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Old 11-03-2014   #17
Mystic
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Haunted Heights > Ring Valley > Mud Mines

Haunted Heights
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Wow. Lemme get that out of the way before all the nitpicking I'm going to do. This stage is absolutely amazing and I loved every second of it. I even bothered to get a perfect, which should give you an idea how much I was enjoying myself. There are a bunch of things which could definitely be improved, though:
  • The only significant path split is the character-specific one. The entire stage is otherwise linear. It would be even better with some more path splits for extra replay value.
  • Near the start you do a brilliant trick with pumpkins and the cacopumpkins, but you never even repeat a large amount of the pumpkin scenery, missing a huge opportunity to make us all paranoid about the scenery objects for no reason =P
  • I actually think having the timed light area throw you back when you fall is too generous compared to the difficulty of the rest of the stage. There's plenty of warning of what's going on, so give them a full pit. Another possibility is having it throw you onto another (harder) path when they fall instead of giving them another shot at it.
  • There doesn't seem much point in having both slime and water. Why not just make it all normal water or purple slime to keep consistency with the main game?
  • Right after the path split there's a section where you have to jump past spikeballs onto a conveyor and then back. That conveyor moves WAY too fast, and the secret route with the 1-Up and tons of maces there is actually far easier than the main route. It could probably use a nerf, or at least help with the visibility of the platform that you're supposed to jump to after that.
  • At the end of the stage, you can land on the horizontal beams below the conveyors with no apparent method back up other than intentional suicide.
  • It would be nice if you granted the emblem radar at some point, as I can't find the first and third emblem for the life of me.
Obviously, I absolutely adore the stage even with all those nitpicks, and I would have been hard pressed to not give it a 10 in the old system, so way to go regardless. This is a HUGE step up from your last map, which was already pretty good.

Ring Valley Zone

I actually quite liked this, but my OCD ring collection compulsion doesn't require much encouragement already, so that kind of thing doesn't bother me. The scenery is fine, although I think you went overboard with the thing scenery in many places.
  • I absolutely love how you changed the Buzz AI. It's very reminiscent of Rareware's style, and it works extremely well in gameplay here too.
  • The new enemy is really cool but doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the stage very well.
  • You have a distinct lack of shields in general. Considering the focus on ring collection it would have been nice to have at least one unhidden on the main route, even with the changes to ring dropping.
  • The boss is absolutely amazing, although the attack where he makes the ball home in on you is lame even with the sound notification, and should probably be just removed. His movement could probably use to be a little less random as well. Otherwise this boss just makes me smile all over and I want to use it in the game proper somewhere =P
Mud Mines Zone 1
This is a real mixed bag. Parts of the level design are actually fun and remind me of what I liked about 1.X. Other parts of the design are completely baffling and awful and I cannot imagine how such things slipped through into the final product.
  • You should never intentionally make your map only playable in one renderer. While it's totally okay to suggest playing in one renderer or the other because it's hard to make things look good in both, it's not okay to make your stage so dark that the stage is practically unplayable in software. I don't know if you said to use OGL or not but I certainly never saw it, so I had to handle tons of horribly cheap deaths to things I literally couldn't even see coming. You should never go below light level 140 except for sections you're intentionally trying to make it hard to see in.
  • Your level up script is terrible. Delete it. It actively makes this stage worse than it already was by disrupting muscle memory for absolutely no gain. I'm basically always level 3, and even though my statistics are better than normal SRB2 I'm never happy about it because it throws off all my normal jump arcs.
  • Why on Earth are you using button hunts as stage progression? Didn't we all learn back in 1.X that that was a bad idea? In one case you even force the player to backtrack significantly to continue the stage after hitting the button, and it's not entirely clear where you need to go even with an arrow appearing on the ground. If you know that there's a problem enough to make an arrow appear in the stage, why not just change the layout so buttons aren't necessary?
  • The first bouncy section is atrocious. Not only is it so dark you can't see three feet in front of you, it's over a pit and you're basically blind jumping into your death. I eventually gave up and just flew across as Tails. Even worse, you don't have a Star Post in front of it, so if you die you have to repeat a tedious button press each death.
  • The whole mud gimmick is just pointless and does nothing.
While I know that's a lot of negative to take in, this stage is honestly not all that bad. The basic platforming here is totally fine, and you're clearly thinking about how to make gimmicks that work. The problems appear when your gimmicks don't work out well like the pitch black bouncy room and the awful level up script. Why not think of a more relevant use for mud that actually does something to gameplay?
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