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Old 07-17-2012   #81
The unreliable joodge
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Because I have been incredibly lazy (and busy) as of late, I've only written Single Player reviews for this OLDC. Oh well~

Industrial Valley Zone Act 1 – 4

I’m really not a big fan of this map. In fact, when trying to write this review I had a lot of trouble coming up with things to say which reflects on one simple but very important problem. I found this map boring, and most of the things I could say have been repeated many times over by other reviewers by this point anyway.

A problem that I haven’t seen mentioned though is the inconsistency of the purple slime. I’m fine with purple slime being used as a non-harmful liquid when it is introduced properly, as is exactly the case when the player enters the base through the pipes. But you need to pick one or the other for consistency and so the player can understand the rules of your level reliably, you can’t use harmless purple slime on one path than dangerous purple slime on another because it misleads the player.

Also, you desperately need to introduce the rising acid room better. Anything that can instantly kill the player before he has time to get a grasp on the situation is a problem. Placing the player so he is facing the direction of the rising acid as soon as the player triggers the event is a good start, but letting the player see the acid in the room before it rises would have helped greatly as well.

Azure Temple Zone – 8

To start off, the thing I like most about this map is that you have taken a small handful of simple ideas and used them in such a wide and creative range of ways. Gargoyles spitting flame in a way similar to labyrinth zone is such a basic gimmick, but the two of you found so many interesting ways to apply them it worked perfectly. The same praise applies for the blue buzzes as well, I really did shake my fist in the air and curse Mystic’s name when I realized you made me fear grabbing air bubbles for fear of falling in death pits. Using a few simple gimmicks in a wide variety of effective ways also helps combat the idea a lot of level designers seem to have that every room must feature some new original and flashy gimmick to be interesting, this level proves quite nicely that less can in fact be more.

With regards to the edited elemental shield, I appreciate that you tried to make it clear that it’s not a normal elemental shield by colouring it purple, but it’s impossible to tell that you changed the colour of the shield in the colourmap of the water that covers the entire stage! Perhaps if you had the occasional dry area outside of the water, just for starposts or grabbing the purple elemental shield to introduce this item and make it clear to the player that it’s a new shield, this could have been avoided.

Another problem I had with this map was the difficulty curve, I felt that the gargoyle path was too easy for the end of the level and the path on the right at the very start was too hard for the beginning. While fixing this problem wouldn’t be as simple as merely swapping the paths around, because introducing the player to fire spitting gargoyles with complicated puzzles is a terrible idea, it’s certainly one that always bugs me when I play this map.

Something I especially love about this level is the love for Tails and Knuckles exclusive areas. The Knuckles area is simply excellent and takes advantage of his abilities and the unique elements of the stage to their fullest, while the hidden and optional Tails path is comically brutal and hilarious for it.

Also, that nuke puzzle. The two of you are horrible horrible people, but I eventually did it and opened the door.

Oh, and what is a Fluttershy sprite doing in this wad? Not that I’m complaining <3

Sonic's Schoolhouse – 5

This is hilarious. I don’t even need to lecture on why this is hilarious or how it can be improved, just put it in SRB2SBAHJ and call it a day, then release SRB2SBAHJ while you’re at it.

Frozen Hillside Zone Act 2 - 7

You forgot to death pit the final room, silly!

This map doesn’t have much new to offer in comparison to act 1, but the core gimmicks of the zone are still interesting and in the big picture of a part of a full zone, this level is great. It takes the gimmicks the player learned in act 1 and lets the player play around with them some more and in a few areas expands on them. The rising snow is a good example of this.

I did especially like the castle section of the map, which is a big change from your normal work as you don’t normally design interior man made areas and it was a refreshing change of pace. I also particularly liked the hidden underwater path which doubled as a fantastic short cut through the map, rewarding me for exploring in an incredibly enjoyable way.

You could use a new remix of Winter Wrap Up for this level though, just to avoid repeating the same song twice in Lost Worlds.

There really isn’t much more for me to say though, which is a shame, because I would just be retreading what I said in my review of Act 1. It’s a solid map, but other than a handful of interesting areas, it doesn’t do much that act 1 didn’t already do. But it’s a lot of fun regardless and I don’t think the repetition matters that much in this case.

Chemical Facility Zone Act 2 – 8

I see this map has been fairly polarizing so far, but I had a lot of fun playing it myself and the problems didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the map all that much.

The turrets definitely deserve a mention, I really like the purple slime turret as they currently used. Genuine hazards fitting for a final stage, and for the most part their placement is fair, giving the player a small but present window of reaction time when they fire or forcing the player to avoiding taking the most direct path towards them or be in the line of fire, I like that a lot. However, there were a few areas where they annoyed me more than anything else, like at the top of elevators or the one turret positioned at the end of a jump using the low gravity water. The glue turrets on the other hand are interesting, but I don’t think they were used to their full potential, instead of being used solely to compliment the purple slime turrets, I think they would great when used in conjunction with other hazards. For example, slime sticking the player to a conveyor belt, forcing them into an alternate path or a hazard, or a slime turret firing at the player when trying to navigate a field of moving lasers (or crushers if you are feeling particularly sadistic).

The orange and blue gels are interesting, and I really like what you did with the orange gel in a few rooms, but the blue gel isn’t used to its full potential. You set it up, only to abandon the gimmick and never return to it, which is a damn shame. The speedy gel could be used as a platforming hazard, by making it difficult for the player to gain their footing on a platform, or as a part of a larger gimmick by forcing the player to use the speed to their advantage, whether it be avoiding hazards or making a particularly long jump over a pit.

I raised a complaint about the timed door room during testing and I’m a little disappointed to see it isn’t fixed in any way. I don’t have a problem with punishingly hard difficulty in what is supposed to be the final level of your pack, but the player needs to be almost perfect to make any progress, let alone access the alternate path in the left door. Maybe a room this brutally difficult would have worked when placed at the end of the level, but if this gimmick remains in the middle of the stage, the player should at least have a few more seconds before the doors close.

Oh, and I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated when I pushed a button and part of the factory was destroyed, behind a wall where I couldn’t see it happen.

Lightless Labyrinth - 6

Oh my god this gimmick. Earthworm Jim is one of my favourite games and the nostalgia absolutely overwhelmed me at first, especially with that hilarious music drumming the point home.

The core mechanic worked much better than I expected it would, although I think the map might have worked better if the lights were sector based rather than thing objects. As it would have helped the player perceive depth in the darkness better, which is crucial in platforming areas or the crusher corridors. Although the floating platforms were a clever way to overcome the limitations of polyobjects as well, brilliant stuff there.

You keep throwing new ideas using the core mechanic, that’s great, but some of them aren’t executed well. The crushers and the maze were the biggest offenders for me. The crushers largely because of the triple crushers at the end, they were absolutely insufferable because, as far as I could tell, there was no pattern to them and surviving them was a matter of spindashing and hoping for the best. The maze was a problem because it was uninteresting and fed the player a tremendous amount of rings for doing almost nothing.

The custom enemies were interesting too. The ghosts were simple but effective and fit the theme very well (while also serving as a reference to the original Earthworm Jim stage) and the fire ghosts were neat, but not used very well. If the player didn’t need to lure these enemies around they would be more manageable, either as obstacles the player needs to avoid or always making sure they initially spawn in the same area as a pillar of water.

And finally, oh my goodness the boss was glorious, difficult and incredibly fun all at once. I can’t express enough how much it surprised and impressed me when I first encountered it. The only thing I would ask for in a future version of this boss, if it is ever updated, is for there to be a brief pause before the Cyberdemon attacks, so the player isn’t instantly hit in the face with rockets or a flame thrower.
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Last edited by Whackjood; 07-17-2012 at 10:51 PM. Reason: I CANNOT PROOF READ
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