This is a really good pack for new and intermediate skill players, who are simply looking for solidly-designed tracks to play and test their skills on. In addition, all of the levels have solid skill tech for veterans, like ways to skip ramps, tightly-placed sneaker and spring panels, and more. It's also no slouch on visuals either - some of them look like actual places that the racers are driving around, instead of race tracks, which helps sell their settings.
Here I'll touch on individual levels and give some criticism:
● MKSC Cheese Land:
○ It has very solid visuals, I was impressed on how well everything was decorated when I stopped and simply looked around.
○ I appreciate that, on newer versions, you've cut on offroad, specially at the last section, since power speed items were rather strong at the end.
○ The optional springs on the jumps are also rather nice, in cases players are too slow to help themselves get back on the race.
○ I feel the first shortcut is, in particular, a bit unreadable, as you're supposed to take a sharp turn, but looking straight ahead, the wall has a very similar texture as the ground and I feel it could be misinterpreted as an upwards slope. Considering throwing a signal there to guide players better on where to go after the shortcut. https://files.catbox.moe/2uqy3b.png
● MKDS Airship Fortress
○ I really appreciate the red spring panels at the start of the lap, it gives the level an extra edge of skill that I feel is appreciated.
○ Having a spiral at the end that's big enough for heavyweights to drift around is much appreciated, specially in cases where they're being chased around by an SPB and bumpsparks are not on.
○ The lack of shortcuts harms being able to keep up in this level in particular. Maybe breaking some walls and fences, and make them offroad could help with this.
○ Compared to, say, Peach's Garden, the Monty Moles feel superfluous. I think I've might raced close to 10-15 times on this level and I've never been touched by one. They also cover sneaker panels which I feel shouldn't be a thing, at least for the sake of encouraging different lines. Try to place Moles in such a way that it challenges players' lines.
● Mushroom Kingdom
○ This is honestly a really good level, I really like the little details like the 1-1 coins subarea being referenced, the fireworks and being able to break blocks.
○ I feel you should introduce breaking blocks at the start of the race, and not in lap 2. This is because breaking blocks in the underground section allows players to take sneaker panels and shortcuts that they would've not known otherwise, so I feel you should introduce this gimmick as early as possible.
○ The second shortcut honestly feels invisible at a glance. I've actually never known about it until I played this level on my own. Maybe a bit of extra signaling or visuals, to clue in that that section is a shortcut, is in order.
○ Part of the first shortcut can actually be jumped into from the main jump on the level. It kinda feels unintentional but honestly, I'd say keep it because it's kind of a fun tech.
● Winter Garden
○ Feels the least visually striking for me, but I appreciate that you were going for something different here.
○ I like that sneaker panel of that one icy turn, it's an instant hit of serotonin to hit it every single time.
○ This is also the only level where you can drive backwards after hitting enough checkpoints and get a lap counted, which I believe you should address.
○ In general, it does feel like the most dry layout, but I like the dynamic of ice physics being introduced in turns every once in a while, if you ever feel like doubling down on that.
● Inchworm Forest
○ I honestly think this is my favourite level, personality-wise. I like the little drawings, the flat/sector art and generally the vibes are good too. I like that it also looks like a place as well, where the little worms wriggle about as a race is going on. It is also the most solid layout of them all.
○ The change of lighting in the Encore ver. of this level makes turns a lot less readable, which I don't feel is a massive dealbreaker but I definitely think it should not be that way.
● Ricco Harbor
○ I know this level is a performance destroyer, but I really do like how it looks and how faithful it is to the actual level in Sunshine.
○ I like that you played with cycle hazards this time around, I feel that you get enough time to read them and always make an appropriate decision.
○ I feel you can fall for too long in certain areas, specially after the second cycle hazard. Consider cutting these falling times with FoF death pits.
○ The idea of having two finish lines, with one being a little bit more difficult to take, is actually pretty creative and I've got to give you props for that one.
● Vanilla Zig Zag
○ I understand why this is a hell map, but honestly, I feel that if you added a few recovery sneaker or speed panels around, it could be a really playable and popular level on its own, although I respect if you want to keep it this way if you want to maintain its difficulty.
All in all, this is a solid pack and is a must-have for every server. Props to Bowler for the good stuff!
Everything here feels good to race on. You'd think Mushroom Kingdom would be a bit of a pain considering how flat it is, but I can't say i've ever had any issues with it.
Visuals mostly nail it, especially the recent revamp of airship fortress. As you've made improvements I think Winter Garden and Inchworm Forest have lagged behind visually (but still look good), I just wish they had as strong an identity as the other maps.
One thing I don't think Bowler's Pack has is anything super experimental or unconventional, but at the same time i'm not sure that's something every map pack needs to strive for.
This track pack consists of mainly Mario-themed maps, including some Mario Kart ports and original ideas. Despite the presence of ports, these tracks work really well in SRB2K thanks to the new additions and they are really fun to play.
The original tracks are also really creative as well and make good use of custom textures, overall giving it a really creative vibe despite being based on Mario games. My favorite, though, is Inchworm Forest because it's really creative, generally cute, and yet still challenging enough. Generally a map that makes you feel well and cozy, like the entire pack. And it contains probably my favorite Easter Egg in the whole game.
And Vanilla Hell is also somehow more driveable and fair than Vanilla Lake 2...
A really fun and unique track pack!! Overall it adds a fun little variety of picks with some Mario Kart favorites and some really cool originals!
- Cheese Land is very wide and gives you quite the breathing room, especially so with boost shortcuts- you can get pretty far ahead if you know what you're doing. It's an easier pick but can be fun with more players!
- Airship Fortress is an MKDS fave for a lot of people and here? It's still a jam! It's really hard to use the springs at times however, and under Shrink you can only barely make some jumps at top speed IIRC. It's alright and I have fun with it!
- Mushroom Kingdom may be your first map, but it doesn't feel that way entirely. It's faithful to the classic game in looks and playstyle! It's flat, sure- but that's alright considering how the first game is! The bustable blocks are a good touch and I like how the off-road bits are elevated just ever so slightly to distinguish it as such. I'm just confused how touching the side of the floating platform can just outright kill you though?
- Winter Garden is honestly my weakest pick. The opening hairpin can be stupidly punishing, and towards the ending it's very easy to get bumped into the corner tables. It still plays nice and I like the look of it though so no worries!
- InchWorm Forest is a highlight- I mean, look at that cute mini-map, it shaped like a snail~ It's another fun level to blast through, and it didn't take long to get used to the twists in the course. It's pretty comfy.
- Ricco Harbor looks like you modded Kart into Sunshine, not the other way around, it's *that* accurate to the source! Sadly, that loving detail does hit the framerate at times- a shame, as it's another fun course to play, it's short and sweet! It's a little hard to see certain bits of road sadly.
- Odd you don't mention Vanilla Zig Zag as a hell map, and... it's place as a hell map is well deserved. It may be fun sending someone else flying across the ice into a watery grave, but it's real easy to screw up yourself. It gets a laugh outta me though!
A good mix of fresh ideas and new takes on existing tracks, Bowler's Cup is an obvious pick for any server host IMO. Many players will be excited to see old favorites returning from Mario Kart, and the original layouts like Inchworm Forest and Winter Garden are rife with creativity.
It was better when it was called Bowling Cup, though. 4/5 Change the name back.