- Preface -
I rate each map based on visuals (how does it look visually? is it clear where to go? etc) and gameplay balance (is it fun to drive? are there any problematic cuts / item sets? etc). While I give every map individual scores, note that the final score is NOT an average of these scores but rather my opinion on the pack as a full package, usually weighing gameplay balance more heavily than visuals. If a map pack is updated, I'll be happy to update my review as well. Hell maps are not included in the review.
Of course, as with any review, this is all simply my opinion; do with it as you please.
- Lilac Lake -
Lilac Lake is a beautiful track and the first of two that are (as I understand it at least) based on Freedom Planet. I've not personally played too much of this game, but it doesn't hamper my enjoyment of this track any.
The layout is easy to drive and easy to read, and the slopage is really well done and satisfying. The map looks stunning and is a joy to drive through. The map features a few looong straights that have boost pads on them, making growth a disproportionally strong item to roll on this track - in fact, often times races are stolen by a lucky growth roll. I won't hold it against the track too much though, because generally it plays really well.
The first cut where you boost through the little pond and onto a ledge is completely unmarked, and I'm not sure why. I feel like a simple sneaker sign or some other way of signifying to people that this is a valid route would be good, as I find many people are simply unaware and are shocked to find out when they see others take it.
Another beautiful track and, in my opinion, the best track in the pack. It really hits the temple theme well, it's easy to read, it's fun to drive... I have no complaints here. People dislike the drill machines and I do mald out over them sometimes myself, but honestly: skill issue. The only thing I can recommend is having some closer death planes (using sector special type 8) so people don't have to wait for the prolonged "flying to their doom" period after getting hit by a drill machine mid-jump.
- Construction Gym -
A fun track with a cool construction theme! I like the long drifts you can pull off on the spirals. The small half-pipes with boost pads on the other end are a cool touch and provide a small bit of decision-making on whether you wanna take the boost pad or not.
The steep slopes at the first spiral part make for easily trapped blind spots - while opinions differ on this, I personally see this as a small negative. There is also a lack of any meaningful shortcut on the map. I feel like you've tried something with the cut on the right after the first springs, but because anyone can take it with a drift spark, it doesn't really amount to much of a cut. As a result of this, the map is a bit hard to catch up on, often resulting in one-sided races.
- Rustic Joyride -
Rustic Joyride, while thematically cool, suffers from some serious visibility issues. The map starts off with a path split - you can't see anything over the steep ramp on the left, so it immediately starts off with a blind trap spot. On the higher path, the posts on the bridge blend in with the bridge itself, making it hard to see where they are. On the lower path, there are patches of mud that are offroad which are incredibly hard to spot because they blend in with the road, as well as the small ramp being very hard to make out as well.
Entering the temple area is again accompanied by a blind steep slope as entrance. The turn heading inside is very tight, again making it hard to dodge anything. There is a cut right before the finish through the trees on the left - but it's 1. very hard to take as you land past the entrance by driving normally, and 2. an end cut, which are a negative for competitive environments.
Adding to that, there are places where you can get stuck for a bit, such as between trees and to the left of the temple entrance slope. The map does do a good job with its theme, and I actually *adore* this sort of ancient temple theme... but that's really all I can say here. Not a fan.
This is a pretty map with a cool theme that's dragged down by a few things. Firstly, more steep no-visibility ramps: again, people don't like getting caught out by stuff they had no way to see coming. This map also has *no* shortcuts or offroad, meaning that when someone gets in front, there's a very high chance that the race is already over as there's no way to catch up. Not much else to say - the layout is fun and the map looks good, just a few balance and visibility concerns.
- Rec 'N Rally -
The layout is fun, the map looks good (you really have a thing for cool visuals!). I just can't recommend it. It's overpopulated with boost pads - there's one at almost every turn! This is basically the same as giving 1st place access to sneakers, devaluing sneaker rolls for the rest of the pack. Combined with a lack of shortcuts, it is impossible to catch up on this track - even a growth usually won't carry you to the front.
I could see this track being a bit better balanced under boost stacking conditions. In vanilla, though, I avoid this one. Very one-sided races that are often over in the first 15 seconds once a frontrunner has been decided.
- SIK Fortune Night -
More blind steep slopes, please no!! It's a fun layout, but you really don't have to make people suffer with these steep slopes.
On this map in particular, the only real cut is right at the end, and it's pretty strong - it's a 5-lapper so end cuts will have less impact, but they're still not good practice for a fun, competitive race regardless.
- Amethyst Drive -
This track's awesome! Amethyst Drive is a track with satisfying turns and a REALLY cool visual theme. The layout is fairly simple but chaotic and makes for fun races.
The map's only shortcut is hard to take and doesn't save much time, so races do often end up predictable with a clear frontrunner ahead of the rest. In this map's case though, it's not as bad - the cut may be hard to take but it does still provide a decent catch-up opportunity over the course of 5 laps, so clutch comebacks are still possible even if a little hard.
A visual masterpiece with unfortunate balancing. The map revolves around multiple 5+ second long straights, meaning that if you haven't picked a high speed character (or roll a lucky growth), you're gonna have a really bad time. When a track so heavily favors one stat block I really have to deduct some points for that - I get that you're going for a mostly faithful recreation but I feel like adding some more turns or other things to engage with would've been a good move.
- Erizo Isle -
I think the best way to describe racing on Erizo Isle is "an extremely chaotic mess." But that's not necessarily a bad thing - the track is actually really fun and unpredictable, and there's no way to know what will happen on this one. There's always some crazy stuff going down, and I think this is mostly down to the amount of item sets: they're like what, 5-10 seconds apart? Kind of crazy for a 5 lapper, you could probably cut one of those out. It would make the track less chaotic with less items flying all over the place. Of course, it's just a matter of what you want: if you love the chaos then definitely keep it as is. Either way, it's a really fun track.
A fun, technical track. The conveyor belts and crushers make this an incredibly engaging race track and there's usually stuff going on at every corner. The lack of a shortcut in this one can be forgiven to an extent in the same way that the lack of a shortcut can be forgiven in something like Toxic Palace - the amount of hazards and tricky areas in the track make it really hard to consistently frontrun anyway. Still, adding a meaningful shortcut into the mix would probably make the track healthier for gameplay overall.
- Cyber Scramble -
Cyber Scramble is, despite its cool theme, probably my least favorite of the bunch. A lot of the track is spent in boost state like in RNR, but with the added jank of having teleporters connect stuff together. They lead straight into turns that are quite hard to react to, and the mist in the teleport entrance is a really good place to hide trap items so others can barely see them. Again, no cuts, making it hard to catch up.
There's a jump in the middle of the track which is cool but has a lot of missing death planes - it is incredibly easy to cut this area and go right back to the start, or get knocked off back to an earlier part of the track and be completely disoriented as to where you are. Overall, this track is probably the weakest in the pack.
- Grit Pit -
I LOVE the stadium theme going on here! The theme, music, tight track, everything combines together to make a cool track providing some real intense races. There are some satisfying drifts you can pull off here as well. The mud pits might be a little too hard to avoid maybe, but drifting around them perfectly is very satisfying. Again, there is a lack of shortcuts - don't think I need to go into it again, but worth mentioning. Good track.
Pretty much the crown jewel of the 5-lappers in this pack. The visuals really give a sense of a nice, open, floating (?) castle area of sorts. The track is tight and technical with some interesting turns, and the spiral at the end is a riot with how much chaos often erupts on there. The entire track is a little hard to navigate for heavyweights but that's fine - they already excel on almost every other track in the game anyway, so let them suffer a bit.
The shortcut feels just the right strength, but I do feel like the extra item set in there might be a little much. There's also a solid death plane under the introduction jump that thrown items (like bananas and such) often land on, which kinda sucks for people trying to snipe others.
Overall, though, this map is a blast. Always really fun races on here.
- Overall -
Plom Pack is a mix of some really good maps and some that I don't enjoy much. There is a frequent theme of blind slopes, lack of shortcuts, and overusage of sneaker panels, which supports frontrunning. Frontrunning and a lack of catch-up is a big issue in this game, and it'd be good to throw players in the back a bone every now and then.
I'd say that the top quality tracks outshine the ones I'm not much of a fan of, and that makes the pack worth its considerable weight for sure. The insane slopes might be hard to rework at this point, but it would be cool if you could implement a shortcut or two on some of the tracks that lack one.
I don't know if you're still making maps, but if you are, I'd love to see what you have in store for the future.
I think visually this pack really hits the mark. Everything looks good, and there's a great variety in terms of locales.
However, there are common issues when it comes to the layouts. There are lots of very steep slopes which block vision, as well as sharp, blind turns and little breathing room the allow racers to anticipate oncoming turns.
For me, Pentagon Cup in general feels rather cramped, and I wonder if all those maps would benefit from some mobjscaling.
Mantalith Temple and Construction Gym really stand out, both having very cohesive visuals and layouts that are largely enjoyable to race on.