I finally beat it after a day, but I spent a few more days finding all of the secrets in the normal mode of the game. They really don't do as much for me as I'd like, but it was still quite a challenge.
I can pretty much get through the last stage every time now that I've played it through, though the end boss still gives me some trouble. Lets just say that "The Leader's" fate is true to the fate of Master D in the original, possibly even worse.
A pretty fun game, overall.