AmperSam's VLDC 13 Judging Comments


Judging VLDC was a bit of a return to SMW after a period of burnout I had for the game. The creativity shown in this contest and the overall really high quality across all entries in this contest really got my spark back for this silly plumber hobby. Thanks for all your submissions, I had a lot of fun judging!

Click the buttons below to jump to a specific entry's notes. Entries with a 👍 were my top picks for the contest and those with ⭐ I thought were stand-out entries in this contest as well and very much worth playing.

If you would like to view my first playthroughs of (most of) the entries, I exported my unedited livestream recordings to YouTube. Fair warning: it's many hours.

01 "Great Cavern" ⭐

Very well-themed with extensive graphic work, the replacing the graphics Mario with koopa tiles was especially amusing. I could see there was some smart layer work going on the sublevels as well. The big thing to hold against this level is its length, the distance between checkpoints and the number of sections and sublevels was too much. In my view this level could have ended with the orb/relic fakeout which would have been still a long entry but more reasonable, the sections after that were a bit of a disservice to the level.

02 "Magmatic Morgue"

This was cute level with some solid level design that was not too hard and it was pretty relaxed with it's music and pacing. Later in the level there was some creative use of skull platforms. Overall the level was a little too safe.

03 "Crown Thief"

Short and sweet. I would have liked to have seen the ideas in the level explored more as I was left expecting/wanting more level as the sections were rather shorts and it ended rather abruptly. The opening section was a nice opener but the second section needed more going on; the auto scroller was a bit too sparse of obstacles so it made it kind of trivial. Overall, not bad I enjoyed the cute theming and some of the choices for reused vanilla tiles but I think more could have been done here to engage players.

04 "Lay Low"

This entry gave the impression of a castle level found in harder standard hacks, it wasn't revolutionary but it was well-executed. The crouch sliding gimmick was a nice idea in th first half. Wendy was Wendy.


The "day cycling" gimmick was a nice idea and was very well integrated into the level; the sprites "sleeping" at different times was neat. The music being the same song but changing to fit the scene was a nice touch.

06 "Forest of Illusion 3"

Pretty straightforward forest level, a bit harder than something typical to SMW. Not a lot was explored with the aesthetics, a vanilla background was made pink and that was about it. No work was done on tile mixing.

07 "Spooky Wacko Stage"

Not particularly a "wacko" level unless you have a poor opinion of Fishin' Boo. The challenge in this level was mainly in the second half where you are wrangling 2 fishing boos, mostly by jumping on flat ground to avoid the head of one and later a second's fire--a dance which wasn't particularly interesting. This level had some cute scenery in it made from some sprite tiles but aside from that and a palette change the theming wasn't extensive.

08 "Note Block Surfing"

This level was fully centered around a couple unintended behaviours with note blocks and while the setups involving exploiting that glitch were clever the biggest drawback to building around that is how inconsistent that trick can be, which works against the player when space/time were more strict. I found myself losing attempts largely due to a surf not working out. If you tightened things up in this some more and made it unforgiving you'd have a kaizo level. Also this could have done with having fewer sections, four relatively long sections over-extended this entry.

09 "Mirage Breeze"

A nice exploration level, that rewarded the player with either trinkets or interesting obstacles for climbing around and poking into the corners but nothing too ambitious here.

10 "Prehistoric Lifts"

The first half was a decent vertical level that asked players to bring Yoshi up with them using mainly the "elevator" method. The second half turned into a series of puzzles involving Yoshi, that didn't all quite work or had more than one way to solve them. The first of these puzzle rooms had saws on line guides that had some spawn inconsistencies and the reset door was on the screen edge (making it impossible to use). Also for some reason a p-switch falls from the sky. Pretty much just some palette choices and some cute reuse of tiles for creating scenery but it wasn't extensive.

11 "Twilight Lunar" ⭐

Really well thought out series of ideas and there was an astonishing level of detail in the graphics and reuse of vanilla assets. I do have some criticisms of this one. A section where you have to navigate disco shells through lava ended with an awkward smasher obstacle that didn't seem to fit the premise of the room. Later in the level where you are tasked with executing on 5 rooms with Yoshi gimmicks to get the moons, while each is creative it is a bit of a task since you have to essentially do all 5 perfectly or just start over. This makes it more tedious than rewarding as you have take the time to learn each of the rooms individually and then do them all in an ideal sequence. The build up to the boss fight was a bit easy to read and find the safe places to stand which trivialized it somewhat.

12 "Run Yoshi Run"

This entry was 3 levels in one that was a set of "race the clock" sections where you collect green berries with Yoshi, I only played the one the creator stated was what they intend: the "normal" level--it would have been wiser to not include the other two and make the entry more concise, if these were three conceptually different sublevels aimed to be different difficulties it might have been more compelling. There was a decent idea here but presenting the same level 3 times with minor differences was a disservice to the idea. If the submission was just the one intended level I'd have given it a more favourable score. I think the sections were fine in themselves, the only differences between the three are the number of sprites and a few minor changes to layout. The gist is that you have to dodge sprites that swoop in from the side or pop out of the ground or shoot at your while trying to beat the clock--this was not a particularly fun challenge but the sections were mercifully short. The graphics work was pretty much the stock objects with some palette changes. The choice of music for the level did not work for me; the music didn't fit the theme of the level and it didn't work for the pacing.

13 "Season Twilights"

This was a nice forest romp. There was nothing particularly remarkable or imaginative or bad in this, just some basic platforming and decent aesthetics, it's the sort of level that you could perhaps expect to find in a hack from the section.

14 "Starlight-Ride" ⭐

This level was centered around platforms on wacky line guides avoiding saws and other obstacles, and while it managed to keep it interesting it wasn't really innovating on that formula. This one really worked for me, the setups were fun to deal with and the amount of challenge was just right for the style of level it is. This one had an old-school vibe which I think was deliberate where it almost straddles kaizo (not in a negative way) with how it constrains the player in some places, especially in the latter sections.

15 "Tubular (hard-mode)" ⭐

For a "remix" it was nice that the creator leaned into p-balloon, which is everyone's favourite part of Tubular. 🙂 The first half of level is very open and fair in its setups and gives you a lot of freedom of movement in balloon-state--which was appreciated--as you float around through obstacles but being an auto-scroller it was mainly "learn the pattern in which to proceed". The second half inverted the theme and made p-balloon a hazard which you avoid with cape which is a smart way to change up the level but I'd have to knock it for somewhat hard to deal with p-balloon patterns. Not a great deal done to build atmosphere, and while I'm a sucker for the deep cut unsampled Kirby Super Star port that was chosen it doesn't get bonus points.

16 "Mixed Grassland"

I didn't quite understand the idea behind this level, I presume this entry was making references to past VLDCs but what exactly those references were was somewhat unclear. Other than that, it was a passable set of levels, but I wish the choose your own adventure thing was a bit more than just pick a door.


This was a rather pleasant playthrough, the level was bright and colourful and did some nice graphic work but the platforming was pretty ordinary Mario level stuff.

18 "Warfield Wilderness"

I can't muster much for this one, the atmosphere wasn't super inviting with it's muddy palette and the obstacles at times were awkward but it wasn't bad. Second half had some awkward torpedo setups with lower than necessary ceilings.

19 "An Odd Bridge"

I didn't play this, it was a disqualified "low effort" submission. Pity the creator is wasting their own creativity by making things that automatically get DQed as their schtick is pretty predictable at this point. Which is a shame, as the core conceit of the level(s) might actually be interesting underneath.


Castlevania themed level. This one had some impressive graphics work and, while it's been a bit since I played Castlevania, this did a decent job capturing the level structure and feel from that series. The vertical section was a bit less Castlevania-alike and is where the level turned more into a Mario level; here I felt the line guide section was a bit uninspired. The boo boss was pretty typical (and trivial with powerups). However the risk of doing another game's level design in SMW is that it's not demonstrating new ideas but repurposing known on, in my view that's not a deep showing of creativity. Also, the clown car moon might be one of my favourite graphical elements made this contest because of the chuckle I got from it.

21 "Blue cutting sector" ⭐

Here's how you putting SA-1 to good use: by having many saws. There was a couple points in the level (on the short timed platforms in the first half; the end of the rope obstacle course) where there isn't suffient time to react which results in a kind of unfair death. The eating block section was a bit cheap with the sprite spam to knock you off Yoshi, I think there could have been better ways to challenge players there than avoiding pollen but luckily it was pretty lenient. I appreciate the section before the boss loading you up with powerups to increase your chances of success since the 1-up CP was reserved for before the boss. Making a interesting boo boss is no small feat and the one in this level was really inventive, and incorporated concepts from the level into the fight. Also it was refreshing to fight in a large open room rather than a small one. Overall, really nice job and a must-play.

22 "Aurum Fever"

The second half of this level took a turn with a lot of unseeable obstacles and spam from a bullet generator disguised as an "intruder" deterrent. There was also a redundant sublevel that I suspect was just a transition room but you could skip it easily with a little p-speed. I think if the level had just continued on the in manner of the first half instead of becoming erratic, I might have viewed it more favourably.

23 "62-63"

The first half had great flow and a lot of the setups (up until those before the midway) just worked if you trusted how they were contructed. However, the second half felt like it was made by a different person, the clarity of the path forward was lost with a lot of randomly placed stuff and I felt like I just stumbled my way through it to the end--the lack of coherence was surprising. Also, the urchin was an unreliable bouncer and I smuggled in a mushroom repeatedly.


This one was pretty typical as far as level design goes, nothing super out of the usual here. The second half shifting to a cape flight section was a nice change of pace however it felt like a it was Tubular but with cape--i.e. there was a lot working against you in terms of obstacles to prevent success. That said, this entry was pretty well constructed.

25 "Night at the Museum"

Not a bad entry, there was some awkwardness in some places where it seemed unoptimal if you had a mushroom. The bowser statue "train" setups in the second section were interesting but its behaviour was pretty unpredictable. How they jump would depend on when you spawned them in *and* the direction they will jump would depend on where mario was positioned when trying to guide them--they can too easily jump in not the direction you wanted, which was particularly frustrating. The low spike ceilings in this section become punitive when coupled with this. I liked the concept though. The boss fight was fine, was a shame it didn't use any concepts from the level as it was mostly avoiding boo lasers. Visually, the background a bit too high in contrast for how busy it was where it and the foreground blended together sometimes making it hard to parse--a different, less punchy, palette for the background would have increased the level's readability. I also had some trouble following what was solid and not solid

26 "Opassa Beach"

Wasn't sure what to make of this one or what it was going for as it was pretty basic. The first section was mostly just donut bridge koopas and a bullet generator, and the second half was a short line guided rope section. This level is completely forgettable, this isn't a bad level per se it's not showing off a lot of creativity.

27 "Haunted Riverwalk"

Not a particularly good entry. There was quite a bit of sprite spam, and large stretches where you were just dealing with clumps of eeries or boo blocks. Later in the level the room with the boo cloud was particularly awful to deal with, thankfully you get to blow through most of it with the star power (I got lucky on guessing which block the star was in). The construction of this level was awful, sprite graphics were just broken in some places, the palettes were exceptionally bad and parsing what was solid from what wasn't was a chore. The level was also determined to confound one's familiarity with SMW; if you reuse known graphic tiles that behave in a certain way in the vanilla game, changing that to the unexpected will mess with people.

28 "Deforested Factory"

This level had a cute aesthetic and theme, it wasn't going for flash or going nuts custom graphics--I especially liked the excavator built out of vanilla tiles. The level setups and obstacles were coherent with the theme, not to challenging and pretty and fun to do, overall an enjoyable entry.

29 "Steel Shores" ⭐

For me, this one scratched all the right itches in terms of difficulty, section length, visuals, and cohesion of theme and level so I had a nice time with it. I do have a couple things to ding it on though. In second half the level sets you up to fear the "poison" but it's not super present in the section, most of the hazard comes from fuzzies on line guides, which gets a bit repetitious. The second vertical half mode to it's fullest which isn't often seen, and they made use of it pretty well. As well-executed as I think the level is, it didn't push itself or risk a lot in its ideas, under all the polish there's not a lot I haven't experienced before, still worth playing.


Not a lot to say for this one, as there was not a lot going on in the level. The first section didn't really have much to offer there was some structure in the first half of this part but it kind of lost coherence as you got further in--there was a point before the midway where there was just some sprites placed down for seemingly no reason. The second section was then an autoscroller with a fire flower, which was alright. The entry "encourages" you to collect coins but doesn't do anything with that idea except place coins in the level. I did appreciate the bubbles in the level with palette animation but I wasn't sure how it fit into the theme aside from being cool scenery.

31 "Frigid Stronghold"

There being the third (and fourth) section really over-extends the level in my opinion, where it gets a bit tedious to repeat parts. I liked the thematic coherence of having frozen sprites and objects--the frozen midway and goal post was especially cheeky. A quibble I have with this levels atmosphere is that it didn't give off "stronghold" vibes but more an icy mountain. It was a solid entry, just not my favourite and the length was a detractor in my mind.

32 "Eating Block Story" ⭐

This one was very neat, I also liked the addition of a story that added good humour and really elevated the idea of snake block puzzles. This is a great example, in my view, of building a good level atmosphere without a lot aesthetic changes. However, what lost me in this level was the castle-themed section with a long drawn out snake block escort. This part had a lot of "hurry-up-and-wait" sections where you would do a thing and then just wait for the snake to catch up. There was also some parts that a bit confusing to figure what to do as there was extraneous coins or blocks or stuff. Also, unless you one-shot the Lemmy boss you also have to do that whole section over each time--a 1-up checkpoint right before the Lemmy would have been a service.

33 "Winds" ⭐

I was very impressed with the visuals in this one, totally transformed a lot of vanilla elements. Design-wise, it is a very well executed sky-themed platforming level with good pacing and challenge build-up. I would play a hack by this creator if they are as consistent at this. Not breaking any ground with the level design, but it's well made.

34 "Cloudgazing"

This one was a slog. I ended up savestating after it was clear how long the sections were going on for and how tedious and particular the line guide tricks were to repeat over and over. Point of Advice: if you have to advise players about how tricky the timing of the gimmick of your level is, ease up on the length sections and number of times you make them do that trick. Way too long! The first section was 12 (in hex) screens before a midway showed up, which is a very unreasonable amount of level to have before giving them a checkpoint. All that said, there were some creative ideas in this entry. In the second half, the climbing with the ON/OFF block walls and throw blocks I thought was a neat idea.


This was a short and sweet water level, well the Super Metroid music gave an ominous vibe. It was over pretty quickly and didn't really explore anything interesting.

36 "Buzzsaw Blueshift" ⭐

A super neat entry, I'm a sucker for a level that's played one way in one direction and transforms and you have to backtrack or replay it with a new layout but it was smart to set the layer 2 to be non-interactive for sprites. It also didn't overstay its welcome with the section length.

37 "Dolphin Coast"

This was a fun level with some tricky obstacles but nothing felt unfair and the dolphin platforming was interesting enough. A grievance I had with this entry was the lack of a secondary checkpoint after the autoscroller via a 1-up checkpoint, repeating the second section (especially given it's an autoscroller) gets a bit tiring in order to get to the third section to have another attempt. Also, the power up collection at the start of the third section was super awkward to do. The fake parabeetles in the autoscroller were a cute idea, but I didn't grasp how they fit into the "dolphin" theme. Solid entry.

38 "HAHAHAH,YEs....CHUnks"

Nice use of beans in the first half but the second section where you were climbing with beans was a nice step up in challenge that wasn't brutalising you. Everything felt very fair and it escalated its difficulty in a satisfying way. The boss was almost too easy though, a single bullet generator was barely a challenge.

39 "Useless and Nasty"

This entry was neither of those things the title says it is. The two main sections of the level were a bit samey, the same sorts of chuck obstacles were repeated in both the first and second half, the most challenging thing of note was the survival bit with the p-switch and the chuck but that wasn't super stressful. The "not neon" sub level to get a moon wasn't super interesting either. So while the level didn't stoop as low as useless or nasty, it didn't rise above to engaging or sublime--it was just fine.

40 "Clown Fiesta" ⭐

First off, A+ theme, definitely not the typical thing you see in these contests--wiggler head clown chuck was one of the best things I've seen this contest. The bit in the second half to get the springboard was a bit tedious to repeat mainly because the position of the spring made it awkward to grab. A thing I'd have to complain about is that is removing the grey platforms' chain tile made them harder to use as it made their trajectory harder to follow visually.

41 "The Last Yoshi"

The first section was a nice, compact "feed baby Yoshi" section, but then we leave all the concepts introduced in it behind for the second section where the meat of the level is. Now that Yoshi is all grown, we get to do some running and jumping and coloured shell obstacles while racing a bunch of growing vines, which was a smart way to drive the action that isn't an autoscroller. If I had to nitpick, some of the foreground clouds obscuring the obstacles/pits would help the readability of that section. Fun entry, was nice to see some Yoshi stuff.

42 "sacred forest"

This one was pretty orthodox, constructed well enough but pretty unremarkable--just a good normal Mario level, but entirely unmemorable.

43 "Lady Crithania"

Great theme and nice to see a bit of storytelling in an entry. Playing through the ship as a horizontal level and then the sinking ship as a vertical layer 2 water level was a neat riff on the backtracking-through-the-previous-section formula. That said the level design wasn't super interesting, especially in the first half as it was largely picking paths to the end, but I get that it had to work in multiple contexts for the conceit of the sinking ship later on. The aesthetics were a bit drab however.

44 "WET FUZZ" ⭐

Great "jungle temple" aesthetic with a very bright and punchy palette and amusing sprite reskins. The "create a water tile" blocks was a smart choice and it was put to good use, I especially liked the obstacle where you build a column of water against a wall at the end of the second section. The sections were of good length and it escalated in difficulty nicely.

45 "Thiana's Gold Trail"

Very underwhelming entry, the level was mostly a series of P-switch runs that weren't very tight and were over-indicated with arrows and text--holding the players hand a bit too much. A chain of timed runs like that doesn't leave players with much choice/time to engage with the level so they just sprint through it, and with everything telling them where to go there isn't much agency left for them to figure out the path forward on their own.

46 "Urbano"

This submission had an unusual aesthetic and theme but I was into it, it was almost neo-noir. The section where a fully black layer 2 obscured the sprites as it falls was a clever idea but the choice to use a hopping flame in this section was a bit questionable.


This one gave me some Celeste platforming vibes, probably because of all the spikes, and it was a fun adventure. There was good variety in the obstacles and it didn't feel repetitious. It was smart to use the midway tile to give a powerup every so often, both as a signifier of progress and a reward for getting that far--good design.

48 "Piscine Molitor" 👍

Puzzles that are all about weird vanilla interactions? I'm in. These were very well crafted and fun to figure out, so I quite enjoyed this entry. I will quibble about the throw block room being a bit finicky and became more about getting the right block toss than figuring out order of operations in the room and the Moon puzzle was a bit annoying for similar reasons (more an item escort than a puzzle) and I opted to not do it.


This one was very clever in how it exploited the glitch where Mario can move and pass through sprites when Yoshi is growing. Some of the puzzle rooms were a bit obtuse though, and I think I solved at least in an unintended way by ignoring half the room. Fun level, I do love unintended behaviour stuff.

50 "fast-desire drive"

This one was mostly an annoying experience. Many of the jumps were very stretched out and dealing with SMW doors in a fast autoscroll is just asking the player to mash up to have a chance at success sometimes. That said, I think some effort and thought was made here it was just the execution was rather poor. The music being broken also didn't help the overall lack of fun.

51 "Sky Zone"

Just a solid, well-made, fun platforming level with some good palette choices, not much to say beyond that. I don't think it broke any ground for creativity but it'd be something I'd be happy to play again or find in a hack.


For some unearthly reason are there multiple 1-tile shell buckets in this level, they did not need to be in there. The reset door right before each betrays the fact that they are very inconsistent to set up, and not worth it for just a hop across a gap. You get the first (and only) checkpoint relative early in the level given how much comes after it which leaves the level feeling very unbalanced and the difficulty skewed entirely to everything after that--a 1-up checkpoint when going to the 3rd section would have been welcome. This level does have a sense of theme and style but it was a lacking, especially the palette which was kinda flat.


I grumbled a bit about this one when I judged it but it was a fun entry built around the idea of elevating a fire flower to escape. I thought a lot of the obstacles around doing that were fair and decently challenging but in the later rooms, some of the sprites felt a bit oppressive and it went on too long without a secondary checkpoint, especially with it being more hazardous, making failure more stressful. Particularly, the rooms with the brown platforms on chains, while neat, were a bit more tedious to figure out in terms of what exact momentum was needed to get its positioning right to bop the flower, which wasn't super fun to repeat--the solution becomes knowable very soon as it's a small room but executing it becomes a chore of rotating the platform, failing and reseting the room until you find the exact timing. Overall a super creative level with some interesting stuff and great atmosphere and aesthetics but the pacing and length was a bit detrimental.

54 "East Castle Walls"

A short, decent, and despite being set outside was a pretty typical castle level. This entry was decently constructed but there wasn't many new ideas explored here.

55 "RGB Plains"

The level design here wasn't very adventurous, but it was a cute little romp. The whole conceit seemed to just be different coloured grass.

56 "Time Machine"

This one was very confusing. Often the objective was unclear and I'm fairly certain I was resorting to unintended strategies like Yoshi ditching to beat it; the final objective was especially poorly telegraphed. The timer being so short in every section and constantly having to manage it with berries really worked against the idea of exploring to figure it out and made things super frustrating; the time constraints gave you no leeway to figure out what the level wanted from you. In the final "far future" sublevel dealing with either the boo cloud/ceiling (coupled with the short timer) while trying to figure out what was being asked of you was particularly irritating, which is about where I quit the level on first playthrough. I later resorted to looking in Lunar Magic to find the key hidden offscreen to end. I can see an imaginative concept in this entry, it's just the execution was very poor.

57 "Purple Valley Trail"

I kind of breezed through this one. There was some block shenanigans in this enabled by map16 and their mechanism was explained in-game but they weren't incorporated into many obstacles so I didn't get to apply that knowledge--often they were just placed in the level as a platform or to block a dragon coin, that's it. The potential was there for something interesting it just wasn't applied. The level was beautiful though.

58 "Garden of Eden"

Creator, if you make anything in the future please make the sections shorter! I had to check in Lunar Magic after I finished and every section in this entry was a full 0F screens (in the used level mode) which is way too long. That said, many of the ideas and setups in this level were super creative, there was good variety among the obstacles and overall things were well-designed (the use of layer 2 was especially good in my view) but it was that each section was just excruciating long (and there was 3 of them), especially in a contest setting.

59 "Abuscence"

This entry had a proto-kaizo feel, especially in the second half (which makes sense given what time period and hack it's an homage to). The end trick, which I was calling an "anti chuck gate" was particularly obtuse to figure out the timing for.

60 "Thwomp Stomp Cavern"

Nothing wrong with this level, was good ol' cave romp but the design and ideas were kind of safe. This one felt good to play and the thwomp setups had enough variety to not be boring. The atmosphere development here was pretty basic.

61 "Moon Mountain"

Nice exploration, I wasn't particularly motivated to get all the moons as the idea seemed to largely be get a p-switch and press it to remove used blocks surrounding a moon, which is a bit repetitive.

62 "The Wet Coast"

This one was a bit odd, the level was very much imbalanced with the second half containing more creativity and challenge than the first. After the checkpoint you get to do an autoscroller while swimming in a 2-tile column of water which ends up both being a help and an obstacle--this concept way more interesting than anything in the more traditional first half and I would like to have seen that idea explored more or have been the whole concept in the level but explored in different ways because the first section is forgettable.

63 "Clair de Lune"

This was a super cool entry and I had fun for the most part with it but it was a bit clunky in the execution. Building a slippery level around the slide state and building on it in the later sections was a nice idea and I liked a good number of the setups, but the level went on for too long. The sublevel (with urchins) especially was quite long and a lot of the obstacles in it were not very readable. Often there to just too much on screen to be able to parse what the level was asking for, so I was going about it in an unintended way. The autoscroller section, while fun (storing the slide in while climbing is a smart turn on the level concept) didn't need to be part of the submission--it just was more level than was needed especially after having done two other lenghty sections.


I had a lot of fun with this one, the atmosphere and attention to detail I was a big fan of which likely contributed to my delight playing it. Gameplay-wise everything revolved around Yoshi eating to create platforms (which was a very smart reuse of berry tiles) to solve small obstacle puzzles and navigate through. While the idea was very creative it didn't get built on in later areas. Initially sections were more or less about eating the blocks to build yourself a platform and get around (occassionally ditching Yoshi) but the final leg of the level was some traditional Yoshi flight rather than expanding on the block concept.

65 "Babylon" ⭐

Single screen challenges level in a very nice aesthetic package. Many rooms flowed really well and were fun to execute, the later puzzles got a bit obtuse but the increase in trickiness was welcome so the progression wasn't flat feeling. That said some of the puzzles in the later rooms of the level weren't as tightly designed as in the earlier ones and I completed several using unintended methods (I'm pretty sure). Overall, I felt things were super fair and at no time I felt like the level was ever going to give me up, ever gonna let me down, ever gonna to run around and desert me.

66 "Sakura Winds"

I liked the bamboo field/forest(?) aesthetic this one was going for, even if it was hard to parse what was climbable. Nothing particularly challenging here, but it was nice and well paced, it's the sort of thing you'd find early-to-mid-game in a hack.

67 "Hibernal Woodland"

Nice and short one. It wasn't breaking any new level design ground however but an effort was certainly made. I've said this about a few entries already but it's very much a "hack level" which kinda means it played it safe all around.


This is a must-play entry. The pacing, despite being full of grinders, was quite relaxed. The transformation of growing vines into line guides was inspired, especially combined with line-guided sprite--I might steal that idea for myself someday. A minor quibble is that feeling out the sideways "springs" and how to deal with them takes some doing, which makes the obstacle with them at the end of the first section while under Ted fire a bit of an oppressive way to end a section. This one went all out on the aesthetics and atmosphere, was an easy 10/10 just on the first screen.

69 "Lame Kickin"

This one felt like playing low effort kaizo and not particularly fun or interesting kaizo at that. Chuck punts on a global timer and playing a level built around that without a visual cue (since they're offscreen) got a bit irritating as there was some inconsistency in when the footballs showed up. The second half was nothing but an annoying fish generator climb, though I will give some points for knowing skull platform tech. Nothing was done to build atmosphere, was stock assets all around, was a shame to not even bother changing the music.

70 "Space Highway"

This was a cute idea, swimming as an analogue for low gravity in a space setting. Both sections were pretty well-paced autoscrollers but nothing that really pushed that formula--it was a couple of underwater autoscrollers but now in a space.

71 "mario becomes an amazon delivery worker"

A lot of this entry was actually very neat. Where it started to lose me was right after the first checkpoint with tossing the block onto 1F0 and avoiding lava/sprites, unless you throw consistently (which I was not) dealing with that section was tedious. The two vertical sections I though were very fun and nice to do back-to-back, but then the level throws a slope speed hurdle jump section at you that seemed like a sharp turn. The construction of this level overall felt a bit disjointed, it felt like the creator had a bunch of ideas for item escorts and stuck them all back to back without much thought to coherence of the ideas/theme. It was also went on for far too long! Some sections could have been cut to make this more concise. I think this is a fun entry in isolation, but it felt like a collection of clever ideas.

72 "A walk in Greenpath"

I always like to see creators make a level that restructures itself when layer 2 falls and you have to backtrack through the section you were just in with different obstacles, but this one didn't do a lot with that mechanic. Essentially, I went backwards through the section I just played with not a lot new to experience. Also, if you're going to invoke Greenpath from Hollow Knight, I would expect to get more exploration.

73 "Golden switch trail"

This one was very short, to the point of being almost unmemorable. The level was almost too generous with the powerups and too lenient with the enemy placement, which removed any sort of challenge in the level. It's not bad, it just needed more ideas and to be a braver.

74 - Broken Patch

Unfortunately this one was a broken patch and couldn't be played.


Set in a sprawling factory and not sprawling in a good way, this level took you all over the place which made it a bit difficult to navigate as a lot of jumps were into areas or obstacles you were unable to see. The room between the midway entrance and getting to the autoscroller with its bullet and hammer spam felt particularly player hostile--I got tired of doing it repeatedly real fast. The autoscroller section had an incredibly awkward start with the pitchin chuck right in your face with not much room to manuever. While the atmosphere and theming were mostly great, there were times where it was hard to visually discern what was what, especially throw blocks and hazards. If this one cut down on the amount it wanted to be in the player's face I think it would be a more fun submission.

76 "Loopy Lament"

This entry was okay. The idea in this seemed to be more or less the same: avoid an increasing number of falling thwimps through a water bubble. The only bubble without thwimps had a pitchin' chuck and that one had more hostility than all the others. Also, this entry entry ended rather abruptly with an instant win through the door at the end of the only section, made it feel unfinished but it didn't leave me wanting more.

77 "Scorching Sands"

A very playable entry. Some solid platforming with good section length, no complaints from me but also no extra kudos as the level design felt pretty safe. The desert and pyramid theme was nicely done, it's a level I feel you could find in a hack.

78 "- COSMOSIS -"

A bit overly generous with the powerups, I was getting a mushroom after every few of obstacles, which really lowers the risk to the player and therefore the difficulty of the level, while this it does mean players can have more fun with the level it doesn't add much challenge. Also, most of the dangers were indicated with a coin which I think is guiding the player a bit too much taking away some of their agency. I did like the "boss fight" autoscroller even though it was super easy with the over-indication and plentiful mushrooms. I like the otherworldly vibe of this one, but I think the palettes could have been a little more refined.

79 "Custom Block Party" ⭐

This entry probably had the most pleasant vibes of them all, the music, graphics and theme were all on point and very cohesive and had great humour. Of all the entries, this one had the best tutorialization that was well integrated into the sections, especially since it was creating a bunch of "custom" blocks that introduced new behaviours. I think the only criticisms I have are for the 3rd section of the level, after the 1-up checkpoint, which felt a little too straightforward to do: just toss Yoshi to eat a berry to grow it and then win. Fantastic entry otherwise, a must-play.

80 "Pokey Berry Pass"

A passable Yoshi berry eating level. It was a bit heavy with the baseballs or lotus pollen in your face to knock you off Yoshi, but if you could manage to stay on it and gobble as many sprites as possible you did alright. The whole level seemed to be more "avoid all the sprites and eat an occassional berry" than doing interesting platforming to get a berry to keep your time up; if you could brute force your way through the sprite spam while grabbing the odd berry you win, the low time was not much of a threat. This could have been a whole lot more merciless if there were fewer berries. Not a lot happening to build atmosphere.

81 "Pastel Peak" ⭐

Well done theming and aesthetics here, easy top marks on that front. I thought the platforming was solid and nicely interspersed with line guide obstacles but the second half largely felt like a repeat of the first. I did think the little sublevel that was a fake switch palace switch to disguise a 1-up checkpoint was clever.

82 "Chainsaw Mountain"

Oddly easy entry was my impression here. All the obstacles in this were very lenient and easy to deal with given the premise. Grinders/saws could often be cleared with a big jump and if they needed to be used they just got stuck on a 1F0--not super interesting. The second half promised some contraptions but they weren't particularly complex. The goal room had a line guide contraption that seemed to have no purpose except to get a few normal coins. Overall, I think this one could have been a bit more ambitious with the saw setups, and challenged the player a little more. (The level horizontal scroll was active in the second half if you took a reset door as the scroll sprite was missing to prevent that at each entrance.)

83 "DJMARIO Respect"

Hard to judge this as a Mario level, because it isn't really one. I can't say I had fun with this entry even though the idea was very creative. The lack of feedback on your inputs about what you're doing wrong or right--sometimes you would die not knowing why--made this annoying to get through. Also, it would have really helped if button press cues were colour coded or something and if there was exanimation when you asked the player to button mash, etc. Using more apparent visual cues instead of just solid black & white for everything, would have really boosted (in my view) the reability of the game as trying to remember what is what is extra mental gymnastics on the player. Big kudos for trying something this ambitious though. The high contrast, monochrome aesthetic was also a bit underwhelming, if you think of the sort of rhythm games this is invoking they tend to be a lot flashier.

84 "Unknown Force"

I think it's admirable to lean into SMW jank to try and build a level around it but I found it often very tedious. Attempts were often lost to the jank's inherent inconsistency and unintended behaviour which is difficult to keep a grasp on to proceed or regain progress as the player. Given with how easy it is to fail or be killed by the "unknown force" the lack of checkpoints at each puzzle is incredibly apparent, I used savestates here to lower my own frustration. The spring puzzle was super cryptic and I think it would have helped to have some sort of explanation of the sorts of interactions it was getting me to exploit. Trying to suss what out the level wanted from me at this stage took some time and attempts, the same is true of the sections that follow it. Normally I like this sort of thing and found it interesting but I think the ideas in this entry would be better explored outside the context of this contest where you could shorten things up and have better checkpointing. (Also, this continued to contribute to my loathing of the grey castle block hitbox.)

85 "Sapphire Shores" ⭐

Top notch aesthetics, especially on creating a silhoutted style that isn't totally blacking-out the sprites so it kept things readable. There was also some clever shape-making without worrying about how the tiles look like together since it is all one color, smart work.

86 "it's new donk"

This one was visually fun and had an upbeat vibe, overall it was a pleasant romp but I found myself not having a lot to say on this one. The platforming was alright and the line guide stuff was kind of interesting but I found myself not having to do a lot.


A clear homage to Hydrocity from Sonic. For a "let's do another game's level in SMW" submission, this one was pretty good (even though I was missing the ability to run a loop as Mario). That said, doing a thing from another game isn't demonstrating your abilities as a creator and what you can do with the base game; replicating level design from another game isn't big a display of creativity, in my opinion. I think this entry is cutting it close to being too long, but the sections were interesting and I wasn't doing the same stuff over and over. I rather enjoyed the autoscrollers.