Best Original Super Mario Bros. ROM Hacks Worth Checking Out

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Fans that played the early Mario adventures are always on the lookout for new releases, remasters, and compilations to get them back into those classic games once again.

But the original Super Mario Bros. came out in 1985. And there are only so many times you can play through its eight worlds before they start feeling a bit too familiar – even if it’s your #1 favorite game of all time.

So if you can’t bring yourself to leave SMB behind, but need a little more variety, ROM hacks are the way to go.


10. Super Mario Bros: Peach Edition

Super Mario Bros. Peach Edition ROM Hack

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Fans of Mario’s often-kidnapped love interest had to wait until Super Princess Peach (2006) on the Nintendo DS for a girls-only adventure.

If only ROM hacking had been a thing back in the NES days.

This simple modification does little in the way of adding new levels or anything of the sort. Instead, it replaces Mario and Luigi for their royal counterparts: Peach and Daisy.

All sprites were made from scratch following SMB’s classic aesthetic, and they look awesome.

These princesses look like they were born to run up those goal flags!

And this hack is also fantastic for any fans of the brunette Princess of Sarasaland. The poor girl has gotten so little screen-time lately, it’s not even funny.


9. Super Mario Bros: Time & Place

Super Mario Bros: Time & Place ROM Screenshot

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SMB: Time & Place was inspired by the indie platformer Braid – specifically, the Time & Place section of the game.

In this hack, the movement of enemies (and everything else around you) depends on how fast Mario moves.

If he stands still, so does the rest of the world.

It’s more of a proof of concept than a full-fledged new adventure. But it’s still 100% worth your time.

Get it?


8. Kirby’s Adventure 2

SMB1 ROM Hack / Kirby’s Adventure 2

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If you’re a fan of the original Kirby’s Adventure, you’ll find a lot to like in this fan-made sequel running on Super Mario Bros.’s engine.

Kirby doesn’t have his copy ability in this new adventure.

But he’s not powerless against the nightmares plaguing this land of dreams.

You can use the Dream Halo to protect yourself, and upgrade it with collectible Dream Shards to produce Dream Fire and burn enemies to a crisp.

Featuring 12 levels, the game isn’t too long. But it looks and sounds just like a Kirby game should – enough to make you forget Kirby is missing his signature ability.

And this is one of the better Kirby hacks for NES.


7. Two-Player Hack

Two-Player Hack For SMB1

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The original Super Mario Bros. featured a “multiplayer” mode.

But it was more like a built-in turn system – hardly an authentic co-op adventure.

This Two-Player Hack seeks to give SMB a true multiplayer mode.

Once applied, you and a friend can make your way through World 1-1 and beyond, both at the same time.

It’s a dream come true for many people who grew up passing the controller back and forth with their siblings and friends. So this hack provides a fun, if highly chaotic, multiplayer experience.


6. SMB Special for NES

SMB Special for NES ROM Hack

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One of the most obscure games in Mario’s long history is SMB Special, developed by Hudson Soft and released for the Japanese PC8801 way back in 1986.

This genius ROM hack brings the famously tricky levels of the original SMB Special to the NES, with a couple of changes to make it more palatable to modern audiences. These changes include smooth scrolling rather than static screens, and some brighter colors too.

It’s not 100% historically accurate.

But it’s still a great way to approach a piece of gaming history.


5. Luigi’s Chronicles

Luigi’s Chronicles NES Hack

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Luigi’s Chronicles follows the taller Mario bro on his own 8-bit adventure.

It only took Mario disappearing (and a host of ghostly apparitions taking over the Mushroom Kingdom) for this green plumber to crawl out from under the shadow of his illustrious brother.

The levels here are creative and challenging, so they’ll keep you busy.

But the best part of this ROM hack is definitely the music.

It’s eerie, gloomy, and profoundly disturbing.

You wouldn’t think SMB could be this creepy.


4. Super Mario Bros: The Forgotten Worlds

Super Mario Bros: The Forgotten Worlds NES Hack

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This (unofficial) sequel to Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels isn’t quite as difficult as its inspiration.

But it’ll still present a fair challenge to anyone but the most skilled platforming experts.

Still, it’s not the difficulty that earns The Forgotten Worlds a place on our list.

The game is filled to the brim with creativity and fresh ideas you won’t find anywhere else.

It takes elements from the base game, such as hidden blocks and climbable ropes, and imbues them with new life by finding surprising alternative uses for them.

It’s also a visual treat to feast your eyes on.

And crazy enough, it’s only four Worlds long. But each of them has its own appealing style.


3. New Mario Bros. Hack

New Mario Bros. Hack NES Screenshot

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Not to be confused with New Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS, this excellent hack brings 20 new levels spread across five new and unique worlds, all in the original SMB1 style.

Some stages feel like taking a (dangerous) stroll through a warm Mushroom Kingdom afternoon. And the underground areas are much brighter and colorful than the eerie catacombs from the original.

Yet it still feels very similar to the vanilla SMB.

Each course in this hack actually feels a bit like an obstacle course, and the difficulty keeps increasing steadily level-to-level, without ever overwhelming your average player.

Now I’ll admit that it doesn’t do anything too crazy to the base formula.

But if what you’re looking for are more levels for your favorite game, this is the way to go.


2. Extra Mario Bros.

Extra Mario Bros Hack Screenshot

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SMB hacking has advanced a lot throughout the years.

Still, this 2005 classic remains relevant thanks to its creative blend of this seminal Mario game, with cool ideas (and even resources) from the original Metroid.

The most noticeable new mechanic here is the need to backtrack to past levels after collecting upgrades that open up new areas for exploration.

Each of the game’s five worlds feel like a small maze. And it’s easy to get lost if you’re not careful.

With new maps, graphics, enemies, power-ups, and a fantastic final boss, this hack is one of the most unusual yet fulfilling SMB experiences around.


1. Super Mario Unlimited Deluxe

Super Mario Unlimited Deluxe ROM Hack

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The absolute best SMB ROM hack really has to be Super Mario Unlimited Deluxe.

It’s a complete overhaul of the classic NES game that feels like an entirely new game.

This hack brings us a whopping 41 new levels full of new ideas, renewed visuals, and an entirely new custom soundtrack.

There are new play mechanics too, like super-jumping off enemies by holding down A at the right time. Plus some new power-ups, like a stopwatch that freezes enemies for a little bit of time.

As if this wasn’t enough, the hack even includes a strategy guide to help you clear the most challenging obstacles and acquire all 32 secret Mario coins (and unlock secrets!)

That’s what I call attention to detail.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.