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Old 09-04-2015   #25
Monster Iestyn
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Single Player division:

Sonic & Knuckles Robo Blast 2 & Knuckles Ft Knuckles & Knuckles FlipgoopStation Demo
Scarlet Lake Zone
Sacred Woodland Zone
Technology Station Zone
Proud Sky Zone

Reviews coming ....today!

Spoiler:
Sonic & Knuckles Robo Blast 2 & Knuckles Ft Knuckles & Knuckles FlipgoopStation Demo, by "Lat'":
Despite the stupid name that stuffs several fads down our throats, this is actually a rather decent level. The main gimmick, which of course is the gravity-flipping goop, is used well, and the boss fight at the end (Sonic/Tails only) is decent. There's even a Knuckles route with its own climbing challenges which are fairly well-handled also (for the most part), the level was worth a replay at least just to check this out alone.

Now for some of the downsides:
  • The waterslide isn't the worst thing ever, but what really gets me is that corner turn where you have little time to dodge the first pair of electric walls. Followed by the chance of hitting the final wall if a yellow spring failed to get you up before it, ugh.
  • In a few areas it's actually a little unclear where to go next when playing for the first time; they had me wondering around for a long time before I realised where to go. The worst offender though is one part of the Knuckles route with a ton of spokes where it's not immediately obvious that you're supposed to fall down the hole at the end of the tunnel (which I barely noticed was there). Put some form of arrow signs about perhaps? I know you use them mostly for showing off the "change-the-arrow-displayed" visual trick but as a directional guide they could be helpful elsewhere.
  • Is there any reason why you changed the explosions of Unidus spikeballs to the NiGHTS paraloop-style one used by Explosion/Grenade rings? This just feels like a weird design decision, I don't know what the point of it is.
  • Maybe it's just me, but I feel the last part of the boss fight is kind of silly; it's basically just you trying to survive a bunch of attacks from a super Knuckles you can't even hit ...until he turns back to normal for no apparent reason. And after hitting him, that's it?

Also some bugs you may want to be aware of:
  • Apparently the Insta-shield ability for Sonic works on enemies/projectiles regardless of z position. I take it this probably isn't intentional, it's rather obvious after using it for a while.
  • Knuckles briefly turns green in some angles when you hurt him during the boss fight.
  • Some of the scrolling walls in Knuckles' route act weird when you grab onto them sometimes. This could be just a bug with SRB2 itself though, then again.

As a last note, this level is rather linear - aside from the Knuckles route, there is basically no alternative route or anything the whole way. Multiple routes can add replay value if you implement them right. For now, the level as it is is good.

Scarlet Lake Zone, by Zipper:
What can I say? I already gave some of my thoughts on this level to the author personally via IRC during beta testing, so I find it slightly awkward to repeat myself. Oh well, here we go...

This level is of course decent in general, and the main gimmick of the level is interesting, and once again you've proved you can make engaging boss fights. Even a Knuckles route to top it off (yeah yeah, I get the joke about the music, whatever), adding a bit of replay value.

However, there are a number of problems with this level:
  • At the path split shortly after the start... for someone new to the level, it's not even clear that it is a path split at all! Only reason I found where to go as Sonic on my first go was purely because I accidentally fell into the river ...which turns out to be where both him and Tails goes apparently. Had to be told directly to learn this, that's not exactly a good thing. I don't think it's entirely obvious Knuckles is supposed to climb up the waterfall on the other side either.
  • Pretty much every instance one of those water columns that pushes you up appears, it's almost guaranteed to cause some frustration in trying to use one of them. The main problem is when you're jumping into one of these, it's incredibly easy to fall out of the column part of the way up it. This is especially infuriating in the second phase of the boss fight, when the boss goes high above the ground... good thing one can just wait that attack on the ground instead, otherwise I'd have rage-quit by then.
  • As much as killing ghosts with light is a cool gimmick, in a number of places where you cannot kill the ghosts they're actually really annoying. This includes their inclusion at the start where you have no idea how to kill the things to begin with. In the case of the Knuckles route it's obvious they're supposed to be obstacles, though that doesn't redeem my partial hatred of the fiendish spirits.

Sacred Woodland Zone, by HAPPYFOX:
FINALLY, A LEVEL THAT IS NOT SATURATED WITH FADS OF ANY KI- wait, haven't I seen this level before?

In all fairness I don't remember much of the older version of this level from the first 2.1 OLDC, but re-reading my old review you've dealt with some of my complaints then at least. One thing you've included that pretty much every other level in this contest division has omitted is multiple routes! (Ignoring Knuckles routes, that is) Alas though, even if it's more or less totally remade, this version of the level has problems of its own:
  • First and foremost, the rooms with rising water and death pits are pure evil. Everyone hates them, and I totally see why. There is little time to react, and once the water rises above you you're almost guaranteed to die to the pit shortly afterwards. Tame these things, or kill them off completely.
  • Next up on the hate list are the flame-shooting Robo-Hoods; these things were present in the old version of the level, and they're still there in THIS version. And they're annoying as ever: if you spend too long around them, the scene is littered with flames all over the place, doomed to be there for eternity. Why don't you make these things ever disappear at all? Furthermore I'd like to be able to kill those Robo-Hoods one day, but most of them are in out-of-reach branches meaning Sonic has no hope in doing so 99% of the time.
  • The Jet Jaws in the gargoyle puzzle route are rather annoying; the water being shallow yet still deep enough to drown in, the fish enemies are somehow

Other weird but not necessarily bad design decisions I'm questioning here:
  • Why are many of the invisible platforms in the level indicated by ...monitors? I guess it's not as bad as using rings, but still, it's odd. Not necessarily bad I guess, but odd.
  • Why use Brak Eggman's landing-on-ground sound for all shutting doors? None of them are even close to metallic, so it doesn't really fit.

Technology Station Zone, by XEFAGame:
I actually don't find this map to be irredeemably awful, but it definitely needs a lot of work in places:
  • Many rooms in this level have at least two Crawla Commanders within, which is a bit too much I feel. Nobody wants to spend a lot of time dealing with these enemies in one room, and then go to next room and have to do the same thing again. One room even contains four Crawla Commanders as well as a Jetty-Syn Bomber. I'd recommend you remove some of these and instead use other types of enemies more often.
  • Why do you use such narrow yet tall doorways between each room? I'm not saying they're cramped at all (which is not actually a problem at all in the level), but most of the time it's not obvious they're doorways at all. The one between the first two rooms with Crawla Commanders near the start in particular was not easy to spot on my first playthrough, and so the enemies from the NEXT room were able to fly into the one I was in and take me by surprise.
  • You're a bit generous with lives throughout the level. Last time I played this I got at least 15 lives without effort. Extra lives are good as a hidden item, but most of the ones you've placed aren't especially hard to find. Maybe you could replace them with some of the other powerups available, such as Invincibility, Super Sneakers or any of the Shields.
  • That one room filled with both horizontal and vertical lasers is not good for the eyes. Either cut down on the lasers or split the number of them visible at once with walls or pillars.

Proud Sky Zone, by Nekoishi and [REDACTED]:
...I bet you're really *cough* proud *cough* of yourself (or yourselves) for making this. An obvious joke 2D level consisting of you falling slowly downwards onto a platform just to collect a star to finish the level? There is absolutely no reason why this should be anything but last place. There is not even much reason for making a review at all considering this level's nature.

Rant aside, switching to first person apparently crashes the game for some reason. Not sure what could be causing that... That said, I'm done here.
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Last edited by Monster Iestyn; 09-04-2015 at 04:06 PM.
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