spoilers ahead for bosses, please experience this yourself before reading (seriously it's super good please play it)
Holy fucking shit. It might seem like I'm exaggerating or being ridiculous but this is literally the best game(?) I have played in years. I'm working my way through Metroid Prime 1 via dolphin at the moment, and I wish I had opted for the mouse and keyboard hack because, while still fun, tank controls make things way more cumbersome than they need to be (shocking opinion, I know). But this? Again, holy fucking shit. It's literally a crossover between Sonic, Doom, and Metroid, which are series that have had the most satisfying gameplay loops in my experience. And even that fact is a cherry on top in and of itself.
I would've given this 5 stars from the unique levels after Deep Sea and Arid Canyon alone, ESPECIALLY the bosses. Just wow. You're just stumbling through a dark cave, exploring around, and then you fall into some new area and OH MY GOD THE CAMERA'S ROLLING AROUND LIKE CRAZY AND SOMETHING IS SHOOTING AT YOU GET ON YOUR FEET AND SHOOT AT IT GO GO GO GO GO and then you get your bearings and its a GIANT FUCKING MUTATED METROID MONSTER THAT'S STARING AT YOU AND CHARGING TOWARDS YOU REALLY FUCKING FAST and if it's not that then it's LIKE 50 SHADOW CLONES OF DARK SAMUS OH FUCK
wrap it all up with satisfying gameplay, great music (I mean it's metroid music ofc its great), tons of stuff to collect, and an amazing coat of polish on the whole thing and you've got yourself a god damn masterpiece. Very well done.
Honestly, Modern Sonic in itself is stellar when it comes to customisation, abilities and overall creativity of the character itself, but I myself thought that it could have had more to it like a Spindash, used by crouching and jumping, UI based on the Adventure titles, Advance games or even DS Colours and even the option to disable certain abilities like Rush Mode or Light Speed Dash via commands. At the end of the day, it's still a beautiful character to play as.
a really, REALLY solid set of abilities to mess around with. not only does this mod radiate quality with an abundance of visual effects, as well as the biggest move count i've seen on sonic recently, but all of the moves are fun to control and play around with.
the drop dash is, in my opinion, the star of the show here. you can do it from any state (as long as you're not hurt) and the speed it can net you feels great. momentum thrust and instashield are also pretty solid. the thrust especially is a fun concept for a momentum-based sonic ability in tandem with the drop dash. didn't find myself using the other moves all that much, but that was mostly due to the curse of the custom buttons.
overall, a real fun time and something you should check out with, even if it's only for a while.
What i've found surprising about juicebox is how on paper it seems like various balance changes, but in practice it really makes a significant change to how kart is played.
The highlights for me:
- Trying to frontrun is a lot more engaging, and you really have to fight if you want to hold on to first. (I especially enjoy taking tight lines/difficult paths to try and put gates in awkward spots)
- Those towards the front of the pack usually see a lot of action, there's rarely a dull moment if you're placing high.
- Lots of up-time! With fast respawn/tech/catch-up you spend longer in the actual race fighting against other players
Some minor gripes/general thoughts:
- I'm finding juicebox most enjoyable on normal speed with probably up to 10 players. Hard speed + 12 players can feel a bit too chaotic, and the overall increase in speed can be difficult to deal with on tighter maps.
- Slightly related note, Aqua did initially have his juicebox server open for 16 people, but that really did feel too frantic and people were reporting frame-drops (this might not be a concern as I think you recommend juicebox for up to 12 players anyway)
- Being towards the back of the pack can feel a bit more frustrating than vanilla kart. With vanilla it's usually more of a slow steady climb to the top; with juicebox it feels more like there's a wall of players you have to make a sudden break through. With everyone being so close most of the time, it can be difficult to climb ranks without immediately getting punted back down.
- In terms of power items I do think rocket sneakers are lagging behind a bit. I think the item protection from grow and invinci is even more important in juicebox, so it's easier to gain a few positions and maintain that.
- It feels a bit strange that the quick-recovery timing when you're in low grav happens mid-air. Intuitively it feels like something that should only happen when you're on the ground.
- Sometimes the quick-recovery prompt can get lost in the chaos of explosions etc. It would be nice if it was always visible over other effects, no idea if this is possible :P
Hopefully I haven't forgotten anything for my wall of text. Initially I was concerned that juicebox was gonna kill the skill aspect of kart, but I think it just encourages you to rely on other skills in comparison to vanilla.
Hopefully it carves a niche for itself on kart servers as it's a fun and refreshing way to play kart, I could see myself returning to juicebox servers for a long while.
I really liked the overall boosting abilities and the fact that they're able to boost your teammates too. I also really like how you can glide after you run out of boosts. It's quite a nice ability, one of the best I've ever seen actually, although as you said this is your first mod and the sprites aren't really the best, which gradually you'll improve with them over time but I really liked Shino's abilities and overall concept. Great work!
This port is good, and it was fun to play this level pack again as it was one of my firsts after Mystic Realm and SUGOI.
But I do have one big gripe with this port.
The enemy placement.
it's not bad for most of the levels, but for the Zones with Green Snappers (the turtles) they need to be reworked. Green Snappers DO NOT work the same way as they did in 2.1, and the second Zone in particular has NOT reworked it's design or enemy placement with the new Snappers in mind, adding in frustration and unfair enemy placement due to their new behavior. This also goes with the Lance-a-bots, as they've also changed in 2.2, so you might want to remove or lessen the amount you have in a area, as i've seen multiple in areas of maps, and they can gang up on you unfairly pretty quickly in ways that wouldn't happen with their 2.1 behavior.
Please rework levels with enemies that have a major behavior change, as they might not work as intended, and may result in unintentional difficulty and frustration.
There's also addons that exist for enemies with their behavior ported from 2.0 and 2.1 that you could use instead (Glaber's Badnik Packs come to mind here!)
I hope you'll read this and think about a update for the port with these points in mind.