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Old 12-31-2019   #1
MascaraSnake
aka SpiritCrusher
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Default How would you rate the official levels? - Part four!

Yes, it's this thread again. Now that 2.2 has been out for three weeks and you've had time to collect your thoughts, it's time for you to tell us what you think of the official levels. Rate on whatever scale you want (or not at all), comment on as many or as few stages as you feel like, but most importantly, tell us what you think so we can continue improving the game in the future!

To start things off, here are my own ratings and thoughts. I tried to keep things short, but as expected, I failed miserably.

Spoiler: Main campaign
Greenflower Zone Act 1 - 7/10
The visual makeover that this and its sister level got for 2.2 is nothing short of tremendous. One of GFZ's biggest flaws was always that as the first zone in the game, it didn't exactly put its best foot forward presentation-wise. The level design, while fundamentally sound, was occasionally quirky and showed its age, while the texturing and spritework were a little on the dull side. Now I'm happy to say that GFZ looks positively vibrant! Who would have known how much a difference some careful asset touch-ups, a skybox and a few trees could make?

Level design-wise, all of the quirks that bothered me in 2.1 have been addressed. No longer are there side areas off the main path that don't seem to serve any purpose. Instead, the level uses its limited space very economically to teach the player that exploration is a crucial part of this game. The slopes are very cleverly placed and add a nice extra dimension to the level in time attack. I even made my peace with the Crawla as an enemy, although I will not rest until its animation includes cut grass falling out of its nozzle. And hey, it even got a little longer after all these years!

If I were to put my game designer hat on, this score would be higher. This level has a particular purpose, and it serves it perfectly. Rating it purely according to the enjoyment I get out of it as a player though, I inevitably have to dock some points.

Greenflower Zone Act 2 - 8/10
I love how our level designers took this level's idiosyncracies and turned them from flaws or oddities into strengths: Some newly added spring shenanigans solidify the level's identity as "the one where you get taught about springs". I love that the SDURF is an actual threat now. The moving platforms are finally seamlessly integrated into the level instead of feeling like showpieces for "this cool new feature we took from Doom Legacy".

There's a lot of fun to be had with this stage now, even as an experienced player. The new character-based path split and the emblems that are hidden in it are very cool. Exploration was always GFZ2's main strength and it really shines now in that regard. Whereas some of the alternate paths and hidden areas used to feel like weird detours into territory you weren't really supposed to enter, they actually feel like proper parts of the level now. I particularly like how the river path turned out, where you use the slope momentum to jump over the fence. In general, slopes really help spice up sections that were previously dull or overly straightforward.

As far as pointing out flaws goes, I'd have to go into the really minor details: Because the level is so vertical and full of unconventional layout choices (as a result of originally having been made almost 20 years ago), applying textures to it is really hard. Some of the upper parts of the opening area especially turn into a mass of brown. The only choice we're left with to break up the visual monotony when there's no grass or water around is to use a lot of different GFZROCK variants, and that sometimes leads to things looking a bit cluttered. It's gotten better over the years, but I don't think we've fully solved this problem yet.

As with the first act, the worst thing that you can say about GFZ2 is that some of the later levels have even more cool and interesting stuff in them than this one. But for the first time in SRB2 history, I can honestly say that I really enjoy playing this level.

Greenflower Zone Act 3 - 8/10
I really like the changes we made to the pinch phase. For new players, it makes the boss easier to beat, but for experienced players, it's not quite as easy to bludgeon it into submission without ever allowing it to attack.

Techno Hill Zone Act 1 - 9/10
I was very satisfied with the updates this level got in 2.1 and didn't really see much room for further improvements in 2.2. Boy, was I wrong! The 2.1 version had a lot of cool stuff in it, but also long stretches that were pretty straightforward and didn't have much going on. This version keeps all the cool stuff but adds like five new interesting things to do around every corner! In particular, the first section of the level, up to the first factory, is so much more lively and engaging now. I'm also very happy with how the path split issues in the second section were resolved - instead of one path being a pointless detour that leads right back into the other one and another path being hidden away behind a hole in the wall, they're now combined into a proper second path.

Interestingly, the only complaint I have is the same one I originally voiced in the 2.1 version of this thread: The Knuckles path is just not as interesting as the rest of the level. Climbing up the conveyor belt at the start while dodging the gas jets is cool, but after that it's a pretty loose collection of rooms with not a whole lot of purpose to them.

Techno Hill Zone Act 2 - 10/10
I don't have a lot to say about this one. The two new paths at the beginning are fun and add some much needed replay value to that section. Apart from that, not much has changed besides some more polish here and there, and that's because not much needed to change. It's still one of the most fun and varied stages in the game in my opinion.

Techno Hill Zone Act 3 - 9/10
Again, this hasn't changed much because it didn't need to. I've never been big on boss fights, but I've always had a soft spot for this one. It's a simple but very fun concept.

Deep Sea Zone Act 1 - 8/10
Visually, this is probably my favorite level in the game. Which is funny because the 2.0/2.1 version was probably the worst-looking level in the game. The amount of detail and visual variety in this level is absolutely stunning.

Structurally, this is one of the most unique levels in the game. It's short but packed with an insane amount of paths and secrets. I love the effect this produces, where it feels like every time you play the level you enter a new path that you didn't even know existed before. Hunting for hidden items and emblems in this level is not for the impatient, but a total blast if you're into that kind of thorough exploration.

The level is also really generous with its gimmicks and throws so much cool stuff at you in quick succession. This finally allows waterslides to be just one gimmick among many instead of having to carry the whole zone, when it's just not versatile enough of a gimmick to accomplish that. The Crushtacean has slowly become one of my favorite enemies in the game - it completely messes with your expectations on how to approach enemies in SRB2, and I love it. The billiard mines are a ridiculous amount of fun to mess around with. The platforms that pop up and down out of the waterfalls are a really clever usage of both slopes and the waterslide mechanic. And using sliding gargoyles to open doors is a much better implementation of the "gargoyle puzzle" concept than the old DSZ's tedious "push gargoyles on buttons" shtick.

There are a few issues that prevent this from being one of my very favorite levels: The actual "deep sea" segments often don't have a whole lot going on - you're usually just trudging through the water while dodging a few enemies here and there. There are a few in-door sections that feel similarly filler-ish to me. Normally it's good for a level to have some "breather sections" (ha ha) that don't have a lot of action, but if those sections are underwater, they can become a bit of a slog. Also, the gargoyle-door mechanic is never properly introduced - you could easily go through the entirety of DSZ1 without ever encountering it and then wind up really confused in some sections of the second act.

Still, I like this level a whole lot and especially appreciate the variety it adds to the game.

Deep Sea Zone Act 2 - 7/10
It's a running joke in dev that this level sucks and needs to be remade. It doesn't actually suck. Its main problem is that it's a little bloated - it was created by stringing together some pre-existing bits, and you can kind of tell. Nothing here is actively bad, but some of the connective tissue doesn't really add much to the level either. Like the first act, the path layout is really convoluted and interconnected, but here it's less of a design choice and more a lack of deliberate structure. Unlike most other levels, I often feel a bit of relief when I reach the signpost, even though I've basically enjoyed myself the entire time.

But enough complaining. It might be more of a compilation of cool sections than a cohesive level, but a lot of the sections are really cool: the waterslide maze, the various crusher shenanigans, the spinwheels, that one funky corridor with the moving polyobject block... This is all strong content. If we can cut down on some of the filler material and replace it with some more cool stuff, we'll have a great level on our hands.

Deep Sea Zone Act 3 - 7/10
The old fight was tedious and not that fun, but we might have gone a bit too far in simplifying it. I feel like this one is over before it's really begun, and I'm not sure the fake Eggman balloons are really serving much of a purpose anymore.

Castle Eggman Zone Act 1 - 10/10
This is my favorite SRB2 level. I love its open design, with lots of vertical path stacking, and just a ton of different paths in general. I love how incredibly versatile the chain/mace gimmick is and how much mileage we get out of it. I love that the chain launchers allow you to do crazy aerial stunts. I love that the enemies in this level force you to think strategically. I love its atmosphere and the epic ending sequence. I can't think of a single thing I would change about this level.

Castle Eggman Zone Act 2 - 9/10
The only thing that holds this back from a 10 is that it's unfinished, and it's pretty obvious in a few spots. This is an incredible achievement, not just as a level, but as a piece of architecture. Look at it in a map editor - this isn't a level with a castle theme, this is an actual goddamn castle. Yes, it's insanely long, and it lags like shit, and a few parts are a bit confusing, and a few parts are a bit empty, and a few parts are a bit too hard, and some of the platforms are glitchy, but every time I play it, it puts a huge smile on my face to know that somebody went to all of the trouble of making this. This level has so much to offer, and I have such a blast playing this that I don't mind that it's a little rough around the edges. We've got all the time in the world to fine-tune this.

Castle Eggman Zone Act 3 - 7/10
This is definitely an improvement of the 2.1 version of this fight. It might still be a little contrived, but it's no longer a waiting game, and jumping over the maces to save some time is quite a bit of fun. My main issue with this is that the main phase of the fight is too hard for its placement in the game and clearly needs some fine-tuning. Knuckles especially has a miserable time because he can't jump over the maces as easily. The other thing is that the spectator Eggrobos are much cooler in theory than in practice. There used to be way more of them during development, but they were really annoying to dodge. So we removed a bunch, but now they might as well not be there at all because you can walk around them so easily. I don't think we've found the sweet spot between "will mess up if you get too close" and "there's no point in even going near them" yet.

Arid Canyon Zone Act 1 - 10/10
We went full speed ahead with the Road Runner influences on this one, and I love how well we replicated the crazy and out-of-control nature of it. The gimmick roster is such an embarrassment of riches: rope pulleys, cacti, TNT barrels, precariously tipping platforms, dust devils, oil slicks, Green Snappers, Minuses carrying TNT barrels and Green Snappers... What more could you ask for? It's by far the funniest level in SRB2 and maybe the most fun.

I absolutely adore the open design of this stage, where everything is interconnected with everything else. The Fang/Amy path is also really cool, probably my favorite one in the game. I love how it's one of the first things you see in the level, and yet it's only on maybe your second or third playthrough that you realize "Hey, wait a minute! I don't think I've been up there before!".

Arid Canyon Zone Act 2 - 6/10
This might raise a few eyebrows, but I think this is the weakest of the new levels. This is mainly because of how we executed the minecart gimmick. First of all, it desperately needs to be introduced in a safe environment at the start of the stage. Right now you can get all the way to the ending gauntlet without ever having ridden a minecart, and if you do that, you will definitely be completely overwhelmed. My other big problem is that all the minecart segments are entirely linear. There's not a lot to them mechanically - you can jump over hazards and you can switch tracks, and that's it - so the least we could do to give them some more replay value is to introduce some non-linearity. The ending gauntlet is 50 seconds of content that plays the exact same way every time, and that seriously hurts my enthusiasm for replaying the stage and docks points off the ratings.

My judgment may be a bit clouded because for the longest time this stage had severe structural issues, with some paths being way shorter and having less content than others. I think we've mostly resolved this now, although there are still a few unfinished areas that we papered over with filler content. Another issue we didn't get to resolve is how weak the Knuckles paths at the beginning are, although at least the Fang/Amy path is quite nice.

But there's a lot to like about the level too. I particularly enjoy the stronger emphasis on the dust devils - using them to launch yourself across a room is soooo satisfying! The Canarivores are a nice addition too. And even my misgivings about the minecarts are more about wasted potential than anything. I might wish we had done more with them, but what we did do is still fun and adds variety to the level.

Arid Canyon Zone Act 3 - 7/10
It's a solid fight, and the ending slapstick sequence is of course amazing, but I've never been too crazy about this boss for some reason. You can hit him while he's bouncing if you approach him from the right angle, but it doesn't seem to work consistently, so it mostly turns into waiting for him to stop bouncing so you can get a hit in. That's fine in the initial phase, but it starts to get a little tedious in the pinch phase where he continues bouncing for much longer.

Red Volcano Zone Act 1 - 8/10
This wasn't on the cards for 2.2 at all originally, but then it just kind of came together over the last year or so and it was such a pleasant surprise. This one takes all of the good parts of the original level (which I still insist was better than its reputation) and adds a whole lot more variety. I love how this stage manages to be difficult without resorting to lots of death pits. The combination of timed platforming challenges, lava eating your rings and genuinely dangerous enemies (I did the programming for the Pterabytes and I'm not sorry) works wonderfully. The rollout rock is a really cool movement gimmick and I'm looking forward to what crazy shenanigans we can do with it in RVZ2.

The reason this doesn't quite land at the top of the pile for me is that it's a little more straightfoward that I ideally like my levels to be. I like how well it executes the stacked paths thing, where there's a faster path on top and a slower and more difficult "failsafe" path below if you mess up, but the individual paths are fairly linear and closed off. There are some secrets and hidden areas, and a lot of them are really cool, but it's all a bit compartmentalized. I prefer the open, sprawling designs of levels like GFZ2 or ACZ1.

Egg Rock Zone Act 1 - 6/10
This level is seriously beginning to show its age. One of the big advances of 2.2 is that we've moved on from the gauntlet-of-gimmicks design philosophy that levels like this represent, and it has given our game a lot more depth and replay value. The enjoyment you get out of ERZ1 is almost exclusively based on how much you enjoy each individual gimmick, because there's not much else going on. And some of the gimmicks have aged pretty poorly: The zoom tubes and the 2D section feel more pointless with each passing year, and the outer space sections are pretty limited because you can't expect the player to do a whole lot while under a ten-second timer in low gravity. The room where you have to run up a spiral staircase while chased by gravity fog is still hot garbage, and I'm not sure why exactly this stage needs to have lava in it when we already have an entire zone dedicated to lava.

There's also the issue of linearity. Having one path split that lasts throughout the entire stage is better than nothing, but clearly not ideal. The character-based path split on the left path is a very primitive execution of the concept. We still have room for improvement when it comes to character-exclusive paths, but we're much better at them now than this. To add insult to injury, Fang and Amy are locked out of half the level because of like two sections on the right path where you need to be able to spin.

Still, there are some good bits in this mess: I still like the room with the flipping gravity and the conveyor belts a whole lot, and the Megaman blocks are fun, even though their execution could be better. Most of the level is still quite enjoyable despite its flaws, it's just that the rest of the game is now operating on a significantly more accomplished level.

Egg Rock Zone Act 2 - 7/10
This is plagued by many of the same issues as the first act, but it has a higher ratio of content I still enjoy. Some of the gimmick rooms are a little too slow-paced, particularly the gravity flip machine and the air lock room, but they're still basically fun. The parts that have aged the worst are powering up the laser cannon (a cool setpiece, but still kind of an awkward button hunt at heart) and the pointless cameos of a few gimmicks from previous zones (rope hangs, flamethrowers, THZ turret). The two biggest offenders, the shrink section and the laser miniboss, have wisely been removed, which has the added benefit of cutting the level down to a more reasonable length. I must admit I'm a little sad that the crate room is gone - I loved that feeling of "holy shit" when you're suddenly chased by giant Jetty-syns - but in general we never really managed to make the shrinking gimmick interesting. All in all ERZ2 is still a perfectly serviceable grand finale, even as it's showing its age.

Black Core Zone Act 1 - 5/10
As time goes on, I am less and less enamored with the idea of a race against Metal Sonic. It seems cool for the first one or two playthroughs, but ultimately it's just a linear gauntlet of pretty uninteresting platforming on a timer. The point where it gets into jumping across moving square platforms in reverse gravity is usually where I start questioning if I really feel like playing through the game's ending sequence again, and the upside-down corridor lined with spikes right afterwards cements that feeling. The only bit that I find particularly novel or interesting is where Metal Sonic cuts through a line of spikes to open up a shortcut for you.

Black Core Zone Act 2 - 7/10
Now that Metal's attacks in the first phase of the fight are properly telegraphed, I have warmed up considerably to this boss. The last iteration of the pinball attack, where he charges at you six times instead of three, gets overly tedious - at that point you either get the idea or you're just scrambling about trying to stay alive somehow. Otherwise I think this fight is pretty fun. I have two technical issues with it: His strafing can sometimes be a bit too extreme, and it's caused me to have some real trouble getting him to spin out as Amy. Adding a pinball sound effect in the pinch phase has helped somewhat to telegraph what's going on there, but I still think his sprite should not turn around when he bounces back from the barrier, to make it clearer that he's no longer aiming and is just bouncing back and forth.

Black Core Zone Act 3 - 6/10
Having to lure Brak into the acid while he does his stupid Doom walk is annoying me more and more each time I play it. He should really just be doing a straightforward chase. Otherwise, this fight is fine, but a little on the safe and uncreative side. Not surprising given what happened the last time we tried to get creative with Brak, but I'm still holding out hope for a more exciting final boss at some point.

Spoiler: Bonus stages
Frozen Hillside Zone - 6/10
Eh. Back in 2011 this was a breath of fresh air. At a time when most levels were more focused on grand ideas and epic setpieces than solid execution, this one stood out because of its solid layout and the restrained and thoughtful implementation of the snow gimmick. Nowadays I tend to notice how nondescript a lot of the platforming and level architecture is. I feel like this stage would benefit a lot from slopes to break up the monotony in some sections and add a bit of vertical variety.

Pipe Towers Zone - 6/10
Likewise eh. I still think all those arbitrary shaped blocks and platforms make the level feel cluttered rather than exciting. I appreciate cleanness and simplicity in level design a lot more than I used to. Otherwise it plays fine, but it suffers from Fawfulfan's usual workflow of designing the main path first and adding alternate paths later - many of the alternate paths are very short and off the beaten track, and don't really offer anything that's distinctive. The mushroom gimmick and the Thwomp blocks are nice, but I feel like they aren't used to their full potential.

Forest Fortress Zone - 7/10
This is a time capsule into an alternate reality where 2.2 was released in 2016. And it turns out this 2016 version of 2.2 would have been... pretty good! Not nearly as good as it ended up being, but a definite improvement over 2.1. This version has a calmer, less dramatic feel, and it doesn't have the extreme openness that I like about the final version. The chain gimmick isn't as streamlined yet, and a few paths are a bit unfinished. But overall it's quite fun and it has some nice bits that didn't end up making the cut for the final version.

Techno Legacy Zone - 4/10
Hell no. I'm fine with Forest Fortress Zone because it feels sufficiently distinct from CEZ1 and is an enjoyable level in its own right. This is neither. The vast majority of this was strictly replicated in the new version of THZ2 and is therefore obsolete, and the parts that weren't were cut for a reason. There are exactly two things that I like about this that don't have a direct counterpart in THZ2: One is the hidden conveyor belt going around the starting area - or at least the idea of it, because the execution is pretty clumsy. The other is the slime tunnel in the final room that leads to the token, which I still think we should incorporate into THZ2 in some form. Apart from those things, any interest in this stage is purely historical, and I don't think content that's of purely historical intent is best presented as a regular playable level.

Haunted Heights Zone - 9/10
It's back, and better than ever! The one thing this stage always lacked was alternate paths, and that's resolved beautifully now. The Fang and Amy paths with the spiderwebs especially are really cool. This level is a really creative mixture of familiar gimmicks used in new ways, and a few completely new ones thrown into the mix. My only real complaint is that some of the new areas have turned out a little cramped as a result of being squished into a pre-existing level structure.

Aerial Garden Zone - 7/10
There was a time when this got by on sheer sprawling epicness alone, but with things like CEZ2 in the game now, the goalposts have shifted. Extremely precise platforming over death pits is cool and all, but it does get tiring after a while. Some of the more extreme rooms in the AGZ2 section in particular, where it's just a bunch of tiny platforms in a seemingly arbitrary layout, haven't aged that well. I'm glad that the terrible spring platforms are gone and replaced with PolyObjects, but the PolyObject platforms really need some visual indicator for where they turn around. I'm not sure why the water section needed to be brought back given that it was cut for a reason, but at least it's just an alternate path and not a mandatory section. On the plus side, the bees and Fang's emblem are deliciously evil.

Azure Temple Zone - 10/10
Slope-less or not, I still enjoy every last second of this. I guess I must have some kind of masochistic streak.

Spoiler: NiGHTS stages
Floral Field Zone - 8/10
It does what it needs to do, and the alternate path at the start adds a little extra depth. Not much else to say apart from that.

Toxic Plateau Zone - 9/10
This stage was already strong in 2.1, and with a few tweaks and additions it's still strong in 2.2.

Flooded Cove Zone - 8/10
Trimming some of the fat really worked wonders for this one. It's not one of the most distinctive Special Stages, but I do really enjoy the Super Paraloop bit.

Cavern Fortress Zone - 10/10
I think this one's my favorite. It's got the perfect mixture of fast sections, paraloop tricks, hazards and a really clever bit with the sun emblem. Replacing the pillars in the final corridor with maces worked beautifully. The new paint job is gorgeous as well.

Dusty Wasteland Zone - 8/10
This is so much more interesting than the old one, and ever since sphere worked his magic on it, it looks fantastic too. I'm a little sad that the bit with the moving TNT crates was cut, and I hope you bring it back at some point. I have only two small issues with this: One is that the downward-moving elevators can be skipped entirely because there's a gap between them and the wall. The other is that some of the cacti in the final section blindside the player a little too much.

Magma Caves Zone - 9/10
Why change what's working? This is still one of the best Special Stages, and the new emblem placements are cool too. The only real issue is that the final room is a little too disorienting now that the lavafalls are opaque.

Egg Satellite Zone - 10/10
With the entry to the laser fan fixed and the ending part improved, this is really the perfect grand finale for the Special Stages now. Only thing is needs is a visual upgrade.

Black Hole Zone - 9/10
I guess I'm just forever doomed to suck at the wave and the donut blocks, but that's more down to my incompetence than any issue with the level design. This is still as strong as ever, and I'm glad you made the moving hoops at the end stationary. Those were the one hazard that always felt cheap to me.

Christmas Chime Zone - 5/10
Architecturally, this is still a hot mess of random unconnected structures strewn all over the place. Track-wise, it's okay but does nothing that the Special Stages didn't already do better. And I don't understand why we removed the ability to roam this in 3D, since that was the only thing that made this halfway interesting in Record Attack.

Dream Hill Zone - 6/10
This is a NiGHTS stage. It has multiple mares. The item layout is not as smooth as in Rob's stages. I have nothing to say about this.

Alpine Paradise Zone Act 1 - 6/10
For reasons of nostalgia alone, I'm glad this is finally in the game, but the item layout hasn't aged that well. There are a lot of gaps where it's not very clear where I'm supposed to go. Compared to the Special Stages, the track offers a huge amount of vertical space but doesn't really use it well. I'm also sad that unlike in the original, there's no real reason to roam this in 3D. But hey, it's still pretty!

Alpine Paradise Zone Act 2 - 5/10
This stage honestly doesn't warrant being in the game twice. The item layout of this version is even weirder and it seems close to impossible to keep the drill meter filled. It's also often not clear which items belong to the current mare. I really don't have a clue how I'm supposed to score attack this thing, and I usually end up kind of flailing around and hoping for the best.

Spoiler: Multiplayer
lol did you really think I would rate these?

Last edited by MascaraSnake; 12-31-2019 at 03:11 PM.
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Old 12-31-2019   #2
Sting the Cat
 
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So I can't give things numerical rankings for beans, but I can try and give my opinions.

Spoiler: Main Campaign
Greenflower Zone Act 1
I gotta say, in terms of a first level, this one pulls it off well. Quite easy, and it introduces mechanics quite well. Every shield is put in a spot where you'll very quickly discover its use. For example, the Force Shield. It protects you from two hits. And where is it placed? Surrounded by spikes, where a first time player would likely attempt to roll through the monitor, likely getting hit and discovering it's two-hit use. Not only this, but there is a ring monitor in front of the spindash gap, drawing players in and funneling them not only to the Armegeddon Shield, but an Emerald Token.

Greenflower Zone Act 2
If there was one problem Act 1 might have had, it was simplicity. However, this act begins to introduce some complexity in the form of multiple paths, including character paths. Thus, Act 2 continues the introduction nicely.

Greenflower Zone Act 3
A decent first boss. Though I almost feel like the pinch lasers make him harder than Egg Slimer.

Techno Hill Zone Act 1
Oh boy this one has come far since its Greenflower with grape soda days. The slime is fun, and the enemies are neat. However, one problem I have is that the Knuckles walls stick out like a sore thumb. Not just in the sense they are noticeable, but in the sense that a metal wall has some kind of gray rock. Perhaps you could make it look rusted instead, like the one panel outside in this level?

Overall, Techno Hill serves as the first level where the game starts removing the kids gloves.

Techno Hill Zone Act 2
Same Knuckles wall issues. That said, the level looks fantastic, and has a great skybox.

Techno Hill Zone Act 3
Definitely a neat boss idea. Kinda weird that the slime is blue now though. Green might have been better if you were going for consistency. Or if you had kept it purple, it could have slowed you down, but the boss is fine.

Deep Sea Zone Act 1
I love the redesign. And I love how interconnected and full of puzzles it is. That said, I've also seen screens of v3, so I am even more excited for that. This is the first Act I died on.

Deep Sea Zone Act 2
Gotta say, I love the night sky, even if it does kinda mean you're not actually that deep in the sea. This act also has some neat secrets too.

Deep Sea Zone Act 3
Sea Egg is no longer a pain

Castle Eggman Zone Act 1
Definitely where the game starts getting serious. And where bottomless pits start becoming a common trend. That said, this zone as a whole is one of the more unique themes. And so much to say about this. The chains are cool, I like how the Egg Guards(still trying to come up with a pun) seem to have paths now, and of course the bridge setpiece.

Castle Eggman Zone Act 2
OH GOD MY FPS

...okay, but seriously, the level looks great and would play great if it weren't for framerate problems. I know you said something about it being due to the compiler, but you're also saying the level isn't even finished, so...oh boy...

Castle Eggman Zone Act 3
The Egg Colleseum is a pretty interesting fight. I tried to jump over the spikes at first. A few game overs later I stopped trying.

The EggRobos in the stands are pretty neat.

Arid Canyon Zone Act 1
Alright, time for my favorite zone. First of all, the theming is a breath of fresh air after the dark moody duo of Deep Sea and Castle Eggman, plus, it's a unique theme for Classic Sonic in general(take that Mania!). The music is my favorite of the OST, it has four Badniks to the usual 3(I mean, I think the gas spewer is a Badnik. I haven't managed to kill it.), and it's just amazing. I love the TNT too.

Arid Canyon Zone Act 2
This music is incredible too. I do agree that maybe more could be done with minecarts. but then you run the risk of making it too minecarty. Also, the sky doesn't seem orange enough for the colormap.

Arid Canyon Zone Act 3
A fun boss with a lot of personality, from the Fighters reference playing as Fang to the fact that he falls asleep if he loses sight of you, to the hilarious ending.

Red Volcano Zone Act 1
Okay, so older RVZ wasn't bad gameplay wise, but you've rehauled it into something great with the whole prehistoric vibe. Ironically, the enemy that bugs me the most is the dragonflies, which I call Dragonfry, since I can never seem to actually hit them.

Honestly, it's things like this that make me wonder why people question your ability to make Dark City interesting.

Egg Rock Zone Act 1
Okay, so this zone is pretty cool. Gravity is neat, the two paths are neat. Space Countdown is an interesting idea. Mega Man blocks are...well, not something I would have expected. I like how it brings stuff from throughout the game in.

Egg Rock Zone Act 2
This level has a lot of really cool areas, like the gravity machine and the air lock. Also, both Egg Rocks are my second favorite new musics. This level has so much interesting stuff that I hope either some of it is incorporated into the new Egg Rock, or that this one replaces or joins Techno Legacy.

Black Core Zone Act 1
I feel like this level could use a more visible timer. As I suggested in another topic, perhaps the rooms could collapse or close, forcing you to stay on pace with Metal Sonic and providing a more concrete reason for failure than random Space Countdown. Not to mention, it would create a much more climactic feeling to start off the finale of the game.

Black Core Zone Act 2
The boss is fine. But as said, maybe tone down the repetitions in the pinch phase.

Black Core Zone Act 3
Honestly, I kinda like this fight. Fix his walk, and I think it feels pretty cool. Especially with the music.
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Old 12-31-2019   #3
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Let's do this, I'll try and be as concise as possible.
I won't go over the Multiplayer stages because I just don't care about Ringslinger;
Spoiler: Single Player

GFZ1: 8/10
Finally, GFZ1 is an enjoyable stage I don't mind replaying, the catchy music and vibrant new aesthetics help liven a level I once thought to be the dullest first level in any Sonic game ever made.
There's surprisingly a LOT to explore for a first level, and it's neat to see the house area near the start finally having a real purpose instead of being a huge barren flat space. The new introduction to the Armageddon Shield is also certainly a welcome addition!

GFZ2: 9/10
I always loved how interconnected this stage was, allowing characters with emphasis on verticality to truly go whereever they want through multiple paths. The character specific paths were a very neat surprise and overall it's still one of my favourite level is the entire game.

GFZ3: 10/10
The new pinch phase attack caught me off guard, and also made a lot more sense than what was in 2.1!
It's both easier for new players to grasp and get a hit, and harder for veterans to bully the boss in submission since the attack starts quite fast. Overall a better experience!

THZ1: 9/10
Everything 2.1 did amplified tenfold for the better. This map had its blanks filled and turns out to also be one of my favourites in the whole game! The buzzes being bigger especially help as they're not way easier to keep track of.
Though I really wish the Elemental Shield wouldn't cancel spin state (dare I say, it should even FORCE IT for nonspin characters) so that it would help getting monitors under the goop more easily.
I'm also a bit torn on Tails not being able to swim down in the slime as this could've made some interresting content for him only to explore, but since there's none of that and that going down in the slime is barely ever REQUIRED, this isn't much of an issue.

THZ2: 10/10
The new path is a welcome addition, and the single best map of 2.1 definitely still lives up to this day.
The Knuckles specific path was also very interresting. There isn't much else to say, as what I said about the slime in THZ1 still applies there, but there's nothing I would change about this map.

THZ3: 2.1/2.1
Simple, yet effective boss. The same as 2.1 except the Slime is a different color now, which it should be!

DSZ1: 7/10
This stage has an enormous amount of depth (ba-dum tss) into it, the amount of alternative pathways branching off into each other is staggering, to the point where each of my playthroughs felt like a whole new map as I was still discovering new ways!
What held this level back for me was that this complexity didn't go well with the buttons scattered around the stage, it was very unclear what each button did, and it would really help if the camera went away to show you what happened and in which general direction it did happen.
I also feel like the mines blowing up walls could've been expanded upon a little more? It's a really neat thing but only ever gets used for a few secret areas where it's often unclear that you can even do it.
This stage also introduces the single most dangerous enemy of the game, the crab... thing! (Crushtacean, thank you OP). I feel like this enemy might even be a bit too dangerous as I find myself avoiding it like the plague when I try to keep my stuff.

DSZ2: 6/10
DSZ2 isn't a stage I particurarily remember as the gimmicks in there get thrown at you and then kind of just.. disappear. The spindash wheel you see as a way to branch off a path between spinning and non spinning characters could've been used for some timing challenges, but it never really happens, and I think it's a giant shame as there's a lot that could be accomplished with it.
That aside it's definitely an enjoyable stage that I think just lacks that pinch of spice to truly stand out!

DSZ3: 9/10
Sea Egg is also finally a truly enjoyable boss!
Its simplification makes it a simple, short and effective boss. Though the pinch may need to have more added to it as it barely affects the fight.

CEZ1: 10/10
All the positive traits of DSZ1's endless arrays of new branching paths to discover, but everything is nearly FLAWLESS in its execution here to top it all off!
The new enemy behaviors truly add pressure to the player, the constant harassing of the Robo Hoods spicing up exploration, and the tight dodges of Facestabbers in cramped spaces all the while Egg Guards try to push you off a cliff.
The new bridge collapse sequence was a very surprising addition, and definitely a great one! Though I think the stage should end before that sequence in multiplayer as it makes the stage drag on forever while you wait for others to finish.

CEZ2: 10/10
And when you think it doesn't get better than CEZ1, boom, CEZ2. This level is quite simply a masterpiece. While some areas in it do feel barren (mainly some outside ones), and that polyobjects still perform unholy summons in software, this stage remains the most technically impressive feat accomplished by 2.2.
Everything in it feels like it comes out of an actual castle, everything about it is grand, from start to finish, you feel like a miniscule speck in this giant castle, especially once you get outside and jump across the massive gap with the chain. Absolutely amazing work.

CEZ3: not-a-waiting-game/10
CEZ3 went from the single worst boss in my eyes in 2.1, to one of the best in 2.2. Why? Simply because a lot of the matter is now back in the player's hands. You do more than strafe and wait, you can jump over the spikeballs to speed things up.
The audience was a really cute touch, I definitely giggled when I heard the home run bat sfx.

ACZ1: 22/10
There it is! My absolute favourite stage in the game! Holy shit you guys.
The road runner references made me grin like an idiot from the start when I turned back.
Everything about this stage is absolutely amazing, the atmosphere, the gimmicks like the TNT barrels, the dynamite, the tornadoes, the endless array of alternative paths, how OPEN the stage is!
It's an absolute joy to explore with characters such as Knuckles and Tails, as they have access to the ENTIRE stage from the start!
My only minor gripe would be the cacti, they look like any other decorative object in the game, and i feel like their spikes would need to be animated to make them stand out as hazards.

ACZ2: 6/10
This seems harsh, but let me explain my reasoning; I feel like the minecarts miss so much opportunities that it's a bit unreal.
My first playthrough, I went through the whole stage without encountering a single minecart section and didn't have a clue what to do when I reached the end and died about 4 times.
Upon replaying the stage as other characters, I discovered other pathways with minecarts this time, only to realize how... linear they are. Minecarts only go from point A to point B, so each time you play those sections, it's the exact same.
This occured to me when I played fickle's ACZ2 betas, where the minecart test section was a lot more ambitious, where jumps were meaningful, and jumping over a turn led you to a new path! The last section, which is supposed to be a final test to the gimmick also lacks that. It's the same one every single time.
And it's a shame because it drags down an otherwise beautiful stage with even quite a long section dedicated to Knuckles that Amy can also wriggle herself into!

ACZ3: 8/10
Surprise from it being Fang aside, a very neat simple to grasp boss with a nice risk/reward balance for the pinch phase. Its death sequence also makes for a good laugh even now still.

RVZ1: 8/10
Excuse me where the hell did you come from!?
Very surprised to see a brand new act for RVZ! The new jungle theme is definitely unique and is rarely seen in Sonic games so it made for a breath of fresh air!
My only complaint would be that perhaps there are a bit too many hazards to the point where the stage feels littered with them, and it's hard to get by anywhere without being very methodical about your movement.
The Pterabytes also seem fairly inconsistent in where they can grab you.
But that aside, the new enemies and the ball gimmick made for a stage unlike any other in the game, and rings being eaten away by lava definitely added a lot of challenge my first time around!

ERZ1: 7/10
This level is starting to show its age, but visually manages to hold up quite well. It definitely retains that feeling of gauntlet testing your abilities against new gimmicks it keeps throwing at you your first time around, and that's a good thing.
This left path still definitely feels a lot easier and shorter than the right one however.
One last thing I'd like to add, but reverse gravity platforming is still way too disorienting and flipcam should be turned on by default.

ERZ2: 8/10
Like ERZ1, retains the feeling of final test against everything the game could throw at you, crushers, pits, lasers, enemies, space countdowns, turrets and more!
The new music does add a lot to the feeling of this level and it's definitely appreciated. The end felt a bit abrupt but that's probably on me for being so used to how it was prior to 2.2

BCZ1: 6/10
Is essentially a normal stage on a time limit, and was even made easier in 2.2 by removing some conveyor belts and adding springs at the end. I feel like Metal Sonic should have more cheeky paths for himself to spice things up.

BCZ2: 1...0/10?
I hated Metal Sonic in 2.1. He was inconsistent, long and annoying to fight. But now? It's actually my favourite boss of the entire game.
How did this happen? ...Well, sound cues were added. That's all it took for me to understand how the boss, which is almost compleytely IDENTICAL to 2.1 truly worked.
The way the orb pattern is shown before they're fired allows you to dodge them, the pinch phase was shortened and it was made clear that he's now bumping around randomly and that he is trying to target you every now and then!
Him bouncing off the walls when ghosting away is also a great change. Add to that the amazingly terrifying, dreadful music, and you have yourself the best fight of the game.
Side note, I really like the part after the boss leading to Brak Eggman, really builds up tension, and I wish the full version of the music was used for it to increase the feeling furhter for people who like to take their time on such parts like me~

BCZ3: 7/10
Looking back to my favourite 2.1 boss, the time has made its flaws appearant, it behaves like ... a 20 years old doom enemy.
The biggest issue is just that A_Chase makes things teleport instead of actually move and it looks dumb. Another issue is the lack of windup before attacks (especially the fast missiles) as you desperatly try to get him to walk through an acid fall.


Spoiler: Bonus Stages

Frozen Hillside: 8/10
Simple and sweet! The age does show in the lack of slopes that kind of limits mobility options, especially for Sonic who generally benefits the most out of them.
The Amy at the end was an adorable touch.

Pipe Towers: 6/10
I honestly forgot this existed. The new sounds honestly aren't all that good, the old 100% Mario ones were better. The Fire Flower is also worse somehow? The fireballs keep bouncing OVER the enemies.
Overall it's pretty innoffensive and those feelings mostly come from having already played it a thousand times in 2.1

Forest Fortress: 9/10
Yoo I remember this from early 2.1 screenshots and gifs!
Glad I finally got to play it!
A neat linear stage with a few alternative paths. I don't have much to say as I think the design is really solid overall.
Breakable walls DESPERATLY need a unique texture however, they're impossible to make out from normal walls.

Techno Legacy: No/10
Cute, but no. Honestly toaster's Final Demo Zone would have been a better hommage to Legacy SRB2 than this single level ever will. It really doesn't feel the same without the purple slime and infinite speed while spinning on conveyors. :(


Spoiler: Hyper Levels

Haunted Heights: 9/10
YOO! I certainly didn't expect this stage here but I sure am GLAD it made it as a challenge level!
There isn't much I can say besides complimenting about everything, from the enemies to the Knuckles path, and maybe that the Flame Shield just isn't a right fit at all for this map.
There's slime everywhere and overall this isn't a stage for running fast. It feels like a last minute addition.

Aerial Garden: 5/10
...I was actually disappointed when I unlocked it. I knew from the trailer that it would be here, but this level with little to no change since 1.09 is starting to show its age, platforms over death pits just gets tiring really quickly,
to the point where I wouldn't play this stage as anyone else besides Tails, the Electric Barrier does help trivialize the stage for Sonic, but doesn't make it any more enjoyable to me.
The new bee enemies are neat I guess, but they make no sense in this level. The visuals are also bland especially in the indoors section where everything is just a dull beige with nothing added.
If anything I suppose I'm grateful that the switch hunting for the emblems is easier because that's less time I had to spend here.
This level was definitely a huge technical achievement back in 2.0, fitting all 4 acts of AGZ on 1 map, but now it just feels like a painful slaugh. I suppose my opinion may be heavily biased from seeing it never changing at all since 2.0.

Azure Temple: 5/10
I don't think Azure Temple is a bad map, my problems with it come from the fact that it's the final challenge level you unlock. ...And it tests you on your ability to think fast over crazy stuff... not.
It just feels like an incredibly slow boring drag to me, where I would just rather damage boost through rather than bothering dealing with the millions of things that can instantly get you killed, although the stage itself isn't all that challenging, just a boring drag, again.
The bubble shield, which could've added a semblance of flow to the level by allowing you to bounce and keep some speed turns out to instantly cancel your momentum upon activation so its ability is just completely and utterly useless (both in and out of water for that matter)
A side thing is that I'm not even sure if the Tails emblem can even be obtained without cheesing it with an Armageddon shield because how fast Tails accelerates while swimming which makes it impossible to manoeuver through all the buzzes easily.
So my overall feeling of the stage was that I was forced to play it to 100% the game, and probably will never play it again now that I have.


Spoiler: NiGHTS

For the most part I don't have much to say about the special stages (straight 10/10 for most of them), they all have fluid layouts and work well, so I'll just go over the parts where I can add some negative thoughts

SS5: 7/10
The cacti are very hard to see in this colormap, and there's also a very noticeable spheres drought (ba-dum tss) before the capsule, barely enough to open it, in fact.
That aside, a nice and simple stage.

SS6: 8/10
The last room is legitimately seizure inducing and definitely needs to be toned down. Badly.
The layout overall is still one of the best ones, I still love the spinning flames section.

BHZ: 4/10
I suppose my only gripe with this stage is... that playing it is mandatory to 100% the game. I found it to be frustrating and didn't enjoy my time with it at all.
At the end of the day, the only way to get through this stage since all of it is timing based is to throw yourself at it until the wall crumbles down, you just keep grinding it like an idiot until your mind goes on autopilot to complete it.
I also had a really hard time getting the required amount of spheres consistently which only added to the frustration, and all in all, I just feel glad I never have to play it again.
Side note; also a shame this still uses the PAZ music when there's a way better SS8 music available, but that's just me

Christmas Chime: 6/10
A shame you can't roam it in 3D anymore? That made it unique and fun in 2.1.
That aside, simple layout, not much to say about it. The visuals are starting to get really dated however.

Dream Hill: 8/10
Tell you what, I liked it. The layout isn't as smooth as the ones in the special stages, but it's simple and sweet and I definitely enjoyed score attacking it. I'm glad it made it to the base game!

APZ1: 7/10
A big, big stage that I think lacks a sense of direction while flying. I often have no clue where I'll be headed next. This stage visually still holds up quite well and it's definitely fun to go through.
I like that you can also free roam it in 3D! This makes it unique in record attack.

APZ2: 5/10
APZ1 but with more mares and more confusion. I legitimately never know what's on my mare and what isn't. Not much else to add.
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Old 12-31-2019   #4
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Writing down my thoughts on the maps I have thoughts for. I hate bosses in general so no opinions on those. I'll add more opinions over time.

Spoiler: Arid Canyon

Arid Canyon 1: A-
Before 2.2, ACZ1 was my favorite level in the game. 2.2's version is definitely more fleshed out, but it's a bit meandering and has some telegraphing problems.

There are a few too many road sections that have nothing going for them other than running, that drag out a bit too long. It feels like padding and I'm not engaged with them.

There's one section where the path splits, and on the right path, if you don't make it through before the TNT blows and seals off the exit, and you're playing as Sonic, there's nothing to do but go back an entire room and take the other path. This left me confused for minutes and is a bad dead end, especially since the room has other ledges you can easily reach as Sonic that still lead nowhere.

The left path at that split is kind of awkward too because, while you have speed shoes, the turns are too tight, some of the banking too steep, and all of the ground you're supposed to run on is the same single orange color that is largely reserved for walls and background up until that point. It feels really awkward and I thought I was running somewhere I wasn't supposed to for a moment.

Cacti have bad depth perception. Hey, drop shadows would fix this immediately. Hint hint.

The rope hang gauntlet at the end is worse now than it's ever been. The hangs at the start are all angled up making them harder to reach from your jump, the fork in hangs has the three ends spaced too far apart vertically to get to the top one without awkwardly climbing from the cliff beside it, and I still don't know how you're supposed to properly take the path that follows if you go to the lower one. The backup paths that were added in 2.1 for falling players to catch themselves on are now spaced too far from the rope hangs themselves to be of much use, and so many of the jumps are too far apart (and you're landing on too small of a rope hang) to properly register as the path forward. The quarter-pipe section that makes itself Knuckles/Metal only via wall spikes is the worst part here, since it's easy to fall back here as other characters, and then where do you go?

I've complained a lot, but aside from what I mentioned, I really do enjoy this map. It's still really strong, and I like how familiar yet completely different it feels coming from 2.1.

Arid Canyon 2:
I can't be unbiased because this was the big thing I worked on the whole time I was in dev. It's my baby! It's also a lot of other people's baby, but it's the only one that's my baby too. Thus, I have very complicated feelings about it, and so I have a lot of things to say about it.

A bunch of things feel really unfinished, and some of those (the Knuckles paths, the weird swaying platforms in the big cave room that should have had ropes attached to the ceiling) were things I added in a skeletal state and never got around to fleshing out before I left. The right path feels shorter than it should be, and I don't like how it connects to the spring chain room now (more on that below). The left path is kind of weird with how the dust devil chains let you trivially skip the entire mine cart section, and I think that part could just be removed. There are also a couple of incredibly pointless mine carts that way that I think would be better replaced with some more platforming.

I think the spring chain room on the right path should be removed at this point. The original idea from the original entrance (via the springs in the cave below) was that you'd hold spin for a cool trail of springs, then realize you were caught in a loop with a bunch of TNT around, and you'd have to jump out safely without hitting it. Then folks added an alternate entrance that doesn't go into the springs, put a Minus in there to move the TNT around and mess that part up, and changed the springs at the looping part so that you'd pop off the slope and unroll automatically. :( (But also, nobody I've seen has tried to do it how I expected, and they also got confused where the exit was. That's the main reason I say it should be removed.) Also, I think the main right path should have one more section before that. The wooden tower that was left as cut content after the goalpost might be good there with some layout rearrangement?

I don't know how to feel about mine carts. On one hand, they could stand to be a bit less linear, but on the other hand I worry that they'd get too confusing, like the big section in the old version was getting, and I think just having them as gauntlets is fine. They could use a better introduction, but on the other hand I like the level's length as it is and it'd be hard to fit more mine carts into that length without overwhelming the map with them. I think any gimmick that you're introducing and concluding all in one act is going to be hard to properly teach.

For the Knuckles paths, the right one just needs some enemies or something to vary it up. Maybe a BASH or two in the room? Or a smoke badnik thingy on the parts where you need to glide? (Ooh, ooh, wall Minuses!) The left one ultimately isn't interesting in context of the rest of the map, though. Maybe it'd be a good spot for a mine cart section?

For the left path, I'd make the horizontally-moving platform segment connect directly to the suspending crushing rocks segment, cutting out the springs. The dummy mine cart there is a good opportunity for some oil slick platforming. Otherwise I really like it.

I think the final mine cart section would be a good time to have branching track paths, even if none of the rest of the level does it. The main path could stand to be a little easier, but then I can see an extra faster path being added that's even harder than what's there right now. It'd add some good variety and also make the section a bit more interesting for time attack.

Ultimately, I think people's desires for huge sprawling mine cart sections are best addressed with an unlockable map centered around the idea. That'd have much more space to explore mine cart concepts in a way that a mandatory campaign level wouldn't.


Overall this is my favorite level to go back to. That's almost entirely because I was involved with making it. I told you I can't be unbiased.


Spoiler: Challenge levels

I've only played a bit of Haunted Heights. AGZ: I really don't want to play five years' length in square block platforms for the eightieth time, so I won't. ATZ: Dodging bullet hell in cramped camera-antagonistic hallways while in 3D and under a time limit is not my idea of fun. Also more square block platforms. I played both of those in 2.1 and I doubt they've changed enough to make me want to play them again.

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Old 12-31-2019   #5
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The new bee enemies are neat I guess, but they make no sense in this level.
Well, it is a garden. I'll probably make a separate post with my full thoughts another time but for the here and now, yes AGZ should look more like a garden in the future. Or at least have a lot more flowers.
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Old 01-01-2020   #6
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Spoiler: Greenflower Zone

GFZ1: Solid
GFZ2: Solid

From an architectural and general gameplay standpoint, I think both acts look and play really well now. The only point of contention is that we could use maybe one or two more enemy types, and perhaps even slightly modifying Crawla behavior a little bit to be less archaic and Doom-based. I wouldn't change anything about them difficulty wise, but they could use a little more personality. We also should introduce a stationary enemy that fires projectiles that are relatively easy to avoid, both for gameplay variety, and because currently we do not introduce players to the concept of enemy fire until Act 3.

GFZ3: Solid

Fantastic changes all around. The dodging mechanic is good at introducing the idea that some bosses will react to taking damage, and encourages some rudimentary tracking skill from the player; Eggman's primary attack is basic, but enforces one simple requirement of the player understanding how to strafe, and it sticks with this theme throughout. The pinch is also simple and effective, encouraging a little bit more patience from aggressive players while still being fun to try to weave through. All attacks have very clear telegraphs and resting periods, allowing new and experienced players to understand equally clearly how the boss works and went to take advantage of downtime.

A very minor tweak I would make is for the boss not to dodge-reposition itself until two hits or so in. This is largely just for game flow, but also because I want to encourage the difficulty of each boss fight to scale as the player gets more hits in.



Spoiler: Techno Hill Zone
THZ1: Good
THZ2: Good

I have never personally been a big fan of liquid goop as I think the gimmick tends to slow down game flow too much. One change I would like to suggest to the mechanic is to somehow allow the player exit from their pain frames while inside the goop. Other than that, though, I have no problems with the level itself. Again, I would like to see another enemy type, one preferably which introduces area denial blue goop before the boss. Also again, it would be nice to see the buzzes receive an AI touchup to give them a little bit more personality.

THZ3: Good

In my opinion, this has never been a boss that has really needed any changing structurally. However, I've always felt that the pinch is a little weak, and I'd be curious to see how we could change Eggman's lunge behavior to make him a little bit more unpredictable.


Spoiler: Deep Sea Zone

DSZ1: Solid
DSZ2: Good


Aesthetically this level is pretty amazing. I also love the new crushtacean and mine enemies and I think they're both fantastic examples of how we can be designing enemies with defensive territorial behavior. While I don't have any major problems with DSZ2, I feel that waterslides are overdue for mechanical tweaks, particularly when it comes to interpreting camera turn inputs. I also believe the colormap or lighting needs to be brightened a little bit underwater, as finer details such as door colors tend to get muddied by the renderer.

DSZ3: Okay

This arena provides a much better framework for the fight than previous versions, and the attacks are well designed. The main issue is difficulty scaling. I believe clones are still of use in this fight as they create different firing sources that the player has to avoid. What I think this fight really needs is more creative incorporation of the clones mechanic, perhaps as a means of faking out the player during the fight? Worthy of experimentation.


Spoiler: Castle Eggman

CEZ1: Need Attention

For the record, I think the bulk of this level is excellent. My concern is specifically the bridge section, which has several problems. Firstly, the music fadeout is good in concept, but its current implementation tends to feel abrupt to players. Second, requiring all players at the bridge creates serious problems in coop, and it may be best if coop is given the race/competition treatment of disabling the collapse sequence entirely. Thirdly, the bridge collapse itself may need better tells, with the beginning pieces collapsing more granularly toward the back before collapsing faster and in larger chunks. Lastly, we may want to look into making the bridge itself less clustered with hazards and allow the player a bit more freedom of movement. I think it tries a little too hard to throw a bunch of shit into a small amount of space, and even if it feels challenging, it also makes moving through the bridge feel a little clumsy and awkward.

Structurally and architecturally, I think the level itself is fine. Additionally, the zone in general has some of the best enemy design and implementation in the game thus far.

CEZ2: Good
The scope of this level is insane! Generally speaking I think the level does a good job of incorporating enemies and gimmicks into their respective challenge segments, though there are other areas where it feels pretty clear that the level was rushed. I'm still a bit disappointed about some of the content that was cut, and I would love to see areas like the dining room worked back into the level in some way. There are some rendering issues with some polyobjects in software, but the polyobjects are generally large enough and the platforming forgiving enough to where this isn't a huge issue.

CEZ3: Needs Attention
While structurally well designed, the first phase of the fight scales too dramatically for its placement within the campaign. This can be toned down in several ways, such as slowing down the speed of the arms, reducing the amount of area that is turned into bramble, and loosening the button requirements for the second and/or third hits.

I have heard some comments that the Egg Robos don't serve much of a purpose, but I'm inclined to disagree and I think they work well as stationary hazards for the pinch phase. While it's true that some characters can sit in the stands during the first phase, this is not of much relevance in SP anymore due to the fact that the cage now must be opened manually.


Spoiler: Arid Canyon Zone

ACZ1: Okay
The Wile E. Coyote vibes are a great fit for this level, and generally speaking this level has a good sense of platforming and gimmick implementation. The last section is the only real point of contention here, as SRB2 does not teach players how to dropdown from the ziplines and the ziplines themselves punish heavily for miscalculations. I believe placing this area 90% above a deathpit is a mistake, and that the ziplines would better serve by rewarding players who successfully use them to cross the area, rather than heavily punishing the ones who fail.

ACZ2: Okay
Again, general platforming here is solid, and the sunset aesthetic is gorgeous. However, the minecarts are not introduced properly to the player, which is a problem since making mistakes on the minecart usually results in death. I think it could be argued that the ending minecart section is longer than it needs to be -- on the other hand, I don't think it structurally needs any changes. It would be cool if we took advantage of minecart physics to create more deliberate shortcuts that skilled players can take advantage of (current speedrun skips notwithstanding, as while those skips are really cool, they're not skill-accessible to the average player).

ACZ3: Good
Structurally I think this fight works pretty well and just needs some minor modifications. There are some odd sprite rendering issues here in software, but they aren't too obtrusive. I believe bombs would feel a bit fairer if it were only the explosion themselves that caused the increased knockback to the player. Also, I would make it so that, in pinch phase, Fang always chooses popgun as his standing attack, as throwing bombs is almost superfluous at that point. I would be curious to test a sort of variable pain-react state for Fang, e.g. he randomly chooses between shooting/bombing/jumping after getting hit during pre-pinch.


Spoiler: Red Volcano Zone

RVZ: Good
The level design on the whole is pretty good. The issues here mainly come down to Pterabyte placement and behavior. I believe its dropping mechanics are not intuitive -- it isn't clear when the Pterabyte is dropping you out of its own volition or because the player mashed out fast enough. I think it may also be the case that Pterabytes are too quick to drop the player after snatching them, and it may be better for game feel if the player has time to anticipate and release themselves from the pterabyte before it decides to drop the player. Most importantly though, I think that successfullly releasing oneself should make the player jump upward out of the pterabyte's grasp. Otherwise, there is no functional distinction between dropping yourself into lava and having the Pterabyte do it for you.


Spoiler: Egg Rock Zone

ERZ1: Needs Rework
ERZ2: Needs Rework

No pressing issues. Just very flat and outdated.


Spoiler: Black Core Zone

BCZ1: Needs Rework
This level is designed with a heavy bias against Sonic, particuarly in regards to the gravity flip room. I will say that the inclusion of lava is a good change and creates for some really fun runs as Fang. For the rework, I also think it would be appropriate to add greater emphasis on level effects to explain why it is that the player needs to race Metal Sonic.

BCZ2: Needs Attention
For what it's worth, I think this fight already makes some significant improvements over the previous version. However, there are multiple changes that could be made to the arena itself as well as to Metal Sonic's attack and movement behavior for the purpose of difficulty scaling. Adding solid barriers to the arena is necessary to prevent cheesing, and making Metal's strafing more/less difficult depending on boss health, making the spin-out mechanism more interestingly integrated into the fight, and adding on-ground attacks to Metal's attack pattern will help making the fight easier for new players to understand while making the flow of the fight more interesting.

Arguably the bigger problem with this fight is what happens afterwards in cooperative. Same issue here as with CEZ1, and to my knowledge it's being addressed.

BCZ3: Needs Rework
The method of removing Brak's invincibility needs to be reconsidered. It could work better if Brak didn't depend on Doom-based walk cycles. While the attacks themselves are okay, Brak should always have some sort of small telegraph before firing. I also think it would make the fight more interesting if Brak didn't always fire directly at the player, but instead fired in directions and in ways that are more focused on taking advantage of his weaponry's area denial capabilities. There are also many more radical rework ideas to take into consideration, but as far as simply making the fight more tolerable, tweaking the existing behavior would go a long way.


Spoiler: Extra Levels

Frozen Hillside: Okay
Generally speaking, I like the aesthetics and general level design, and Amy appearing at the end is a great touch, though I do wish the level was updated a bit to take advantage of slopes. That being said, snow and penguins are a bad mix, because software prevents penguins from being visible in the snow for most of the time. I think some sections of the level ought to have their enemy placement reconsidered so that this is less of an issue. It may also help to introduce a third enemy into the mix -- perhaps an ice variant of the Orbinauts, since it's technically above ground and shouldn't have any rendering issues as a result.

Pipe Towers Zone: Needs Rework

Structurally the level doesn't have any significant problems. But the lack of any slopes causes level progression to feel less organic, and the aesthetics leave a hell of a lot to be desired. Fire Flower's ability is stuck to the FIRE key, which is bad form. It needs to be somehow worked onto the JUMP or SPIN key.

The real crime here, though, is that goombas (and thwomps if we're being generous) are the only real enemies. We could very easily reskin spincushions into spinies, jetty-syn bombers into lakitus, jet jaws and SURFs into cheep cheeps, etc.

Forest Fortress Zone: Good
This is actually really neat and I'm glad we kept it in as an unlock. No point suggesting changes since the intention is archival.

Techno Hill Legacy: Remove
I have to question the legitimacy of the unlock, since there is not much gameplay value to be found here in comparison to FFZ. We appear to have been concerned about the readability of purple acid, but green acid already tampers with its retro aesthetic to where it no longer feels that nostalgic or is a proper representation of what the level used to be. Now it is lacking in both gameplay and novelty as a result.


Spoiler: Challenge Levels

Haunted Heights Zone: Good
There is a lot of neat stuff going on here, and I love the pumpkin demon in particular, just because of how well it plays off of its Doom-ish tropes. However, I am not a fan of the abuse of no-climb walls on Knuckles' path, and I believe Fang's path could also use some easing. No outstanding issues beyond that.

Aerial Garden Zone: Okay
I actually don't have much of a problem with this level besides some areas with drab aesthetics and a couple key emblems. I think Hive Elemental's introduction of the swarm mechanic is better at properly pressuring players than the droves of jetty-syns which used to litter the level back in Mystic Realm. However, a little bit more enemy variety besides bees and hives would have been welcome.

Azure Temple Zone: Okay
While I don't have strong opinions on the difficulty of the level, I feel that it overstays its welcome after a certain point. Part of this may be due to the underwater element making the pacing sluggish, but it also feels like the level is very hesitant to mix things up, choosing instead to milk one gimmick dry before moving onto the next.
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Old 01-01-2020   #7
CyanS
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Quite a lot of the points I wanted to bring up have already been mentioned by now so I'll hopefully be able to keep this nice and short.

I'll not be giving out ratings as I think those inevitably raise comparisons between the different levels, something I don't want since some of the early game levels are less enjoyable to me strictly because they don't have much when it comes to complexity which they don't aim to. I do not want to take away from how well they accomplish what they set out to do. All in all, the campaign is obviously at a much higher quality than it has ever been and I can't say a disliked a single level. Oh and, as always, excuse the poor english.

Spoiler: Single Player

Greenflower Zone 1
GFZ1 now works beautifully as an introduction to the game. The visuals are pleasant, running through the level is now much more engaging thanks to the inclusion of slopes (these apply to pretty much the entire campaign now) and there is a surprising amount of things to find despite the short length. Rediscovering the level as someone who's been familiar with it for over a decade was a wonderful experience and had me smiling the whole 15 or so minutes I spent exploring every nook and cranny. It has pretty much reached the peak of its potential and at this point, I can't think of a single thing I would change about it.

Greenflower Zone 2
This was already a level that stood out as one of the most fun to explore in previous versions and it now has much more going on in each section with the upper route near the end and its character specific paths being a prime example of that. Honestly not much else to say here. An already solid layout that got polished to near perfection. Shout-out to the newly actually dangerous SDURFs.

Greenflower Zone 3
Really good first boss. I particularly like the new pinch phase and how the wider attack range and faster firing rate before downtime teaches beginners the importance of strafing while making the common strat of rushing him down a bit trickier but still completely viable for veterans.

Techno Hill Zone 1
Pretty much the same as GFZ2. Already good level design packed with a whole lot more to do in each section and with a good deal of polish. I really like how the added ledges here and there make the Spring Shells have a bit more purpose. The very first section, for instance, has that newly added upper route that you can either access by using the slope or the wandering Spring Shells. I can think of a couple other sections that uses them in the same way, letting you skip a tiny bit of platforming and leading to pretty smooth traversal if you can aim your jumps right on top of them without slowing down. As a side note, I find it pretty interesting that GFZ1/2 and THZ1 are some of the least changed levels here despite having the oldest base layouts.

Techno Hill Zone 2
Again, nothing much to say here. The best level in the previous version and the one that needed the least amount of changes to reach the new standard. The new paths just add to an already very varied level. Still one of my favorites.

Techno Hill Zone 3
Still holds up well to this day. Simple boss fight that beginners might want to take on more patiently but that still lets experienced players rush him down and end it in a few seconds. I think the pinch phase could do with a little more because it might actually be easier than Eggmobile's at this point.

Deep Sea Zone 1
This one was quite the big surprise. Really high replay value for a level that's actually pretty short if you are just going for the goal. I had a whole lot of fun going through it over and over to try and figure out how the layout works and where each path splits and merges. It gives off a really labyrinth like feel without actually making you lose track of the way forward. The fact that elemental shields are placed near the beginning and are not too hard to find makes exploration much more welcoming which is appreciated. The highlight for me was probably the hidden emblems. The one that requires you to activate each of the three exits' switches really rewards you for understanding the structure of the level although I have to say that some of the button hunting might be a bit too cryptic and that the water colormap can make it hard to see the colors used as clues.

Actually progressing through the stage can be pretty bland in some sections. The pretty long stretches of underwater corridors that make the end of 2 of the 3 main paths don't have much going on and feel like a slog on repeated playthroughs. Kind of a shame as I also think those are some of the prettiest environments in the entire game. I like how dangerous the Crushstaceans are when you approach them wrong; it's pretty rare for SRB2 enemies to require much thought to take on.

Deep Sea Zone 2
One of the weakest levels of the current campaign in my opinion. It has a heavy focus on recycling sections from the old version of both acts and while I don't think those section are necessarily bad, the way they are put together here lacks structure. The very beginning of the stage, for instance, has you either follow the waterslide or jump onto some ledge on the wall and push a gargoyle to access a section taken straight from the old version that very quickly leads back to the end of the waterslide path. It feels a bit pointless and seem to just exist for the sake of existing. Several other sections feel the same way and make the whole thing kinda messy when you take a look back. I think straight up cutting out those sections might be better than having them here without much purpose. This is still of course a significant improvement over 2.1.

Deep Sea Zone 3
I like how streamlined the fight has been made. It now feels a bit too easy for where it is in the game though. Similar to Eggslimer, I think the pinch phase in particular could do with some added challenge. servicable 3rd boss, I don't mind fighting him.

Castle Eggman Zone 1
One of my absolute favorites. The routes are just as interconnected here as they are in DSZ1 but with a open design that makes it a whole lot of fun to navigate. I think the chains in particular are really well suited to the new level design; with how open it is, you can almost at any point launch yourself off to a different path, smoothly transition from one of the lower sections into the upper ones and perform some really satisfying bounces that let you skip huge chunks of the level (with Sonic in particular). The bridge collapse set piece was a really neat surprise and I personally think its difficulty is right where it needs to be. The overall atmosphere is great with the castle skybox and the way it works with lightning strikes being the highlight. The reworked FaceStabbers/Lance-a-bots and Egg Guards are placed very smartly and work as actual threats now.

If I had to nitpick, I would say the only flaw in the level design is how removed from everything else this particular section is. It kinda bothers me when compared to the big interconnected environment of the rest of the map. It's also longer than any other path and can be easily skipped since the springs leading him to it can be used to reach the main path. The fact that you can so smoothly transition between routes is one of the positives I brought up but here it actually isolate a whole section from the rest of the level. That aside, I really just wish the stage was slightly longer but I'll gladly take it as it is now.

Castle Eggman Zone 2
This one certainly lived up to expectations. The sheer scale of this level is quite simply breathtaking. The number of paths, the level of detail packed into (almost) every room, the looming towers of the skybox, pretty much everything here raises the bar when it comes to how impressive an SRB2 level can be. I honestly feel pretty lucky that I can run it without much frame drops

It expands really nicely on all the hazards introduced in CEZ1. The maces are used in a wide variety of way, the Lance-a-bots are even more dangerous thanks to them being placed near Egg Guards that will stop you dead in your track if you can't quickly find a gap in their rank and the level manages to maintain some of the free flow that act 1 has despite being set inside a castle. All in all, another one of my favorites in the game. I can't wait to see all the unfinished parts polished up and the 4th courtyard path opened up.

Castle Eggman Zone 3
Greatly improved boss . I like how the flow of the fight is now in the player's hands. It actually makes it an interesting boss to not only play normally but also time attack. The added challenge of the arena becoming more dangerous as the fight progresses and the pinch phase no longer being a bore thanks to the Egg Robos are all welcome changes. I enjoy it quite a lot.

Arid Canyon Zone 1
ACZ1 was already one of my favorites in previous versions and this revision keeps what I liked the most about it (the open level design that makes it so interesting to traverse) and adds a ton more interesting gimmicks and personality to it all. Between the rope hangs, cacti, tornadoes that carry your momentum, explosives that Minus' can pick up and move around with, the actually terrifying Snappers and Road Runner references, it definitely has a much more lively and fun atmosphere and a lot more gameplay variety. This is one that I often find myself replaying and I've had a lot of fun flying or gliding over the whole thing with Tails or Knuckles and trying to find ways for Sonic to traverse it in unexpected ways. Truly a amazing revamp to a level I didn't even think had so much more potential or needed such major changes. One of the best surprises on my first playthrough.

Arid Canyon Zone 2
This is another one I'm not that enthusiastic about. The level is really pretty and has a distinct feel compared to act 1 thanks to the sunset colormap, wooden structures and underground minecart tracks. While I enjoyed riding the minecarts the first couple of times around and seeing how complex the network running through the level was (seeing that one emblem on one of the tracks but having to enter through another one to collect it was one of the highlights), they are, at the end of the day, a very straightforward and one note gimmick.

They rely on very simple obstacles and always run along the same tracks. They don't add much in terms of challenge since even the final section becomes trivial your 3rd or 4th time through. For all those reasons, I'm pretty happy that the only mandatory minecart section was the final one but I still found myself pretty disappointed to see that there really isn't much left without the minecarts. The environments are not as extensive and interesting to traverse and explore as act 1's, some of the paths meant to skip the minecart sections don't have much content at all and you'll be making your way to the final mandatory track in under a minute without going through a particularly engaging experience.

I don't think this is a bad level, far from it actually. It's just not quite on the same caliber as the rest of the campaign in my opinion (along with DSZ2).

Arid Canyon Zone 3
Really didn't expect to see Fang of all characters make an appearance in SRB2, let alone as a playable character. Nice surprise there. The boss itself is pretty ok. Fang can be damaged at any point in the fight but attacking him while he is bouncing around can be pretty tricky and I found myself waiting for his vulnerable state more often than not. At most, I manage to damage him the moment he stops bouncing and just before he uses an attack. You can see him exit his "bouncing state" and enter a normal falling animation moments before he lands. It would be nice to have him make that shift a bit earlier into his jump just to make the opening before he attacks more obvious as it greatly helps the flow of the fight.

He shares some of the problems Metal used to have in 2.1 (and that were partially addressed in 2.2) in that his bouncing state can be a bit too long, particularly in the pinch phase where missing an opening can be quite frustrating since it likely means that you'll have to sit through another whole cycle.

Red Volcano Zone 1
And this right here might very well be the biggest and most pleasant surprise I had playing through the game. A RVZ1 remake was never mentioned and it apparently started development pretty late. It still turned out to be one of my favorites. The retheming was a great idea. The first outdoor section had me grinning and I'm glad the whole stage is no longer a series of cavern. I actually wish you all went with more of those outdoor areas or maybe just go crazy and have grass in the caverns to break some of the monotony. Definitely a welcome change anyway.

When it comes to gameplay, one of the defining and most fun traits of the old RVZ1 was how horizontal the whole thing was. It made it a genuinely fun level to playthrough despite how bland or dated most of it was because of the flow that kind of level design allows. I'm really happy the revamp recognized that and very impressed by how well the level has been spiced up in both difficulty and gameplay variety without ruining that flow. The new lava behavior that eats your rings and make failing platforming much more punishing, the periodically falling lava and the legitimately mean new enemies made playing through this the first time around an actual challenge. Replaying it more to the point where I can comfortably beat it without getting hit made me appreciate how well each hazard is implemented. The Pterabytes always leave gaps that you can jump under safely, the lava falls have a noticeable but tight downtime that has you plan your jumps ahead before even reaching them and when all of it comes together, you have one of the most satisfying levels to cleanly blast through.

The layout can be a bit rough at times and can certainly be polished up a bit and it's probably one of the weaker levels when it comes to exploration. But it greatly makes up for it by being the most consistently engaging level if you are just looking for a satisying race to the finish.

Egg Rock Zone 1
Not a whole lot to say that hasn't already been said here. It still has a lot of interesting ideas among the more mediocre ones. The eventual remake will certainly have a lot of material to work with but in the mean time it is still a perfectly fine level.

Egg Rock Zone 2
Same as act 1. Has a lot of good material that simply needs polish. The fact that we've already gotten rid of the more gimmicky and uninteresting parts since 2.0 shows that our level designers have a much better grasp of what works and what doesn't. Still a really good final gauntlet and enjoyable experience throughout most of it.

Black Core Zone 1
Not as exciting as it used to be back on the first runs in 2.1. The race boils down to pretty simple platforming with limited obsacles. Still serviceable.

Black Core Zone 2
The new visual and audio cues make the fight much more understandable and thus enjoyable than it was in 2.1 when it just seemed messy and without much direction. Goes to show how important those little details are. I actually enjoy it quite a lot now but still thinks the pinch phase can get tiring especially when you miss one of the openings something that I can see being pretty frustating for new players because of how well Metal moves around your jumps if you don't strafe properly yourself.

Black Core Zone 3
Erratic movements are pretty much the only downright bad things about this fight. Brak can be a pain to lure into the acid and sometimes dodges your jumps in a pretty inconsistent way. Fix that and give him a proper telegraph for the missiles and you have yourself a really enjoyable boss. Currently, how fun of an experience you'll have is mostly up to chance.



I'll probably write about the unlockable levels later....
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Old 01-02-2020   #8
Whackjood
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While writing this became a miscellaneous collection of thoughts about each zone in SRB2 instead of a set of reviews, a bit rambling but here we are.

Also, it's been proven over and over again that I'm easy to please and have fun with basically every level. So there's that.

Spoiler: Lots and lots of text
Greenflower Zone
I can't believe we now live in an era where people aren't going to ask for GFZ1 to be remade all the time. Because GFZ1 is now good! The art team has done an incredible job of giving this entire zone new life with improved textures and thing based decorations such as the new trees as well, very impressive.

GFZ2 was one of my favorite levels before and it was improved, so I'm happy there too. The routes and secrets that use the new characters did a lot to improve what would have been an already excellent stage without those paths. Also seeing people get hit by an SDURF in Greenflower Zone is a novelty that hasn't gotten old to me yet, the unarmed robo fish has become a threat, I'm proud of them.

While watching friends play the game for the first time, as I've introduced a few people I've met over the years since 2.1 came out to SRB2 now that 2.2 is released, is that the GFZ boss' pinch phase acts as somewhat of a strafing tutorial. As you are strongly encouraged to strafe around the lasers while watching the Eggmobile to hit them afterward, which either kills the player and causes a game over, or they learn and move onto Techno Hill significantly more comfortable with the control scheme, which is a neat observation and I wonder how intentional that was.

Techno Hill
The THZ goop is apparently a fairly contentious gimmick, but I quite like it and always have since 2.1. But I think it would be a good quality of life improvement to allow a player to recover from it faster if they fall into it after taking damage, maybe losing their pain state after hitting the slime for the first time so they can at least maneuver in the goop again.

I think the Act 1 changes are overall a great improvement. But maybe the sewer path is hidden a little too well for what it is, the only other route to the finish line. The player either needs to backtrack or fight against the natural direction the stage is pushing you in to even wind up on the route where it can be naturally stumbled upon. I don't think this is an enormous issue, but it bothers me when it's the only other route to the end.

The Knuckles path that was added in THZ2 is very fun, great use of Knuckles' move set in there.

The Egg Slimer has a very uninteresting design and feels non-interactive to me, it just does its pattern regardless of where you are in the arena and the pinch phase is completely toothless now that it can't hurt you by jumping on top of you anymore. (Is that a bug? I genuinely can't tell if that behavior should be there in 2.2 or has been dummied out intentionally).
Has anyone in STJR considered making the fight a chase through the tunnel, like with Acid Missile's Gloom Metropolis boss. Or putting the Egg Slimer on a conveyor belt or something similar? So the slime goes towards the player, and the player is forced to deal with some kind of aggression through that instead of the boss being entirely passive and defensive until the harmless pinch phase. I think that would make the encounter more interesting at least.

Deep Sea
God damn, DSZ1 contains a lot of what I love in this game. I am all for levels that are dense in secrets with multiple routes that constantly intersect and intertwine with each other. But the buttons REALLY need to be coded by more than just color because the doors are all in a blue colormap when they're underwater, making it impossible to tell what door is opened by what button in most cases.

Overall though, I adore the new aesthetic. DSZ2 desperately needs a new sky right now, DSZ1's outside sections looked incredible with the ocean stretching out over you, while DSZ2's moonlit sky just looks more appropriate for something from 2.0.

Castle Eggman
I love this zone now! Act 1 is such a good level, I really enjoy how open ended the various outdoor 'rooms' are and how this opens up for a lot of player creativity in navigating to the end of each section of the level if you want to explore off of the broken path and try to break the level flow with Tails or Knuckles, that's always rewarding when it works out. Regarding the CEZ1 bridge and co-op, what if the bridge sequence activates based on the setting that the host is using for players needed to finish the level? For example, if only half of the players need to finish the level to change the map, then the bridge collapse sequence could trigger if half the players enter the sector that begins the event.

I personally don't have performance issues with act 2, and I should definitely consider myself quite fortunate there. I know that Mascarasnake has been working on optimizing the stage though, so I hope that works out! But I also enjoyed this stage a great deal, and smiled like a goof to find the Final Demo CEZ2 courtyard was here too. Then even more impressed when I learned that the stage is actually built in the shape of a castle.

Now that the lance-a-bots take two hits to destroy, and are actually interesting badniks that the player needs to think about how to deal with and whether or not fighting them is worth the effort. It might be time to reduce the shield badniks to just having one hit instead. Just destroy them instantly on hitting their back at this point, if being tough and tanky is supposed to be the lance-a-bots job.

The CEZ boss improvements are interesting. Phase 1 is great now that the player is forced to interact with the arena to open up the cage, but I think phase 2 is quite weak still. Phase 2 having the same issue I have with the Egg Slimer, in that the boss is entirely passive and defensive and waiting for the player to make a mistake while it just spins in a pre-set pattern. I actually might have preferred the old pinch phase, because at least that one used a CEZ stage gimmick in an interesting way by letting you chase the Eggscalibur into the sky.

Arid Canyon
ACZ is perhaps my favorite zone in 2.2's campaign right now, incredible work! The new gimmicks have done such a great job in livening up the stage, the TNT barrels and how they interact with the other stage gimmicks and badniks is simple but wonderfully effective.

The mine carts are fun, and I'm deeply impressed with how the level designers have managed to make them weave throughout the level instead of just being relegated to their own sections. But I feel that there's a lot more that can still be done with the mine carts, my love for Donkey Kong Country mine cart sections is calling to me. Maybe I'll just make more mine cart content myself for release ;P

Also, Fang. What a swerve. If any additional characters were going to appear in this game, I was only expecting Amy Rose as a slim possibility. So Fang jumping out of the box was a real twist. The boss fight itself was great fun, while I don't have an issue with the "dodge then counter-attack" pattern that several SRB2 bosses have, Fang being an always vulnerable enemy that bounces around leading to a quick and hectic battle was fantastic and very fitting. And that transition to the pinch phase, great. I was more was done with the train though, I understand more was planned at some point but all the unused level geometry there is just calling out to be used at some point.

Red Volcano
I went into 2.2 expecting Red Volcano to be the 2.1 version, but maybe with a few slopes added in. Nope, prehistoric volcano zone now. I adore the new theming for this level, it explains why you were all willing to drop the notion of Blue Mountain Zone. More than enough new ideas can be made out of a prehistoric jungle theme on top of the original lava theme to fill out two acts of Red Volcano.

I enjoy the rolling rock gimmick, that's a fun one. I feel like there's a missed opportunity in that at no point we use the rock to break through a wall or a cracked floor though.

On the topic of lava melting rings. I think that is an excellent idea in the current state of the campaign, it sharply rises RVZ's difficulty and makes it feel much more appropriate as the zone that is the precursor to ERZ. I'm not sure I'll agree with this assessment after Dark City and Grand Eggship are added to the game (if they ever are!) but for now it's a good choice.

Eagerly awaiting Act 2, when it's done.

Egg Rock
Oops, old content. Any comments here feel kind of superfluous as there is a revamp in the works, so I'll keep this brief.

Act 1 has aged very poorly and is currently the worst level in the campaign right now. Funny because it used to be one of my old favorites but the overall quality of the game has increased so much.

Act 2 holds up though, feels strange playing an official level without slopes but it's still a good level despite that.

On reflection though, I'm not sure if I enjoy how space countdown is used in ERZ. The gimmick is fine, and low gravity associated with those outdoors areas is also fine, but together I don't like them. A gimmick that combines a tight time limit to avoid death and a state that slows you down just feels wrong in retrospect. I'd like to see the ERZ revamp explore more gravity effects, platforming under high gravity, a section that actually takes advantage of low gravity to make more interesting platforming challenges, so on.

Black Core
The Metal Sonic race needs clearer signposting to new players, especially those who don't know Sonic game tropes! While watching a friend unfamiliar with the Sonic series play through SRB2, they were completely baffled by the Metal Sonic race and didn't realize it was a race at all. Leading to several deaths where they had no idea what was killing them as they tried to figure out what parts of the stage were exposed to space to cause the death timer. (They thought Metal Sonic appearing at the start of the level was setup and warning that they will be attacked during the stage and took things slowly once Metal Sonic had escaped their vision to avoid an ambush). I don't know if the Metal Sonic race will be worked on as part of the ERZ revamp, but it definitely needs to be made clearer to work for players unfamiliar with Sonic game tropes.

Apparently this is an increasingly unpopular opinion but I really like the Metal Sonic fight. I think it's a very good final boss part 1, suitably difficult for its place in the campaign and asking for just enough skill and problem-solving ability from the player to figure out what to do before being overwhelmed.

The transition leading between Metal Sonic and Black Eggman is a delight too. The long corridor leading to the trap makes me wonder if there was a plan to have one of those Eggman chase sequences where he runs faster than the player. Maybe one day.

Black Eggman is a boss I really enjoy the design of but suffers enormously for using Doom stutter-step movement cycles. There's no excuse for that as far as I can tell. Just let the final boss have smoother more predictable movement and it will do a lot to ease people's frustrations with the encounter. If it makes the boss a little easier, then so be it, Black Eggman will be moved to Dark City Zone eventually anyway, right?

Bonus levels
Frozen Hillside is cute, it's simple but quite fun to figure out. I don't really have many thoughts on this stage, and that in of itself could be argued to be a downside. But it's comfy and the stage gimmicks are fun enough for what it is.

Pipe Towers is the same as ever. I actually think this stage is more or less ideal currently, given it's a Mario Bros 1 inspired level it doesn't need slopes beyond some decoration by making the horizontal pipes smooth and perhaps also to make the bouncy mushrooms more palatable to look at. This is still a simple stage that I quite enjoy and a good secret that's outside of the main campaign.

Forest Fortress is a fascinating look into 2.2's development, and I'm very glad we got 2.2's rendition of CEZ1 instead but I still think this is an entertaining level that holds up on its own.

Techno Legacy is a bad stage though. Sorry final demo THZ2 but you just don't hold up, and the changes made while perfectly understandable take away from the historical gimmick factor that is this levels entire reason for existing in 2.2. It's a catch 22 where there's no good answer to the old purple pain slime. If it would be possible to make something similar to toasters Final Demo Zone I'd be very happy though, just perhaps without the teleporters connecting the different stages together and a more natural run through the different level themes, if that's even remotely possible.

Challenge levels
Haunted Heights is awesome. Perhaps my favorite level in SRB2 2.2 currently, there's been so much love and attention put into this stage and there are so many unique character paths here that do interesting things with each characters move-set. Fantastic.

Aerial Garden sure is starting to feel outdated, but I think it's more or less fine at this point. The bees are very good enemies (and I'm not just saying that because I like bees!) because they do exactly what the original stages jetty-syns set out to do, pressure the player into taking relatively simple but precise platforming at speed due to enemy pressure. Only it's now clearly much more deliberately because the enemies are often respawning until you destroy the hive elementals the bees are coming from. But I don't understand why the blue springs platforms were removed from this stage, and replaced with horizontally moving platforms. This is a change that honestly made the level worse, those springs were an interesting platforming challenge and the new moving platforms are an unreliable slippery mess. If you insist on keeping those horizontally moving platforms in, then please either make them change direction slower or give them a visual indicator through a track of some kind that lets the player predict when they will change direction instead of jumping and just hoping for the best.

Azure Temple is a gimmick and really I just appreciate that for what it is. A brutally difficult level that exists to kick my ass. Thanks, Azure Temple. I think the stage might be a little too long but as the final challenge level it sets out to do what it's meant to and does it pretty well. I can't even be mad about it because there's nothing behind completing it past bragging rights and smug self-satisfaction.
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Old 01-02-2020   #9
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This is just going to be a giant list of nitpicks. Sorry for focusing on what I don't like rather than what I do like. Both are useful for constructive criticism, but writing this took long enough already. Just assume that everything I don't talk about is probably something I like.

Also, everything I said in The majority of levels in SRB2 are dark or grey still applies. The topic title is meant to sound humorous, but I also 100% mean it.

By the way, did you guys ever consider naming this new update v3.0, rather than v2.2? Besides being such a huge update, the current version numbering scheme is very inconsistent. Personally, I think that X.0.0 updates should be for new versions (save data doesn't transfer), 0.X.0 updates should be for new features (there were many of these during the 2.1 update cycle, such as, y'know, slopes), and 0.0.X updates should be for bug fixes.

Spoiler: Main Campaign
Greenflower 1: B

I don't like the cramped hallway right after the bridge. It's a poorly designed area in general, but especially for the first 30 seconds of the game. Otherwise, the level is solid, although uninspired. I like the expansion at the end; the level finally feels like the proper length. It shouldn't be any longer than it currently is.

Greenflower 2: A+

It's fantastic. It's incredible how well this level has held up over the decades. Just a few minor touchups in 2.2 were enough to make this level feel consistent with the level of quality in the rest of the game.

This is a comment meant for the entire game, but I might as well put it here because this is the level that teaches players how to use springs: Add a moment of delay between Sonic touching a spring and the player regaining control of their character. In SRB2 you've always had to let go of forward BEFORE you touch a spring for it to work right, which has always been stupid and is now even stupider with Auto-Brake. There needs to be a small buffer so that the player can let go of forward ONCE they touch a spring without it wrecking things.

I think the upper path should be made into a proper upper path. Even with the improvements, it still feels like you're exploring somewhere you're not supposed to go. Take the first spring out of the water and put it in an alcove somewhere off to the side. Streamline the level design and use rings to show where the player is supposed to go. Cut this path out entirely. The hidden room is neat, but it's not worth making the second level of the game too complicated.



Greenflower 3: B

This, again, is a comment meant for the entire game, but after using fickle's camera mod I genuinely think that boss lock-on should be added to the base game and bosses should be designed around it. The lack of lock-on now makes all bosses feel... unprofessional.

Anyway, solid boss. I'd recommend Eggman only firing twice in a row in the pinch phase rather than three times, but that's it.

Techno Hill 1: C+



Every new player I've seen on YouTube heads toward the left here (toward the clear platforming section), ignores the hole-in-the-wall that's the actual path forward, gets turned around and then gets lost.

This level is solid, but I find it kind of boring. I'm not sure if there's an actual problem with the level design or whether it's just because I've played it so many times over the years.

Techno Hill 2: B-

I don't have much to say here that I haven't said before. Detons are a terrible enemy and either shouldn't be in the game or need to be introduced to the player in a safe environment. Everything starting from the outdoor Egg Corp building to raising the slime pool all has very poor telegraphing for where the player is supposed to go. (Why is the entrance to the building off to the side in some weird tiny hallway? Why is the way forward down a pit that you have to blindly jump down? There's no way a player could expect that there's a button at the bottom of the slime pool.)



These ledges should be removed and the pistons should be made a lot slower and more manageable for new players.

Otherwise, it's a good level. I like that new alternate paths were added, and removing the elevator was a good choice.

Techno Hill 3: C+

I don't know how well this would work in practice, but maybe try make the slime blobs much bigger (full 3D objects on the ground), make Eggman fire slower, and have the blobs disappear quicker.

Deep Sea 1: C-

I don't like water levels. Honestly, I don't think I'll ever like water levels. Realistically, the only way you could make DSZ fun for me would be to design it like Hydrocity—the water sections are all short and essentially optional.

Still, even then, I don't think it makes sense for exploration/puzzle focused levels to also be water levels. Button hunts aren't good game design at the best of times, and this has buttons where you don't know what they do and where you're dealing with a constant time limit and sluggish movement in the murky dark. Yuck.

It's not so much of an issue when you're not hunting for emblems, but eh...

Deep Sea 2: D

All the problems of DSZ1, except that at least DSZ1 feels like it has a cohesive vision and interesting architectural design behind it.

Deep Sea 3: B

I'm sure this can be improved. It's not a terribly interesting fight, but I find it fun.

Castle Eggman 1: B

Great level. It's significantly better than Forest Fortress, so I'm glad you decided to remake this level... twice.

So, a few nitpicks. First, look at this part.

SRB2 in general has issues with guiding players through its giant levels, but this part is worse than usual. I first thought I should go right there because the path directly forward looks like the exit of an alternate path. In fact, CEZ2 has exactly this same situation where the right path is the right path (pardon the pun).

For the bridge, instead of fading the music out entirely, perhaps have some somber piano chords or something play during that section.

Speaking of the bridge, it's not any fun at all to play as Knuckles during the bridge collapse.

Castle Eggman 2: B+

Grand and great! I think I literally gasped when I opened the map in Zone Builder out of curiosity and realized it was shaped like an actual castle. I'm not sure if it's possible to make that more obvious in the level itself, but you should try. For example, at the beginning of the level during the "floor collapse" section, maybe make the courtyard visible to the player, then slam a gate over it when the player gets close (throw in an Eggman laugh when the floor collapses). When the player reaches the courtyard later, they'll be able to see the start of the level through the gate.

Castle Eggman 3: B+

Much better than the previous version of the fight, although I'm disappointed by the change to the pinch phase. I know the previous pinch phase was too simple and static, but it had a very grand feeling that fits the grand feeling of Castle Eggman overall. Maybe just for the final hit spawn the swings and have Eggman fly up high to the center.

Arid Canyon 1: A-

Man, I am having so much trouble trying to describe what I like about levels. I'm clearly not a good reviewer. It's so much easier to write about all my nitpicks.

There's a path split in this level where the left path goes to the Power Sneakers setpiece and the right path goes to a TNT room. Both of these paths have problems.

The Power Sneakers room is way too twisty for a section of the level focused on Power Sneakers. It's functional, but it'd be far more fun if this room were closer to a straightaway.

The TNT room blocks off your path if you let it explode. If you're playing as Sonic, as far as I can tell your only option is to backtrack. This is ridiculous. No other level in SRB2 is like this, and for good reason. Just killing the player outright would be a better solution.

BASHes should be programmed to circle into your field of view first before launching themselves at you. Getting hit by an offscreen BASH never feels fair, especially during the rope hang section at the end.

Arid Canyon 2: A

This or Red Volcano is my favorite level of the game. I can't believe the level opens with FIVE alternate paths right off the bat.

I'll echo what other people have said about how the minecarts should have alternate paths or something to spice things up. A more difficult but faster path for the ending section is a great idea. But ignoring gameplay, I think you should try to use minecarts to throw in some more Sonic Adventure-style spectacle. Maybe have a section where the minecraft goes straight down like a roller coaster and accelerates to absurd speeds. Maybe throw in a loop somewhere so that you can finally say that SRB2 has loops.

Green Snappers should either be slowed down or they should get tired after a few seconds. They're far too aggressive. Some combinations of enemies are really difficult to deal with, especially for new players.

Arid Canyon 3: C

It was awesome to see Fang, and then a shock to unlock him, but on replays this is always my least favorite boss. I just don't find him fun.

Red Volcano 1: A-

I absolutely adore how the feeling (in terms of gameplay, not aesthetics) of the previous Red Volcano was somehow transferred over to the remake. RVZ was my favorite stage to speedrun in 2.1, and it's still my favorite to speedrun in 2.2.

The pterodactyls are awful though. Worse, they're accessibility-challenged. There are plenty of people (for body or controller reasons) who physically can't mash faster enough to escape from those things. Getting grabbed by one of those things is often punishment enough; they should be easier to escape from.

Egg Rock 1: C+

...Writing this post is already taking long enough. I'm not going to bother with giving thoughts on levels that I know will be replaced.

Egg Rock 2: B

It's good ol' Egg Rock.

Black Core 1: B-

It's fun. Maybe use different graphics for the countdown as I've seen a lot of blind players on YouTube say things like "What?! Why am I drowning? What happened?"

Black Core 2: B-

I feel that Metal Sonic's strafing is overly-difficult if you don't play with a mouse. I mean, it's fine (after all, I don't play with a mouse and I don't have too much trouble with it), but it definitely feels harder than it's supposed to be.

Also, I think the walls of the arena should be solid. They are for Metal Sonic after all, but not for the player.

Black Core 3: A-

I really love the Brak fight, and I'll be disappointed if it's changed too much in future versions. I'll give a normal suggestion first, then my radical suggestion after.

The issues with Brak's pathfinding are well known, so I won't go into that. Another big problem is your lack of visibility when trying to lure Brak into the lava. You have to stand still for him to move to the right spot, but he can attack you with a bomb without you being able to see. Maybe have it so you have to lure him onto a giant button that dumps lava onto him instead?

Now, my radical suggestion: The most fun part of the fight (and the reason it's such a good final boss) is the part where you just have to ram into him over and over while avoiding his attacks. After a full game of "gimmicky" bosses with different phases and waiting for the boss to be vulnerable, it's fun to just have a straightforward brawl.

So... just make the whole boss that. Double his hit points and cut out the invulnerability phase entirely. Don't bother fixing his pathfinding because the player doesn't need to lure him anywhere anymore. Maybe the boss can start large and slow, then after 8 hits you break off some of his armor and he becomes smaller and faster (and harder to hit) with a new assortment of attacks. Then after another 8 hits even more armor breaks off and he gains even more attacks. Something like that.

Congratulations, you guys. Incredible update. I'm going to quote a post of mine from another topic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknownlight View Post
I really want to highlight this part. I absolutely agree, but I don't think I've mentioned this specific point before.

It is astounding how many good decisions were made across every element of the update. You'd think that there'd be a lot more drama and pushback in the community. Like, you guys tore down and practically remade from scratch a 20 year old game. You took a beloved game—one that's a huge part of so many people's childhoods—and replaced it with a different one. How could you not expect people to freak out?

But that potential freak out didn't happen. There's a rare few people here and there, there's some controversy with the controls, not everyone is happy with every music replacement, but it's generally all very minor.

That shouldn't even be possible. But it happened. That speaks to the incredible quality of this update more than anything else.

Last edited by Unknownlight; 01-02-2020 at 08:42 PM.
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Old 01-02-2020   #10
JEV3
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I'm going to rank the levels by worst to best experience because I haven't taken enough of a detailed look at the levels to give a truly objective n/10 score. I am taking into account how it felt at that point of the game since early levels will naturally feel a little simpler than later levels.

Spoiler: Single Player Levels

17 - Black Core Zone 1

My least favorite level in the game is still a really cool idea, but it forced me to play at a faster pace than I normally enjoy in this game, and I wasn't even playing as Sonic.

16 - Egg Rock Zone 1

This level was the coolest thing when it first came out. At this point the rest of the game has caught up, and it's not as interesting to replay as other levels in the game are.

15 - Frozen Hillside Zone

The level isn't bad, it just felt kind of boring. The basic gimmick of needing to jump over a snow drift in order to not lose your jump height seemed to feel repetitive.

14 - Egg Rock Zone 2

This level takes what Egg Rock Zone 1 does and does it better. It was a step toward the more organic and ambitious design of the newer stages but is far more rough around the edges.

13 - Pipe Towers Zone

The level is a good-but-not-great SRB2-ification of Mario. It's still very fun.

12 - Red Volcano Zone 1

I love the prehistoric theme. Some rooms are super interesting and others are pretty basic hopping over lava challenges.

11 - Castle Eggman Zone 2

The level is extremely impressive and varied. It feels very much like you're exploring a castle, and the platforming is a good challenge.

10 - Arid Canyon Zone 1

The level feels full, varied, and interesting. I have a love-hate relationship with the rope hanging gimmick, and this is the first part of the game where bottomless pits are a real threat.

9 - Green Flower Zone 2

Fun to play and fun to explore. The slopes and springs add a lot to this level.

7 & 8 - Deep Sea Zone 1 & 2

I'm grouping these together because my experience was basically the same for both. They are way more fun than water levels usually are in Sonic games, and have great pacing.

6 - Arid Canyon Zone 2

It was more of everything I liked from Arid Canyon Zone 1. The mine carts were a little counter intuitive, but I enjoyed them once I figured them out.

5 - Green Flower Zone 1

The level is way more welcoming and interesting than it's ever been before and a great way to start the game.

4 - Techno Hill Zone 1

A great level that feels like a warmup for act 2. The slime in both acts adds so much to this zone.

3 - Techno Hill Zone 2

The level feels huge, sprawling, and overwhelming in the same way CEZ2 does with some fun factory gimmicks.

2 - Haunted Heights Zone

The level has a great balance of atmosphere and difficulty with a nice balance of challenge and gimmicks.

1 - Castle Eggman Zone 1

I love the atmosphere and how it feels exploring the towers. The finale is really cool although the sloping floating platforms leading up to it were a little frustrating. Playing this with Sonic for the first time was still probably my favorite memory of 2.2. It was still fun just exploring with Knuckles on my second playthrough.


I'm going to rank bosses separately since they're kind of a different beast.


Spoiler: Bosses

7 - Black Core Zone 2

Strangely enough the best way to hit Metal Sonic is by standing still, which got old by the time I finally beat this boss.

6 - Black Core Zone 3

It has a cool mix of attacks that change things up, it just feels unpolished.

5 - Castle Eggman Zone 3

The boss actually communicates itself surprisingly well. Getting hurt really messes up my rhythm though and jumping into the center to attack Robotnik felt wonky sometimes.

4 - Green Flower Zone 3

It's a very "vanilla" boss but it's a great first boss, especially with the updated pinch phase.

3 - Techno Hill Zone 3

This is pure bias talking, but I've always loved the Egg Slimer. It's challenging, interesting, and polished. Part of me just wishes that the slime from the rest of the zone could somehow find its way into this boss.

2 - Deep Sea Zone 3

This boss is much better now that you're not constantly falling down which made the old boss feel so very slow. The mimics being much easier to spot were better too.

1 - Arid Canyon Zone 3

As a character boss, I liked this much better than Metal Sonic. The pinch phase was a really cool moment. The attacks are simple enough while still presenting a real challenge.


I won't rank Aerial Garden since I only played it as Tails for the time attack emblem. I have not replayed Azure Temple but I guess it probably hasn't changed. I also haven't unlocked the two legacy levels.
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Old 01-08-2020   #11
Gunla
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Took the time to do 100% completion so that may factor in a bit for some of the levels, and I play normally on pad (though for NiGHTS I switched to M&KB - which I may add onto this post later other than ďAPZ2 whyĒ).

Spoiler: Main Levels

GFZ1 10/10
Whereas the tutorial acts as a controls introduction, I think GFZ1 continues to do a great job as a more mechanical introduction to some of SRB2ís nuances. Players who explore the nooks and crannies of this level will find a good introduction to the traditional shields in the game (magnet, nuke, etc), additional lives and the like. I do think the changes to the level from 2.1 are good and offer more variety, even if the level can still be blazed through by mass thokking.

The visual upgrades from this version have done a great number on it as well. I think my only issue is that some characters have a significantly more difficult time reaching the upper area after the first checkpoint, as it showcases an additional reward to exploring through the magnet shield and the emblem. I do appreciate that it also introduces more character-specific emblems.

While this level is significantly shorter than the other ones in the game, unlike the tutorial, it is completely mandatory and serves as a solid tutorial level for more internal basic mechanics, even if it admitably isnít able to explore some of the more nuanced specifics of some characters outside of unlockables. However, GFZ2 accomplishes this.

GFZ2 9/10
The first open-ended act in the game and one with a lot of springs, but more importantly, lots of movement. This level does a good job of showcasing high speed and branching pathways in manners that also accomodate the unlockable characters well and provide multiple character emblems, something that I really enjoyed whilst hunting for them (aside from one aquatic-based one!) I think this level does a great job of what I would have liked to ideally see out of the emblems, in that there are many that you can collect with most characters, but there are a few that require playing with a different character and being able to experience several different paths overall.

I think my only issue with this level comes from how the top path with the river seems to just sort of connect out to the waterfall with not a whole lot of fanfare. I think the top of the waterfall could present some sort of platform element in transit to either the remainder of the main level or the bonuses that remain if you explore this area. In addition, I think some of the aesthetics for the first upper path should be altered to not be exclusively rock to better indicate the validity of it as an actual path as UnknownLight mentioned earlier.

GFZ3 9/10
A very straightforward boss and one that tests your ability to either A: follow the boss to attempt to stun-lock it as hard as possible or B: strafe well and counterattack where he lands. To an extent it feels like an intentionally manageable precursor to BCZ2, and while many playthroughs later itís very straightforward from a veteran perspective, I think being the first zone boss is a great placement for this one.

THZ1 8/10
Whereas GFZ2 had smaller branching pathways, the major pathway splits for the vast majority of the second half of the level and provides an interesting set of gimmicks. I canít say I remain the biggest fan of how wieldy some of the secrets in the goop are to obtain, but I think itís still a fairly solid romp. I also still am not a big fan of the stinger badniks, namely the red ones, but itís a fairly minor complaint since I think theyíre less of an annoyance with this level. I really liked the touch of traversing through different character paths with other characters to get emblems as well.

THZ2 7/10
I think this is definitely the first level where there is a noticeable jump in what the player is expected to do. The paths split quite diversely and several areas are pretty sizable, though at some points it feels like thereís some empty space later on in the level. That being said, I enjoyed the emblem collection here as I felt there was some interesting points to discover overall.

I canít say Iím a huge fan of how the goop is utilized as I think the right path at the start is less enjoyable with how the buzzes are constantly chasing you down and youíre trying to jump down into the goop, and getting hit on top of the good has a nasty, excessive recoil. In addition, the button switch near the end of the level I think comes off as being a bit too unintuitive for a player to recognize since itís a bit of a blind jump.

THZ3 8/10
I think the concept behind this boss is quite solid, but at the same time I think it has some issues with predictability. While in the first playthroughs both in the past and in 2.2 I had trouble catching up and rebounding the boss, now itís quite straightforward and I think perhaps the boss arena could be expanded to make the boss be slightly less unpredictable; I do think this could apply with the pinch phase since in practice I honestly feel like itís easier than the main phase.

DSZ1 9/10
Phenomenal visuals; this is probably one of my favorite acts in the game. While the crab enemies can feel hard to avoid (and perhaps can provide some frustration on rare occasions underwater), the branching pathways provided a lot of replay value and this level definitely felt like the first more sincere jump in difficult with expectations on the player to handle mandatory branches in pathways and some on the fly threats.

However, this zone felt like a bit of a sore spot with some of the emblems as a handful felt either tedious or too unforgiving (notably the Amy Emblem) - the hints could likely use some work, and while I do think the full path completion one should stick around, a handful of the button ones are too cryptic for their own good.

DSZ2 6/10
While I donít think I enjoy the cyclical nature of the first section, I do enjoy the later aspects of the level. However, the Gargoyle switches should be made mandatory across any path at some point (either in this level or in DSZ1) to really allow them to be utilized well and fairly in my opinion.
There are quite a few secrets hidden within this level, perhaps almost too many. There are points where I feel like I should have a more significant reward for a lot of work/adventuring, but admitably only so much can be hidden (I donít think an emblem should be in the same area as an Emerald Token, for instance).

DSZ3 7/10
I think I enjoy this iteration of Sea Egg much more than the past one, even if it feels excessively straightforward for a third-zone boss. While on the first play the fake Eggmans got me, I think a more dynamic pinch phase could be utilized, such as with more dangerous electricity (maybe a second ring of electricity? Have the clones come out before Eggman?).

CEZ1 10/10
My favorite act in the game right now. This feels like the right amount of open-endedness and thereís a lot of variance in the paths you can take and I greatly enjoy the atmosphere this map carries, even compared to the actual castle in act 2!

My only major issue comes with some of the clustered nature of things in the collapsing bridge sequence; thereís just a bit too many hazards thrown into the players way and I donít think the springs are entirely necessary. In addition, it probably could just end right before the bridge collapse in co-op since itís adding a goal on top of another goal.

CEZ2 9/10
While there are a few sections that show the incomplete nature of this level (a few too many open-ended areas that don't feel like they should be that way), I think this level is still quite excellent for how large it is and how thereís a ton of different pathways. Despite the incomplete nature of it, I greatly enjoyed how it felt challenging but respected you with the robohoods and lance-a-bots.

CEZ3 10/10
Honestly my favorite boss in the game for the most part. I really enjoy the changes made from the previous iteration and making full use of the arena. My only issue I think is that some characters seem to have a rougher time with the fact that you have to jump on the button instead of just running over it, but otherwise I think itís excellent. I always get a kick out of the Eggrobos in the crowd.

ACZ1 9/10
Thereís parts of this map that feel a bit jarring, namely the turtle badniks and the ending rope swing section. I think theyíre still quite slow and it makes me more significantly enjoy playing this over again with Metal, Tails or Knuckles so I can avoid a major chunk of the last section. I do greatly enjoy a lot of the setpieces, but emblem hunting wise it felt very easy to backtrack and not realize it due to height.

Outside of that, though? Damn good stuff. Thereís so much in terms of branching pathways and it feels like it makes sense from a difficulty standpoint coming after something that would otherwise scream ďpenultimate zoneĒ from a thematic standpoint.

ACZ2 7/10
While I do like how the minecart gimmick was handled for a first playthrough, I also recognize that the last section can be the only one for someone to go through and itís also the only mandatory one. Itís essentially an auto scroller without utilizing some very risky RA strategies and thereís not a huge amount of variance, for good and bad.

ACZ3 7/10
I still really appreciate this boss, but at the same time it feels quite frustrating with several characters. This and BCZ2 have a more serious penchant for rebounding out out of the arena when you hit them (this during pinch; even if itís part of the difficulty it feels like an unnecessary ďget punished on hit confirmĒ scenario), and I think thereís some hitbox issues that make the fight much more bothersome for some characters than it should. Overall, itís a very neat nod and handled well.

RVZ1 8/10
I enjoy the vast majority of this zone, predominantly from the visuals and its gimmicks with the lava and the balls. Thereís a lot to take in and itís a significant step up with rings being taken away as a recollectable shield in lava creating serious risk. Excellent visuals, pretty solid emblems overall and a good amount of collectables make exploring worth it, albeit with one regenerating monitor exception.

However, I think thereís a few moments that provided some serious frustration even on replays. The dragonfly badnik having behavior to keep it just out of reach feels unintuitive and a bit too malicious, even at this point in the game, since itís rare to find a good moment to take them out. The pterabytes in particular also feel inconsistent about when they can grab you; I think their current range could stay but they should have some sort of audio cue that acts as a delay to their attack, and a warning to the player to move.

ERZ1 6/10
I think the rust is starting to show significantly with this and the next map. There are a variety of gimmicks thrown at you and some are almost too wieldy for their own good with the raw frequency you get them. The antigravity mechanic by itself I think is a solid mechanic but combined with a variety of other things, it feels more like an exercise in frustration at times. The levels will obviously see their share of reworks in the near future but it is pretty jarring to come back to these after the rest of the campaign.

ERZ2 6/10
Even with the removal of a handful of more suspect elements (the shrink section being removed is a welcome change in my book), it has the same issue of ERZ1 where it just feels plain antiquated. I could maybe see a touched up version of this with some slopes maybe included as a challenge stage in a future version of SRB2 one day, however, and I think itíd probably fit there if it was included mostly similar to what it is now.

BCZ1 7/10
As Cobalt mentioned earlier, this level definitely feels the most punishing towards Sonic (notably with the lava room). Most of the other characters are able to utilize their abilities to trivialize the race and I think some of the platforming should be made a bit looser in the later half of the race, but also restrict just how strongly the map can be broken by mobility-enhanced folks. Compared to the rest of the boss fights this just feels almost a bit too beginner unfriendly for its own good and it could be made clearer how the race works (or even that it is a race).

BCZ2 7/10
Thematically I enjoy this boss fight a lot. The first part of the fight feels mostly fair for the penultimate boss and the telegraphing is pretty solid. However, I donít like the pinch phase as much since thereís no way to realistically speed it up; it takes up a large amount of time and dodging it can be quite straightforward - but itís the ending aspect of him spinning around before being hittable that gets a bit crazy, since thereís plenty of moments where he just goes right next to a fence, or you can get rebounded from a hit and fly off the arena. I also think there could be a bit more leniency when heís taken from the spinout -> stun state (when heís floating around you) - I noticed for myself and a lot of people that it felt quite frustrating sometimes when youíd jump into him and it wouldnít result in a stun (thus allowing you to hit him).

BCZ3 5/10
I donít think this boss has aged well, frankly. From the acid rng to the lack of startlag on some of his moves feeling like a too much of a luck based fight (the missles and lock-on in particular) that can be mostly reduced in difficulty by taking advantage of the raised platforms and camping them. Honestly, it kind of just feels like Iím fighting a souped up Cyberdemon sometimes which kind of feels out of place (not for Sonic reasons, but just for platformer reasons).


Spoiler: Bonus/Challenge Levels

FHZ 7/10
This level felt like a bit of fluff. Thereís aspects that feel a bit antiquated about it given the origins (the snow mechanic doesnít exactly feel too great/overly punishing). Itís quite straightforward (almost a bit too straightforward?) I would like to see some significant changes made to it to flesh it out further since it unfortunately feels a bit samey at this time. I canít say Iím a huge fan of the snowball enemies mixed with the penguins since some sections feel unnecessarily tense for a level that seems quite easygoing. That being said, I think the bonus levels should have probably been the ones to unlock right after finishing the main campaign, and maybe not the challenge ones, though this is speaking more towards AGZ/ATZ and not HHZ.

PTZ 7/10
First off, as Cobalt mentioned, Fire Flower should probably not be locked to fire at this point. This level as a whole is definitely more antiquated, though it isnít much of an issue compared to others. However, this level also feels completely devoid of actual threats since the Goombas are arguably less of a challenge than Crawlas. I get the feeling this could even not be terribly touched up in the future, however. Itís inoffensive, but thatís all it really is.

FFZ 9/10
Probably my second favorite of the bonus & challenge levels. I enjoy this level quite a bit, and despite the archival nature of it and how drastic of a change Castle Eggman went through, this level still feels like a campaign quality level. Maybe change the breakable wall textures though.

THL
I played this level in RA to complete it for the checklist. Thatís it.

---
Realistically, I think if legacy levels are going to be implemented in the game they could probably be done similarly to how THL was in that thereís no emblems/rewards beyond just having a clear, but I think thatís probably an unpopular opinion. However, given just how antiquated and outdated this is compared to Forest Fortress (nay, even one of the indev ACZ2s or Final Demo Zone could be here instead), this sticks out quite a bit.

HHZ 10/10
This map is fantastic. It feels like what a challenge level should be; itís not too demanding of a stage, but throws a lot in your way with various setpieces. While the goop section was a bit unintuitive on the first play to me, I think the rest of the stage gimmicks overall are great (especially the disappearing platforms; instead of killing you they send you back to the start of the area and I think thatís a MUCH better way of handling something like that)! I had a bit of an issue with one of the Knuckles emblems included here, but even doing emblem hunting was quite enjoyable on this map.

AGZ 6/10
While not as bad as other older bonus/challenge levels, I think this map shows some age. The lack of visual changes makes this map feel quite tedious for its own good and a bit too easy for someone to get lost in. The bees themselves are a sidegrade from what they replaced, but they also slow down what is already quite a lengthy level regardless.

While some of the emblems feel rewarding and straightforwarding with exploration, the Spade Emblem in this map strikes a pretty sharp discord with others, showcasing this levelís love of death pits over small platforms. That was a technically rewarding, but completely unenjoyable experience Iím not sure if I ever want to touch again because it was the only time I ever had to grind for lives in SRB2.

ATZ 5/10
This level and AGZ show their age. Like AGZ, this level feels quite samey, and while thereís a significantly reduced ability to get lost on this level, itís also quite frustrating with how you are just tested on the same gimmick several times in a row with little dynamic variance. The bubble shield basically had its use hampered significantly to just act as an extra hitpoint if youíre going for the time emblem, and the nuke shield included in the level doesnít even feel like it has use in the level beyond emblems.

But while AGZ had only a few suspect emblems, I think most of these are a bit too deliberately difficult and feel more like luck to actually clear unless you resort to slightly underhanded tactics. It felt less like accomplishment and completely akin to ďthank goodness Iím done with this, I donít want to touch these ever againĒ.

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Old 01-10-2020   #12
TehRealSalt
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For ratings, I am using a standard 1-5 point scale. 1 is "very little to enjoy", 5 is "perfect, cannot suggest any changes besides minor nitpicks". 3 or above I consider quality and is worthwhile to play. Very little content should land in either 1 or 5 -- just a normal, uh, normal distribution.

Spoiler: Main game
Greenflower Zone, Act 1: 3/5

This stage won't ever feel impressive, but feels a lot more fleshed out than it used to. A lot of areas that previously felt empty or unused, like the underwater areas, and the large plateau with the house on it, were filled out inbetween 2.1 and 2.2. The large overpasses added also add to the scale of the level, without the base level changing much. Feels like a worthy introductory stage now. However, my biggest problem is that the slope at the end really just puts a lot of problems with SRB2's slope physics on full display: the ring trail suggests a cool slope that you can simply ride up for the 1-Up on the pillar, but in reality you just kind of brush against it and jump around until it happens to get you up there. Amy doesn't really have a great way to get up it that feels good, either. Overall though this level serves its purpose well, it just won't "wow" anyone.

Greenflower Zone, Act 2: 3/5

As good as it's ever been -- gameplay's mostly unchanged, but it had most of the weird dead-ends turned into proper paths and a lot of the weirder or emptier areas filled out, just like GFZ1. Still won't impress anyone, but that's okay. I also like that you can get your first "obvious" Emerald Token here now in the spring cave, it's a better way of introducing the Special Stage concept.

One of my criticisms is something I'm not sure is easily fixed -- I really REALLY like the new upper route near the end, especially with how it introduces the abilities of some of the unlockable characters and how their abilities can be applied, but I feel like it's pretty easily missed, especially FOR those unlockable characters since they don't get height very easily. I'm not sure how I feel about it -- I've always loved secret and out of the way paths that you can very easily miss like it, but I also think it's probably THE best tutorial for the character differences that exists in the game, so it's strange that it is weirdly difficult to get to now. Not really sure what to suggest for that, however.

I will say I also don't really like the big slope jump, since it's yet another highlight for how strange the slope physics feel. Since Amy and Fang can't roll, this area just feels kind of awkward for them. I'm about to go on a slope tangent, but bare with me: obviously, Amy & Fang shouldn't be able to get a LOT of speed by going down a slope, but SRB2's slope physics are very one-sided: you lose a lot of speed trying to run up them, but you gain very little speed running down them. However, rolling reduces your control far more than it does in the 2D games as well, which makes it harder to justify using rolling for smaller slopes. This, compounded with spindash charging needing to stand in place for a long while, makes rolling feel extremely "binary"; in other words, it's extremely obvious when you're meant to roll and when you aren't. Rolling thus feels only usable for making some enemies easier to deal with, and to make these set-pieces more fun. It's definitely a lot better than it used to be, when there weren't any slopes what-so-ever, but it's still a problem IMO. This is kind of delving more into deep-rooted gameplay issues than map issues, but I decided it was worth mentioning, since all of the huge slope set-pieces in the game like this one only draw attention to those flaws; they WOULD be simple but fun set-pieces, if the gameplay was there to back it up.

Greenflower Zone, Act 3: 4/5

Simple but extremely enjoyable boss fight now. Triple laser is a much more fulfilling pinch phase, and dodging to the side works surprisingly well for keeping this fight enjoyable for seasoned players. Awesome rework job here.

Techno Hill Zone, Act 1: 4/5

Superb rework on this level! 2.1's version was already a pretty good level, but this knocks it way out of the park with the tons of high/low ground and natural usage of slopes in most areas. Again, it's been given the GFZ treatment in trying to use space that was previously empty, and flesh its ideas out more. I like the extra places that were added for conveyor belts, and I like that you can get on that weird generator structure at was always the end of the right path. It also has this extremely impressive sense of vertical scale -- despite the GFZ recolor textures, it has a feeling that's distinct from it.

I think the only thing that really holds this level back for me are the isolated instances that feel really "stop & go" and flow-breaking... it feels bad to criticize this, since it's also somewhat tangled in the reasons I like this level. For instance, while I praised the high & low ground in the level, I really don't like the ledges that are just *barely* too high to climb in a lot of places -- for instance, I find it kind of weird how difficult it is to get on the left path because of how high the ledges are, to the point where it actually feels easier to just backtrack after taking the right path to get on it. There's also a lot of slopes, often accompanied with horizontal springs, that let you go really fast temporarily, but then put a wall again right after; I normally wouldn't mind that kind of trap every once in a while, but since it's done really often, I often just walk down them instead, which as I've said about GFZ2, just feels awkward. I get that stop & go is supposed to be the general pacing of this level, with the whole steam jet gimmick, but I think it takes it just a bit too far sometimes.

I can't help but think about barely-too-high ledges and flow-breaking walls after springs when I envision this level, but I can mostly look past it when playing it and I do have a great time on this level. It's a weird conflicted feeling, but I do think it's brilliance outshines all of those minor instances, so it definitely deserves that 4/5.

Techno Hill Zone, Act 2: 5/5

Don't have a lot to say about this one, it's basically just 2.1's but more fleshed out. All the changes have been pretty good! I like that Detons have that small "awaken" pause & sound cue too. If I *had* to complain, I'd say that the ending feels really awkward: you take some springs onto a platform where you wait for an elevator platform, then once you're up there you... wait for 3 more elevator platforms. It's far better than the cutscene that was there before, but still, can't help but feel "meh" towards that ending. Otherwise I can't really say much, it's a really good level rich with gimmicks and paths now.

I will admit though I'm a little sad about my Knuckles path feeling really "unpolished" now, in ways I'm pretty sure weren't problems when I was working on it... The quarter-pipe into the spikes, meant to prevent spindashing into that wall, flat-out doesn't hurt you any more. There's also a Spring Shell that somehow got under the goop in that area. The changed glide seems to have messed with the time it takes to glide across to the second conveyor at the turret, meaning you don't have as much time to get behind the second set of cover. The button where you lower all of the goop, under the tunnel it's in there's goop that seems to have lost its colormap. I hope all these issues can get addressed in a patch, it makes me pretty sad since it's basically my only meaningful contribution to the game :v

Techno Hill Zone, Act 3: 4/5

Not much has changed here, still one of SRB2's best fights because of its fun area denial, albeit a bit on the easy side. Though, I'm kind of sad that his pinch phase can't bounce on you to damage you anymore? Seems like a strange oversight, you can spindash cheese that phase again.

Deep Sea Zone, Act 1: 4/5

Extremely well done revamp here. The new crab enemy is an amazing hazard, and the billiards mines are put to great use. Jet Jaws do have the "old Buzz syndrome" -- tiny sprites & have no other tells to alert you of their presence, so they just kind of sneak up on you and force a hit, which is extremely annoying for Amy & Fang -- but that's more of the enemy's fault than the map's usage.

Most of my issues with this level comes with the rather lame emblem hunt. Making me hunt for doors & buttons is a problem IMO, since it means the radar does nothing to help, and the hints don't actually tell you anything, so it's mostly just blind. There's clearly symbols added to the buttons to try and make this a little better, but I actually think AGZ does this a lot better -- it has bright red icons, and doesn't try to also hide the doors. If you didn't mind that though, which is fair enough, let me try and ruin it for you: 3 of the emblems are all on one path. Not to mention, the one emblem is just "do all 3 paths", so that also includes this -- that's 4 emblems. The emblem hunt only felt worse once I noticed that everything of note was this one path.

However, emblems are mostly just a side attraction to get you to explore the level. The ones in this level fail at their job miserably, but judging just the level itself, I can't be too mad at it. The cleverness of the Amy emblem just makes me sad at the wasted potential here.

Deep Sea Zone, Act 2: 3/5

Other devs have noted that this level was simply cobbled together out of spare parts, and I think you can feel it when you compare it to Act 1. That said, it's still a really good level, and it has lots of cool set-pieces, it just needs better cohesion. Unlike most of the new Act 2's, besides I feel like this level doesn't have much of its own identity compared to Act 1, so hopefully more unique visuals or new gimmicks can pop up here in the future to set it apart some more. Something I do prefer on Act 2 over Act 1 is that it's more rich with character-specific paths, though!

Deep Sea Zone, Act 3: 3/5

This boss is maybe a bit too simplistic now, but it's still good fun. The missiles are prone to being "knocked back" into, which I actually think is fine but I kinda wish their sprites were bigger or otherwise more obvious to make it a bit easier to tell when that happens somehow. One of my wishes for this fight would be to make one Eggman Balloon always present, then make the pinch add more and more clones -- the last hit could be ALL of the holes get Eggman Balloons popping up!

Castle Eggman Zone, Act 1: 5/5

One of the best levels in the entire game. It's just an incredibly solid level that introduces tons of cool gimmicks and enemies, the atmospheric visuals of this act and the collapsing bridge are some of the most iconic things about 2.2. No complaints. Even after several replays trying to think of criticism, the only nitpick I can even think of is that it's somewhat lame that getting a 1-Up in the last area can interrupt the really atmospheric silence -- otherwise, its gameplay is spot on.

Castle Eggman Zone, Act 2: 4/5

CEZ's really gearing up to turn from one of the worst zones into one of the best! Really I've only docked a point solely because it's obvious what areas are unfinished, and the lag issues can get really bad in places. If those issues get fixed then this level's on par or even surpasses the first act in quality. The crazy polyobject + mace segments and the final climb up the tower really stand out to me.

Castle Eggman Zone, Act 3: 4/5

This boss got WAY better since 2.1. This boss is probably one of my favorites to play as Knuckles, since it's good to actually use your glide & climb abilities to get to the buttons. The Eggrobos add to the spectacle of the fight, and I think they're juuust enough of a nuisance without making it too hard to hit the boss itself. A big complaint I have though is that the maces continue to spin even after the cage is up. In 2.1 this made sense, since it was the only thing you had to worry about when bouncing back. However, now you're focused on the arena changing when the cage drops again. I'd like either idea but them put together feels kinda... rude.

Arid Canyon Zone, Act 1: 4/5

Another spectacular... well, it's apparently a "rework", but it's almost unrecognizable from the original map. It's enemies feel like legitimate threats now (especially those turtles!), and it has a ton of funny slapstick moments and it ACTUALLY shows its Looney Tunes inspiration. I'm also really fond of the rock formations getting that "stripe" pattern that really give it some more visual pop. This level's somewhat confusing to follow sometimes with how it loops over itself several times, and I know people will normally complain about that, but I've never minded it, especially as a one-off trait for a zone.

For nitpicks, there's a few big slopes that I've already talked enough about. I also think that the first path split is really awkward, I really dislike that huge quarter pipe that immediately goes into springs, it just doesn't feel that good to stop and charge and then continue on your way, and I couldn't tell how to progress as Amy the first time I tried it because the way forward's obscured by boxes. That whole area just doesn't feel that great.

Lastly, that rope pulley gauntlet at the end... it's good and it's iconic, I can't deny either of those things, so I don't think it should be removed at all... but it always felt like a flow-killer, if I'm playing on a complete save file I often play the entire level, then level select once I reach that last checkpoint. I'm not sure what to do about it to improve the flow there though, unfortunately. It's also home to the only Metal Sonic exclusive path in the game... and it's kind of soured me on the idea of them. There's not enough space to really maintain Dash Mode through there to break the spikes properly, so you have to charge it from a full spindash, and then release to go through the spikes. It just doesn't feel that good, and everyone I've seen doesn't figure it out and they just awkwardly jump off the slope onto that weird pillar on the side and then backtrack a little and they think THAT'S the Metal Sonic path. On top of that, I've had my game crash rarely a few times doing it the intended way, so that doesn't help things. :V

Arid Canyon Zone, Act 2: 4/5

Another one of my personal favorite levels in the game. I really like that Knuckles has a choice between TWO unique paths in the beginning of the level, that always felt really cool. There's definitely some areas that feel unfinished ala CEZ2 but they're not *as* glaring. Even though the minecart gauntlet at the end is comparable to the rope pulley gauntlet, for some reason it's actually one of the parts I look forward to the most. Maybe it's just the novelty of them hasn't worn off yet, but maybe it's also because it feels a little more active than the rope pulleys.

I definitely agree with what MascaraSnake had to say about the minecarts, although not to the same extent. There's a lot of potential for more complex minecarts that have multiple routes, but I wouldn't mind them staying simple either. My first playthrough I accidentally skipped all of the minecart segments except for the hard one at the end that's required -- while I did mostly fine on it, it definitely needs a required easy one to introduce the concept, as I needed a few lives to figure out how to even jump between the rails...

Arid Canyon Zone, Act 3: 3/5

Soooooooooooooo I feel bad about the rating on this one. I've always said this was my favorite 2.2 boss, and it WAS! But that was in-dev. I *swear* since then it was made way harder to hit Fang while he's bouncing around. There's a lot of times where I think I hit him from above his tails, yet I still get hurt, and I swear that didn't happen before. That kind of throws off the whole balance of the fight -- it means that trying to play aggressively punishes you hard, which means it turns into a waiting game. It makes his bomb bounce in the pinch phase also kind of a joke, since that was meant to make trying to hit him while bouncing harder, but now you're just waiting for him to not be bouncing, which means you don't really interact with the pinch phase changes.

Maybe it's just my blurry memory, but I swear this boss was better before -- PLEASE tell me it's a bug and it'll get patched out, because this is an easy 4/5, maybe even 5/5, if that got changed. As it stands though... it's actually still a good fight, but it really wears thin on repeat playthroughs.

Red Volcano Zone, Act 1: 5/5

This is one of my favorite levels in the game, often for the opposite reasons I love the other levels. While the other levels are very vertical and almost like sprawling sandboxes, this one is horizontal & focused, a bit more linear and a bit more obstacle course feeling. It works really well because it also has the gimmicks, enemies and hazards to really sell it, too. This level has a really cool & unique identity now with the prehistoric jungle motif and the really scary enemies (the Pterabytes and the Pyreflies are great area denial, the Dragonbombers made my jaw drop from the sheer scale of them, the Orbinauts have great placement). In general I like how much is going on in this level -- has the opposite feeling that 2.1 RVZ1 had!

Egg Rock Zone, Act 1: 3/5

On the other hand... this level's aged a lot. Since it comes right after RVZ1, it really highlights that it's the wrong way to do a linear obstacle course. There's only 2 "main" paths in this level, although there is a character-specific split on the left path. What this ultimately means though is that there's only really two ways to play this level. The first playthrough's fine but when you do six whole playthroughs, this one is really exhausting to replay. Save for one:

Egg Rock Zone, Act 2: 2/5

This has the same flaws as ERZ1, but turned up to 11. I feel bad giving this a 2/5 because the individual rooms and content aren't bad, but there's even less than ERZ1 that you can do to vary each playthrough. All of the content in it is still serviceable, or even great! But it's just really exhausting to do more than once. In my case, I only really enjoy the left path too, so this level always plays the same for me. It's not bad on a single playthrough in a void, but I'm looking at the game as a whole, and considering the fact that SRB2 obviously wants to encourage multiple playthroughs, this one is pretty bad, sorry.

Black Core Zone, Act 1: 3/5

I really like the concept of this level, but I do think that there's a few individual rooms that are pretty lame. With slopes I hope this level gets a rework that removes a lot of the basic platforms with something a little more interesting -- I usually play this level up to the anti-grav room with the block platforms before I get bored with it. I like the idea of the horizontal springs to try and make it fun, frantic and fast, but I don't feel like it highlights yet more jank physics since you can't carry that speed unless if you jump a bunch.

Black Core Zone, Act 2: 4/5

This boss has seen a notable improvement in telegraphing, and it turns out that's all this boss really needed! I still think it's a bit cheap that the best way to do the main phase is to time your jumps to basically skip the part where he floats around and dodges, but I'm not sure how to fix that without getting rid of the "double hit" trait entirely, since if you made it harder it'd get really tedious really fast, as it already is for Amy. The pinch phase bounce attack is far more fun to dodge as well, as it's more clear that you're attempting to "bait" his angle into being good, and the bumper sounds make it clear what's happening & where he is even if he's off-screen.

Black Core Zone, Act 3: 3/5

In 2.1, this would've been a clear 4/5 for simply not being 2.0 Brak, buuut over time the flaws are getting a little more obvious. I think the base mechanics of this fight are good, but man, does the Crawla-style random chase feel AWFUL when you have to bait a target, and only gets worse when he gets faster since it starts to look like he's teleporting. Makes me wish for just a simple straight-forward chase, it just doesn't feel good anymore. Otherwise I still wanna like this boss for not hiding it's weak point but still managing to be tough.

Conclusion:

The actual levels are extremely well-polished and feels incredibly cohesive now. There's very few maps I dislike, and the mapping team should really pat themselves on the back for making it extremely solid. A lot of content here I honestly had to struggle to come up with stuff to criticize! There's still a few blemishes in there, and I feel like there's some segments that are more held back by the actual gameplay rather than being the map's fault, but really good show otherwise!


Spoiler: Bonus/Challenge stages
Haunted Heights Zone: 5/5

Do I have to say anything about this one? Amazing gimmicks, tons of content, filled to the brim with alternative paths... easily the winner of the "Challenge Stages" level set. Nothing at all that I dislike here, and a big contender for best level in the game.

Aerial Garden Zone: 3/5

This level is the poster child for "visuals ruining a map". Everything is beige on beige, which makes it difficult to do the platforming, and the platforming is basic block platforming that isn't contextualized by anything. My favorite areas in the level are the outdoor ones simply because you get to see some color other than beige. None of this level has any identity to it really, it all blends together. Giving someone directions on this map is impossible because every room is basically the same idea. I don't mind simple basic platforming but it's just way too long in the tooth -- it's not really surprising that this is the result of combining 4 acts of a already pretty samey zone.

I was tempted to give this a 2, but I decided to give it an extra point because it's actually legitimately enjoyable as Tails. It's also why I like the new bee enemies, they make it even more engaging as Tails. It's a really slow, drawn out level that feels like it runs out of ideas past the first minute when you play as anyone else, though.

Azure Temple Zone: 2/5

Features very similar problems to AGZ, turned up to 11. No visual differentiation between areas, and same color textures all over, which is only made worse by the colormap in the entire level making everything blue. I'm legitimately baffled at the choice behind the new gargoyle sprites, as they actually make this level legitimately worse than it was in 2.1, because they're blue on blue now and makes cheap hits even more frequent. Features lots of padding with repeated setups; admittedly not as much, but still a problem IMO. I can't really express my disappointment in words when I played the Knuckles path for the first time and learned that it has the same setup as a Tails emblem, it just felt lazy. I like the gargoyle fire corridors but they really drag on and on and on. On the left path, when it starts to use blind turns into more gargoyle fire, that's when it starts to overstay its welcome.

Frozen Hillside Zone: 3/5

It's OK. I used to be more excited for this level but... eh. I really dislike the snow gimmick for taking so long to even move out of, I think it'd be okay if it simply killed your jump. It honestly just kind of feels like "the level you have to play to unlock Amy", but honestly if that was given to any other unlockable level (except maybe Haunted Heights) I would be a lot more upset, so it's fine I guess.

Pipe Towers Zone: 3/5

I can pretty much give this the same review as Frozen Hillside: "meh". The old Mario Koopa Blast wasn't good at all, but Pipe Towers is just... there. It doesn't really feel like it has any identity, it's just an SRB2 level that happens to use the Mario textures that are in the game. I do remember seeing a retexture of it that used purely SMB1 rips, and honestly I felt looked way more pleasing than its current texture set, because it actually did it's job of reminding you of the Mario games! As it stands, it'd be unfair to say "it's not worth anyone's time", but I don't think anyone plays this one more than once.

Forest Fortress Zone: 4/5

This one probably is going to always stand in the shadow of actual CEZ1, but it's hard to look down on it still because it's a good level. Don't really have much else to say about it; it's not impressive but it has it's moments and it's clearly the best of the "Bonus Stages" level set.

Techno Legacy Zone: 1/5

Not worth anyone's time. It doesn't really do a good job as a fun & unique level to get as an unlockable, because a lot of its content is reprised in actual THZ2 but done better. It also doesn't do a good job as a fun historical preservation to show people how far the game's come, because it makes random changes everywhere for "better playability", even though if we wanted a good & fun THZ2 we'd play actual THZ2. Final Demo Zone would still be a weird unlockable, but I actually gave that far more time than I did Techno Legacy simply because it keeps the flaws intact instead of trying to half-assedly patch over them in a way that doesn't fix anything.

Conclusion:

SRB2 needs a lot of work on its post game. Only Haunted Heights Zone and Forest Fortress Zone stand out to me, the rest I just beat for a complete save.


Spoiler: NiGHTS
Floral Field Zone: 3/5

Not sure how to feel about the new path, because on one hand it adds a bit of replay value, but on the other hand it feels messy and I'm not sure how to get on it cleanly. Otherwise though it's a fair starting level.

Toxic Plateau Zone: 5/5

One of the best NiGHTS levels in the game! Enjoyable to run through, has lots of cleanly integrated alternative paths, and really fun to score attack. No complaints!

Flooded Cove Zone: 4/5

It's pretty good. I like a lot of the new set-pieces but I feel like this one drags on a little long now, and the ending feels really abrupt and easy to pass.

Cavern Fortress Zone: 5/5

This one was already one of my favorites in 2.1. It didn't get changed much but the changes it did receive are all excellent. The new ending segment in particular feels cool to go through and is much more fair. No complaints here either.

Dusty Wasteland Zone: 4/5

Really good & fun base layout, but a few minor irks here and there. I really dislike the strong colormap over the whole level -- it LOOKS amazing, but it washes out the green of the cacti, which means it's hard to see them coming, especially in the final stretch, which can feel really cheap. Not sure how I feel about it being stingy about spheres either, I always seem to come out 1 short on a bad run when I get to the capsule, but it's not really a bad thing either I suppose.

Magma Caves Zone: 4/5

Really enjoyable layout, but the visuals and directioning can be really bad. I know that jungle RVZ was kind of a last-second decision to put in for 2.2 and there probably wasn't enough time to retrofit any of the jungle aspects, but it's still very red & orange all over, which makes it hard to discern a lot of the geometry & hazards. Even without new textures, having some better contrast between dark caves & bright lava would do a lot for interpreting the layout -- there's a few areas that try to do this with darker red textures, but the effect would be much more pronounced with an actual darker light level. Getting some of the jungle vines & grass textures into it for 2.3 would do also do wonders for a lot of areas. One of the biggest problem areas for visuals is the final stretch with the lava falls, it feels genuinely hard to look at because it's just flashy red and orange moving at an incredibly fast speed. Near the beginning there's some very sharp 90 degree turns into the lava hazards, which makes it pretty easy to accidentally clip into them if you don't know what you're doing. It still has lots of potential though and feels really fun when you get used to it, which is why I still gave it a 4/5 despite all of these annoyances.

Egg Satellite Zone: 4/5

Heart-poundingly fun and fast layout with some really cool hazards. Very happy that the directioning issues from 2.1 were addressed, like the blind turns into lasers, makes this one even stronger. I like a lot of the "troll" bits added too, like the Link Freeze being directly after the capsule, and the extra bumpers at the end that only catch 2.1 vets off guard. However, there's still a few problem bits remaining. The crushers are a really flawed gimmick in NiGHTS due to how you bounce off of the walls -- getting crushed means you get caught on the crusher in a way that doesn't feel intended, THEN you get crushed and lose all of your speed and lose 5 seconds off the timer. Because you're in that awkward spot too, you get into some really unfortunate bad luck moments where you can get crushed twice in a row too, mainly if you're not used to the gimmick yet. It just feels extra punishing in a way that doesn't feel justified -- I would like to see these get replaced with Launch Base style laser shooters that shoot only when you go under them. I also feel like the laser grid replacement for the disappearing blocks are even more blind and feel a bit awkward.

Black Hole Zone: 2/5

This level is made of crushers. I already expressed why I think that gimmick is extremely flawed in SS7. Most of this level just challenges the NiGHTS bounce physics in general, with most of the cheap-feeling hits being from lightly clipping an edge and bouncing off of it. It just doesn't feel great -- if you bounce you might as well restart to get any of the emblems, which I don't really like; I like a little bit of leniency in my games. It just feels like a shame because I REALLY like the timing based blocks, which is why I'm a little sad that area was removed from SS7 (a level that I actually want to play), and I also like the concept of stuff like the donut crushers if they worked a little better with the physics. I just can't help but wonder how this level would play if all of the hazard floors were lasers instead.

The aesthetics also just do not gel with me, and legitimately make it difficult to want to grind out the records for it. I hate the "cyber void" texture set, even the best usage of it isn't appealing or interesting, and not every area uses it at its best. It really needs a visual rework, there's far better ways to communicate a dark abstract void than just "square grid". (side note: I also really hate that the tutorial also uses it, it's a terrible first impression)

The music... PLEASE, for the love of god, use SPEC8 hidden in the game files. The droning loud organ from BHZ is legitimately *exhausting*, especially when it loops. SPEC8 uses less grating instruments AND it fits the special stage leitmotif. I'm legitimately tilted that it's unused.

Christmas Chime Zone: 1/5

Please just port 2.1's SS5 but with a Christmas skin. 2.1 SS5 is the same thing, but without the padding and fluff and wasted areas, and the strict time limit of that version of the level made it really fast and frantic; it still wouldn't be a GREAT level but it's at least distinct from the other NiGHTS stages. Christmas Chime as it stands, however, is Spring Hill but without the gimmick that made it interesting. I don't mind on-foot gimmicks being phased out, but it isn't an interesting layout.

Dream Hill Zone: 5/5

Probably the best item placement of all of the NiGHTS maps -- it has really good telegraphing without directly spamming items, which makes it challenging to maintain link, even though the stage is easy. It's items are also well thought out, which means it's easy to tell which items belong to the current mare. The multi-mare concept is executed perfectly, it makes it feel like an unused level from NiD! I really, really wish for a lot more multi-mare that are executed like this, it's fun, fast & frantic going for score on this one. Can't think of a single bad thing about this one, this the NiGHTS level I replay the most often.

Alpine Paradise Zone, Act 1: 3/5

Botanic Serenity, but without a lot of things I thought were extremely charming about the original level, like all of the easter eggs, the emerald collection, etc. It's still an alright layout, but it doesn't really have an impact on me anymore... it just took way too long to finally replace Spring Hill :V

Alpine Paradise Zone, Act 2: 2/5

Same thing as Act 1 but jankier. The multi-mare items are placed extremely messy, so the item layout feels very claustrophobic and hard to follow, otherwise it's the same level. I say just keep Act 1. I like the idea of a NiGHTS zone, but it should have more distinct acts.

Conclusion:

I feel like the NiGHTS stages' quality match up with the base gameplay's -- the main campaign's stages are extremely consistent and of great quality, but the post-game is weak minus the stand-out exceptions.


Spoiler: Multiplayer
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Old 01-10-2020   #13
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I may be the only one who really liked Techno Legacy. It was really nostalgic, and the new green liquid both telegraphed thats its different from the bouncy purple slime, and also makes the level feel fresh. Alternate colors have always been appealing to me, especially if I've known something to be one color for so long. Like a shiny Pokemon but without the RNG.

While something like toaster's Final Demo Zone may have been a better unlock, I nonetheless really liked that old THZ2 made it in.
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Old 01-27-2020   #14
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Screw it, might aswell. I'll only cover up to everything I have unlocked currently.
Spoiler: Main Story

Greenflower Hill Zone 1: 9/10
This level serves to be the average tutorial level, and honestly, this zone perfectly encapsulates it. It's not too hard, but not too easy, either. Solid zone.

Greenflower Hill Zone 2: 9/10
Again, another tutorial level, but this has other pathways that you can take. I'd consider this better than GFZ1, but will still get the 9 out of 10, mainly because it has gotten minor changes from 2.1.

Greenflower Hill Zone 3: 8/10
For the first boss, this is still a bit difficult to me, and I like it. It serves as a great tutorial boss, and teaches the player on how to act in combat. Pinch phase is also excellent and somehow difficult.

Techno Hill Zone 1: 9/10
The game starts to get serious here, and this makes for one of my current favorite zones in the game. The music adds perfectly to the atmosphere and captures the feel like your in some dilapidated factory. Good stuff.

Techno Hill Zone 2: 9/10
This zone currently is my second favorite. Whilst not majorly changed from 2.1, with the exception of slopes, this zone really dawned on me. I'm ashamed the elevator is gone, but the extra platforming at least makes the zone more fast paced.

Techno Hill Zone 3: 7/10
This is what I would consider the second easiest boss in the game, currently. Again, majorly unchanged from 2.1, minus the goop no longer hurting after the boss (thank god).

Deep Sea Zone 1: 10/10
This zone is currently my favorite in the game, and it got a huge overhaul. 2.1 DSZ1 was bland, boring, slow, and just dragged on. With the overhaul, however, it becomes a beautiful, thrilling, fast-paced water level. Honestly one of the few water levels in a Sonic game I like, currently.

Deep Sea Zone 2: 9/10
After DSZ1, this next zone calms down from the fast pace and throws in some puzzles, which all are optional, and serves as alternate paths, which is what I think puzzles should be in a Sonic game.
Spoiler:
This is what I want water levels to be in general. Fast paced at first, but then cooled down, and more puzzle based.


Deep Sea Zone 3: 6/10
Since this boss got reworked, it has been made a lot more tolerable, yet much more easy. Nothing else I can really say.

Castle Eggman Zone 1: 10/10
My lord, the atmosphere on this one is amazing. The music captures a feeling like you are about to storm a castle. And the bridge section, MY GOD, the bridge section is one of my favorite parts of the game. The zone is quite long as Sonic, though.

Castle Eggman Zone 2: 7/10
This zone is fine, just boring, if anything. Nothing much I can really say apart from the glitchy floating platforms and how platforming based it is.

Castle Eggman Zone 3: 5/10
A tricky boss, at first glance. Then you realize you can jump over the spikeballs in the first phase, and the fight is piss easy. Apart from that, it's just Waiting Game: The Boss.

Arid Canyon Zone 1: 8/10
CEZ1, but instead of castle, it's canyon. My opinion is basically the same with this for CEZ1, but instead of the "storming the castle" feel, I got a Road Runner vibe. Remove the bridge section part and it's basically the same, but a bit lackluster.

Arid Canyon Zone 2: 6/10
Same deal with CEZ2. Just boring.

Arid Canyon Zone 3: 9/10
Fang actually surprised me on my first playthrough. Then when I saw that I unlocked him I was just apalled. Other than that, it's a decent boss. Love how he gets sign'd at the end.

Red Volcano Zone 1: 8/10
Finally, this zone got a makeover it deserved. The prehistoric feel encapsulates this stage perfectly, and it's one joyride throughout.

Egg Rock and Black Core: 5/10
I won't really go over this, since both of these zones barely got changed since 2.1.


Spoiler: Bonus Levels

Frozen Hillside Zone: 6/10
Same deal with CEZ2, again. Just boring, unlocking Amy was a nice addition, though.

Pipe Towers Zone: 5/10
Eh, this is just a generic Mario level in SRB2, nothing spectacular.


Spoiler: Challenge Levels

Haunted Heights Zone: 9/10
I honestly loved this one! It's gimmick was nice, and it was a blast to play through! Both the enemies and music capture the atmosphere perfectly.

Aerial Garden Zone: 3/10
And here is where the 5 or above rating streak ends, sadly. This zone has overstayed it's welcome and is just very old and too long. And don't get me started on those fucking bees.

Azure Temple Zone: -10/10
Fuck this one. It's like Aerial Garden but underwater. It drags on for way too long, cruel statue placements, and the entire level is underwater, meaning you have to have a bubble shield on you at all times or constantly get bubbles so you won't drown. This zone is the reason my Sonic and Tails save is at 4 lives. I started with 16, ended with 4.


Spoiler: NiGHTS Bonus Stages

Dream Hill Zone: 7/10
I've never really played NiGHTS, even though I should, but this Zone was decent. Nothing really to write home about.

Last edited by Kosmo; 02-15-2020 at 01:59 AM.
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Old 01-27-2020   #15
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Spoiler: Campaign


Greenflower Act 1
8/10 - Some of the biggest improvement to any zone in the game was seen at the start, there's just so much more detail and liveliness despite the layout not changing much. It was fun to explore the whole thing again. This was also where I saw just how much of a difference the slopes make. This was also where I found the emblems were all in different spots compared to 2.21, making the search for them feel fresh.

Greenflower Act 2
8/10 - This act continued to showcase a high expectation for the rest of the campaign. Again, the slopes, the new textures, and the new music added a lot and had a good example of the new physics. This was also the first act that seriously introduces the new character path possibilities (Amy). Like the first zone, even the layout was changed enough to make it fun to explore again.

Greenflower Act 3
7/10 - The boss appeared to be a little harder than I remembered it, but it got a lot easier when I figured out his sequence.

Techno Hill Act 1
7/10 - The transformation was not as exhaustive, but it still contained a fair bump in detail and had some interesting new paths. I found the expanded factory sections nice and had some nice touches like the stuck platform near the end.

Techno Hill Act 2
9/10 - Now the zone is less linear and has not one, not two, but three possible paths in the first section (with one being character specific). I was kind of taken aback with the elevator gone, but there were quite a few new areas (off the main path) where the way in is not always obvious. The redesigned areas make it one of the more technically impressive levels.

Techno Hill Act 3
6/10 - Not much changed here other than the slime color, he is still hard to line up with for a hit, but overall he's still pretty easy.

Deep Sea Act 1
9/10 - A zone where the old layout was almost completely thrown out and redone, the new texture scheme and the underwater design gave it a lot more atmosphere. There was a bit of a hiccup the first time around where I struggled to find bubbles, but it became a lot more enjoyable in subsequent playthroughs. In addition, there were a lot of secrets and it took me quite a while to find them all. In the one room left from the 2.21 version of the zone, you are reminded of the new technical features with the V's sides now being slanted instead of blocky.

Deep Sea Act 2
6/10 - One of the less transformed levels until Egg Rock, it was okay and there are many new paths, but it didn't quite hit the high notes of earlier stages. Now that I think about, I do not think there is a fully unified layout scheme among the many large and varied rooms you traverse. At least all of the paths this time clearly showed there was a way forward, as the front of the block maze in version 2.21 initially looked like a dead-end.

Deep Sea Act 3
7/10 - The most annoying aspect of the 2.21 version was gone (I lost a lost of lives to that electrified water), but now it is where it could use a little more difficulty.

Castle Eggman Act 1
9/10 - A very impressive act with a layout that you couldn't believe could've been done in the Doom engine, vast outdoor areas, abundant slope and FoF usage, and abundant details made this far better than the 2.21 version and one of the best zones. The new enemy AI also provided actual challenge while eliminating the frustration in destroying the guards. The emblems were well hidden, and the bridge section was one of the most surprisingly good mechanics new to the game.

Castle Eggman Act 2
10/10 - The campaign appears to reach its peak here as far as technical achievement is concerned, the level was huge and many parts wouldn't be completely out of place in a true 3D game engine. There was a lot of flexibility in where you could go and it had a lot of areas hidden away to encourage exploration. It didn't feel like it was made in a room-based engine like Doom, especially when noting the outdoor areas. Now my Ryzen 2700X processor easily handled the level without lag, though it would be nice to make sure it went faster for everyone without sacrificing any quality.

Castle Eggman Act 3
7/10 - The most frustrating aspects of the boss are gone, but it still represented a notable difficulty spike from Deep Sea's boss. Overall, it was at least better than it was before.

Arid Canyon Act 1
7/10 - The new texturing, layout changes, details, and gimmicks made this a pretty straightforward upgrade from the previous iteration. The cacti actually hurt when touched now and are no longer the plain blocky things they used to be. The roads and the cabins also gave a more complete feel in general, though the only thing is that the rope pulleys can be even harder to handle with you now holding onto any momentum you have when jumping. I haven't even attempted to complete with Sonic as a result.

Arid Canyon Act 2
7/10 - The mine theme has been done many times, but it provides something new to the SRB2 universe and makes this entirely new zone a nice followup to the previous one. The 3D skyboxes were amazing to look at, but the fact you can skip all minecarts until the last one means the actual mechanic is a recipe for losing many lives due to lack of experience. I got past the final cart eventually and now know how they work, but I could see new players having a hard time.

Arid Canyon Act 3
8/10 - I honestly did not know there was a character named Fang in the Sonic universe, so fighting him was completely new to me. Overall he was a bit of a challenge to get past, but I at least didn't fall off of the train.

Red Volcano Act 1
8/10 - The fact that this was completely overhauled with a new theme and with more emphasis on outdoor areas was a plus, and I did like how it was no longer more or less a series of lava-based challenges from start to finish. The rolling rocks were interesting and the rocket at the end provided a nifty looking transition to the remaining stages. Now I will wait to see Acts 2 and 3 completed.

Egg Rock Act 1
6/10 - Other than the music, the stage got no design changes to take advantage of 2.2's features, and it showed in the lack of slopes. The mechanics are still challenging though and the spinning bots are at least easier to get past than they used to be. The technical aspect in some spots are still decent, giving the space station look with the rock its embedded in clearly visible from the windows.

Egg Rock Act 2
6/10 - I might be the only one who found the shrink section nifty, but the removal of that and the laser boss made this stage a bit faster to get through (by way of shortening the part beyond the path merge). Again, didn't notice any upgrades beyond new enemy sprites and the music, wished it at least received the changes seen in the 20th anniversary video.

Black Rock Core Act 1
6/10 - Beating Metal Sonic becomes a bit easier once you know the layout, but overall it's a pretty standard-issue 2.21 styled level with various challenge rooms scattered throughout. However, I do like that you don't need to go from Egg Rock Act 1 to the end in one session now.

Black Rock Core Act 2
7/10 - While I still flew out of the area a few times, the boss was still quite challenging while not being unfair. I don't have much opinion on the arena size, but I was surprised to notice the new anticipation run after the lack of changes in the last few zones.

Black Rock Core Act 3
6/10 - I can't put my finger on it, but Brak appeared to be a little easier to defeat than when I played him in 2.21, maybe it was my increased skill and the fact that I spend more time behind the circular blocks, but I didn't lose near as many lives. He could use an update though to meet the rising standards.


I will review the unlockables later, as this took me quite a while to write.
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Old 02-09-2020   #16
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The only stages I don't like are Techno Hill (1, 2, and 3)

I don't like the overall graphics and colors of the stage, I know it's themed to be less saturated, but it's kinda boring graphically imo. I'd prefer if the pink water took less momentum for you to go farther in. The other suggestion I made was having you go through the water completely like its normal water, but when you jump you're carried to the top and you jump out with some height momentum, but that'd change too much and require a whole redesign. Maybe add some diagonal springs after the steams that push you down to the ground to keep your momentum. I don't really know what I dislike about this stage, but I just find it boring and slower. Act 2 is one of the bigger stages I suppose, multiple paths. A lot of gray. With Act 3... I just don't like the boss. It's pretty easy, kinda boring, the "pinch mode" is actually even easier than the normal mode because he jumps at you, making the only button needed to press is the jump button. Instead of having to chase him around, he comes to you, making things easier. The dropping chemical gimmick is a take on chemical plant's boss i assume. It's kinda a lame idea, putting hitboxes on the ground, I mean... I just don't like the idea either. They're not really hard to avoid, not that they need to be, or that I want that. But I think they can do something else with the boss to make it better.
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Old 02-15-2020   #17
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THZ definitely feels like a zone that still feels as if it were made in an engine without slopes, even though it does have them. Something about the design feels archaic compared to, say, ACZ, but of course a ton of the level design dates back from damn near a decade ago, so what can ya do. I expect that the whole zone will be redesigned eventually.
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Old 02-15-2020   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frostav View Post
THZ definitely feels like a zone that still feels as if it were made in an engine without slopes, even though it does have them. Something about the design feels archaic compared to, say, ACZ, but of course a ton of the level design dates back from damn near a decade ago, so what can ya do. I expect that the whole zone will be redesigned eventually.
Ha. While it's obviously been significantly updated, the core design of THZ1 dates back to... 2001, I think? Nearly 20 years ago.
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Old 02-15-2020   #19
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Personally, if anything, I think things like the quarter-pipe ramp near the beginning of THZ2 are completely unnecessary additions done just to say "look we have slopes now!" and some of that could be toned down for 2.3. That one in particular is silly because now even more of the cast can skip the pusher room completely (and with the speed shoes, everyone can). And having a zone that isn't coated in slopes everywhere is fine.
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Old 02-15-2020   #20
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Originally Posted by fickleheart View Post
Personally, if anything, I think things like the quarter-pipe ramp near the beginning of THZ2 are completely unnecessary additions done just to say "look we have slopes now!" and some of that could be toned down for 2.3. That one in particular is silly because now even more of the cast can skip the pusher room completely (and with the speed shoes, everyone can). And having a zone that isn't coated in slopes everywhere is fine.
Nah. That's a positive, not a negative. That's a neat shortcut that lets skilled players skip a slower-paced platforming section if and only if the player is familiar with the level, observant, and know how to take advantage of slope physics.

Stuff like that is the SRB2 equivalent of the shortcut in Chemical Plant where you can skip the infamous "platform up moving blocks as the water rises" section by spindash-jumping up a slope right before then.
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