Hello little lights, I am trying to streamline my content a bit.. focussing on anime , games and even pokémon things that might seem odd or straight up bizarre. The Princess of weird.. after all that always facinates me.. on this hunt to get a bit more focus, due to limited energy.. I encountered something very strange. A Rom-Hack unlike any others.. Join me as I play … Mario’s Mystery Meat!
I am aware that the journey I was about to take would take me deep into VineSauce Lore… and I have no idea about what that entails. I assume I will move trough some very specific memes that I might not get.. but I don’t even know what VineSauce is.. all I know is they apparently have a lot of custom Mario lore. A very skillful rom hacker named Enimus decided to turn this all into a game that is more or less cohesive. Do keep in mind though that I have no idea who these characters are, I am here for the rollercoaster of weirdness that awaits me and that will be my perspective. So please don’t yell at me for describing a character as that “duck thing” ….because let me tell you there are a LOT of “things” in this game! It all starts with what Mario brother you play. Care to take a guess? It’s not Mario.. so the title is a bit deceptive.. Of course you are not Luigi either, you play the orange brother…. Sponge.
Mario and Luigi love spaghetti but what is spaghetti without a lot of meat. Unfortunately Mario and Luigi are always too busy to save the world to get the meat for their spaghetti so they delegated this to their third brother.. the outcast one. Sponge is a chronically depressed man who never really goes on adventures but just on trips to the butcher shop. However on a normal meat run.. suddenly a giant worm thing shows up , to the sound of a PlayStation One starting up. Sponge jumps in his mouth and gets transported to a strange new world.. where has to save Princess Bleach for himself.. from the evil Will Smith and get meat for Mario and Luigi by killing the giant worm. Unlike classical Mario adventures this all happens in a seemingly seamless 2d world. Though the word world would imply this is a cohesive mesh.. but I am not full sure about that! Let’s dive into this adventure.
Virtual Boy… for Real Men (and Women)
Mario’s Mystery Meat, is a Rom Hack for Super Mario World, which means it can be played on an emulator or put on a fan cartridge if you find the right guy! But it is a very special romhack, that features many different forms of Gameplay! We are introduced to Sponge in a very classical Super Mario World level.. but very much in hte style of how a stage randomiser rom hack works. Elongated sections of blocks and sped up enemies immediately will show you, this Rom Hack won’t be easy. Clearing the stage will send you to a twisted Dimension and the Playstation theme boots up.. the worm thing shows upand you jump in it’s mouth. The map we got promised from the beginning is gone.. there is just one stage.. called Meat!
I am filled with confidence that I can handle whatever this game will throw at me.. and it begins with the drop in a pit! Bart Simpson pig shows up.. Peter Griffin with a mushroom cap hat.. a guy cosplayed like Simon Belmont.. and a Luigi shouting NUT! Then I fall even deeper and land back to the 2d stages… a Duck man tells me he hates me.. a duck tells me his dad is mean and so are his brothers. To the right a series of Piranha plants block my path.. so I have to go left where a Chozo statue gives me my first power up! Crying!
Crying is Sponge’s variant of the fire flower, but instead of throwing fire from his hands he throws water from his eyes if he hits something that can be hurt by his tears it turns into coins… like Piranha flowers! I move on and get faced with an onslaught of ducks and I mean an onslaught! So much that there has been a variant of this rom where the number of enemies was turned down to a more reasonable amount…but I played the regular difficulty version, although later admittedly with save states to save me from some checkpoint tedium. It is a stage that is somewhere of a 6th to 8th world difficulty in Super Mario Standards. It is tricky for sure but very doable! I find the letter B and take it with me.. it has to be here for some reason right? I die a few time and can not activate the letter B no matter how hard I try.. so I take it with me across the entire stage.. until I encounter a bird tomb! Which of course is missing a letter B! I place the letter and get access to a new location!
There is some lore to be found in this next room but also a duck that is made out of five duck heads.. all of them a character from Animal Crossing, they , he, it, gives me a quiz mostly about ducks! I struggle with this quiz because I am not aware of VineSauce lore but luckily there is no penalty for failure other than starting the quiz over, as a bonus question I have to answer who is fatter Ringo Star.. or Mr Dink.. I chose Ringo .. because why not! Eventually I pass the quiz and the duck lets me pass a sarcophagus.
I now am in a tomb.. filled with ducks! But everything is shown in Virtual Boy graphic style, black and red with huge scanlines and pieces of picture missing. I have to jump on huge pigeons who are reskinned Montey moles.. dodge evil glowey eyed pigeons and skeletal ducks! .. I wonder of this will be all ducks and immediately after. While the screen is still kind of red.. it’s not a virtual boy anymore… a strange eerie clown melody is playing.. cheerful, almost circuslike. So of course I get chased by Smiley faces! … This stage is HARD! Those smiles can be quite unforgiving! By spinjumping on their heads I can avoid harm.. but they chase me hard! Think .. sun in Mario 3.. but now there is like 7 of them! In batches of 3 and they mad!
The weirdness hardly ends there, I go back to pigeon riding for just a bit .. but when a pigeon takes me into the darkness, I suddenly end up on Howard the ducks head.. it absorbs me… and I fall into a deep pit with no way out! A chime from game Earthbound can be heard after which Sponge hears the voice of god! He will help Sponge.. by pissing all over him. This game can be quite infantile at times, with an AWFUL lot of piss jokes! I am not sure if it is is god’s piss but the next series of stages or sections are swimming levels that get increasingly weird. The one that is the least weird has pink blocks with cute little piggies depicted on them launch pigs with lady legs swimming real fast and torpedoes like you. It is a very pink stage.. despite potentially being set in god’s urine so I did really like it. This stage feels by far the fairest in term of difficulty. Just be careful and you will get by just fine. For the second bout of swimming we now are in a very spacy environment.. besides the pigs, there are UFOs and aliens as well. It is super colourful and cute.. so once again I like it… obviously by taking a warp pipe… we would end up in a restaurant.. because that makes sense.
I am then quickly attacked by Ringo Starr. Had I told the five headed duck from earlier I thought Mr Dink was the fattest, he would have been in the restaurant instead. So from moments like these it is really shown that this game pushes rom-hacking to the limit. The fight is completely in Earthbound RPG style as well, so not only does the game now have branching paths based on choices you made.. it also features elements from other games! Something you don’t often see in Rom Hacks which is incredibly ingenious and only further contributes to the fever dream that is this game. Ringo is defeated by crying in front of him and then giving him 1 cent.. he got what he came for and he wishes me love and peace.. as he fades into thing air. In Earthbound style Sponge Levels up and learns Crying B.. a power that now makes sure he can cry with whatever power up he is using..even when tiny! Cool! But leveling up made Sponge hungry and on the table is a plate of spaghetti that Ringo left untouched…. of course that plate of spaghetti is the next stage……
The Spaghetti stage is where things start to become a bit tedious, as it combines elements of Donkey Kong Country , with classic mario elements.. but also elements from later mario games that weren’t even used yet.. So we got Dk’s spinning barrels, now rebranded as shoes, typical mario moving platforms , now shaped like Pizza’s and the bouncy donuts from later mario games, in a almost sonic style maze, with multiple paths to take. Not all jumps are doable it seems but across the stage you find several pools, that offer certain upgrades. Liquid Bread bloats you up like a balloon, while CBT oil makes you jump higher but more slippery, Tears make the world seem darker and Pee.. makes you curl up into a ball and shortens your jumping range. I avoided reading what was in the white pool.. and i did not jump in it either.. I did not trust them!
Regardless, in this stage I used save states a few times, as we get a lot of “jump chaining” where you have to do 12 incredibly hard and specifically timed jumps in sequence and a fail on any one will reset you to the beginning. When a lot of enemies are on screen the game can slow down a bit.. which makes precision jumping that much harder. The enemies you encounter here are pirate knives, ..which is a kitchen knife with a pirate costume, a teletubby throwing meatballs and a frog spitting bath toys at you. Oh and weaponised pizza’s! The stage ands in a fight against an evil sausage.
Go to Hell Will Smith!
After Sponge finishes the sausage he finds the meat he was looking for and it seems my quest is over.. but the game glitches and I now have play a kids games.. Pick the Triangle.. says a kids voice.. so I pick a triangle. Select the sun.. the kid voices tells me while I can select either a sun or a moon! Then a Mario yelling piss, shows up and a picture of Jay Leno.. with the assignment to pick the opposite of funny! Since I assume this game thinks piss is funny… I pick Jay Leno and it is the right answer. Next random letters show up.. when I click on one the kid begins to count how many letters there are… there are 6! Six!, SIX! The kid tells me he will send me to hell and soon Sponge finds himself trapped in Hell.. I get consumed by hellfire on a auto running stage and just as I get ready to repeat this ad infinium, I find myself in an alien village that worships Hatsune Miku, the worm and Will Smith. The aliens seem rather violent minded but also to lazy to act on it. In a bit of an adventure style, I can talk to all sorts of villagers to find out what item to use to get to the right place. To advance the story.
The goal was to find Yoshi.. but he refuses Sponge because he is just a depressed crybaby, the only way Sponge can prove himself to Yoshi is in Gladiatorial combat against the aliens, which unfortunatly doesn’t use any different gameplay and just uses classic Mario gameplay, with a lot of hammer brothers to fight! Overall this is all fairly doable but after this the game becomes obnoxiously hard. After getting the approval of Yoshi we have to move through another glitched style setting, trying to raise the creature up to his big form and reach the end of the stage with him. Rough edges are shown here because it is SOOOOO easy to lose Yoshi and there are puzzles to solve that can cause Yoshi to just fall through the floor and you have to start all over again. And all over this time means.. track back a stage or two to get Yoshi back. It’s more annoying than it is hard…. but we are still at Megaman 2 difficulties herre.. not the boss stages yet.. but the trickier regular stages. If we make it through this stage we get an air combat stage that really is just the level of another game.. but the final boss has been replaced by two will smith stone heads.. with an enlarged forehead.
That stage I would say is the last one that is truly fun to play! After this the difficulty ramps up so hard that it becomes quite frustrating. The whole sense of being on an adventure also comes to a bit of a halt as things feel even more random.. before the weirdness had a bit of story to it and this to me is where the game derails. In the last stage that features Yoshi , I am dodging Verizon logo’s giant sorcerers and have to use the cape and liquid platforms into enemy jumps to progress. It’s a very specific jumping style that feels so horrible.. like a nail on the chalkboard sensation of platforming. Yoshi gets lasered to death by the Will Smith castle as I answer what I assumed was the last stage.
The first step of the castle however is quite fun! It feels like a great final stage for a Mario game. It is challenging by riding floating blocks.. doding will Smith shaped Twomps.. and Will Smith shaped Lava fish and features an enemy that eats the stage! It offers some interesting jump puzzles… the second part of the castle however… made me almost rage quit. In a vertical autoscroll, race to the top against lava, filled with one block wide precision jumps, fake out twomps and trial of error segments we get a stage that is so blood boiling it almost made me quit! Savestates made this manageable.. but this is on the level of those insanely difficult Mario Maker stages.
A Mysterious Rom Hack
Through the power of artificial checkpoints I do pass this stage, but it has broken me! I notice I do not enjoy the game as much as I did before. With still two more stages to go the game has become a bit of a slog, yet the weirdness continues to drive me! At the end of the Will Smith Stage you find a button to rewind time.. and suddenly we are back in ancient times.. We get a stage that is entirely upside down.. as in.. you stick to the ceiling. This is a very long stage that is filled with random shapes like roman arches etc… I honestly considered flipping my lapttop upside down because I feel like this stage could be really cool, but I could not appreciate it as much because everything is upside down for a very long stage. It is really compelling gameplay wise but there are some rough edges. You have to grab onto vines and only on vines controls are inverted meaning up is down and down is up. It made things a lot harder for me to wrap my mind around.. but that could be just being a bit feeble! What really ruins this stage is the fish!
In this stage , if you wait too long for a jump a fish comes and eats you up, rather than outright killing you it transports you to an alternate dimension of worm things, who sing the Hong Kong 97 loop of I love Beijing Tiananmen. While I love the reference these things are a spawn from hell! While they can be used to skip through parts of the stage they also can catch you in a loop! So besides dying.. you can “soft die” .. the game deciding.. you went to slow.. . you have one chance to not start over at the checkpoint but somewhere in between.
I do really love how weird it is.. but it just feels to punishing again. You can’t be fast, you can’t be slow, you gotta move at just the right pace while dodging unicorn Anime girls heads and Donkey Kong heads.. Mr Dink Blueberry inflations and green things! I have no idea what they were. Why is gravity so weird, why is Sponge Naked.. and how did he get his clothes back at the end of the stage.
The build up to the final boss fight is hidden behind an interesting puzzle! With multiple bad endings and a screen that is so filled with Mario love it makes up for a lot of frustration. I just have accepted that I think this game was made with emulation’s potential in mind.. you have to cheat because I honestly see now way to do it without it! The final Boss battle has a very cool first stage similar to Bowser final Clown Car fight.. I really enjoyed it .. especially since we return to a very black and red stage like how our journey started…. the second stage of this fight though is completely impossible to do in a very legit way! It is just soooo hard. I could barely even cope with safe states. Most other players I have seen this play used rewind functions and they used that to get through! Did I miss a rewind power or was it emulation! I am not sure! For 80% of the game we got an amazing and fascinating adventure but the final 20% is just difficult porn. That isn’t for me.. but it is a very common romhacking thing so I can see a few people get to the end with a very big smile on their face.
A Strange Conclusion
Except for the final stages this really is a great game to give a try, it’s weird, it shows a lot of style, Sponge is quite compelling and the wonderful weirdness does give this game it’s own right to exist. This is a very good meme game, and it really feels like such a trip! I enjoyed the journey.. I just did not enjoy the car trouble I had on the final stretch and the horrible road at whatever strange place I have landed now. If you like challenging Mario games, this might be a bit too weird though and a bit too easy in the beginning. If you like weird games you will probably experience the same as me. You will love the first part and really hate the late game. The game managed difficulty quite well up untill the very end. Even the verizon stage is still kinda fair.. just with an annoying jump! Just the penalty for losing Yoshi is a bit too harsh. It seems this Rom Hack was made for a too specific audience.
Now I do not know the Mario skill of the VineSauce followers or people who made it for someone to stream or something.. I don’t know how VineSauce works or how it works.. I barely know what it is. So perhaps I am missing something and this difficulty serves the purposes I am not aware of. So honestly, this is a weird one.. in all sense of the words. Do I recommend you playing it? I’d say yes… maybe up until you defeat the sausage?! You get the meat and you can see that as the game ending. Up until that point it a super fun game, after that there is still some fun to be had.. but see that more as your “lost levels” Bonus content you can play! The Princess Bleach plot line gets abandoned and the story doesn’t really resolve in any way in the end, so there is no real ending. So just play the game until it stops being fun for you! That is the best way to play this!
Now normally I would end with a nice picture.. but this time I wil lend with the I love Beijing Tiananmen Loop for you to enjoy! Shine on little lights. Oyasumi!