So gonna try to quickfire my thoughts from giving a spin to these maps in Free Play mode (Hard speed). I know that this was your first map-pack and even got updates, and that you definitely have improved in the Racing Stadium pack, so any particular feedback is just aimed at the tracks I tried out.
First of all, the music credits in all tracks has "Sonic Rush" written as "Sonic rush"; a small nitpick but...you know, a detail that could be ironed out.
Water Palace definitely has neat ideas for me, like the sliding tube and the branching path, but I guess that if there's something that could be added upon, is some extra visual variety on some sections or walls (which is easier said than done, but probably would help in the long run). That and waterskipping when landing on the waterslide was a bruh moment; if that can be changed/patched then it would be fine.
So Mirage Road...which is written here as "Mirrage Road". Another dumb spell check but this one probably is a bit funnier/jarring to see since its in the map's title itself. Anyways...
In concept, a pretty cool experiment: Branching paths that work on a same road. In practice though, it can be confusing and make you feel "wait a minute am I driving backwards" since the track doesn't have any preventions in case you actually happen to do that. I have to think later if those kind of preventions wouldn't be possible due to enough overlap on the track itself, and its surprising that it seems to work...but that and the map being mostly simple outside of that makes this one a bit weird. Oh, and the first turn when you take the right path that goes on the outside area at the desert feels pretty blind; a sloped turn into offroad where you can't see the road ahead? That could definitely get tweaked.
I'm sort of split up on Huge Crisis. This is another map with experimental ideas that I do like, but at the same time I can sort of see the tunnels being a bit too much of an advantage in comparison to other paths? A matter of balance and actual playtime on the track, I guess (because if there's a path that's absurdly faster than the other paths...then why take the other ones?). Other than that, could also benefit from some visual sprucing up as well, since it looks pretty samey.
Altitude Limit as a theme could have great potential, but here its probably the most that sticks out in odd details: The sky sticks out in a weird way, the turns with zippers, and how there doesn't seem to be a great sense of speed in the track overall (mind you I was playing in Hard speed). Probably the one I have the less to say on since its...there. Likely would need some more dynamic sections, more visual crafting/polish and figure out something better than zipper-laced hairpins. Good ol' half-pipes could help on that one, but I guess that its a matter of how much this map could benefit from a big overhaul/redesign/rebuild from scratch.
I can see the merit in the ideas with Dead Line: The grav switching matches up with the theme (along with the minimap being color coded for that), there's an outside section, and said outside section is a nice sight (though the sky could be way better than what's used). But the indoor sections feel like a letdown in visual appeal, the majority of the normal gravity section is...a wavy straight, and there's not much to tell home from the layout.
Special Stage is "silly halfpipe the map"...and that's fine! I think that my biggest complaint (since whether you want to make a complex or simple layout with the halfpipe idea is up to you, as the halfpipe as an idea at least makes it for a fun drive) is the visual fidelity: I know that its tough to get right the texture size and stuff, but this is probably where a cleanup on the visual design would matter the most...since you'll be looking at that pipe for the entire race. Also figuring out an animated background could be a nice touch.
As someone that struggles to use custom assets for my stuff, I definitely know about how "improving the visuals" can be an "easier said than done" case, but there's definitely a big room for improvement in the case of these maps, both in visual appeal AND map conveyance for synergy with the layout design. And about the layouts, I guess that the best way to know whether your layout has tweaks or not is to have some testing with it before anything; its specially helpful if it is with experienced players since they can both tell you about any particular oddities with the layout or skips to be patched.
Sorry if this was a huge, huge load to read (fingers get carried away when I get in typing mode), but this is the thoughts I got so far from this...and knowing what you did with Racing Stadium, you've definitely have learned from the stuff you've done here; whether you would like to revisit these or not is up to you...but I'm sure that the day you happen to do so, you will already have a good idea about what to tweak or just build from scratch altogether for a renewed, fun Rush pack :)
And as-is...I think that Water Palace and Special Stage are inoffensive, Huge Crisis is cool but also can tell that it might be a bit confusing/unbalanced in some regards in mutliplayer, Mirage Road is somehow both simple and confusing...and Dead Line's probably the msot underwhelming in my opinion. No idea how different these maps in 1.3 are from the previous versions, but not too bad for being your first mappack!
I'm going to rate the maps from most enjoyed to least enjoyed
Layout-wise, it's the only map that I kind of liked racing on, but it seems rather stale and think you could've done more with the theme and made it a bit harder like it is from the source game. The section that flips you back and forth (with the red rocks) is janky from the ceiling. I ended up bonking the lip every single lap and never cleared it properly. Visuals are ok, but it has nothing memorable. For the flip gravity section, you should change the textures/add midtextures to let the player know which ones does what.
I'm personally not a big fan of 5 lappers, but this one is relatively decent. I do like the gimmick of the alternate paths opening up at different parts of the track and I think it's a good improvement from the 1st version. Personally, I feel like you could've done more with the layout itself, but it's nice, simple, and don't mind racing on it multiple times. Visuals are decent, but nothing too memorable.
There's not a lot to say about this one. Visuals and Layout are ok, but to me it's just a boring map that's one giant halfpipe (I know that's the point, but it's probably not for me).
I really like the new changes to the map compared to 1st version and the unique aspect of lap 1 and 3 being different from 2 and 4. Unfortunately, laps 2 and 4 are a huge detriment to the track as a whole. I ended up enjoying myself for the 1st part and didn't want to race anymore after that because you basically drive in a straight line. Even though there are turns in the last section, there's nothing to warrant drifting. This map probably has the best visuals, but I couldn't tell that the 1st turn of the track was a left turn because the road blends too much into the wall.
I really want to like this track, but the layout is very lackluster. I like the 1st 10-or-so seconds of the map, but after that, I don't want to race on it anymore. It's just a big straight line with a 3/4 circle turn and another turn before it loops back to the start. I like the alternate paths, but they're very poorly executed. The left path is vastly inferior to the right path and on top of the that, the left path is way more lackluster since it ends in a straight line into an "auto scroll". The intended shortcuts are time losses rather than time gains. You're better off just skipping the off-road during the 3/4 circle turn and it saves 3 seconds (which is rather strong) from people on the main road and probably saves 5-6 seconds if someone tries to take the alternate path that opens up.
This is by far the worst map in the pack. The layout is very boring, and you don't even have to drift for over 80% of the map. I really don't like the zippers since that adds to you just going in a straight line and it can lead to trap items being more deadly than they should be. The visuals are also the worst since it's some random pillars, a sky floor, and random red floors underneath the main roads.
Due to the simplicity to all these maps, I can definitely see power items being extremely effective and invalidates anyone who dares to hold 1st.
Overall, this is an improvement from V1.0, but 2 out of the 6 maps are interesting to play on and the others are just boring.
Quick note before I review : I have only played those map in a multiplayer setting for the 1.2 version and before. i have only do free play for 1.3.
WATER PALACE : Before 1.3 , it was by far the worse map. Making a split path for the whole map kill player interactivity.
But now there are no longer a splith path (making it technicaly a 2 lap map). I mainly like the session with the strong water stream where you go fast with a lot of turn. Also, that huge slope at the end is a trap heaven. other than tha,t the map is okay.
Also, it doesn't have any cut, I think.
MIRRAGE ROAD : Cool GCN Luigi cuircuit. Before 1.3, the door was broken and useless. And there was way way way to much item avaible, the map was pur chaos.
But now the door work (at least in free play) and there less item. Which I think make the map way more enjoyable. Probably my favorite one from this pack.
HUGE CRISIS : The main problem with this map is that almost all the alt path are not worth it. Even the first cut at the start. The item reward is often useless since you will get item anyway on the main path.
The only good cut is a the end and it is very strong, it's kinda balanced by the fact you can fail it with the crusher ; it still strong. Not a big fan of that map.
DEADLINE : My least favorite map. Like I said in water palace. Splith path for the whole race kill player interaction. It can be fine if this is a full loby, but with fewer player the track become boring. Also the gravity swapp is not obious enough on where you go on hate ceilling or not ; this need a better indication (also the current arrrow that show it are reversed, oof).
Also, it doesn't have any cut, I think.
ALTITUDE LIMIT : This map look unfinish. There almost no texture work. With some good sneaker you can SKIP some part of the map. No CUT (the only one is a cut that everyone can take, so it's not a cut imo). The paraglider is at the limit of not possible, if player don't know they can press up to go up, they will die. And I think the track is boring, the only hard turn are auto session so... 9 speed heaven.
This map is jsut not working.
SPECIAL STAGE : It's just an half Pipe. And doesn't have cut. But .. Somehow... This map is super fun. It's pur chaos. You will only dislike this map if you are a tryharder :)
ENCORE Map : Funny encore.
Global opinion. While the layout and the visual can be improve a lot. Most of those map feel UNIC and ORIGINAL, And been original is what save this pack. Kinda unfortunate that 2 map are just horrible.
Global stuff for most of the battle map :
- The item are way to packed together. This create stalling strategie where you farm good item at some place. This also can break some gamemod in battle + , mostly the mine blast where you can easely stack 9 mines in 5s . Or making custom object appear in pack.
- Those map are not spring proof, you can go in the map decoration and be safe for the whole match.
WATER PALACE : I think it's the best battle map, and it's the only one that don't have item pack so much. Good.
MIRRAGE ROAD : Make the offroad less strong and it will be a fine stage. The problem with off road is that it make you super vulnerable to other player , and a good third of the item required to go off road. Also suffer from packed item.
HUGE CRISIS : The worse battle map by far. Mainly because it's a trap heaven on the auto session. Also suffer from packed item.
DEADLINE : Cool map, the swich gravity work super well with the moving item. You can do some cool strat. it's fun.
ALTITUDE LIMIT : (I haven't tested this one in miltiplayer) Paraglider in a battle map? Seem interresing. I am jsut scare of stalling strategy. Can't say more since I haven't fully tested it.
Global opinion : Remove DeadLine and it is actualy a very fine battle map pack.
3 star for you. Can be a great pack if you fix most of the horrible mentioned stuff. And maybe add more visual related to Sonic Rush (without the music, you can't tell that those maps are Sonic rush theme).
- 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 and battle 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.
- Water Palace -
Water Palace is a messy track with good ideas but flawed execution. The half-pipe slide at the start makes for some fun chaos. However, when leaving the slide at the start, it's very easy to accidentally enter a water skip. This will slow players down immensely and is generally undesirable. The slope after the path split feels very blind - especially with the fountain and cut there, you're setting people up for some really hard to react to geometry. The cut is impossible to see coming on one's first lap, and it's not exactly easy to take because of how blind it is even if you know it's there. If you can find a way to convey the turn and cut better, that would be good.
The path split inside feels pretty claustrophobic because of the low ceilings. There's also 3 item sets in quick succession here (one on entry, one inside, one on exit) - this will result in people mashing out and using their item asap without much thought and takes focus away from driving. I think the item set inside the path split can be scrapped without much issue.
The propeller room feels janky to go through and is janky to look at, with visual bugs galore. This is to be expected considering it's a polyobject and I'm sure you've done the best you could with it, but it's still worth noting and pointing out.
Visually, the map looks okay. It isn't anything special to look at but the textures carry the theme well enough.
- Mirrage Road -
A fun gimmick on a simple track. There's not much wrong with this map on a gameplay level - it's simple and easy, and there's nothing wrong with that. The "double back" gimmick where you pass over the same part of the road twice is something that's always pretty funny. However, just because there's not much wrong doesn't make it great, either. It's a little boring, and the visuals are definitely not helping.
Visually, the map leaves a lot to be desired. Apart from the road, the whole thing is pretty much the same texture. The theme of this level in Sonic Rush has a lot more colors and visuals you could incorporate into this. For example, why not have a small part of the track where it opens up and you can see outside? Or use some of the blue pillars / statues that are in the background of the original. The map really needs something to break up the monotony.
- Huge Crisis -
This map's gimmick of wind tubes is kinda funny but you're not exactly gonna get great races out of it. The map consists of getting pushed through no-control shafts into a simple piece of track, usually a straight line or wide turn. I honestly just don't think the gimmick works on a gameplay level. Funny once for the sheer jank, but then the comedy quickly wears off and makes way for frustration as you have control taken away from you for big portions of the track. Not a fan.
Visually the map is... pretty much all gray? It's not hard to tell where to go but if you can find some ways to break up the monotony, that'd be really good. Again, I know the original level has more colors to pick from - how about incorporating some more of that to add some more flair?
- Deadline -
A generally inoffensive gravity flip map. The track is simple and is carried entirely by the gravity flip gimmick, but this makes for an unengaging map to drive through - one with lots of simple turns and straightaways without anything going on. This also makes it hard to comment on otherwise... it's just kinda boring.
The map looks okay. The same textures are repeated everywhere but at least they look alright. Again, finding some way to flair things up would be very much appreciated here. When you have a simple layout, focusing on visuals and detail is a good way to keep players engaged anyway despite the simple track.
- Special Stage -
The simplest and probably best map in the pack. It's just a halfpipe all the way through. Which can be pretty fun, not gonna lie! Some of the blue areas can be collided with as if they were walls - marking that whole area as a ramp sector should fix that right up. Visually the map looks as it should considering its theme, but I'd maybe double the size of the polka dotted textures; they're VERY messy to look at. Other than that, not much else to say here.
- Overall -
Rush Pack consists of a mapping newcomer's first maps and you can definitely tell. The quality isn't fantastic but there is promise. Some of the maps can make for fun races but there are a lot of fundamentals missing here, both in terms of visuals and in gameplay. If you go back in and really give the maps some love, especially in terms of visuals, I think it would improve a lot. Keep iterating, improving, and experimenting - what's here is rough, but you've got potential!