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The Comic Book Hacks of ‘Super Mario Bros.’

If the release of Exploding Rabbit’s amazing “Super Mario Crossover” reminded us of one thing, it’s that the comic community’s love of retro 8-bit action is still thriving thanks not only to nostalgia, but also a classic gaming design that resonates well past its perceived technological expiration date.

With that enthusiasm in mind, we’ve taken a look at a few comic book franchises that have affectionately made their way into the unofficial fabric of “Super Mario Bros.,” thanks to the hacktacular practice of video game modding. While we certainly won’t condone pirating games in an official capacity, customizing sprites within SMB to look like The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Transformers and even the American Elf himself, James Kochalka, is the kind of enthusiastic artistry that any comic book fan can get behind.

After the jump, check out a selection of SMB hacks with comic book origins. Some will amaze, others will simply amuse, but all will leave you with a deeper appreciation of Nintendo’s flagship 1985 title.
Juggernaut

Before “X3″ effectively slayed Juggernaut’s profane YouTube celebrity, it was all anyone could do to stop chuckling at his online antics. This SMB/”Marvel Vs. Capcom” hack demonstrates Juggy’s glory days rather well, making for a nice glimpse back at 2005.
American Elf

James Kochalka’s enthusiastic hack of SMB resulted in a game that feels very much like a natural extension of his comic book work. His forte for 8-bit action has even resulted in a “Digital Elf” chiptunes album and an upcoming “Glorkian Warrior” video game. Those successes aside, it’s great to see one of his earliest playable video game efforts.
Spider-Man

While not a strict SMB hack, this MUGEN powered scuffle is an example of fan ingenuity pitting comic book royalty against the Mushroom Kingdom’s greatest champion. It’d be nice to one day see Spidey or other Marvel heroes hit the side-scrolling world of SMB, but this will do for now.
The Dark Knight

“Cat Bros.” is not a Batman hack of SMB, but rather one enterprising fan’s bombastic (if sometimes jarring) mod that renders the game just Dark Knightish enough to be cute. It’s not poetry, but for a mod of a mod, it’s worth a chuckle.
Super Autobot Bros./Super Dinobot Bros.

Takara/Hasbro’s robots in disguise may not have debuted in comics, but their history with the medium over the decades gives them plenty of cred – enough, even, for two SMB hacks. The first, “Super Autobot Bros,” seems to star Bumblebee in both vehicle and robot modes as he navigates a Cybertron-like landscape in search of Optimus Prime.

“Super Dinobot Bros,” however, hacks SMB2. They’re not direct sequels as far as anyone can tell, but the evolution of the gameplay is a welcome treat for the hack-inclined. Grimlock and/or Snarl, Swoop, Slag and Sludge look pretty fly in the game, with the modded scenery putting off an appropriately jungly vibe that pulls the whole hack together. SMB2 fans will also appreciate the irony of “Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic” getting yet another redeco after being made famous by its Mario skin. Or maybe just thinking about it will ignite a debate about the true SMB2 and how “The Lost Levels” port just wasn’t good enough. I’d rather just take my mind off the argument with a little “Super Mario Bros. 3.”
Super Ninja Turtles Bros.

A fully-rendered TMNT hack, “Super Ninja Turtles Bros.” has a lot going for it. Coins redecoed as pizzas, goombas stylized like mousers – there’s plenty to love for Turtles fans. Sure, it’d be nice if the TMNT music had been grafted into the game, but given the bevy of official Turtles titles, this hack stands as a decent novelty.

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