|ENTRY 001 - "Journey" by Thehoundsquad|
|DESIGN||N/A||Disqualified for custom music.|
|ENTRY 002 - "Mario Lost Color" by Whoamme|
|DESIGN||7/10||The enemy placement is great - nearly every enemy serves a purpose and guards its obstacle quite well, apart from the podoboo who really did not jump high enough to be a threat in the second room.|
The use of such room exits such as the door to just lead you in a circle did something to make the reset pipe in the next room feel less forced, while adding to the puzzle feel and the purpose of finding Bowser's escape route.. I felt it was pretty smart.
The walkthrough stones were the same color as non-walkthrough stones, so finding a way out of the first room was confusing the first time through. A slightly higher time limit would compensate well for having to search around some areas to get the right way out.
|APPEAL||7/10||I liked the idea of a greyscale world. The contrast between shades looked right, and it was nice of you to make the layer 2 spike columns cyan so the player was very wary of them. There were a lot of those same cement castle blocks used - the other castle ground could help serve to break up that graphical redundancy well. Overall, the level looked nice.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||10/10||I didn't find anything potentially levelbreaking.|
|FUN||8/10||I liked that there were two paths to the exit - the route that can only be taken when big from the midpoint, and the route with the spike columns that can only be taken while small. I played this level a couple times just to make sure I saw everything, and still had appreciation for the level.|
|TOTAL||32/40||J/N: The level took me a little while to find.|
|ENTRY 003 - "Firestorm Fortress" by patgangster|
|DESIGN||8/10||I liked the placement of such enemies as Bowser Statues, because they often actually followed you over big stretches of area before they could no longer reach you. While enemy attacks were everywhere, it did not feel overpopulated with clusters of enemies, but more strategic placement of Volcano Lotuses and such to be highly effective at guarding platforms and easy to maneuver around if you remember how far the fireballs spread before they fall.|
The addition of items that weren't mandatory to carry, but rewarded you if you did, was a helpful and meaningful touch. You need all the 'shrooms you can get here.
I personally feel that a bit of foresight is needed towards the end if you ever hope to nail that right the first time.
The difficulty curve within the level also felt progressive.
|APPEAL||10/10||The palettes in here were really quite awesome. Although the foreground and background both had a lot of grey, the different hues gave it all a nice balance. The browns also looked great. It really came to life. The fortress also lived up to its name with nearly every enemy being fire-related.|
I feel like a butt for pointing out the one cutoff tile near the third mushroom block, but you won't see really notice it since it's constantly scrolling. x( That alone isn't worth a whole point IMO.
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||Nothing gamebreaking - there was ONE sprite that vanished at the VERY end.|
|FUN||9/10||I'd be surprised if another judge didn't bust a left nut over the difficulty. Oh man. I didn't want to savestate at first but I had to... a lot. I laughed my ass off and got it kicked twenty times over throughout the level. xD|
The part with the spike wall and the Volcano Lotus near the end took a lot of practice and attempts to get and was the first and only time I got somewhat frustrated by the difficult design - the level all in all was short enough that it did not become tedious, even though it was very hard to beat.
|TOTAL||36/40||J/N: Cute overworld level names.|
|ENTRY 004: "Misty Horizon" by Blind Devil|
|DESIGN||9/10||The build has a lot of small off-paths which reward with dragon coins and send you back to the regular path to the end. The paths themselves are very developed with a good balance of structural variety, and a moderate degree of enemy protection. Very straightforward and free of redundancy.|
|APPEAL||10/10||This rice is boss. The combination of tilesets made for nice transitions between areas, and tremendous balance detail -- this was very fleshed out without feeling the least bit cramped. I especially loved the hue blending in the palettes and the desaturated outlines. The sprites were also at home where they were placed with a large variety of them in addition. It had a lot of character.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||Nothing gamebreaking, just a bit of slowdown affliction, most notably here:|
a) Cave segment after midpoint, sporadically throughout.
|FUN||8/10||This level definitely has some replay value for me. The design style is what I like most about it, even though there isn't any specific segment layout-wise I would deem very memorable. It's pure action, it's hard to get lost, there are other things to look out for, but no dead ends deep into a path, and it's not too easy to be enjoyable. :9|
|ENTRY 005: "Bronze Forest" by Doownayr|
|DESIGN||N/A||Disqualified for use of ExGFX|
|ENTRY 006: "Blueberry Way" by Roykirbs|
|DESIGN||7/10||The layout was okay. It was pretty wide-open, but not empty, and there were small alterations to the path near the end of the first room, along with a side room leading to a P-switch that can be used in many areas of the level for different results.|
There were a lot of areas left unguarded that you could just run and jump through.
|APPEAL||7/10||I thought that the saturated blue in the ground was done alright with the cyan grass and bushes and the green hills - the richness kind of reminded me of Kirby Super Star. Some may complain it's too saturated but I think you did a good job with the palettes on the outside. =D The trees broke up the straighter areas of the level quite well and the use of those pillars was cool.|
The castle walls as decor in the cave were a nice touch.
The only issues here are how Mario goes behind the ground when entering a pipe and how the Bullets are behind the foreground when they're first shot out. I personally think the green cave ground in the outside part would also seem better with a solid black outline like the rest of the ground. Some clusters of land seemed kinda blocky too when slopes and other transitions could have connected them in a prettier manner, and some land proportions after you carved them with diagonal walkthrough dirt were a little awkward.
|FUNCTIONALITY||7/10||Eh.. I had to use the P-switch to get to the secret exit and when I did, I needed another one to get the key. I wasn't able to get another P-switch without dismounting the high platform I needed to be on in order to stay within reach, and that's the big hit on design. I assume it's possible if you go through that area twice and use a glitch to carry two P-switches...|
Nothing -truly- gamebreaking since an exit is still reachable.
|FUN||6/10||It was a bit easy for my liking and could've benefitted from some more strategic enemy placement, but the build itself wasn't that boring.|
|ENTRY 007: "Lines and Stuff" by SomeGuy712x|
|DESIGN||10/10||The secret exit path was a pretty long chain puzzle though it had a lot of action-oriented challenge to boot. The line guides are elaborate, and the aspect of selecting your level of difficulty to get the best rewards was well-executed. Each "mode" described stood true to its claims.|
Enemy placement was intelligent, mandating spin jumps over sections of munchers and to reach higher grounds, and testing reflexes and timing in the case of the high-difficulty paths.
This level is a combination of brilliant ideas all over.
|APPEAL||8/10||Detail is put where it mattered, and all the structures were free of graphical errors and boring redundancies. While the palette wasn't tampered with, it was a solid palette to use with the stage.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||10/10||Nothing gamebreaking. I wish that one hex edit was allowed to let the camera scroll even if you aren't touching the ground for the part where you have to spin jump off a saw to reach the Lakitu's zone... but since it's fairly safe and not a cheap hit, I won't deduct for that.|
|FUN||10/10||This level had something for everybody here - the varying difficulty, the classic platforming involved in the regular exit's path, the chain puzzle for the secret exit, the math reference, the Touhou reference in difficulty names, and the clean look. It has a lot of replay value.|
|ENTRY 008 by horribleTASer1.1|
|DESIGN||2/10||The stage is full of redundancy - sections of flat areas and Chargin' Chucks being the only enemies you will see here. There were large sections of music note blocks and cement blocks, and one section was even completely unmodified from the original stage.|
Some jumps were blind, and others were... blind. Literally blind.
|APPEAL||2/10||The palette was good, on the bright side.. on the negative side, you've got little variation in the landscape, some missing walls, and cement blocks cutting into the dirt in many places.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||1/10||The camera being locked vertically to the starting position of the level made it extremely hard to navigate. While you can get a running start in the beginning of the level to scroll that camera, there are other places where it's impossible to do that, such as the music block area and the cement block maze.|
Another bad thing was that the music blocks after you get shot out of the pipe can push you into something up there and kill you.
|FUN||1/10||Meh... it's impossible to enjoy with the camera being the way it is. The speed the level starts with is at least somewhat fun.|
|ENTRY 009: "BLEH" by Sockbat Replica|
|DESIGN||7/10||The design is a large nonlinear collection of log structures with a few line-guided enemies and falling platforms in the mix. Volcano Lotuses and standard castle sprites are interestingly used with this tileset, and help make some creative obstacles in this level.|
Right before the part where you are given a feather/mushroom, you are required to go beneath a cement block with one tile high leeway, guarded by a cement block. That didn't seem right to me if you made it up there big since you were forced to lose it.
|APPEAL||6/10||It looks like you were trying to make the level seem NES/comic book-like, with the exception of the enemies. For the most part, it looked passable, but a few pipes with the darkness in the middle turned out really awkward. Had the sprites, including Mario, also had such palettes, the look would come together better... I do like that you were being experimental though.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||10/10||Nothing gamebreaking that I could find.|
|FUN||8/10||It doesn't feel repetitive to me at all. I really appreciated a lot of the ideas going on in here and think this is going to be one of the more underrated levels this contest overall because of how it looks. There was much level to explore here that is worth experiencing.|
|ENTRY 010: "The Land of Sweets" by Ripperon-X|
|DESIGN||7/10||The design focused mostly on standard platforming action - dodging enemies and jumping from place to place without falling down the hole and dying - throughout the entire level. It started with a moderate difficulty and built as you progressed. There was only one small puzzle, being the part with the shell and vine up through when you get to the castle beyond the munchers.|
The momentum changed throughout the level, starting fast and becoming slower overall, and the layout took advantage of area in the screens to make the level quite long.
|APPEAL||8/10||It was pretty and fit its name. The background outside was like strawberry and banana, with cherry lava and graham cracker ground, and the castle was like a huge chunk of cinnamon. I especially liked the castle background, and the clever use of Dry Bones as a decorative tile.|
My only gripe is in the Castle, it seems like some threats blend in more than they should. Different shades of brown for the lava and the enemies would've been very useful.
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||In the second room of the castle, I had the Li'l Sparky disappear when the Ball 'n' Chain came into view. Otherwise, it worked fine. Nothing gamebreaking.|
|FUN||5/10||I am not going to lie - the level did have some fun parts. I enjoyed everything before the heart of the castle part.|
The castle segment felt like it dragged on. There was an awful lot going on in the way of enemy clusters where it was hard to dodge one thing without jumping into another. There were a lot of shell-kicking Koopas, and a lot of enemies that don't contrast well with the foreground, so it's difficult to see, for example, when Dry Bones throws a bone at you.
|ENTRY 011: "Castle Zero" by abduel|
|DESIGN||6/10||This level is focused on clearing wide jumps and precision jumps, as well as dodging a bullet. Or two. Or five. But not walls of bullets. Nope.|
There are a few blind jumps both inside and outside the castle that can be helped with coin guidance. There's also no palette distinction between the deadly coins and the helpful coins earlier on in the castle.
|APPEAL||4/10||There's two parts of the ship where all the logs are cutoff on the upper part of the level. Inside the castle, a few stairs were missing pieces, and the Fishbone enemies swam through the wall. The music note blocks have a glitched bounce sprite.|
I felt that a custom palette to make the logs outside darker would have been very helpful since it's a nighttime stage, though I was satisfied with the color inside the castle.
|FUNCTIONALITY||7/10||It lags a lot at the mushroom colums with the Splitting Chuck. In the castle, there are some sprites with vanishing graphics, i.e. the Dry Bones and Podoboo as soon as the Ball 'n' Chain comes into the screen. The music note blocks also kill you sometimes when you're too close to the wall when bouncing off of them.|
|FUN||5/10||The Big Boo fight was very frustrating due to all the spikes everywhere and only three throw blocks to kill him, so after all your work to get there, if you miss, you will die. Minus the blind jumps in some areas of the level and the lack of distinction between deadly coins and safe coins, I liked the rebounding from sprites to reach other platforms in this level.|
I also didn't think the Bullet Bills were unfairly placed - in fact, it helped me some in the castle to progress past the three-platform "deadly coin" zone.
|TOTAL||22/40||J/N: It does have potential to be a good action level. It needs a bit more polish, and a little more forgiveness at the boss. =D|
|ENTRY 012: "The Haunted Island" by RaindropDry|
|DESIGN||9/10||First, you must go left to activate the blue switch before you get access to the path to the castle. The left path is brief, but not free of any threat due to well-placed enemies. There are a couple of powerups you must work for along the way.|
The right path is pretty straight-forward until the ghost house part. There's an optional puzzle amidst the action in which you need to use a single blue shell to unveil two different P-switches, and the reward for bringing them to the end is a 3-up moon.
The Big Boo has an Eerie generator to raise the danger, and several blocks to give room for error.
All-in-all, the difficulty stays consistent throughout the level.
|APPEAL||10/10||This stage was finely detailed. The palette working is thorough - it looks like night, the colors seem natural and appropriate. My favorite room was the inside of the ghost house, because the walls had holes in them and everything - you usually don't see such highly detailed vanilla interiors. The outdoor detail in the grassy and cavey areas were also impeccable. Space was used very well.|
|FUN||8/10||I liked the challenge and platforming here, especially the little secrets hidden by the optional puzzles because they fit with the general medium pace of the whole level and don't seem too out-of-the-way to care about. I felt motivated to see the whole level before moving on.|
|ENTRY 013: "Switch Castle" by KevKot|
|DESIGN||7/10||The level's central gimmick is that you must complete a small challenge for each ! Switch, consequently blocking off that room and opening up a new one through the use of SMW's blocks that are not dependent on the way it's shown in the original Super Mario World. The low ceilings of the bridges over the lava made parts impossible to skip.|
Each room had a unique challenge - for the Yellow Switch, you worked your way around spikes and Li'l Sparkies, and spin jumped off of a Ball & Chain to reach the final half of the room. The Green room had nets, the Red room had Thwomps you had to spin jump off of and jump over spike columns, and the Blue room had a Lakitu's cloud navigation challenge.
That said, the time limit was misleading - each room was very short.
|APPEAL||8/10||There were no bad palettes here and each palette held relevance to the Switch that was in the room. I do think with custom palettes, it could have worked even better, namely for the Red room, although the similar browns did suffice.|
While the yellow room's flashing was a little weird, it didn't look that bad since it was confined mostly to the castle floor's outlines.
|FUNCTIONALITY||8/10||There are many areas in the level, such as the Yellow and Green switch rooms, where there are sprite tile memory problems when a Ball & Chain or some Thwomps are on screen - corners and Koopas disappear.|
One spot could have been executed more conventionally, that is the placement of the wall trampoline to the area with the door - you go through it if you're trying to reach it from the bottom.
|FUN||7/10||I think each Switch room could have used a small extension to refine the different ideas presented in the level. It was over too quick, but I liked what was there.|
The Red room was the trickiest - luring the Thwomp to smash down over a rather wide gap, so it wasn't easy to make it back alive, and then spin jumping off of that Thwomp without hitting the spikes was doable. It was tough, but very fair. The Blue room was a decent follow-up, with similar difficulty, if not just a little easier.
|ENTRY 014 by Giga|
|DESIGN||N/A||Disqualified for use of custom sprite.|
|ENTRY 015: "Fort of Confusion" by Artsy3...|
|DESIGN||8/10||This castle has really cool use of layer 2 - in one room, to make an upside-down "illusion" of the true invisible room appear, and in other rooms, very shifty to obstruct your path and force you to wait and jump wisely. Diagonal-moving Podoboos were boxed into areas nicely to make some sections really tricky to pass, and that in combination with the "boss room" Grinder + P-switch down to the door was unique.|
|APPEAL||7/10||While there were no palette issues or cutoff problems, the castle cinderblock rectangles and spikes everywhere were kind of boring. It could have used more visual variety in the foreground department -- the background absence in many rooms was forgivable due to the use of layer 2 for level data.|
|FUN||7/10||I like the gimmick here, though it was sometimes pretty hard to judge exactly where the spikes were vertically. The concept really takes some getting used to, but it's a grower.|
The "boss room" with the Grinder and Podoboo was rather cool.
I think overall though, while the foes were fairly placed and well-used, you used too many spikes, and it made the level pretty frustrating at points.
|ENTRY 016: "Purple Lake Ridge" by deedeedeechu|
|DESIGN||5/10||The level is straight-forward with pipes that lead you from outsideto the underground and then out again. There are a lot of Bullet Bill shooters, and there are some pretty long segments with just water and fish or pipes.|
The underground segments were short, and the Podoboos did not jump high enough to be threatening, but at least these small segments added more variety to the level.
Lastly, you could simply fall to your death if you aren't holding a button while being shot out of that pipe, as you don't have enough momentum.
|APPEAL||5/10||I like the color purple. Unfortunately, the outside part of this level felt really really barren. The lava in one segment I noticed did not extend to the end of the screen it was on, so you could see a finely cutoff chunk.|
|FUN||5/10||I enjoyed the level pacing. I also though that the shortcut to the exit added a cool Easter Egg element to the level, because if you know where the goal is, you can just jump off a Bullet Bill and reach the pipe you would have come out of if you took the cave route.|
The stage seemed underdeveloped to me, though, as a whole, and could have had a lot more variety.
|ENTRY 017: "Perverted Creatures" by yogui|
|DESIGN||8/10||The level was very straightforward and had a good degree of challenge.|
Each room had a simple concept, though only two rooms were really important to the gameplay - the line-guided Fuzzies in the first room, and the shifting spike pillars in the castle room. In the second room, you had to give Yoshi a key (read: buttplug) to win.
The trick with the castle room is pretty clever - not all the On/Off blocks are real. The fake blocks are very slightly desaturated in color, so it's extremely important to pay attention, else you are dead.
|APPEAL||8/10||Very, very pink, but it suits the... um, theme. There wasn't a whole lot going on on the ground, but the "creativity" in the line guides distracted from that and created an atmosphere of humor.|
The castle portion of the stage with Yoshi had enough visually going on to take away from the fact there is no layer 3 background while layer 2 is being used for the spikes.
There's something to be desired in the rooms between the 1up and the castle, though. Otherwise, it's pretty nicely done.
|FUN||10/10||This is the lulziest thing I've ever seen done with vanilla SMW, and it didn't suck either. The messages were hilarious.|
|TOTAL||36/40||Haters gonna hate.|
|ENTRY 018: "Ghosting Factory" by superwiidude|
|DESIGN||9/10||The design is elaborate, though most rooms are straightforward. The second room has a minor split in the path. Enemies guard places well without having to be spammed, and there is a good variety of enemies - the Magikoopa is used quite well, and the Grinder in the second room is quite a bitch but very fair in spite of that narrow area.|
|APPEAL||9/10||Very nice-looking level. The final room in the basement of the castle before the boss is my favorite in appearance.. it gives off a genuinely creepy vibe.|
It was cool that you changed Fishbones to Boos via ExAnimation and did not hurt the gameplay because they have virtually the same contact behavior.
|FUN||7/10||It was a little long, yeah, and the boss was a little frustrating because it wasn't easy to get to the single block that scrolled up before the throw block expired. I love the level layout, though, otherwise.|
|ENTRY 019: "Western Borders...(and Stuff!)" by martin9172|
|DESIGN||7/10||This stage had much variety. The left side sent you on hunts for items, namely P-switches and springboards. The tree colors left good clues to where you could expect ghosts hiding so that you did not rush and end up killing yourself repeatedly.|
There are quite a lot of one-tile-wide ledge jumps, and the extended path guarded by the Eerie generator with two wrong paths and one correct path in each segment felt a little tedious and repetitive.
|APPEAL||6/10||The outside looked pretty good apart from the monotony of the style of the ledges and logs leading up to the midway point and the floating pipes in the right path.|
The killer to the score really was inside the cave due to the background positioning, cut through the middle like a knife. D:
Then, I walked into the border and went from a dark wasteland to Kirby's dreamland. I thought that was pretty freaking cool since the moods contrasted completely, and I LOVE how the forest background transitions from sherbet orange to purple rather fluently.
|FUNCTIONALITY||8/10||It's possible to get stuck in that little place with the springboard, which can be avoided if you had a rope/cloud-behavior tile above the springboard instead of a solid tile.|
On the right side, there's a problem with sprite tile limits with the Amazin' Flying Hammer Bros. One won't spawn. I've also had two on one platform, which is more human error. The platform above the water can push you through the slope and kill you. It makes more sense when it pushes you to "drown" in the water, but the slope thing is an issue.
|FUN||7/10||I give you credit for the chain puzzle not leading to a convoluted and cramped maze-like stage on the left path, and it wasn't that grating to play except for those skinny ledges and the Eerie generator part.|
I wish the right side had a little more substance inside the border. It kinda felt like filler when so much more could have been done. =(
|ENTRY 020: "Forest Cave" by Glitch.Mr|
|DESIGN||7/10||A classic platforming action level with varying elevations of land and many pitfalls. I thought this was one of the strongest examples of a well-done linear level without gimmicks in the contest.|
Probably the only issue with the design is that there were a lot of enemies that didn't need to be there, like two Chucks guarding the pipe when one did the job well, or all those Boos around the raft when two could've been omitted with no influence on the challenge.
|APPEAL||7/10||Oh you sneaky little devil you, I thought at first that was layer 3. Well played. It looks great, except Mario goes behind it when he comes in/out of pipes and a lot of powerups go behind it. The ExAnimation to correct the fish stem was definitely good.|
On one hand, I really liked the outdoor palette. The colors were appropriately rich and vivid. The cave palette seemed too bright to really capture the feeling of being inside a toxic cave, and the blocks seemed too saturated-blue... it didn't really fit.
Inside the bonus room, I did not like that the layer 3 water had lava beneath it in an aesthetic sense - it was immediately clear it was lava because you dropped a Goomba in and there was the splash, though water just simply does not look lke lava at all.
|FUN||7/10||I played this level probably 3 or 4 times to solidify my opinion on it. It wasn't too too memorable, but it had a fulfilling level of action.|
|ENTRY 021: "Party City" by Lunar Rico|
|DESIGN||8/10||The stage revolves around a few different short-term gimmicks and has a secret path with a special reward which can be reached with a P-switch hidden somewhere in the first part of the level.|
I found it like impossible to not take a hit when you have to jump to dodge the Banzai Bill while being able to get back on the mole and not hit munchers though. An extra tile of space would've made that part tremendously better.
|APPEAL||7/10||Wow.. I really liked your attempt at a city. The use of the hill background to create a moon and the flashing color in palette 6 for the window lights made for a good-quality vanilla background. Pretty funky stuff, and quite colorful.|
The saturated colors fit in with the party theme, though I didn't think that some of the sprite colors were done too well, like the yellow part of the Rex and Koopas' skins, and near the end of the first part of the level felt very cluttered with coins and castle blocks in a disorganized fashion.
Inside the castle looked solid.
|FUNCTIONALITY||10/10||Nothing bad here.|
|FUN||10/10||This level really was a party with the various ideas used. I enjoyed the part where you had to ride the mole and the part where you had to be quick enough to make it to the next P-switch in order to stay alive on the ? block path above the lava.|
Also, Wendy's room really faked me the hell out. That was a trippy-cool spin on this boss without being unfair.
|ENTRY 022: "Grinding Guides" by Riolu180|
|DESIGN||9/10||The level holds heavy emphasis of spin jump on and through tricky areas to avoid damage from mostly saws and Grinders in a wide variety of formations. Sometimes you would have to get off your platform and run on the land, where you would face some munchers or wrappings of lines with more of your sharp-edged foes.|
In spite of holding a consistent concept throughout, the level maintains its freshness through the variety in line guide formations and placement of ground along the path.
|APPEAL||9/10||Very clean use of line guides, bushes, and platforms without feeling cramped or empty in any spots, and without redundant shaping. The background with the water and the triangular green hills was cool, and the palettes throughout felt natural and were pleasant on the eyes.|
|FUN||5/10||I find this level too hard in certain spots even with savestates. Some areas have so many enemies clustered together they feel impossible to avoid, such as the first part where the platform jumps, and there's a saw following you, and two Grinders going back and forth on the line you jump just below. The part with the Koopas is pretty close but very doable without being hit when small. I think instead of giving powerups in clusters where if you get hit on a lineguide it's hard to get your reserve, spreading them out could've helped the fun factor considerably.|
|ENTRY 023: "Chocolate-Dipped Vanilla" by agie777|
|NGISED||6/10||It's a long action level.|
The level felt grossly overpopulated with enemies. Underwater could have done with less fish, the snow area could have done with less Chucks, and it could have retained a similar amount of difficulty with a faster momentum.
The cloud section in the snow room was nice a nice deviation, though the stage felt pretty devoid of concept - there wasn't any fluency of gameplay ideas here, just random elements thrown together.
|LAEPPA||6/10||Everything looks like it used the same type of brown throughout, and other levels of saturation or hues blended with brown could've brought a lot more life to the pre-midway rooms.|
I thought the mushroom columns and platforms in the bonus room looked pretty bad, but the background palette was nicely done.
The snowy room's white outline makes it hard to distinguish between the cloudy background "lines" and what's really ground, and it doesn't look that good, especially in how it makes the snow look like it has a bad shadow. Palette 6 objects didn't look very good, and the sprite palette tampering didn't look that good either.
A redeeming quality of the snow room is the clever use of background clouds to create snow mounds in the foreground. Another positive thing that can be said is that the level did pull off a mountain theme decently - the underwater part works because you can imagine aquifers inside the mountain on the way to the colder heights.
|YTILANOITCNUF||9/10||Lots of slowdown in the area with the Lakitu and in the beginning where flames and winged Koopas are due to sprite overload.|
|NUF||5/10||You have to go too slow for most of this lengthy level for it to really be a fun action level in my opinion.|
|ENTRY 024: "Swampside Cabin" by Hyperme|
|DESIGN||8/10||You'll swim and jump through the first part of the swamp to go through the cabin and out to the other side of the swamp to get the P-switch, then re-enter with the P-switch and unveil a door. From there, you descend and ride the line guide around the wall while jumping through platforms to avoid the spikes that the line guide passes under. The boss awaits in the next door.|
It provides variety and doesn't try too hard to shove ideas into the stage, and remains straightforward in spite of having elements of puzzle.
The 3up moon was also hidden well.
The only design flaw (that doesn't fit under FUNCTIONALITY) is how the ghost train below the trail of coins leading you down to the line guide area is nearly guaranteed to hit you unless you know in advance it's there so you wait for it to pass.
|APPEAL||7/10||The ground definitely fit in with the swamp theme, though I felt the water and the trees background could've been given a murkier look.|
The cabin looked good for the most part with the default ghost house palette, though some of the outer wall bricks were cut prematurely.
|FUNCTIONALITY||8/10||There was no way to respawn that moving line-guided platform even though I went all the way left, and the screen doesn't scroll when spinjumping off the Boo (not to mention there's something you can't see up there that kills you), so I got stuck and was forced to die.|
|FUN||7/10||The pacing of the level wasn't too great IMO, as there were a lot of moments of hesitation, but the feather provided outdoors when you bring the springboard helped the momentum for that part. I enjoyed the line guide with the need to maneuver around the floor to avoid the spikes around the line.|
|ENTRY 025: "The Great Mole Hunt" by moltensnow|
|DESIGN||4/10||The first segment features just a run across some cool landscaping to get to the pipe, but features no threat apart from a solitary mole jumping out of the ground. The cave starts with a minor deviation, then you drop down and let X's and O's guide you around the lava to safe ground. In the red door is the Mega Mole, whom you just sit and chill on for a while.|
You can dismount him at the second P-switch and fall through near where the door is to get the secret exit, which is the unsuccessful ending. The door to the left is the successful ending.
The midway point doesn't bring you far from the actual entrance to the level and may as well not exist.
|APPEAL||7/10||With the exception of the cutoff ledges in the ground, the first room looks pretty neat.|
I liked the palette work inside the cave too, it didn't seem like a solid screen of the same brown throughout, and the darker brown cave ground to reflect land that you had to be on the mole to cross was a neat touch. Inside the cave lacked decoration, whereas the outside part seemed satisfactory with the diagonal carving and the bushes with colorful berries on them.
|FUN||4/10||The second room was really the only one to me with any connotation of challenge. I didn't understand why the exits were so close to each other and so easy to get. One way you could really improve the Mega Mole ride is to place some enemies that force you to jump around them or even dismount and follow Mega Mole until you pass under them.|
|ENTRY 026: "Midnight Forest" by Volke|
|DESIGN||7/10||It's laid out like an action-focused, linear level intended to be challenging. There's a variety of foes that guard areas quite well but some are unintentionally unfair (see FUNCTIONALITY) which makes the difficulty curve of the level almost completely inverse of how it should have ideally been.|
I do believe the springboard was intended to reach the secret exit, but even when small, you can jump high enough to reach the pipe.
|APPEAL||7/10||I really like the treetop palettes. The gradient is pretty nicely done in the background. I didn't really like the ground palette though, the shadow looked pretty ugly, though it did distinctively look like a nighttime level, and Mario going behind scenery when entering a pipe was awkward.|
Underwater looked perfect, however.
|FUNCTIONALITY||7/10||I have had some sprite tile limit issues when I carried the Goomba, and I died in three different spots at points after the Fishin' Boo spawn due to enemies being invisible... It's not thoroughly tested, and this oversight bogs down the entirety's quality quite a lot.|
I've had a few issues with slowdown early on in the level near the first mushroom where there are a few Koopas.
Underwater, the interaction with the black things is inconsistent with the graphical space they take up.
|FUN||5/10||I was extremely annoyed by the disappearing enemies. The layout was fine and the Fishin' Boo alone would've been challenging enough over the stretch he guards.|
Suffice to say, after the midway point, there were no more problems like that and the level was so much more enjoyable to play, especially the underwater segment.
|ENTRY 027: "Dolph Isle 1-1" by Rainbowslime|
|DESIGN||8/10||The design forks in several places though stays on the same route to the end. It seems like the platform arrangement is kind of scatter-brained on upper routes, though enemy and dragon/regular coin placement give each path purpose.|
|APPEAL||9/10||The level was really pretty. Much of the foreground palettes were soothing, though some seemed too saturated to fit in with that like the blues.. each object had a palette that flowed well within itself in spite of that.|
The land was well-decorated with forest and grassland tiles, bushes, and intricate layering of colorful pipes.
|FUN||7/10||The level was quite short but it provided an ample amount of substanceand variety without redundancy. There was nothing particularly stand-out about the level, though.|
|ENTRY 028: "Shallow Lake" by Kicezand|
|DESIGN||7/10||You start beneath some diagonal jutting plateaus, and jump over the wall onto an archway. Flying fish guard each segment of the lake. A "pyramid" is up ahead with Yoshi in the center, while the Volcano Lotus harasses you. After an exercise in falling grey platforms and diagonal slopes, you're brought underwater. The lake has a lot of nooks and crannies, rewarding Dragon Coins for checking out some parts, while other areas are revealed to be dead ends early on. The lake segment is kind of shorter than expected given the levels name.|
There are no standout design elements, but the enemy placement is solid.
|APPEAL||7/10||I, for one, am okay with saturated colors, as seen in the yellow bushes and the blue water. I think some hue blending when developing the shades could've made above ground look cooler; there was too much plain green.|
Underwater looked cool. I liked the gradual gradient that gets darker as you go deeper underwater, and the brownish ground itself and the pink cement blocks looked nice.
|FUN||7/10||I found this entry to be pleasantly easy yet not boring to play through. The Dragon Coins were no problem to get, but I wish the lake part was just a little longer.|
|ENTRY 029: "Eclipse Ruins" Lucas|
|DESIGN||9/10||The first room gives you a really open area of exploration, sustaining multiple paths at the same time which you switch between at any time. The land portions of the level are most often guarded by Koopas, be it flying or kicking shells, while the water has warnings about fish you can't see when they dip below the surface. There's a pipe just before the midway point leading to the bonus room.|
Through the doors, the level becomes more linear. You're faced with torpedoes, more Koopas, and Bullet Bills as you swim through layer 3 currents. A creating/eating block train is near the end of this room, with Porcu-Puffer there to punish you if you fall in the water. It's easy to wuss out and swim under just about all of this part if you wanted to.
The key to the secret exit was well-hidden in the shallow water of the first room, and the keyhole in the bonus room was also nicely obscure without being too hard to discern. The moon is decently hard to get, and some of the Dragon Coins require effort to get - one such location is within the room before the block train where you must use a P-switch to go under a wall, another pits you directly against the Porcu-Puffer; others require exploration.
|APPEAL||7/10||Outside looked pretty neat with the tealish hills, cyan arches, the blue water, and the desaturated light blue clouds... it's a good nighttime palette without being a whole solid wall of blue, yes? But I can't say the same for inside the ruins, it was too much the same color, and I felt that the background water could've been a bit darker.|
The thing you did with the water to have silhouettes was pretty cool.
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||I've had a little slowdown around the part where the two Koopas kick shells.|
|FUN||9/10||The stage had a lot of variety (+ 2 optional rooms) and the backtracking to get back up in the first part of the level wasn't that annoying. Enemy placement here was mostly effective - it's fun to narrowly dodge things while you're going fast along the upper route of the first part of the level, though it shifts in the second room where you're forced to pay attention to the various shooters and torpedo launchers to keep yourself safe. The block train was well-executed.|
|ENTRY 030: "Reznorland 1-1" by Zeldara109|
|DESIGN||6/10||A cutscene of Mario entering a castle preceeds a room with a mushroom, a dragon coin over lava, and a pipe. Upon entering the pipe, you jump and slip through a single-tile-high space to enter another pipe, then the action begins.|
You travel left as Fishbones swim towards you in mid-air while avoiding spikes, Spike Tops traveling along the ground, and a fish swimming vertically in a thin strip of water.
The next room featured a bit more of the same, but also threw in a Fishbone you had to spinjump off of if you didn't have a cape, and a wall of Fishbones you had to duck under to avoid.
The danger increases in the next room with the introduction of Thwomps and Ball & Chains placed in narrow-but-fair regions, so patience is important. Nonetheless, the powerup providence is balanced and forgiving without being overblown.
Finally, you reveal [?] blocks to climb over the level and to the boss room, where you fight Reznor in a relatively safe room.
Overall, placement of enemies varied between highly strategic and irrelevant to where you might even go, and were even amusing to watch when they were stuck in walls or running in circles mid-air.
|APPEAL||2/10||It's a choppy citrus castle with random fish, garbley Spike Tops, and Dry Bones that throw split torpedoes at you. At the end you fight the purpley pink Reznors. The palettes are pretty fluent, but the level is by no means presentable. xD|
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||Nothing gamebreaking though there was occasional slowdown in places heavily populated with enemies.|
|FUN||7/10||I just couldn't find that SECOND DAMN LEVEL EXIT no matter how hard I looked, but I must say that from the mid-point on, this level proved the message you were trying to send. Before that, I felt it was pretty so-so.|
|ENTRY 031: "Crazy Cliffside" by Phantor|
|DESIGN||9/10||Well, it was really elaborate with much to explore. If you fell too far and missed a door, you were allowed to find ways back up.|
|APPEAL||9/10||This level had some really nice palettes and use of layer 2 to bring vines in front of the ground and for a lot of ground detailing. The palettes are well-wrought, and the level design didn't feel empty or cramped.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||I could walk through a couple of slopes, like the one next to the Pokey near one of the first doors in the level, and at that point, if the Pokey got down to the flat ground, it could not be used to reach the door.. by the time you get to the top of the grey pillar, the fireball will fall just above your vision and force you to get out of the way immediately.|
|FUN||6/10||Eh.. I don't think it worked as well without the gimmick described in your readme since the exploration wasn't forced and it was very easy to just skip over most of the rooms you did to get to the end, and felt kind of meh with that kind of progression.|
I honestly wasn't fond of the Lotus/Muncher placement since when you are falling, it's harder to dodge them without knowing whether they are there, but I think that the placement of Chucks were pretty clever.
It definitely wasn't boring, though.
|ENTRY 032: "Burning in Hell -- for Noobs" by notgoodwithusernames|
|DESIGN||9/10||As if the intro wasn't explosive enough...|
You first must go left and cautiously lure a Pokey into the lava without spawning the other one, then get the Bullet Bills to shoot to get up the pipe. In the next room, there's this one fucking annoying rock you have to go under, and a big mushroom that you have to get carefully or you'll be forced to kill yourself if you go above the clouds, and a really tight jump that's extremely tough to clear.. you will need to get at least 30 coins in order to be able to feed Yoshi and clear this gap to get the P-switch and take the pipe back to the beginning of the room. If you had accidentally collected a coin here, congratulations, you die after all that.
Now, as far as "Kaizo hacks" go, this is a very good entry and pleasantly clean.
|APPEAL||8/10||This is a pleasantly detailed cave level with a lot of layering in the ground and maroon-mahogany earth. The background is slightly darker though uses the same hue, and the bright redness of the lava's dissimilarity from these two things adds contrast. It looks quite good, if not strangely pleasant, for "hell".|
|FUNCTIONALITY||10/10||Nothing gamebreaking, but highly unforgiving.|
|FUN||2/10||The rock was so painfully annoying to try to get under, and the whole 30 coin thing revolving around Yoshi was utterly soul-crushing. I had to cheat to finish this level in a timely manner. I understand a level like this isn't supposed to have a margin of error, but it was too much for me after the Pokey/Bullet thing, man. At least it was rather short lol|
|ENTRY 033: "A Normal Day for Mario" by Diddy Kong|
|DESIGN||6/10||The level has two exits, and a lot of the "invisible block" to unveil in this room; they create blockades and you have to find that one tile where there isn't one to get through. Besides that, there are many Bullet Bill shooters, Koopas, Dino Rhinos, and Goombas, and occasionally munchers that make for a level that needs caution and waiting to get through. You can jump off a bullet to reach the pipe to the layer 2 cave, or keep going ahead through the aforementioned stuff to get to the second room where you just jump across skinny platforms to dodge stuff until you get to the end.|
The route with the layer 2 provides a very different pacing in the cave part before you are sent underneath the outside's route into a cramped area.
|APPEAL||6/10||In the opening room, the foreground with a black outline was a pretty bad idea. Desaturating it to distinguish it completely as a background would've been smarter since it just doesn't seem right. The palettes themselves look good. No complaints about the rooms other than the first room.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||Some block placement over slopes allow you walk under it from below when big but not back through it, and you can walk through a diagonal pipe. Also, a little slowdown beneath the floating pipes with the Piranha Plants et al.|
|FUN||4/10||The first half of the level, I felt was clumsy - the obstacles (placement of solids and invisible blocks in many places) and the enemies just made the level pace slow. It didn't seem like the second half of the level improved on this, instead, you get thin platforms you have to carefully jump to and it was still slow. I liked the bonus room, and felt that the cave with the scrolling layer 2 was enjoyable.|
|ENTRY 034: "Stuck in a Rainbow" by Argumentable and Limepie20|
|DESIGN||8/10||The level is all ExAnimated, and in such a way that paying attention to the floor is important to progress safely so that you can see what is and is not a hole and where the enemies reside. The red room is basic run-and-jump mostly with Koopas everywhere and a bit of surprise lightning, but it's not all flat at least.|
The green room is a layer 2 room where the ground scrolls up and down, and unless you stand on a block as it sinks, you will touch munchers, and if you're below a ceiling as it comes up, you're crushed. An Eerie generator and a couple of Big Boos are the other obstacles here.
The blue room has saws and flying Hammer Bros. that make for some tricky platforming.
The stage concludes with a Big Boo fight with some Boo friends and a Bullet Bill generator in a giant rave.
It's possible to get permanently stuck if you kill the Koopa that bounces down the hole in this one part in the red room. Not sure if it crosses into the "but you have to be retarded to do that" realm since with the lights faded, you could fall down there and if you bounce on him without making it up, you're screwed, though should never happen again after discovered regardless.
|APPEAL||9/10||This is the best attempt at an Atari 2600 on LSD I have ever seen. The red room looked especially cool and I liked the fading in and out with the scrolling in the green room.|
It kind of has a seizure after the Big Boo fight during the fadeout, but other than that, cool shit.
|FUN||7/10||The first room was pretty weak in design, but what made it interesting was having to watch the ground to know what's on it and whether it's safe to go across.|
The green room was a good step-up with the scrolling gimmick, but the blue room really delivered in raw action with well-placed enemies. Nice buildup.
|ENTRY 035: "Frigid Frenzy" by Alice|
|DESIGN||6/10||The first room is a romp through Volcano Lotuses, Chucks, and their sports balls. While you can jump down a hole to get a P-switch and use that to gain access to a springboard which lets you reach a pipe, it's skippable by jumping on a football. While the path to the P-switch is clearly implied, there is no coin guide to lead you to safe ground, so if you go for it, you may miss the platforms and die.|
Inside is a kinda crowded slippery room with fireballs everywhere for the portion of the raft ride and the land above it. The second raft ride has some flying Koopas above it which you can jump across to make it go by faster, followed by a ceiling and floor covered in munchers.
Outside you pass by the bouncing Koopas to get to the end.
Nothing particularly stood out design-wise. Enemies were bordering overuse in regards to the Podoboos near the raft and in regards to the projectiles everywhere near the end of the first room.
|APPEAL||7/10||I thought it was a cool touch that you put non-animated item blocks outside, no pun intended (and one of them you could still run atop to get a mushroom out of.) Outside overall looked nice to me, with the detailing in the land and the appropriate palette. Inside the cave, though, the cave ground looked somewhat lazily thrown together since the land was just rectangular blocks, with no jointed tiles to connect them.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||Bits of slowdown in the beginning of the ice cave where all the Podoboos are. Sprite tile memory problems are present just before the first pipe; the Volcano Lotus sometimes doesn't appear.|
|FUN||7/10||The only thing I could remember being frustrating in this level is near the end of the ice cave, where there were a bunch of munchers. Given a non-slippery environment, this close arrangement is more feasible. Here, it felt pretty bad, man. =(|
Overall, like Firestorm Fortress, it was short enough so that the difficulty did not become annoying. It was somewhat enjoyable.
|ENTRY 036: "Gemstone Mines" by PotatoNinja|
|DESIGN||8/10||You have to be mindful of the moving platforms so you aren't pulled into lava as you make your way to a wall you must run up, and spin jump off of a rock to proceed. To your left, you need a blue P-switch to get through, so the only logical way to go for now is right. You jump across a huge lava pit, then the design takes a drastic change and is more of a search-oriented maze, and Chucks guard just about everywhere you look. If you get the silver switch, you can go back and take the left route and get the key.|
Another route in the maze leads you to a springboard you need to jump through a high hole. There are a couple of routes from here to the finish, including a reiteration of the platform/lava slope idea from the beginning.
I like this design because it takes two ideas that contrast enough to make the level have a lot of variety, yet are brought together by the fact that they're both appropriate to their environment, the cave. It would fare better with no time limit.
|APPEAL||8/10||I liked the palettes overall (I'm a sucker for purple) and the ground fleshing was thorough without making the stage seem overwrought, as narrow as paths were. Hue blending would make them look even more dazzling.|
|FUN||7/10||I died a lot in this level because the middle of the level was quite cramped. I could at least remember where everything was for the puzzle middle, and found that the need for that extra boost from the Chuck to get back to the other side of the lava pool near that vine was neat. xD The platforms and the lava slopes were well-executed, and I felt made a better closer to the level than opener.. so I was satisfied to see them come back there.|
|ENTRY 037: "Tech Support vs. WWSPA2: Journey for Altruism" by MalcolmBellman38|
|DESIGN||6/10||The design is straightforward for the most part, with some branching parts in the Stone Labyrinth that converge. The paths are pretty wide-open outside, but mostly narrow in the labyrinth.|
I found a part early on where I could spinjump really high, on the first two Thwomps, and go over the cement block wall, which was kinda cool, and followed up by a neat gap which you jump on a Bullet Bill to be able to cross. Stunts like that are pretty cool.
Design-wise, I couldn't find anything particularly stand-out. It was solid and varied enough, but rather basic with all taken into consideration.
In the first set of cutscenes, you've left the timer at a non-zero value - clearly an oversight since the later sets of cutscenes have no expiration.
|APPEAL||5/10||This is probably the weakest point of the level. The Stone Labyrinth was some strangely colored cement blocks in and out, and no background present. This is where the recent builds of Lunar Magic can really come in handy with the Map16 editor.|
I thought that Starman's palette was kind of weird, and the foes using palette 9, as well. Everything else looked fine, and you did the best you could with cutscene text. The story is worth paying attention to, although the screen limit probably forced you to simplify it.
|FUNCTIONALITY||8/10||There is a lot of slowdown after the Splittin' Chucks spawn and run towards where Thwomps are, if they get that far.|
The first cutscene after the stone labyrinth breaks for me probably due to your initial FG/BG positioning there.
|FUN||6/10||The difficulty seemed not too hard, not too easy. There's not much to say for the platforming action itself, since the level was kinda short sans cutscenes, and that left something to be desired.|
The ability to skip cutscenes with pipes in the same way you made decisions in later cutscenes would be helpful for when you re-enter the level after you die.
The ending I got was rather sad, and probably would've been strong if you had time to develop the characters. I think that this would be worth developing into a deeper, longer hack, with influential decisions that change the direction of the story.
|ENTRY 038: "Mario Takes a Walk" by Blaze.128|
|DESIGN||9/10||This level had a lot of fluent action with the odd item fetch puzzle here and there. The obstacles were just as varied as the scenery - you had a lava bonus room with a P-switch bridge across the lava, an aquatic castle with spikes and generic castle enemies, a mine with undead creatures and impeding wooden stakes among other things.|
Being one of the longest levels in the contest, it's impressive that it kept from becoming repetitive.
|APPEAL||9/10||Absolutely loved the palette work and tileset combinations here. Outside had nice desaturated colors which were very relaxing to look at.|
The bonus room's background captured the molten rock mystique well, and the cave with the ghost house tiles came off as a dusty old abandoned mine. The aquatic castle palette also looked really nice with the more cyan foreground against the blue background.
|FUN||9/10||Good thing you added the midway point, as it was going to be my complaint here; I really enjoyed playing this level without savestates.|
The complete lack of redundancy and the fact that the paths weren't horribly claustrophobic but well-protected made this level rather memorable.
|ENTRY 039: "A Level in a Island" by paper mario world|
|DESIGN||7/10||As soon as you jump down, you're shown a reset pipe so you know this is a puzzle level. The first Dragon Coin is near those Bullet Bill shooters, on a low platform that you must reveal an invisible block to climb out of. The second can be earned safely by riding a floating ? block, and the third is at the top right corner of a section filled with bouncy music blocks and bouncing Koopas. If you carried the P-switch far across the nets, you can get the 4th really high up in the level. You'll want to bring the springboard back to the beginning of the level to get out of this room.|
You see the midway point and the screen starts to scroll as bullets shoot everywhere and stuff. The final Dragon Coin is on a dangerous route of this brief room. To be honest, the midway is very close to the end and the last room could've had more done with it, but the first room seemed nicely done.
|APPEAL||7/10||The first thing you see is a nice teal-scale gradient in the background, surprisingly smooth. While there's a lot present, such as nets and music blocks, the nets don't look bad at all, though the music blocks do create a bit of disarray. The second room looks great all-around.|
|FUN||8/10||The fun here all comes from the side quest of getting the Dragon Coins, otherwise it's a short breeze to beat. As a part of a bigger non-vanilla project, it would be cool if this gimmick awarded you a secret exit.|
|ENTRY 040: "Koopa Plains" by TheShadyNerd|
|DESIGN||4/10||I thought that the first segment was a decent effort, with some path splitting, albeit the bottom path was kinda flat compared to its upper path counterpart. There's a place you can get stuck in if you fall between cement blocks and the last pipe in one such section.|
The second room has a lot of flatness, and redundant design towards the end.
As a damaging factor for both rooms, while the enemy placement was often out of the way or not very threatning at all, the distribution of powerups was obscenely liberal.
|APPEAL||4/10||The first room seemed alright with a standard grassland palette, although the black outline/shading on the hills would've looked better as a dark green. The second room kinda burned in thermite hell. The ice pipe looks ugly, but in that structure later on, you have all these slopes that cut off as soon as they run into an intersecting slope as well as a missing ground tile. It's also topped off with |
|FUN||5/10||The fast pace at which you are able to play this level is the one fun thing about it. The design itself is bland and unmemorable, but certainly you can develop your skills.|
|ENTRY 041: "Dense Forest Area" by TheOtherGuy25|
|DESIGN||7/10||First you've got some basic action platforming, followed by a short segment of becoming obese and floating your fat ass across a pool of toxic sludge trying not to hit a piece of wood, because it will pop you and you'll die. Next, you're greeted by a nod to SMRPG's soundtrack: beware the forest mushrooms, because touching a mushroom on the floor of this room will hurt you. You're once again met with a P-balloon challenge, but this time, the logs are closer together and the bouncing Koopas are more threatening than the Bullet Bills.|
|APPEAL||6/10||WOAH MAN IT'S LIEK A WALL OF FUKKEN TREES DUDE|
The foreground's combination of the grassland and forest tilesets look quite fine, and the palettes were definitely good. The second room's variation in the trees with some leaves helps a bit, but the repetition and closeness of all those trees still looked pretty bad.
|FUN||6/10||The stage had an okay amount of variety, but nothing really wowed me. Well, the P-balloon thing was rather out-of-left-field... but I didn't get why the logs themselves were meant to hurt you even on the non-pointy parts.|
|ENTRY 042: "Luigi's Revenge" by marioyoshishade|
|DESIGN||N/A||Disqualified for being a ROM. hngnnnnnnnggnggg|
|ENTRY 043: "A Generic Vanilla Level" by MarioFan22|
|DESIGN||7/10|| The first room features layer 3 tides and a whole lot of Rexes + Bullet Bill shooters. One such puzzle involving a Koopa shell and a P-switch can take you to a bonus room where you can get an obscure Dragon Coin.|
The second room is an auto-scrolling beach with many Goombas, Piranha Plants in the pipes, and yet another P-switch which you must be big to get, which takes you to another bonus room with a Dragon Coin, and if you're exceptionally fast, a 3up moon.
Inside the cave is very dark, though if you find the light, it will assist you. Volcano Lotuses below ground provide an uncrushable threat in this brief segment.
Next comes a really short underwater part with some Urchins and spikes everywhere, and then you re-enter the cave. It carries much of the same concept as shown in the previous cave section, albeit with a lot more action, and introduces yet another autoscroll segment.
At the end is Big Boo and falling layer 2. You only get three throw blocks to kill him.
All-in-all, some parts felt dragged out, others felt like filler, but there were some well-executed ideas in here. The whole cave section was great IMO from an action standpoint, and the new time limits imposed each room allowed for exploration if the player desired to get all the Dragon Coins.
|APPEAL||7/10||The palettes worked out decently, but there was little difference in hue between backgrounds and foreground parts, so much of the level came out rather bland-looking. Sections often felt overclustered with detail.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||There was slowdown in many areas of the level.|
|FUN||5/10||The level was kinda long. Even though the midway point was placed logically, it felt like filler sections (such as the underwater part) could have been dropped to move it somewhere at the end of the second room.|
The Big Boo room was long and cramped, and there should have been more opportunity IMO to attack Big Boo rather than "you get three chances, if you miss one, you start the fight over" - having survived the whole room, I think having 5 or so throw blocks at the end would've been perfectly fine.
|ENTRY 044: "Neapolitan Road" by Caracc|
|DESIGN||5/10||You're shot out of a pipe, and you have walls to run up and Koopas to dodge. There is a bonus room with music blocks up the yellow pipe. There's a bridge of them between pipes, and some hidden ones that let you reach the top of the pillar where you can get all the coins.|
In the next room, you're introduced to upside-down clouds as a hazard you can fall through, but pretty much all you do is dodge the few Koopas and enter the pipe, get shot out, get the midway point, then enter another pipe.In this room, you're given a raft ride under a bunch of flying [?] blocks. Next, you're faced with a hurdle-like obstacle guarded by many Spike Tops, then a bridge of clouds with some upside-down clouds. After the Chuck, you're home free.
The level didn't really develop a concept, and the raft ride had no danger until the end where the Hammer Bro was.
|APPEAL||7/10||Much of the level fit in with the ice cream concept. While the land was colored pleasantly, the blockiness became redundant, and left some other variety of decor to be desired. I think the greyish/bluish parts representing vanilla should've been a bit whiter/creamier though, but then again, there's more basementdwellers that would complain of AAHTOOBRIGHTness. Oh well.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||10/10||Nothing gamebreaking. Kinda weird that the Hammer Bro continued throwing stuff when it fell into the lava but the hammers can't really reach you. So yeah, whatever.|
|FUN||6/10||In spite of the stage not seeming to have a focus outside of aesthetics, the pacing of the level makes it enjoyable.|
|ENTRY 045: "Bowser's Mine" by Noobish Noobsicle|
|DESIGN||8/10||I thought this was an intelligently-designed cave level. The placement of Chucks, for example, on top of Munchers, below a wall which forced you off the line guide, was pretty cool, and they were right at home in the later part of the level to create fair difficulty.|
Enough time was given to compensate for the experimentation needed for the pipe maze right before the midway point. The level, discounting the pipe maze, has a progressive difficulty curve, and is moderately hard but not rage-inducingly hard.
The Yoshi hidden in one of the walls is tremendously useful without even coming close to breaking the level. I do think, though, that there should have been a powerup in the area where you re-enter the level from the midway point because you're going into heavy enemy territory.
|APPEAL||7/10||The lamp lights and the ExAnimation on the cave ground was a superb idea. With the nature of tiles, though, it might have looked even better if you limited the light to the surface of the ground. The foreground palette overall was satisfying, but the background shades did not flow together really.|
|FUN||7/10||Okay, the Bullet Bills killed the second half of the level for me because they'd shoot at these precise moments where I'm unable to dodge because they're like close enough to almost instantly hit but JUST far away enough that it tries to shoot.|
|ENTRY 046: "Silent Shivers" by Georgevssonic|
The Big Boo fight incorporated Boo Blocks as a neat means of helping you reach one of the throwing blocks, but was unforgiving to misses. Other than that, it was pretty much just a standard linear level with a lot of cramped areas having threatening objects but enough variety in platform positioning and cleverly-placed sprites to keep it from going stale. The part with the blue P-switch where you use it to turn one block into a coin, right above another coin, and have to wait it out, got in the way of things more than anything else.
|APPEAL||9/10||It certainly was a pretty level palette-wise and with much decor and ground formations, if not a little overwhelmingly detailed. Everything came together to create a somewhat spooky ambience.|
|FUN||5/10||Er... I had to play this level a few times ~because I couldn't remember parts that I've already gone by~, if that's any indication. :s It was slow overall, especially when you had to wait for the P-switch to expire in that one spot, but the level wasn't buttfuck-frustrating, at least. (I also can't help but dislike the grinder as a FG "muncher" because the hitbox is just not consistent with the graphic area it fills.)|
|ENTRY 047: "Siskart Hills" by Mr ESC450|
|DESIGN||8/10||You're given what feels like just another action level, but there's some quirks that make you wonder what's really going on here, such as the info box on the ground and a few really high places that are impossible to reach. When you enter the pipe, you end up in an upside-down version of the level with entirely different enemies and the ability to reach those places, then suddenly things make sense. The upside down room plays quite differently from the room before it, as it presents a slew of "scarier" enemies, and the "ceiling" has a different structure from the "floor".|
Both rooms focus on enemies that guard their turf strongly and often test your reflexes, the ability to land on the edge of a pipe to not hit the Lakitu poking out, and resisting the temptation of sliding down the slope to kill the Spinies when there's a pitfall immediately after. The subtle hinting at the gimmick in the first room was a neat touch.
But then, you get to the midway point inside a ghost house. The springboard is all the way to your right, and then you enter a small maze where you need to find a switch as three Boos chase you through pockets of water in the maze. The water was clever because the Boos became a viable threat due to your lower speed while swimming.
Then, you enter a room full of Eeries and misleading doors. Afterward, you end up in one final room with platforms guarded by circles of Boo Buddies before you find the sorceror responsible for this - Big Boo.
Big Boo's room is actually well-designed, because the throw blocks are merely fragmented bridges, and you get a fair few shots at him.
Probably the only thing wrong with this level is it felt like it went down in difficulty after the maze.
|APPEAL||8/10||I like the ground palette and the reserved use of decoration so it didn't feel like a clusterfuck of everything, although the backgrounds.. I would've had more contrast on the shades of the clouds in the first room, as it's done with the second room, though it otherwise looked good. I noticed one incorrect bush tile in the upside down room, and not having a black outline around the ice-colored pipes was weird. :e All of the ghost house rooms seemed fine to me, both in foreground and background, and the contrast in the purple/brown and green/brown rooms was great in one of the rooms.|
|FUN||7/10||The level is a teeny bit on the long side and felt like it would've gone better about 1/2 to 3/4 through the upside-down room. You took a more minimal approach to the ghost house rooms both structurally and in terms of enemies, which turned out great, and I feel like maybe cutting out a few sprites from the outdoors area to balance out the difficulty would've made it more enjoyable back there.|
... and I liked this level. It told a story without being an ebook.
|ENTRY 048: "Castle Escape!" by GravityxHammah|
|DESIGN||5/10||You start inside and get a mushroom right away as you navigate around stationary saws and pencils with the occasional active enemy. There's actually a good amount of space here, and spin jumping to fit between places is smooth sailing. Outside are parachuting bombs, and some jumping fires on the top of the castle. It's much flatter than the last room, but the part where you wait for parachuting bombs so you can get across the wide gap is kind of cool, even if it does kill the momentum; it adds to the theme and gives a sense of urgency. The third room is back inside the castle, but doesn't really have much substance to it.|
The door takes you to the forest where you're surrounded by Boo circles and must wait for them to open up. Here are two mushrooms for your hardships. There are a few dangers beyond that like saws and other ghosts, and then you go through yet another filler room, then find yourself in a relatively simple pipe maze.
The objective of the maze is to find the P-switch before leaving. There's no way back in after you leave, and while the goal post is blocked by 3 tiles high of brown blocks, it's incredibly easy to just jump over, thus voiding the need for a P-switch.
I wanna say that there were some solid rooms in here, but the filler segments and the flawed latter half bog it down. (Also could've used a lower/no time limit :s)
|APPEAL||7/10||The shades in the first room were put together well, although it seemed more an artsy thing with two hues rather than something "natural" - not a bad thing, but does make some stuff less immediately distinguishable. The level of decor in here was balanced. The third castle room has a similar effect. The ghost forest was my favorite section palette-wise, not only did it seem natural-looking but it was actually quite vibrant and "accessible" compared to the castle palettes. The murky greens contrasted well with the jungle-green background and I loved the browns. The other rooms which used default palettes were ok.|
|FUN||6/10||I think it would've been awesome if you gave purpose to some of the transition rooms, like the room with the bushes, and the second indoor castle room. You had a great idea... the concept just wasn't executed well. =(|
|ENTRY 049: "An Aerial Anomaly" by Forty2|
|DESIGN||8/10||The first room has a mostly well-executed ride on a grass platform beneath some munchers, Chucks, and Koopas. You're required to jump on some of these enemies or higher platforms in order to get around the clusters of munchers or blocks that will impede your progress and push you off the platform or kill you directly. Rock-throwing Chucks guard some areas pretty well, and one such area can be transversed using a slightly less tricky, but still challenging to pull off, technique of jumping over a really high muncher & block.|
The volcanic room remains mostly as two paths, that ultimately lead to the same pipe. The secret exit here requires a key, but you use it as a stepping stool instead of an actual key.
Both rooms are packed with a lot of action and enemies that guard areas very well while providing the only way to advance by bouncing off of them, but both rooms also suffer from platforms (and munchers in the first room) being so close together that your jumps are sometimes pixel-perfect.
|APPEAL||9/10||The ambience here is great - the pale, low-contrast cloud background in the first section that scrolls as soon as the level begins makes the platform seem to move fast, and the volcanic atmosphere of the latter half of the level lives with the rich soil hues and the evil-looking gradient near the bottom of the screen where the lava falls.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||In the third room where there's lava, there's some slowdown towards the right side of the lava pool. Nothing else notable.|
|FUN||5/10||I would have liked this level, but it felt too claustrophobic in some unforgiving places and warranted a lot of savestates to progress. One tile of extra empty height between the top and bottom of some areas that feel like precision-jumping/running and savestates are needed, would've cut down heavily on the annoyance factor.|
|ENTRY 050: "Castle Hassle" by miguel21450|
|DESIGN||N/A||Disqualified for use of ExGFX.|
|ENTRY 051: "Skull Island" by aj6666|
|DESIGN||9/10||I do have to admit that while the level was really hard, it was still well-designed. This level is a linear level with many obstacles and much variety along the path, and forces the player to make cautious calculations of how to circumvent enemies and threatening objects.|
The toxic part, where you are on a very strict time limit, gives a little breathing room if you are somewhat slow, but forces you to keep on moving if you are to make it to the pipe in time regardless. The gimmick fits in with the grim theme of the level without overtaking it and becoming the center of attention.
The stage concludes with a dangerous boss room with Eeries and toxic assisting Big Boo.
|APPEAL||9/10||The palettes and tilesets are thoroughly worked with to create a dreary, poisonous, desolate wasteland. The terrain is highly varied after you get past the first few seconds of the level and there are a lot of different rooms to see in this level. Nothing bores.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||8/10||There's a bit of slowdown inside the toxic underground when I approach the jumping Piranha Plants, and brief moment of slowdown elsewhere in this part, probably due to all those Podoboos.|
I've had one portion of the turn block bridge disappear due to sprite tile memory issues, but I could only get it to trigger once.
There was a slope in the outside segment with the Fishin' Boo that I walked through and died next to a one-tile-high bone.
|FUN||4/10||I thought the level was tough and enjoyable to begin with, though after the midway point, I felt it became TOO hard since there was still much more to come.|
When I got to the Fishin' Boo and the land was elevated, I got frustrated most at that part since I was small, and even with savestates it took me quite a lot of tries to get through.
The Ball & Chains were tough to discern throughout as dangerous foreground because it didn't stand out to me, I had trouble seeing a lot of them, and graphics didn't fill their hitbox either.
Only three blocks to kill the Big Boo, plus an Eerie Generator, was rather strict after all that.
The midway point comes much too early in this level, considering the immense difficulty of all that comes after it. If this level is an endgame excerpt, at the very least, this is the one thing I suggest changing above all else. This is a very long level for its difficulty.
|ENTRY 052: "Forested Field" by E-Man|
|DESIGN||9/10||Forested Field takes on a traditional action form with various elevations of platforms, some pitfalls, and effective enemy placement. No single place has a clusterfuck of foes - each one does its job well. The flying Koopas are strategically placed near Dragon Coins above pits so you have to time your jump to get them without dying. Swoopers and Chucks in the cave are tricky at times, and a lone Volcano Lotus does a great job guarding mushroom platforms in the outside part.|
In the second room of the cave, there was a springboard available to scale a wall later on in the room, but alternatively, you can wait for a Spike Top to crawl down the wall and spin jump off of him to go up.
I liked how the key to the secret exit was hidden behind the treetops, in the pipe you had to walk off a mushroom platform slowly to get to.
|APPEAL||10/10||The forest looked amazing with the desaturated colors and many shades of green, as well as the priority set to the treetops, to create a finely layered environment.|
The cave ground looks cool since the brown and yellow layers of earth contrast well, and the castle candles are used in a cool fashion as torches on the angled ghost house pillars. I found it neat that the next room of the cave took the previous room's palette and made it darker instead of being a plain recycle.
Overall, detail in the level is dispersed nicely - it doesn't feel overcramped or empty, even in spite of the cave not using layer 2 as a background.
|FUN||8/10||This level had really great momentum with subtle progression in difficulty. The Dragon Coins weren't out of the way to get, yet some of them, you had to kind of work for because they were sometimes in dangerous spots. The ideas were simple but flow so well together and proves you don't need a gimmick to have a lot of fun.|
|ENTRY 053 by Mrgoomba909|
|DESIGN||6/10||All around you, there are randomly scattered coins before you get to the action. Other than Chucks, you can slide down hills to kill pretty much anything in your path. Then comes a segment of swimming up a ladder of water to fall back down to the ground. You have to reveal a ? block and take a P-switch back up to normal land before you activate it, then run across a bridge before you're presented with more random coins to collect over another bridge. You then run around some pipes and go into this weird pipe and find the midway point.|
Now, you're in a room where Spinies drop near you, and you have to choose to go up or right. If you go right, you pretty much just run and jump over enemies until you discover the goal is blocked by some brown blocks, so you have to go up. If you go up, you have to get around munchers while you scale the clouds, which can be a little tricky, but then you can just carry a blue switch down and activate a silver one to save you the trouble of either waiting one out to press another one or having to deal with enemies below.
It doesn't really feel like it has a unified theme; it's like an experimental obstacle course level.
|APPEAL||6/10||You start off in a nicely-colored area with a "glass bridge" and some lush green hills, but... que la fuck when you see the football guy head things?! D: Sprite tileset selection here is poor in the first room and that detracts from the level, and while the cutoff waterfall doesn't bother me that much, eh.. it's still a noteworthy thing I guess. On the upside, the land fleshing here is done pretty well in the second half, and the tweaks to the background hills for different shapes and leaves was kinda neat..|
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||I noticed some slowdown near the Wiggler and Chucks in the second room, but that's about it.|
|FUN||6/10||For a level of this nature, it wasn't really that bad just because there was more than one way to go about the second part of the level. The first part felt like a giant chunk of filler and could've benefitted from more thorough planning.|
|ENTRY 054: "Vanilla Plains" by The Secret Exit|
|DESIGN||5/10||Now, as far as enemy placement goes, there's a lot of empty spots, and there's some spots that are so overcrammed with Koopas and Goombas on slopes that there is no greater or less danger than few or none, and you often set up rows of enemies that can be avoided or bounced off of so easily. The munchers near the midway point do pose a genuine threat. There are also too many powerups at the beginning. All-in-all, it seemed like not a whole lot of thought went into the level.|
|APPEAL||6/10||Unedited palettes, so it doesn't look bad colorwise. It's a little on the bland side decorwise.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||8/10||The turn block cluster in the secret room is EVIL - either you get stuck there if you miss, or get killed if you hit the cement with a cape on, and there's not much foresight. D: It's also possible to walk through a slope to your death prior to the pipe that gets you around the cement block wall.|
|FUN||4/10||The fast pacing allowed by the cape and the Yoshi were the most fun I had with this level, as the stage wasn't fun on a ground-level. Sorry =(|
|ENTRY 055: "Desert Beach" by Darky|
|DESIGN||9/10||The way this level works is straightforward, however there is almost no point in the stage where only one path exists. These paths are small breaks off of where you were before, but enriching because each path offers something different, such as coins, different threats, or powerups, and not a lot of backtracking needed to explore another section.|
Part 1 and 3 of the level are outdoors, and a standard action environment. Part 2 is a castle that is about to explode, and you have 100 seconds to get out. The bonus room is abuseable to reset the time limit to explore more, but it's a rather trivial thing because the exit to the bonus room is next to the door, and it's simple enough to find everything in the room before you're about to die.
|APPEAL||9/10||I liked the use of various tiles to thoroughly detail the landscape outside without overcluttering it, and the arrangement of blocks and flooring inside the castle.|
The palettes are quite good - the different shades of brown between the beach's colors and the mountains' colors prevent it from being dull like so many other attempts at a desert/beach, but what really strikes me is the castle. The foreground is rich and the hue blending is brilliant - it fits as a desert castle, and the background gives off a warm, heated feel like the story to this segment implies. The pinkish tones and the yellow contrast very well.
The deduction here is in the third room where the door is, I think the butcher's knife fell too soon, and rather cleanly through that screen. Le "ouch."
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||There's a Dragon Coin near the clouds in the second outdoor part of the level, but, I can only get it when I enter from the midway point, and not from the start of the level, so it's impossible to get more than four Dragon Coins in a run.|
|FUN||10/10||This was probably my favorite level in the contest. I enjoyed replaying it to check the other path deviations for Dragon Coins and other goodies I might have missed. It doesn't matter that it wasn't as long as another level.. it didn't try too hard to cram in petty ideas that don't go with the flow.|
|ENTRY 056: "The Stroll..." by Master S|
|DESIGN||8/10||Not to let the ground detail fool me, this level is actually rather open. Enemy placement is aimed at covering important areas with just one essential enemy per platform, like a Rex or a Koopa, and places with the better stuff (P-switch, alternating item block) seem to be narrower so the enemy is harder to just jump on or over - carelessness will still get you into trouble, though they shouldn't be a problem to avoid. The task at hand to get the better stuff, kicking a shell into the block, is appropriate for the perceived area in a formal project this would fit judging by the level's overall length and difficulty, the first world.|
|APPEAL||10/10||I felt that even though the ground had a ridiculous amount of detail, the even distribution of it, the gentle colors and subtle contrast made it easy on the eyes rather than a huge distraction. The blue-to-cyan sky gradient adds a lot of character to the background.|
|FUN||8/10||This is a very relaxing level to play. I enjoy the pacing.|
|ENTRY 057: "Rainbow Fortress" by TomPhanto|
|DESIGN||8/10||This was a kind of interesting action level. For starters, you go left instead of right. There's a bonus room hidden in the hole, and many different deviations in the path that ultimately lead you to the same finish. Each path presents its own dangers and rewards (you'll wanna be thorough if you want all the Dragon Coins) and stick with a central theme of which obstacles and enemies it uses. Later outside, the threat increases with wide pits and moving rocks/rotating platforms that sometimes reach into walls and ceilings, testing how quickly you can maneuver past them to get to safe ground.|
After the midway point, you enter a linear castle with standard castle threats in addition to generic foes - they often fit in the color theme of the screen they are on. Halfway through, you can go through a pipe and experience a different half of castle interior to the finish, or just stick along the same path.
While I did find the first half of the level more impressive from a raw platforming point of view, the level as a whole is a solid product handled with love.
|APPEAL||8/10||I can see why someone wouldn't like this, but this appeals to my tastes. It's just so colorful and makes me feel good. What turned out best in my opinion is the bonus room's tiles with the ring in the middle and all those coins, though the rainbow look on the rest of the level was worked out in a lively, albeit more crude, fashion.|
|FUN||9/10||The nonlinearity and the action here got me in the outdoor part. The interior was less memorable, it didn't have much to set it apart from other typical castles.|
|ENTRY 058: "Just a Level" by Chibikage89|
|DESIGN||8/10||The level starts you off in a grassland and presents standard threats like Koopas and Goombas placed in such ways that promote a healthy level pace while being sufficiently protective. The shell-kicking Koopas in the grassland and the cave parts double as dangers and help because letting the shells go will net you coins and powerups. A few simple line guides in the sky portion add a little character and have purpose as well.|
Probably the most interesting thing about this level is after the sky part, when you're put back in the grassland, you think it's the same room you started out in and you jump across those turn block bridges in the air to the goal, but if you jump down and go back to the beginning, a more challenging castle is there to a secret exit.
Most importantly, platform placement throughout is very varied yet not scatterbrained, and spaced well enough to give the level flow without feeling empty. It feels like it could structurally be a level in Super Mario World itself.
|APPEAL||7/10||Makes use of the default palettes in suitable ways. The grassland room was the most notably-well decorated. Other sections were satisfactory. I think that use of the extra graphics slots could've helped out the castle in the retake of the grassland room, however - the cement blocks are meh.|
|FUN||9/10||This is yet another pleasant and very "traditional"-feeling level to play through.|
|ENTRY 059: "Desert Discovery" by K3nny|
|DESIGN||9/10||This stage promotes exploration - you will have to search thoroughly and cleverly lure foes to find ways to get to the hidden Dragon Coins. Tasks range from getting a Chargin' Chuck to run underneath you to break down a wall of turn blocks, to throwing a block up high enough to drop a springboard from a turn block that's barely in view, to a P-switch race on a temporary bridge over a wide pit. These puzzles can be completely ignored if you're just trying to get to the end, so it's a "play it however you like" kind of level.|
The action does hold up very well without the side quests since the enemies are extremely effective for their areas, especially after the midway point. Not a single enemy was wasted. What was interesting is that hesitation hurts here - if you keep a certain rhythm, you can comfortably sail through even foes placed in the most intimidating places.
|APPEAL||7/10||The use of Monty Mole's dirt and Pokey bodies as cacti were a cool touch, and the vanilla pyramids look great. I felt that the dirt could've used a little more contrast since it looks almost like one solid shade of brown, the cacti could also have more distinguishing shades of green, and the background in the first level could've used a desaturated/dark brown outline to fully distinguish it. Looking at the underground pyramid and the cave, everything seems really nice to me. The bonus room is awfully colorful|
|FUN||9/10||Desert Discovery is really rewarding for putting in effort without being overly tricky or obscure, and has a lot of replay value. Kickass job.|
|ENTRY 060: "Gravity Castle" by Pikerchu13|
|DESIGN||7/10||This level is punishing. Duplex saw formations on line guides are quite scary in the opening room. You later have to go through another room and work your way around narrow corridors with spikes and Koopas where you're shot at, and find a blue P-switch to bring back to the lobby room and get the silver P-switch to get through to the autoscrolling segment where you're shot at even more. It ends with a creative boss that locks layer 2 into place and you have scrolling layer 1 walls and spikes as your main threat.|
I don't like the swooping platform placement in the autoscroll part because it can push you through the platform you're standing on, and didn't like how in one room, you had to wait for a pretty long time before the Bullet Bill generator gave you a bullet you could actually bounce off of to reach the water - it technically can be considered luck-based design.
|APPEAL||9/10||The palettes here are a bit desaturated for my tastes in the outdoor part but still contrast well and are suiting, nonetheless. The level of detail and variety in the environments is excellent, and I liked the gradients in the lava, the sky, and the use of lines around the floating lava and water to prevent cutoff.|
Blank message box in the boss room, eh.. counted as appeal and not functionality because it technically doesn't hurt the design.
|FUN||4/10||The boss room was a giant troll. Things like the spikes' hitboxes going beneath the rope's top and still hurting you, the dropdown mushroom scrolling with layer 1 when you're locked onto layer 2, extremely cramped area, etc. I can't blame you for putting the midway point this late in the level as a result. The level before this was, for the most part, reasonably enjoyable.|
|ENTRY 061: "Fantasy" by Storm Kyleis|
|DESIGN||7/10||Here, we have a short-but-sweet stage with water lining much of the bottom. There's a lot of variety in platform elevation, and minor deviations which lead to Dragon Coins. Koopas and various ghosts make up the bulk of the enemies you'll find around here; none too difficult to dodge. Interestingly enough, if you re-enter the level, you can find a goodie replacing a Dragon Coin if you'd collected them all before.|
|APPEAL||9/10||Holy shit. This level tastes like moonlight. I feel like I've been cast in a Disney movie. The cyan, translucent ground and the night sky is just so dreamy and beautiful, and the detailing is balanced quite well. Just about the only thing that irks me here is how some stuff goes behind the background when it comes out of boxes.|
|FUN||8/10||Though quite easy, the whole feel of the level is magic, and I like the pacing there is to this level. Once you already know how it ends, that huge slope in the sky near the end is just fun to slide down then jump off of and duck-jump your way to the goal tape.|
|ENTRY 062 by IonDrako and K3fka|
|DESIGN||6/10||You are outside on top of buildings with Yoshies cheering at your arrival, for it's complete dystopia here in the city. There seems to be little thought behind the arrangement of platforms and enemies - it's all over the place until the second room, after the midway point.|
Fishin' Boo chases you as a brigade of foes explode out of blocks to try to force you to jump into him. Afterwards, you end up inside a building with a few Ninjis and some Koopas walking down the stairs, which is no problem to pass.
The castle is where you start to see an ample amount of powerups and strategic enemy placement next to walls you run up, and the like. Bowser's statues at the end spit fireballs that can be difficult to dodge if your timing is not good, but it's still very much passable.
At the end, you fight Reznor.
|APPEAL||7/10||The palettes, while nothing special, get the job done. I liked the building outside and the castle, but the Ninji room had some pretty ugly transitions between walls and the floor - these walls should use their mirrored counterpart to not cut off, for instance.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||Sprite memory problems around the Fishin' Boo area - the top half of Mario is missing at one point, and a flying Koopa disappeared as the Fishin' Boo spawned. Whatever was in that shattering ground/block did not appear either, and some other enemies around a series of shattering blocks did not appear.|
Inside the building, some of the Ninjis jumped through the ceiling and became a nonfactor.
I could also walk under some of those escalators inside the castle.
|FUN||5/10||The second area was really unfun since outside the building, powerups were really lacking, especially with the sprite tile limit practically forcing hits on the Fishin' Boo segment. The whole Ninji segment felt like filler. The castle was redeeming since it seemed backed by more thoughtful design, and Reznor was a nice finishing touch.|
|ENTRY 063: "Shining Moon Tourguide" by Vic Rattlehead|
|DESIGN||8/10||You take a line guide down where you essentially choose your destiny. What is this, Mortal Kombat? ...anyways, the level mandates sharp attention, regardless of path, and usually forces you to keep on moving. The easier right path has jumping saws in narrow corridors, jumping Chucks in tiny pockets inside the wall that you have to carefully jump on in order to reach higher grounds, and falling platforms guarded tightly by saws, alternating between the vertical middle and sides. After the midway point, you have a falling layer 2 shaft with Podoboos and Grinders that gradually make your life a living hell, as you try to get a key to fall with methodical blue P-switch pressing and coin collecting.|
The harder left side takes the jumping/line-guided saws and falling/line-guided platforms and puts it on 20 kinds of speed. The other midway point route throws a P-switch race at you, recycling the scary saws, and adding in Koopas that kick shells at these essential blocks to make things even more anxious.
One problem I see is if you are small, you can get stuck in the right path where you throw blocks to get through the turn blocks laid along the ground over a hole. Another is that the screen won't vertically scroll when I'm done bouncing on some Chucks to a high place because when I hit the wall, it doesn't have me in "fly" mode anymore, so I had to get lucky to know if I'd reached ground or if I'd fall to my death. Overall, this is one of the most cleverly thought-out death traps I've ever seen.
|APPEAL||9/10||This level just looked really cool with the neon saws and the white outline around the cave foreground and rocks; it did pull off an outer-spacey feel without looking horribly cheesy. I must admit that one Koopa that kicked the shell between two huge pillars to create this cascading coin effect was pretty awesome too.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||10/10||Nothing gamebreaking. I don't know if the slowdown in the falling shaft was intentional - it certainly was extremely beneficial, and you lost it if you used the last P-switch that you can technically get the key without...|
|FUN||8/10||This level was pretty damn tense, but I adored how it took this consistent concept with the saws and line guides to an extreme and kept it fresh, and it looked cool at the same time. I died a lot, but I always felt an incentive to continue playing because I was getting better and better at it as I went. You, sir, know how to do a good hard level.|
|ENTRY 064: "Losoall's Binary of LULZ" by losoall|
|DESIGN||5/10||You are thrown into a castle where you pick up Fire Flowers and shoot baseball Chucks with them as your safest method of proceeding while you dodge fireballs from Volcano Lotuses and flames from Sumo Brother's lightning bolt. When you get to the top, there's still a fair amount of those, though Pokey gets introduced and you have to kill him by bouncing a shell between two blocks.|
Through the pipe is a raft ride with pillars of lava you have to maneuver around. The midway point gives you a castle room with line-guided platforms around spikes, walls that Magikoopa's magic can only break, and a cloud ride around spikes. Finally, you have an autoscroll room with spikes everywhere, and a part you have to wait and see before just how many Thwomps in a row are on those platforms, lest you be forced to take damage.
Even with variety, the design as a whole felt uninspired, like a grab bag of ideas thrown together.
|APPEAL||5/10||Black and white can be pulled off and look really nice, but this is just the same castle brick over and over again until you get to the rooftop. D: The maroon sky is cool, and the gradient in the next room has some nice hue blending techniques. The lava looks ugly, though, as did the midway room. In the autoscroll room, the palettes look fine, but there are sprite tile memory problems with the Ball & Chain sprites.|
|FUN||3/10||Really repetitive in the beginning, but it gets more varied between then and the lava part. The lava part is just tedious, especially after the huge fall. The magikoopa room part was alright, but I didn't like the cloud ride around spikes, and the autoscroll room was pretty annoying as well... I think you should use fewer core ideas and mature them, and maybe make it more comfortable to play through. Too many threats felt cramped together.|
|ENTRY 065: "Sand Castle" by neosaver|
|DESIGN||7/10||The main course of the first room is rather standard though if you jump on the Goomba to get up a tree, you can take an alternative route where you get a springboard. You then lure a Pokey to spin jump off of and ascend a ledge, use the springboard, and get the blue P-switch to carry up a point of no return where you'd either need it, or take the path to the pipe leading underwater. This way, if you are fast enough, you get inside a sand castle where you are awarded the almighty cape before you go underwater.|
This swimming exercise utilizes Urchins and fish effectively - sometimes you have to be patient, and sometimes you have to duck to dodge. One of the coolest things was how the Chuck protected in the wall could awaken all the Rip Van Fish behind the seaweed, but there aren't many at first; it builds up as you progress along this stretch. If you find the key, you can get out before the castle.
The main attraction of the castle is the second room where you ride the ? block left, being wary of jumping fish, magic, and Balls & Chains, or if you got the feather, you could skip to the vertical room where you need to spin jump off of lots of things and unveil ? blocks to make bridges across gaps with low ceilings to proceed. There's a puzzle with a invisible floors and threats, and the true image mirroring, where you have to get a P-switch to proceed, but if you still have the feather, you can again skip it, do more stuff, net climb and fetch items.. yeah, it's just a little overboard in length. A lot of thought went into it, but at the same time, it has too much.
|APPEAL||9/10||Hah, this place is very cute. I like the use of the overworld water tiles in the ocean and the animated waves at the end of the shoreline. Not all enemies were placed with challenge in mind - Chucks charge right through sand castles, Koopas are one of the more common enemies outside and palm trees are everywhere. Underwater utilizes pieces of the sunken ship to create a sandy background that fades into the ocean as seaweed, orange Urchins, and tiny stars decorate the foreground. In the castle, you have Bowser's cave entrance acting as a fountain for a lovely waterfall in the background,|
Not only is the level atmospheric, it's also quite humorous - at the end of the underwater part, there's blowfish with their rear ends sticking out of pipes, and after that part, there's this FUCKING HUGE PIXELLATED FORTRESS. I wish the dark outline would've been a consistent thing throughout, though. =(
|FUN||7/10||It was fun for a while, but as said earlier, it's just too long.|
|ENTRY 066: "Mario fights the Big Boo, with the Participation of Yoshi Superdragon" by Morsel|
|DESIGN||6/10||Big flaw, first of all, if you lose the feather before you make it to the lava, congratulations! Jump in the pink stuff to receive your free iPod nano! The Piranha Plant also gets stuck in the ceiling. The ceiling is extremely low above most of the lava slopes too so you don't have a whole lot of leeway and no way to recover if you lose running speed, but the concept of spin-jump-flying over the lava like that is COOL. Just.. not executed too well. =(|
The idea behind the Big Boo fight was cool, having Yoshi spit shells at Big Boo, but you didn't get many chances. There was a very narrow gap between lava that you had to fly through as well.
|APPEAL||5/10||I like the first room just the way it looks - the detailing is nothing special but the palette sure is interesting. But wtf when you take part in the Yoshi flight? There's no distinction between background and foreground and it looks unbelievably confusing.|
|FUN||6/10||The sinking rock platforms pissed me off because Mario stutter-runs on them half the time and you can't get back in the air. That, and, there are so many things that fuck you up like those Goombas in that slope with the extremely close corner. I loved what you were trying to do with this level but you just made it too claustrophobic and it made it way harder than it should've been.|
|ENTRY 067: "Sea Brine Shrine" by Spud Alpha|
|DESIGN||9/10||After a cutscene introduces you to the level's plot, the stage begins as a standard semiaquatic action level where you jump on Koopas and swim around fish along a detailed, often splitting path until you get to the midway point, and suddenly a gimmick this way comes.|
You must get Magikoopa to throw his magic at the blocks above where he can spawn a yellow Koopa, then throw the shell up to drop and activate the P-switch and get out of there. You then find and fly a Blue Yoshi through the castle while trying not to get hit by his spells and other enemies.
|APPEAL||10/10||Shit dude, the layering and landscaping here is just awesome. I love the checker pattern and dithering in the water to create the sense of a fade to transparency, and the gradient in the background is smart for the horizon. This would've looked pretty badass if I had a CRT monitor. The way the bushes cover up the ground platforms is smooth, the trees are cute, the vine endings and the use of vines as seaweed is pretty genius, palettes are bright and soothing. Inside the castle gave off a dark and creepy vibe while still being just as colorful as the outside.|
There's a minor oversight where the turn blocks spin in the Magikoopa's P-switch room, but all this serious ricing more than makes up for it.
|FUN||10/10||The first part of the level was decently entertaining but didn't have any truly unique merits from a design standpoint. The Yoshi flight challenge got me pumped. I died fairly quickly the first time through it, but then managed to beat it savestateless on my next attempt, albeit with some very close calls. The difficulty jump was pretty sudden, making it an appropriate "boss" segment, and an exciting one at that. Props for a great execution on the Yoshi flight. Favorite entry for sure.|
|ENTRY 068: "Teal Mountain" by Kristian|
|DESIGN||7/10||A slopey mountain with lots of typical castle enemies like the Thwomp and the Hothead. The wooden stakes are often well-placed to hinder your progression, and most of the Thwomps and vertical flying Koopas are menacing, but it also felt like some enemies (such as the Grinder between the two pipes that were rather close together) were nonfactors and a few places were pretty wide-open. There was one such split in the path where the top was very easy compared to the bottom, yet the top had the Dragon Coin, which I also found to be imbalanced.|
The side rooms, one being a bouncy bonus and the other being a Thwomp room with a Dragon Coin, as well as the path to the midway point, add a degree of exploration and variety to the level - one is just in a pipe on the ground, and the other two can be reached by bringing an item shortly ahead of their location back a little and then hitting a block or following a coin path.
|APPEAL||7/10||Funny detail: When Hothead gets to the bottom of the wall, he loops around and goes through the ground. xP|
The palettes themselves were solid, though there wasn't much contrast between the background and the foreground... they were both the same kind of green and it was kinda bland.
|FUNCTIONALITY||10/10||Nothing gamebreaking, and no sprite tile memory problems. Thank you based Kristian for testing thoroughly.|
|FUN||6/10||I had to play this level like 15 times from start to end to develop an opinion on it for some reason. o.0 I think it could have used an extension, and the enemies placed in more challenging ways where they were just thrown about. Overall, it was a pretty average experience.|
|ENTRY 069: "An SMW CeNNtral Production" by S.N.N.|
|DESIGN||2/10||A huge stretch of land spanning across every screen, with some cement blocks as obstacles to jump over. You run and jump over to the right end to get a blue P-switch, take it to the left end, press it to get the springboard and collect the coins around the munchers, get the silver P-switch back on the right end, then take it to the left to kill the munchers and enter the pipe.|
A midway point exists just before the goal.
I'd say this was an amusing satirical level.
|APPEAL||3/10||Flat like a loli's chest and devoid of threats. The unmodified palette looks decent though.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||10/10||An idiot could get stuck if they pressed one of those switches too early. D: But you see where you're supposed to press it, so there shouldn't be any excuse if you did get stuck.|
|FUN||1/10||Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon|
|ENTRY 070: "The Factory" by ZMann|
|DESIGN||9/10||Outside, you find yourself running and jumping around Balls & Chains, statues, and undead enemies. When you get inside the factory, you see more mechanical and fire-themed enemies such as Grinders, Hotheads, and Podoboos. With some extra effort, you can spin jump off of an enemy and find a pocket filled with coins. The lava room has rising and sinking layer 2 - in one such part you can stand on the ground even though it ducks beneath the lava without dying. One extra life is reachable if you're bold enough to brave one of the platforms you get the least time to move across.|
After the room with a P-switch and an ominous message, the factory counts down to detonation. Jumps here are more dangerous so spin jumping is advised to avoid hitting fire. The room after resembles the appearance and challenges prior to the lava room, and after that, you are home free.
|APPEAL||10/10||The dimmed and desaturated colors looked pretty neat, and the tileset combinations were excellent for making a vanilla factory. Outside's bluish and purplish ground looked perfect for night, and all the bone decor gave off a creepy vibe.|
I loved the fire. The orangish hues in the fiery factory rooms create the sensation of heat well, and the gradient in the first factory interior room was a good prelude to this.
Detailing was quite balanced and not over/underdone. The coolest thing was how the self-destructing sequence used enemies out of view to shake the entire level.
The only thing I noticed wrong was in the second room, when you take the swooping platform over, the Hothead glitches when it's going left along the top of the platform beside the coin area. It's pretty out-of-the-way, though.
|FUN||8/10||It starts out alright, but feels kind of cramped and slow-moving in the beginning. Once you're inside the factory, it opens up and the momentum is more interesting, and from the point of the layer 2 room onwards through the selfdestruction, I loved it.|
|ENTRY 071: "Mineral Mines" by RedToonLink|
|DESIGN||9/10||I have no idea how to describe this level except long, winding, confusing, but consistent, and the water kills you. The level is a hybrid between lucrative action and puzzles consisting of either P-switch searches or invisible coin block bridges.|
One really neat design point, as minor as it was, was how you recycled that powerup block from the beginning and midway point and prevented the player from switching thresholds. Using the conveyor belts to influence enemy speeds as well has having spikes to duck below was also a memorable touch. Enemy and block placement is pretty righteous throughout.
One really BAD thing is in a room after the midway point, where if you jump down to an area with a springboard near a Diggin' Chuck without grabbing a throw block, you get forced to kill yourself because the ? blocks box you in.
|APPEAL||9/10||Your palettes are excellently done here and you went out of your way to make a lot of variety in block formation and land fleshing. The really skinny ground tiles are kinda tacky and I remember seeing some ugly pillars in the second-to-last room but besides those, this level looks great.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||I've had a moving checkered platform above deadly water, between the throw blocks, vanish.|
|FUN||7/10||While I really liked how one key element of your level was revealing ? block bridges as ways of getting around frequently, the lengthy P-switch hunt song-and-dance is just so bland at this point; the first one feels like unneeded padding while the second one had some purpose IMO. I had to give this level time to grow on me.. but I find that as the level progresses, it's actually a lot more easy to get into|
|ENTRY 072: "Unlock the Key" by x1372|
|DESIGN||9/10||The level features a mix of action and puzzle-oriented challenges where you use a key as a means of avoiding enemies, opening item boxes, and entering pipes in short rooms. One such room has a secret exit beneath a falling layer 2 castle cinder block, which will crush you if you aren't fast enough. A pipe in that same room leads to a room with an extra life, followed by the Big Boo boss, which you attack with keys instead of throwing blocks.|
|APPEAL||7/10||In the outdoor portions, you got a pleasant deep forest green grass on a sandy pastel ground and a grayish blue background. The colors on the clouds were really soft and smooth, though the outdoor backgrounds after the first two rooms seem to be kind of bland. Room 4 also was noticably darker than the previous. The fifth room's underground foreground palette isn't really too good in comparison to the other foregrounds, as the intermediate shade was the lightest and it made the surface look tacky. Inside the castle looked nice with the ivory shades and the variety in block organizations, although the blue outline and odd reds in the shadow were weird, and the brown/blue castle blocks in later rooms contrasted well with each other.|
|FUN||9/10||Each room felt different enough that the gimmick did not really wear out. Also, THANK YOU BASED x1372 for not using the Eerie generator like almost everyone else does for the Big Boo boss. I liked how the battle combined elements you are taught throughout the level, such as using the key to protect yourself while the layer 2 spikes come up.|
|ENTRY 073: "Mario Goes Home" by Extroble|
|DESIGN||8/10||You can turn the snow off if you'd like before you get your powerup and find a creating-eating block, which will be your transit across the first half of the level. It has tricky skinny parts, and travels along line which you can't walk on, so you have to find some other platform to run along while you wait for it. After the midway point, you have to find a P-switch and use that to race across the sky. After that, it's a matter of getting past the Boo Buddies circle and Chuck, and running max speed to jump over a really wide gap to get back home.|
This stage did a great job setting things around the creating/eating block route to make for a unique challenge this contest.
|APPEAL||7/10||I honestly like the level better without the huge snow blanket, though it was admitably an alright attempt at vanilla snow. Turning that off made it a lot less distracting. The coloring is very fitting to the nighttime setting without being so drab and desaturated; I think you did an excellent job with the palettes. However, exactly what is up with those invisible lava tiles beneath the skinny yellow pipe right before the Chucks? When a Koopa falls into it, it just sinks then vanishes. o.0|
|FUN||7/10||Meh. I don't like one-tile-wide platforms with the slippery flag on, and felt that the second half of the level was much more pleasant to play through.|
|ENTRY 074: "In the Sunset" by everest700|
|DESIGN||7/10||This level stays left-bound throughout, although if you go right, you can get one Dragon Coin. The Dragon Coins are mostly hidden off-path and require some searching and basic puzzlework to reach, such as spinjumping to break turn blocks to find the silver switch to bring up the vine and use it to kill the munchers. There's also an underwater room with some coins. After some pretty standard action-fare, you're brought up to a line-guided adventure where you're caught in literal crossfires. After your first thrilling ride, you spin jump on a Fuzzy to make your way to the second one, where you must hit the on/off blocks and dodge saws before making your way onto a rope and hitting one last block to ride your way to safety. When you're back on safe ground, you just avoid a few foes and make your way through the pipe and to the exit.|
|APPEAL||6/10||It's perhaps too orangey/yellow even though it is a sunset level and a little bit more contrast would've helped considerably, especially as far as the foreground goes, where a slight yellowish, slightly darkened tint on the pre-existing palette would've been stellar. The underwater room's palette was great.|
|FUN||7/10||The second room is executed well in my opinion - it keeps me on edge, it's very fair, but also so easy to screw up if you aren't paying attention. The first room seemed sufficient with the exploration it offered if you wanted the Dragon Coins and enough threat to make decently challenging, but the third room, I didn't really "get"... it felt like filler.|
|ENTRY 075: "Dungeon Disaster" by LunarYoshi|
|DESIGN||9/10||The prelude to the level is a cutscene showing the secret exit, kind of in fashion to SMB. You are then taken to a room with Buzzy Beetles, some pipes with Piranha Plants, and blocks on the ground in a desert dungeon, and told to go left. The next room is an autoscrolling segment with Thwomps, munchers, and lava, where some turn block bridges branch out over the lava. Afterwards, you end up in the midway room, which introduces Volcano Lotuses and Pokeys - the placement of Volcano Lotuses is especially effective. The final challenge is a flooded room with fish and Urchins.|
Each room is rich in landscaping detail, so this level is anything but a flat run, and holding off the introduction of enemies as well as confining them to certain rooms keeps each area fresh.
I found the secret exit first by taking the P-switch in the dungeon room with the midway point up the pipe into the forest room and activating it in there, as shown in the cutscene.
|APPEAL||9/10||Dungeon Disaster combines elements from the ghost house, castle, and underground tilesets mostly, and uses layer 2 as level data in most areas. Many of the colors and outlines are desaturated, and the many hues of the castle bricks and earth go hand-in-hand to make it pleasantly colorful. The use of Pokey's body as cacti, some X's as fencing, and the parts of the sunken ship's tileset as props bring out the dungeon feel really well.|
The only thing I didn't particularly care for was some outline inconsistencies with some pipes, and Mario's colors were rather inconsistent between rooms as well.
The forest rooms were nicely done, although too small to make much of an impact.
|FUNCTIONALITY||10/10||Nothing gamebreaking, no sprite memory issues.|
|FUN||9/10||I thought it was pretty cool that the first room had you go left, and the coin block placement gave a bit of fun with shell-kicking and jumping. I enjoyed the auto-scroll room, and sliding down the slopes to kill Pokeys and avoiding the Volcano Lotuses' fireballs in the room after. The swimming room was alright, but not really as memorable as the rooms before it.|
|ENTRY 076: "A Starry Night Sky" by MSAhm3d59113|
|DESIGN||6/10||The level starts sending you left. You have a really short way to go around a variety of foes to get a springboard and launch yourself over the wall, then go across some expanding turn block bridges to the midway point. You jump across some square block formations to enter a pipe, then you learn about the coins ahead: you can walk on yellow but fall through blue. Then comes a part where you grab a P-balloon and float through a cement block structure with munchers, and then there's an invisible maze in the next room; the bottom is an image of where everything is so you can find your way around.|
In the final room, you just run and jump at cue, and you can not stop running or you will probably fall down a hole and die.
It's not really a good thing that you put walkable tiles on the bottom row close to the beginning, and the level seemed to be rather ununified. The midway point also came much too early.
|APPEAL||6/10||The ground's shadows are rather tacky, but everything else looks decent. I probably would've gone with a little more decoration, such as using walkthrough dirt to kind of create a support for the floating ground where the springboard is on.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||Nothing gamebreaking but I'd have given a little more space between the ledge below the P-balloon and the cement blocks because if you grab the P-balloon against the cement blocks, you can die if you press right. I did once x(|
|FUN||6/10||Seemed like a hodge-podge of ideas thrown together to me that haven't really been developed to full maturity, the weakest being the first room, with the subsequent rooms being somewhat amusing. The end could've been enhanced if you did things like put flying Koopas or falling enemies mid-air that you can jump on while you're doing your max-speed rush.|
|ENTRY 077: "The Haunted House" by Ninja X|
|DESIGN||6/10||Wow. Clever work hiding that 3up moon; I discovered the window sills could be walked on entirely by accident. As a whole, and largely in part to your 2.5D visuals, the level winds up being really flat with the occasional gap to jump over, which leaves something to be desired gameplaywise. The first room was the most developed in this sense. At the end, you encounter Big Boo and his two Boo trains, and plenty of throw blocks with which to try and kill him.|
|APPEAL||7/10||The rain looks nice outside. The trees in the forest and any grassy or bushy detailing is spaced out nicely and the inclusion of a few house bricks along the way add character. Your background palette has a nice grim green hue. Inside has a really cool background using the spikes as torches and layer 2 pillars as support beams, the spider webs and hangy things add a tone of creepiness, but I can't say I like the 2.5D perspective much since the texture don't support the illusion of distance, although it did look interesting on the castle top.|
In the second indoor room, I would've liked to see more contrast between the background and the foreground like you've done with all the other rooms.
|FUN||5/10||The 2.5D rooms were pretty boring, though I felt satisfied with the beginning and the end rooms. More variation in the landscaping and each way a threat takes advantage of the structure would liven this level up considerably.|
|ENTRY 078: "Wide Island Exploration" by Mario's Hat|
|DESIGN||7/10||The grassy highlands has four different exits with different challenges, so a minimum of four playthroughs are required to experience the full level. The nearest of all of these and probably the hardest one is a room with line-guided saws and platforms. Further ahead is a cave with a lava raft ride, then a beach, and then a statue and Thwomp-infested ruin. Each of them add onto the grassland to make a moderate-length level.|
The grassland part itself was pretty bare in the later part. The beach area seemed to have a good balance of action and powerups as well as solid momentum. There was a definite surplus of powerups in the room with the Bowser statues.
|APPEAL||7/10||I couldn't pick between the beach and the line-guide room in terms of which looked best. They both had pleasing palettes and an alright amount of detail. The cave was okay, but the grassland and the ruin room were on the bland side.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||There's quite a bit of slowdown in the cave room along the raft route, notably where Blargg jumps and there's a bunch of Spike Tops on screen. There was also a really small spot of slowdown in the beach room, but otherwise, no problems here.|
|FUN||7/10||It's a cool concept but the execution was average. The beach room was my favorite to just plow through. I did not like the fact that the platforms on the lines were already in motion by the time they're in view, but otherwise, the line-guided room was fun. The cave was pretty good too, apart from that slowdown.|
I felt that a lot more work needed to be done on the grassland part because it was sort of neglected in the second half, and that the statue room could've been amped up in difficulty by removing powerups and adding a ceiling so you can't jump over nearly every Thwomp.
|ENTRY 079: "Lunar Limbo" by Uhrix and GN|
|DESIGN||8/10||The four colors of the moons introduce to you the environments ahead: forest, water, earth, and fire. The first room has you search around the lush grass for a key to be able to reach a vine, where you climb up into the ceiling and drop down into another area where you wait for a cinder block to pass through the overhang. A wooden sign pointing right signals you to run + jump over to a platform where a springboard is hidden underground, and once again you drop down into a really creepy area with animals blinking at you.|
The remaining rooms are less "searchy" - the water room is a straightforward swimming test with many fishes and Urchins in some pretty tight but fair spots. The start of the earth zone gives you a midway flag, then pits you against wooden stakes, falling platforms, and creating/eating block trains, so it's essential to keep moving. The fire room forces you to spin jump off of low-jumping Podoboos to cross over pits, and be wary of Grinder movements, until you can finally go over the room and bring the key to the end.
...and do it all over again?
|APPEAL||10/10||The silhouette, monochromatic style of the level is very avant-garde and probably makes this the visually coolest level in the contest. The green forest area looks really grassy and detailed, and the creepy eyes in the overgrowth after you drop down is kinda freaky. The spikes were still distinguishable in the water room in spite of the detail and pure blackness of the foreground. The earth room looks great too, but the fire room is just as impressive and eerie as the foreground room.|
|FUN||7/10||A style like this is a double-edged sword for first-time players to this level. The forest room had a pretty long learning curve, and it was kind of unpleasant to go through without savestates because I didn't know where anything was, and the hanging overgrowth being occasionally passable kind of threw me off. I wasn't sure about whether there was a pipe under that water either or if I would drown if I didn't swim.|
From then on, however, the level was more "obvious" to figure out, and it became progressively more fun. I was really enjoying the earth and fire rooms, especially the latter, but I felt kind of let down when the grey room led me back to the forest area.
Subsequent playthroughs were more enjoyable since I knew the ropes, though an actual end would give more purpose to the level.
|ENTRY 080: "105 Days" by TheGamer|
|DESIGN||7/10||Eugh. Making the door to the next room invisible was an inane design choice. Without Lunar Magic, I wouldn't have found it. I also found the structure to be very, very cramped in such a way that makes going about this level drastically frantic or painfully slow, swapping impulsively.|
To be fair, the central gimmick of using those blocks and the lines that only sprites can walk on had some good ideas behind them, and there were a ton of ideas to keep each room fresh, such as a Lakitu's Spiny ball spin jump puzzle and a Yoshi adventure through brambles, albeit they didn't fit in coherently with the gimmick that dominated the level beforehand.
One damaging fact about this level is that there is absolutely no midway point in the biblical sense - the midway point is at the very start of the level before you're exposed to any real action.
|APPEAL||8/10||Every room was very well-decorated and the use of tiles to create unique building interiors and even rain was quite creative. I especially liked the creepy mushrooms and the vanilla brambles and large piranha plants. However, the wildly desaturated, low-contrast palette in the mist room kind of screwed with my eyes in a well-lit room, and in the factory, it was tough to distinguish some no-contact props from walkable tiles.|
|FUNCTIONALITY||6/10||I had many points in the rain room where the scrolling block, the P-switch, the Lakitu etc. at random did not spawn due to sprite tile memory problems. There were also sprite tile memory problems in the vertical tower that practically voided the need to drop a throw block to kill a Spiny. During the room where you hit a P-switch to make a staircase, and in the vertical tower room, AND in the Lakitu puzzle room, there's an awful lot of slowdown. The room after the cutscene had a bad FG/BG starting position (way too low)|
While the Piranha Plant prop was cool, the hitbox was also very inconsistent when you walked across it. Some Piranha Plants and Spinies had a tendency to get stuck in the wall too.
|FUN||3/10||I was annoyed by this level very quickly because of the tiny frame of space you have to do pretty much anything, how easy it was to screw yourself over, and of course, all the waiting that had to be done for half of the puzzles. This level was torturous WITH savestates and fastforward, now imagine it locked at 60FPS and you have to start over each time you die. This level is definitely a showcase level and not a player's level. Less is definitely more in this case; it seemed like a hack within a level.|
|ENTRY 081: "It's Raining" by .Lester Vine.|
|DESIGN||8/10||You head out in a rainstorm through what appear to be ruins. The placement of living statuesque enemies, undead foes, and spikes make this a challenging stage in addition to setting the mood. Attention is important if you want to find your way out - there's a brown area in the cage which you can enter, and be able to reveal the location of a door in a later part of the level that will set you on the correct path.|
The sewer is a vertical descent in a more ...illuminated room, and spikes player a bigger role in threat here. You'll use the P-switch to make bridges over some of them, and if you're fast enough, earn an extra life. Coins along a part of the wall point to another secret room essential to progression, with the key and a P-switch for free money. You'll use this key to get inside a pipe which you'll otherwise not be able to reach, and get another P-switch to take into the Red Moon area, the hardest room, to find and enter a blue temporary door to the boss.
Going any other way will get you "lost" and you'll have to start the level over, but thankfully, your time limit resets as well. It can be confusing if you don't get the cues. The Big Boo gave you six blocks over spikes with which you can kill him - lining up so you don't fall onto them takes skill, though the bullets get annoying when they waste your block.
The only real problem I can think of with this level is that it needs a midway point - a precision point would be in the transient room between the sewer and the Red Moon room where the P-switch is.
|APPEAL||9/10||This level's lightning flashes are pretty overbearing but rhythmic so you can expect them. I play this with my monitor on highest brightness and in a well-lit room, and that makes the lightning painless on the eyes when it comes. The theme is very dreary, depressing - Mario essentially gets "lost" here and ends up back where he started so often that he's wandering around in this rainstorm, in these dark, lonesome, and scary or even gross places like sewers. Such hopelessness makes this a very memorable level. My only real gripe is the area where you have the secret door to the Big Boo fight is so high it goes behind the status bar, but the atmosphere of this level is just so damn excellent that I don't really care.|
What really hurts here is the layer 2 in the boss room; it's impossible to discern as non-contact because it has the same bold outlines and looks overall as the foreground. What you did with the sewer, though, explains perfectly what would've made the boss room look perfect.
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||There's quite a bit of slowdown in the Red Moon room due to all the sprites, but nothing gamebreaking.|
|FUN||8/10||To me, this difficulty curve is spot-on - the level starts moderately challenging, steps it up a notch at the sewer room, and the Red Moon room is really hard to survive in (maybe could've used slightly fewer sprites too.) The structure of the Big Boo room is an unusual spin on the fight, which I appreciate. As a whole, this level also is one of those ones that need to be given a fair chance to grow on you in order to succeed in because the real path is quite obscure. It may not be one I ranked the highest but this is definitely one of my most favorite this contest for the atmosphere, concept, and gameplay - just remember a good midway point next time. =P|
|ENTRY 082: "Sacred Mario" by TRS|
|DESIGN||8/10||The switch inside the cave can significantly change the way you go about this level, ranging from removing a platform over a gap to allowing access to a red Yoshi - it adds depth to the level by giving you more access than what you had before, for instance, there's now an unblocked place where you can fit a shell in to reveal a vine, jump over a wall, and get a hidden extra life. The level overall is quite short, but has decent action and balanced difficulty and a decently-executed gimmick.|
|APPEAL||8/10||This level is pretty subtle yet interesting in its uses of layers 1 and 2. It's night, the palettes are dark and rich, and there's a black-to-blue gradient that begins somewhere in the middle of the forest canopy rather than above. In the cave, I found it cool that you use stationary lava with a dark palette to create pumice you can walk on. The vanilla vine endings are perfectly fitting. Overall, there's a great balance of decor and land shaping IMO. There are a few obscure oversights, notably the negligence to change the color of the tile spawned after Yoshi eats a berry after the goal sphere, and the weird garbling of the Yoshi Egg as you come out of the pipe.|
|FUN||7/10||Something to be desired was perhaps access to meaningful things that can only be reached while the ! switch wasn't hit to give something interesting to find prior to hitting it.|
|ENTRY 083: "An Autumn Adventure, Take 2" by PowerStrike|
|DESIGN||7/10||For the most part, this short level sustains two paths at any given time and you can easily switch between them whenever there's a gap in the upper path, and the way to the finish is extremely straight-forward. To find the hidden exit, you will need to get a key from a block on the ground, which you can safely get using a throw block and bringing the key to the right the same way. There's a lot of enemies and some hidden blocks; near the start of the level you can get an extra life just to your left.|
|APPEAL||7/10||Holy shit this place is friggin' packed. The palettes are beautifully done but this stage's platform placement is definitely overwrought, though it doesn't really bring down the looks a whole lot like it does the fun factor. Although you have to replay the level, Weirdo Yoshi that alternates between babyface and rule 34 happens here. I feel compelled to share it:|
Though honestly, the level still looks quite good.
|FUNCTIONALITY||8/10||Around the midway point, there are so many sprites that it sometimes prevents you from even picking up a throw block, and there's a point on the lower ground near a cement block in the ground where there's, again, so many sprites that your mushroom doesn't even spawn from the block >_< I also somehow managed to jump below a throw block, Yoshi next to me, and I died! I'm not sure if it's a bug in the ground or a sprite that just didn't show up but god that was weird.|
|FUN||5/10||The big problem with this level is that by locking yourself vertically, and trying to sustain two paths, and packing in all those sprites, this level is extremely claustrophobic and you end up with a lot of sprite limit-related problems. More breathing room would help this level substantially. With more breathing room by expanding vertically a little, I think this level could've been a whole lot more pleasurable.|
|ENTRY 084: "A Challenge?" by King Boo|
|DESIGN||7/10||The opening room of this level centers around a puzzle where you must grab a blue and silver P-switch so you can get into a hole guarded by munchers and brown blocks. The main strategy is to jump on a bullet to reach proper grounds - not just for the puzzle, but you can also grab a powerup doing this and hitting a music note block to make it jump down from where it's trapped, and there's a reset pipe for your needs.|
Then, you have to find another blue P-switch and silver P-switch and you get a reset door if you screw up, but this time you have to be quick with the blue switch rather than bring both of them to a nearby point. You find the springboard, and use that to advance. If you are fast enough, you can clear another path of munchers and have a shot at a bonus room.
Now, you have to swim through these narrow floating water places in such a way that you don't jump up and hit munchers or fall below and land on munchers.
For the secret exit, back in that room, there's two springboards but one is fairly obscure and you probably never heard of it. You have to carry one through the top pipe in order to gain access to the top part of a cave, and get a P-switch to get through the blocked part near the midway point. Now that you have a key, you have to guess where the hole is behind the wall and make it to the keyhole.
|APPEAL||7/10||The palettes in the cave part are just admirable and the outdoor palettes are decent. Some of the water waves when they're mirrored the way they are look a bit ugly though, and the time should've been set to 999 or 0 instead of a hex value. o.0|
|FUNCTIONALITY||10/10||It just werkz.|
|FUN||6/10||I think that the water cave room was pretty underdeveloped and out-of-left-field for the nature of the level up until then. I liked the fact that even though you pretty much pulled the same puzzle twice, the second one had an agility test spin on it and you kept annoyances like enemies in tiny corridors out of it. I have to admit, though, that second springboard (the one closer to the switches) took me quite a long time to find.|
|ENTRY 085: "Lakeside Island" by Aqualakitu|
|DESIGN||8/10||The first room made use of the layer 3 tides for threatening fish to jump out at you while you run on low ground and jump around walls dodging enemies in a linear build. Next, you're brought into a fairly spacious underwater zone with fish and urchins, although probably the most interesting threat is the Chuck that awakens all the Rip Van Fish en route to the normal exit. There are some small path deviations, one of which has a block-throwing challenge that leads to a bonus room, and another which leads to a secret exit, that strengthen the quality of the underwater area.|
The secret exit challenges you with a 101-second race to the end with a key, through some pretty tight spots around munchers, urchins, and fish.
The mountain route has moving rocks, rotating platforms, and some swooping Hammer Brothers in addition to all the little nooks and crannies in the path. Finally, the sunset room just gives you a 3up room and has a goal sphere to end the level.
The first room was fairly average but the underwater and mountain sections felt like they served a purpose and had distinctive concepts.
|APPEAL||9/10||It's not overdecorated to hell and back. The first segment has a pleasant distribution of bushes and a patch of forest that liven up the scenery and flow appropriately. Underwater has a nice mix of bluish rock and sand where it makes sense naturally, and some arches and seaweed to break it up nicely.|
A notable point of the outdoor segments is the seeming continuity of daytime - the opener can be likened to midday, the mountain has an afternoon feel, and the final area has a defined sunset palette. The underwater palette is my favorite - it's not too desaturated to the point of seeming lifeless, the bluish tint doesn't dominate because of the green seaweed, grey arches, and tan sand, and the level of brightness is superb.
|FUN||7/10||With enemies a little more spread, the linear opener could've provided more entertainment IMO since it wouldn't be as slow to move through if you could run max speed without having to backtrack. Coming back through here with the fire flower was definitely better.|
Well, when it comes to the secret exit, I was pretty annoyed at first - not by the design, but because of the keyboard input using ZSNES, so I had to map down-right to / to have a fair shot. I do think an ample amount of time was given, especially for joypad users.
All the way through, I enjoyed the underwater segment and the mountain area - especially the latter due to well-executed use of rotating platforms and moving rocks. They did not feel cramped, had a lot of variety in action, and I liked that the optional puzzles and minor path breaks were rewarding.
|ENTRY 086: "Abandoned Toy Factory" by DragonLX|
|DESIGN||9/10||You start out in the cold, passing nostalgic block formations in a relatively spacious but fleshed-out area. You'll eventually come across a place blocked by munchers which you'll have to drop between the bridge where the Koopa is flying in order to proceed, then you get some great speed running up walls and jumping far to eventually come across a ghost house.|
The ghost house is dark and dangerous. One really clever thing I can point out here is the use of the Ninji above the tile you have to jump through to proceed, where you need to calculate when to jump safely. At the heart of the level is a small "lobby" which serves as the center point of a puzzle. The great thing about this puzzle is there's so little backtracking and it doesn't even need a reset pipe if you mess up; you enter various rooms facing "sleeping" enemies that awaken after you disturb the Boos, and the layer 3 smasher in an autoscrolling part in another room.
Finally, you'll have to escape the toy factory because (for some reason) it's going to explode, and you run across Boos with the help of a star. Some Boos are "real" among the "platform" Boos.
The midway point is sufficiently placed though it probably would've been better towards the toy factory room, and the difficulty is rather balanced. Enemy placement here is wholly fair and not empty.
|APPEAL||9/10||Random q in the cutscenes, Jimmy52905 was here? Anyway, in the outdoors, I love the icy palette, the subtle brightness in the ground where you can walk through walls, and the use of the nonmoving water as ice lakes. There's an ample amount of decor while retaining a pleasantly simple feel and spacious world. The ghost house rooms look sufficiently spooky and the cacti are an interesting touch... and that deserted bonus game between there and the toy factory with all the mist, I feel like somebody died in here. I found it pretty cool how once you reach the Boo ceiling room, you backtrack and there's all sorts of minor changes to rooms and all the lights are turned on, so you can explore more.|
Every time someone successfully combines childish things with really creepy things, if pulled off right, it creates some of the most unsettling ambience ever, and for a Mario hack, this was done tremendously well. Other than that cutscene thing and a couple of nitpicks with the outer wall of the ghost house not mirroring, this level looks fantastic.
|FUNCTIONALITY||9/10||I've had several occasions where the swooping platform in the Big Boo room did not spawn. I recreated it each time I was big, but when I was small, I could get through it just fine. Nothing gamebreaking.|
|FUN||9/10||I liked its varying tempos, and the whole thing felt true to its theme; nothing felt forced.|