The latest version, Beta 9, can be found here. Additionally, a set of community-made bugfixes can be found here. Being an unofficial release, the game was not distributed as standalone executable files, but rather game files of the framework, LÖVE, specifically version 0.9.2.
Special Edition boasts many new features over 1.6 that give map creators far more control over their levels. While some of them may be harder to learn and master than other mods and versions, SE remains the most powerful version of the game.
The most notable of such are the changes in Enemy format, now using .json files, allowing creators to make Custom Enemies. Mappack creators may also override stock enemies, especially Bullet Bills, Powerups, and Cheep Cheeps, which have special Entities to spawn them. Poison Mushrooms were also added as a vanilla enemy.
Additionally, there were many changes in the Mappack format. Firstly, creators can now take advantage of far more worlds, and levels in those worlds, totaling to ten octillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) individual levels. Additionally, levels can now be extended vertically as well as horizontally, with a new menu for changing the size in any direction.
Changes have been made to Tiles, as well. A host of new Properties have been added, such as grates that portal shots can pass through, platforms that the player can jump onto from below, and water that the player can swim in. Tiles can also be animated, all running on the same timer, with properties being set individually each frame. Coins have also been changed to allow them to be placed on top of other tiles, so they can be placed above background tiles.
Most of the game's graphics can now be overridden on a per-mappack basis, allowing mappers to create Custom Graphics, furthering visual cohesion. Previously unchangeable graphics, like Coins and Coinblocks, Doors, or even Bowser himself, can now be fully customized. This also extends to the new entities, as well.
There were many additions to player customization, as well. Custom Hats can be created, allowing players even more customization options. Even that barely holds a candle to the biggest addition: Custom Characters. Full character sprites can be made, allowing for ultimate player customization, especially when used with Custom Hats.
Many new Entities have been added. In addition to Adhesion Gel, new Logic Gates like AND and OR, Coinblock-like switches called Action Blocks, Panels that can toggle between portalable and non-portalable, and Scaffolds that act as toggleable Platforms have all been added, as well as a few others that deal with other additions.
Another major addition is Animations, scripted sequences with all sorts of functions and purposes. They can be used for various cutscene behaviors, like dialogues, camera pans, screen shakes, and player movements, as well as directly loading levels without using the likes of Flagpoles, Axes, or Warp Pipes.
Nine betas of Special Edition were released in total.
Beta 1 Edit
The first release of Special Edition adds most of the new features listed above. Also included is the Example Mappack.
Beta 2 Edit
Fixes many bugs gameplay-related bugs from the first release.
Beta 3 Edit
Only fixes two bugs, including a visual bug with crashing.
Beta 4 Edit
The fourth beta fixes custom tile support, as well as some editor and gameplay-related bugs. One of the goals of this release was to fix the SMB mappack and make it 100% clearable.
Beta 5 Edit
Fixes a few bugs with the editor and animated tiles.
Beta 6 Edit
Beta 7 (codename "fix") Edit
Fixes a number of gameplay bugs. Beta 7 is often preferred as one of the more stable versions of SE.
Beta 8 (codename "asdas") Edit
This beta was initially released to a closed beta group on the forum. In addition to fixing a number of bugs, it also adds the RS Flip-Flop entity.
Beta 9 (codename "enemies") Edit
The ninth and final official release adds a number of new features:
- Mappacks now use a new format, breaking compatibility with mappacks made for older versions. As a result, all of the new mappacks listed above were removed. It is possible to restore SE mappacks made for older versions by replacing several delimiters in the level file using a text editor.
- The map select screen in the editor is all new. However, it is no longer possible to add new levels in the game itself.
- The Animation Trigger entity now accepts any input, instead of only having an attached region trigger.
- Region Triggers can now check for players, enemies, or both.
- A new condition for animations: "Require Coins."
- Alesan99 added several new custom enemy options.
- All in addition to the usual gameplay-related bug fixes.
However, this version added so many editor-related bugs that it is generally considered unusable without some sort of mod.
All of the released versions of Special Edition are still very much in a beta state, and are difficult to use without a thorough knowledge of their individual quirks. Luckily, several modders have attempted to flesh out these betas with new fixes or features. Here are a few of the most popular alternatives to SE:
A community mod maintained by HugoBDesigner that aims to fix the bugs in Beta 9. It is generally considered the most stable version of SE, and the closest thing to a new official update, with only a handful of new features that would break compatibility with vanilla Beta 9. It is also the only version to add Alesan99's latest update for custom enemies (made after Beta 9 was released).
A mod by Hatninja that adds a bunch of new features, including new gates and animations, as well as backwards compatibility for mappacks from earlier betas. Also has new gameplay enhancements and plenty of bug fixes.
While technically a mod of 1.6 (and completely incompatible with SE), this mod has far eclipsed SE in terms of features. There are even packaged executables, so no more fiddling with different Löve versions. The main downside to using this mod instead of SE is the lack of custom enemies.