command All Commands
Normal DEF x0.0 DEF x0.12 DEF x0.333
Advanced DEF x0.0 DEF x0.275 POW x0.285

Whereas the JP version only drops stats if all action commands are executed properly (x0.7 DEF for the normal form of the attack, and x0.8 POW for the Advanced).

Lucky Chance

Finally, for one brief bit of trivia, the calculations that go into Lucky hit calculation vary considerably between the US and JP versions of the game. The formula for Lucky calculation is as follows:

luckyChance = clamp(LuckyBase + LuckyMult * playerStache / enemyStache, MinChance, MaxChance)

where the enemy’s STACHE is determined by the average of the Bros.’ natural STACHE stats at its own level, and LuckyBase, LuckyMult, MinChance, and MaxChance are constants that depend on how close the enemy and player levels are (one set for if the levels are within 10% of each other, another for less than 25% apart, and a third for more than 25% apart).

The values for those constants in the US version are as follows:

Level Difference LuckyBase LuckyMult MinChance MaxChance
Within 10% 0% 10% 6% 15%
10-25% Apart 0% 12% 10% 20%
25%+ Apart 0% 6% 4% 10%

and the values for those constants in the JP version:

Level Difference LuckyBase LuckyMult MinChance MaxChance
Within 10% -0.83% 9.17% 6% 22%
10-25% Apart -1.54% 8.46% 10% 30%
25%+ Apart -1.54% 8.46% 4% 15%

In addition, wearing a badge with the “Lucky Attack” effect increases chances of a Lucky hit by a flat 15% after the previous calculations (to a max of 25% in the US version and 40% in the JP).  But in short, the JP version has a higher cap on Lucky chances, but scales more evenly regardless of the level difference.

Also as a side note, I haven’t looked into it particularly deeply, but I suspect the JP version’s formula implementation has the potential to overflow to particularly low Lucky chances if the attacking bro’s STACHE stat is a bit more than 128 (or 128 + a multiple of 256) above the opposing enemy’s. Not likely to occur without a bunch of StarBeans drink farming, at any rate.


Well, that pretty much sums up the stat-based changes between the US and JP releases of Superstar Saga. Given that most of the balance changes in the latter were in my opinion for the better, I’m hoping that the alleged Superstar Saga remake ends up basing its stats off of that version. We’ll have to see, anyway.

You can find a spreadsheet of all the enemy stats, item stats, attack constants, and level-up progressions in both versions of the game here. Fingers crossed that we get a bunch more M&L:SS stuff to look at in an upcoming release!

The History of Mario + Luigi: Superstar Saga+.

If you follow my YouTube channel, “llproductions2006“, you might be familiar with my Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, “Superstar Saga+”. I thought it might be interesting to recount some of the history and logic behind the hack.

For starters, I first found out the extent to which Superstar Saga could be hacked when sometime back in 2009, I saw that two guys from the “Yoshi’s Lighthouse” forums, Salanewt and Charleysdrpepper, had found the “lost sprites” from the scrapped StarBeans Café cutscenes. (If you’re not familiar with these, basically, rather than E. Gadd showing up and giving the Mario Bros. various special items, various other Nintendo characters were supposed to make appearances. Check out The Mushroom Kingdom’s page here for more info.)

It turned out that they had also located a bunch of enemy data, map data, level-up data, and so forth; pretty extensive leads on stuff at the least. After helping them figure out what various bits of data were for a while (Stache Discount Groups for items and the like), I realized there was enough knowledge out there to completely rebalance the stats in the game. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of Superstar Saga and can hardly fault it for anything. However, with some moves (*cough* Chopper Bros.) and equipment (*cough* Mush Badges) being what they are in the original, I can’t deny they needed a fixer-upper.

So in May 2011, having familarized myself with working with the fairly basic Yoshi Magic editor, and having figured out or asked for the locations of a number of other things, I started work on “Superstar Saga+”. Seeing as I was planning on dramatically scaling up the stats and re-working them from the ground up, I gave it a working tagline of “Bigger, Better, BALANCED.” (This got scrapped at literally the last second; those words were supposed to appear on the last three chords in my release video, rather than “Thanks for watching!”.) To make this happen properly was going to be no small task; however, I had a pretty good idea of how to handle it.

The first thing I did was decide the stat distributions at level-ups, so I’d be able to predict Mario and Luigi’s stats fairly accurately at any level, and base the enemy stats around them. I decided that Mario and Luigi would ideally finish the game at level 50, so that anyone that felt like maxing their level would have an easier time doing so. (I also put a cool easter egg in for anyone who bothered to do that; the level-up stats get outrageously high in the 90s, and at level 99, all the stats increase by 99!) All the stats hit about 300-350 at level 50, excepting HP, which is around 400, and BP, which is somewhere around 200. Part of the reason for that massive discrepancy is that I thought originally that the BP cost for attacks couldn’t exceed 10 or 15; as it turns out, this wasn’t the case, but I didn’t find that out until most of the stat selection was complete.  Besides, special points have always been one of the lower stats in the Mario RPGs.  As in the original Superstar Saga, Mario’s POW and STACHE are a fair bit higher, and is SPEED is considerably more so; conversely, Luigi gets a sizable HP advantage, and his BP and DEF are a bit ahead as well. After testing a quick level-to-max with a 65,535-EXP-from-battles code to see how the bonuses would affect the totals (considerably more so than I thought), I wrote out an Excel sheet of expected stats at every level.

With that out of the way, I edited all the not-enemy-stats stuff next. BP costs and Stache Discounts were fairly easy to deal with (and while I was editing Bros. Attack stuff, I tweaked how many Great!’s you needed for Advanced commands, and made Luigi do the Advance! animation on ALL his attacks, not just Chopper Bros.) Item editing wasn’t too difficult either, though I had to drastically re-balance the 1-up Mushrooms; initially I’d decided I wanted not to have any full healers, but my first attempt made the 1-ups far too weak, to the point where Mario often wouldn’t survive a single hit after being revived.  “Max” items were replaced by the Boost Shrooms, which act like weaker forms of the StarBeans drinks, and weaker but purchasable Peppers. Similarly, Nuts were replaced by an additional 1-up Mushroom variety, and Bros. forms of Mushrooms and Syrups. You can’t use these on the overworld, but seeing as they’re fairly expensive per worth in healing, I figured no one would need to. A couple other item tweaks were necessitated, like changing the respective dialogue about receiving them from Monty Moles and such (sadly not the sound effects or pictures; that takes scripting I wasn’t familiar with), and re-ordering what order they appear in shops so the Bros. items and Boost Shrooms appeared last (Ultra Mushrooms are still unique to Little Fungitown, and are actually the highest-healing variety now anyway). I also re-wrote all the item and equipment text, along with their descriptions, using only a handful of snippets the original game’s names and text.  Notably, a couple of equipment slots I didn’t bother using contain items like the “Beta Badge” and “Hacker Slacks”, that have worthless stats and berate whomever used “all item” cheat codes to get them.

On that note, equipment editing was an interesting process; I decided to make the equipment go up to a max of around 100 in the respective stats, and I tried to keep the distribution of the various special statuses about the same as in the original game. The astute player might notice the similarity of the naming scheme for the overalls to that of the original game; Mario’s are always “Pants”, and Luigi’s, “Jeans”. Rather than have a bunch of random enemies having “rare drops” that weren’t even as good as the items in shops when you first encounter them, I decided that only two very powerful items, the Secret Slacks and Secret Badge, could be obtained from normal enemies. These items are obtainable as soon as you get Swing Bros. Advanced, and have high amounts of HP and BP with the DEF- and POW-Up statuses, respectively (if you’re aware of a certain really hard-to-get standard-enemy-dropped badge in the original game, you can get the Secret Badge the same way in SS+). The two flavors of Oho Jee each have their own drop as well, both with terrifically terrible puns in their names. As for the rest of the slots, I made every boss from Mom Piranha afterwards drop a piece of equipment. In particular, the Koopa Kids all give 100-POW/DEF items with the some of the best statuses, and Fawful gives one of the only two badges with the “Mushroom Force” effect (the other is an even more unlikely find). I was especially careful to make it difficult to get these without trying; the 2nd “rare” item drop slot is used for these items at first, but once you can get the Gameboy Horror SP, which gives you the 2nd-slot item guaranteed, it switches to a 1/31-shot 1st-slot item. This does introduce a really slight chance of a random drop, but it’s better than letting people get those rare items the “easy” way. The most elusive piece of equipment is the Piranha Badge, which is the 2nd-slot drop for Piranha Bean.  (Those of you who remember the Piranha Suit should see where this is going.)  This gives you practically infinite use of Bros. Attacks in the late-game, but there’s a catch: you have to get literally ALL 35 Hoo Beans and the vast majority of the Chuckle Beans up through that point in the game (since you need the Game Boy Horror to get the drop, as you fight him as Luigi alone, and can’t use Swing Bros.)

And that transitions into the area of the hack where I probably put the most effort into perfecting, at least as much as enemy stats – item blocks. I wanted to make that Piranha Badge impossible to get if you aren’t willing to put the effort in to search out those Hoo Beans. Thus, I made every visible Hoo Bean block contain something else (usually a Hee Bean), and every “obvious” Chuckle Bean spot contain a Woo Bean instead (excepting the five in the tutorial; those are scripted to always be Chuckle Beans). To make up for the loss of a ton of Hoo Beans, I turned a couple of formerly visible blocks invisible instead, and I replaced a few of the subtler Chuckle Bean spots with Hoo Beans as well; most of those can be seen in my aforementioned release video. (If you’re not familiar with the locations of the original game’s Hoo Bean blocks, check out this video.)  There are indeed only 35 attainable before fighting the Piranha Bean boss; in retrospect, I should have made it 36 in case someone missed the one in the path to Guffawha Ruins, as it can be permanently missed.  In looking at the block data, I was astounded at how many hidden Chuckle Beans I never would have guessed existed. Here’s a picture of some of the more interesting repeat-offending Chuckle Bean locations; if you see a feature like this, there’s a good chance there’s a Chuckle Bean nearby.  In addition to all these bean shenanigans, I changed some items in the blocks so you wouldn’t be getting a bunch of Boost Shrooms from them, and made the coin blocks give a bit more moolah than in the original. In addition, all the item blocks are red, and the Hee Bean blocks green, instead of the usual yellow; the color has nothing to do with who can hit them.

After all these item-y tweaks, which took a far longer time than you would think (or I, for that matter), I finally got to using the Bros.’ level-up data to pinpoint stats for the enemies. After a painstaking round-up of how many times every battle arrangement appears in a single playthrough (this took 10+ hours alone), I was able to set the enemy EXP values to make the Bros. hit level 50 right at the endgame. And they scale so exponentially, you’ll hit almost exactly that even if you fight a bunch of extra enemies or skip a lot of battles (though with the higher enemy stats, that’s not at all advisable anyway). I did curb how much the level EXP requirements increase, though; hitting level 50 gets you about 30% of the way to level 99, rather than about 10% in the original game. Once I had that taken care of, I hand-selected every enemy stat using this ultra-complicated Excel sheet, which I unfortunately seem to have lost since then; I selected HP and DEF to make them take about 4-6 jumps to kill, and POW to do a specific percentage of the Bros.’ HP in damage, assuming the appropriate level (some of the powerful enemies do 30+%, whereas the average falls in the low-20% range; some bosses’ attacks hit around 50%), and I selected appropriate SPEED values to make the desired brother go first, or none at all, based on the type of enemy.  Again, I lost the master sheet that I did most of these calculations with, but these shots should give you some idea of how crazy it was: (1) (2) (3)  A special case I considered was the Gold Beanie; they have a massive 40 HP, you can’t damage them more than 1 health per hit (2 with Great Force), and they’ll absorb elemental damage. To top it off, they solidly one-hit KO you if you mis-time a guard, regardless of your stats. But if you can land a winning blow, they can drop either Boost Shrooms DX, or an ultra-rare piece of equipment that has 100 DEF, and can be sold for an absolutely ludicrous number of coins.

After all this, a test playthrough or two, and a few other minor changes (most notably, the shops and Pipe House play an awesome music track not in the original game), and after a total of probably 150+ hours of work, I released the original version of the hack as an IPS patch in late July 2011, giving myself a virtual pat on the back. However, this original version had a lot of shortcomings. Even ignoring the occasional sound/graphic mismatch due to changed items (which are largely still there in the current version, unfortunately), there were a number of things that went pretty firmly against my “Bigger, Better, BALANCED” promises, and that eluded me on those first couple of playthroughs.

Most notably, and this was more a flaw in the original game than anything, the POW/DEF status effects are game-breaking one way or the other. POW/DEF-Dn renders enemies practically worthless (POW-Dn almost certainly knocks their attack power down to 1), and POW/DEF-Up gave the Bros. way more of a boost than it should. In fact, most of the status effects in the game, equipment-induced or otherwise, were made either too weak or too powerful. Most of these changes were fixed in my most recent patch, version 1.3, and are as follows:

– Firstly, BP was far too strongly affected by the stat-boosting items and level-up bonus wheel, so I increased their values to about on par with the other stats (and bumped up the Bros. Attack costs and Syrup restorations accordingly).
– Poison statuses deal about double the damage they did originally, due to the Bros.’ higher HP values.
– HP Auto-Gain restores 10 HP, and BP Auto-Gain restores 5, rather than the worthless 2 that was low even by the original game’s standards.
– POW/DEF-boosting badges and items had their boosts cut in half
– Most importantly, Thunder Bros.’s POW/DEF-Dn effects were reduced dramatically; it turns out that the original game made enemies’ DEF reduce to 33% of its normal value, and POW to under 30%! I did, however, leave in the effects of a little-known glitch that allows you to drop enemy DEF to 0 (no such luck for POW, thank goodness).

I also have changed a few other aesthetic/playability things since the original build; as a cue from EarthBound’s mega-levelups on multiples of 4, levelups to multiples of 5 have their effects increased substantially (and the rest decreased slightly to average it out). Also, the EXP values of enemies from the halfway point of the game on were increased, since I assumed you’d have the Bonus Ring earlier than I should have when balancing stats, seeing as it’s now the sixth Pin item rather than the second. I also added a 1-up Mushroom or two in the early part of the game, since they’re hard to come by before Hoohoo Mountain.

And that’s pretty much the story; try the patch out if you’re a fan, or just want a slightly less forgiving introduction to the game.