So far, Super Mario RPG Revolution seems to have to closest thing to what I'm looking for. But not quite.
I'm looking for something that cranks up the difficulty to kaizo levels and FORCES you to use everything at your disposal to beat the game.
Bob-omb mafia makes the game easier because of how you can grind against the carrots and purchase flower cases to instantly max out your FP. The last thing this game needed was LESS challenge.
Most "challenges" in this game effectively revolve around intentionally and arbitrarily handicapping yourself, such as using only one character for all battles, or not fighting any battles that aren't needed to progress the plot.
But even then, the challenge goes away once you figure out how to do it, due to the turn-based nature of the battles. For example, in the aforementioned "no optional battles" challenge, I know how to beat the Hammer Bros. at level one; all I have to do is jump on each of them once, then punch one to kill it, and use the last of my FP to jump on and subsequently kill the second, "valored up" one. Boom ... done. There's no "challenge" once I know what to do. I'm just going through the motions, just like a vanilla run.
I'd like to see a romhack that makes the game harder, even if I use everything at my disposal. Attack items ... Toadstool's healing ... Bowser's "terrorize" and "poison gas" techniques. I'd like to be forced to use Mallow in some cases, since some enemies will have really have defense but be weak to shock. Of course, I wouldn't know which ones those were my first time playing; that's basically what I'm trying to rekindle - my childhood memories of playing this game for the first time and trying to figure out what I need to do!
And I'd like to get rid of the OP items. This is the biggest part of my request that Revolution doesn't yet meet.
In vanilla, if I just slap the lazy shell and safety ring on Toadstool, she's indestructible. Use her to heal the other two fighters, and then, even against Culex and his crystals (let alone normal enemies), it quickly becomes a matter of "how long will it take to kill these guys," rather than "what will it take to kill these guys?"
Other examples of OP items include ... the Kerokerocola ... the Rock Candy ... the amulet ... and red essence. The attack scarf and super suit can stay, since getting them is so difficult that they are deserving of their OP status. Same thing with the Quartz Charm (as long as beating Culex is actually difficult, by stripping me of access to the lazy shell and safety ring as mentioned above).
No all-encompassing accessories, either. Each accessory can prevent ONE status ailment. The safety ring is the biggest offender, here, but there are plenty of other OP items that prevent instant death and/or all status ailments. I should have to use Psychopath on an enemy to find its weakness, then let them kill me, back back to my last save point, and equip the accessory that prevents whatever their status ailment is.
On the same vein, how about some accessories that increase the strength of my elemental attacks, or items that can be used to weaken enemies to certain elements? Make me be strategic with my equipment and inventory!
Give the enemies some higher stats to make it harder for me to beat them. With maybe the exception of goombas, every enemy in the game should be juiced up, and should also have their resistances and weaknesses shuffled around (in order to make me have to figure out their patterns all over again), as long as it's still lore friendly (e.g. keep the spikey enemies' immunity to jump, and keep the koopas' weakness to jump). Make a simple fight against a K-9 and two Frog-ogs feel like the equivalent of a vanilla boss fight, and make my first croco battle make me come out of that battle nearly completely deprived of mushrooms, syrups, and able juices. Make me have to USE that Pick Me Up the store manager gave me before I went to bandit's way!
Speaking of the store manager, make money valuable! Make me have to farm for frog coins, and make it so that I'll actually NEED 999 coins in order to stock up on essential supplies such as Mid Mushrooms upgrade my weapons and armor. In vanilla, my first trip to the Mushroom Kingdom store was the ONLY time in the game where money felt even remotely tight. Mostly because I'm just stocking up on maple syrups I'll almost never use (because as long as I have FP, invincible Peach can just use therapy, group hug, and come back; who needs mushrooms, pick me ups, or able juices).
And speaking of items, my next point: No more cure-alls. Syrups restore FP, and mushrooms restore HP. Fine. But able juice and Freshen Up can cure any status ailment. Why not make me have to buy different items for different status ailments? Antivenom for poison; coffee for sleep, beer for fear (since alcohol is sometimes referred to as "liquid courage") and so on. Make me have to manage my precious 29-slot inventory! If you insist on still having Able Juice and Freshen Up, make them expensive and/or rare, in order to make them deserving of their "cure all" status. Meanwhile, therapy and group hug should be exclusively HP-restoration spells, not status curing.
I could go on for hours, but I think you get the idea. Make Mario RPG grow up along with the audience who played it when it was new! Make me feel a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment, when I beat Smithy for the 9,001st time!
Any suggestions of downloads I can do?