May/June 2014 Voting

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Dutch word-doer
Well, to be honest it isn't the first time that I play these levels when I upload videos of them.

My videos are supposed to be a sort-of walkthrough style also showing as much of the levels as possible because if it was about me going through them for the first time the videos would take too long, and it isn't very helpful if I'd just stumble around. That's also why I found almost all of the level' Emblems in the videos.

If I make a mistake in them or die, it's probably because I have trouble with that part in general. It's also pretty helpful showing the annoying parts and also visual glitches that may appear and such.
Shit, I feel like I'm living in the bizarro world. What's with all these reviews and why do I have a completely different opinion than everyone else?

Single Player, ranked from best to worst.

1. Clock Towers Zone
2. Sand Valley Zone
3. Egg Outposts Zone
4. Glacial Gear Zone
5. Seraphic Skylands Zone
6. Emerald Lake Zone
7. Midnight Caves Zone
8. Sacred Woodland Zone
9. Floral Road Zone

Clock Towers Zone: Wow. It's been a long time since I was completely blown away by an SRB2 map. I legitimately thought it was impossible to make a decent, let alone good, 2D level in this game, but you guys totally proved me wrong. The map has some issues—the enemies are annoying, and I wish that I didn't have to use the strafe keys to move—but as a whole this is just amazing. All the other levels I'll forget in time, but this one I certainly won't.

Sand Valley Zone: This is how you do a gimmick! You introduce the concept in simple ways early in the level, and then make it more complicated and add more layers to it as the level progresses. A lesser level would just use the "climbing sand waterfalls" as fancy springs. This level was great. I didn't like the platforms that rise when you spindash, though. There needs to be a way to tell the player that that's how they work, because if I hadn't played Seraphic Skylands first, I probably wouldn't have figured it out.

Egg Outposts Zone: I played and ranked all these levels before I read the other reviews in this topic, so I was absolutely shocked to see this level so low in so many people's lists. I had to go back and play it again to try to understand everyone's problems with it. It was on my second playthrough that I came across the beautiful but horribly designed crystal room, along with other flaws. That said, this doesn't take away from my experiences during my first playthrough, which was a blast. I loved parts like the platforming upper-path/water ride lower-path, and the large room with the bouncy mushrooms and how pressing a button activates those lasers that completely changes the pace and structure of the room that you just finished playing through and… yeah. The level was a lot of fun for me. The level has its flaws, and I could see how falling from the large, vertical room would be aggravating (good thing I never fell), and the whole map structure is a bit haphazard in general… but it was fun. I really enjoyed it.

Glacial Gear Zone: This was a great level. The bouncing floor was a good gimmick, and I particularly loved the 2D section where you bounce on the floor and then the wall, like a wall jump. That was fun. I also liked your use of the THZ slime in the 2D sections as well; I always felt that that slime could be used in far more ways than THZ itself uses it, so I was glad to see your level take advantage of it. Now, with that said, those enemies were horrible. Seriously, I hated them. Even worse than Robo-Hoods, even though you can see their projectile. See this level ranking? This is more like where the level would be in theory if those enemies didn't just suck all the enjoyment out of my playthrough. It really sucks to see a level that I'm so close to loving so much be ruined like that.

Seraphic Skylands Zone: Pretty much the exact opposite of Egg Outposts Zone. The level is beautiful and structurally perfect, but to me it just… has no soul. It looks amazing, but it wasn't actually fun to play through. I'm going to make a weird comparison and compare it to some of the "puzzles" in modern Zelda games. You know those sections where you open a door to a room by shooting four crystals in plain sight? It takes no effort or thought, it's just busywork before you can reach the next room? This whole level kind of felt like that to me. I run where I'm supposed to run, jump where I'm supposed to jump, admire the pretty scenery as I effortlessly progress through the level, and then it's over. By the way, like in Sand Valley, I hate those platforms you have to spindash on to make them rise. At first I had thought the map was broken, or I was accidentally going backward through an alt path or something.

Emerald Lake Zone: Once again I had to replay this level because it seemed a lot of people disliked this stage a lot more than I did. I really loved the feel of this level, even though I acknowledge that the actual design is very simplistic. The music, textures, enemies, and even parts of the level design (like this part) got me really nostalgic for Sonic 2. This is exactly what I would've imagined a 3D Sonic game to be like back in the days where the 2D games were all there was. There's a certain aspect of this level that makes in feel different from normal SRB2, though I'm not sure what. I also thought the goal sign being visible at the very beginning of the level was hilarious.

Midnight Caves Zone: I can't really think of much to say about this one. It's a perfectly decent level that does nothing wrong, but also doesn't do much to make it stand out in my mind. I liked it, but that's really all I can say. I did find it a little bit short, though. I'm curious if the level would've been better if all the alt paths were merged into one big path. I'm not sure.

Sacred Woodland Zone: This level has a good atmosphere. Level design-wise, it's on about the same level as Midnight Caves, but this map loses points for all the teleporting, the black spike balls in that one section that are hard to see, and ending the stage with a battle with Brak. Why would I have any interest in fighting (an easier version of) Brak again?

Floral Road Zone: The thing where your top speed increases when you get enough rings is a neat idea in theory, but it doesn't really work in practice. The level itself is mostly a bunch of large, empty-ish rooms that have an exit somewhere that leads to more large, empty-ish rooms. It was the least memorable stage in the contest for me.
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The Tortured Planet guy
I just gotta say that I still really don't like the new rating system. Far simpler and more intuitive to give numerical scores, but whatever. Most of these would end up with at least a seven anyway, this was a really fantastic crop of levels and certainly worthy of the first 2.1 contest. Kudos to everyone.

EDITED: Clock Tower Zone has been moved from first place to third place.
EDITED AGAIN: Clock Tower Zone back to first place, and Emerald Lake Zone 2 has been moved down to sixth place.

1. Clock Tower Zone by RedEnchilada and Pac
2. Seraphic Skylands Zone by Spherallic
3. Glacier Gear Zone by toaster
4. Sacred Woodland by HAPPYFOX
5. Sand Valley Zone by Chrome
6. Emerald Lake Zone, Act 2 by glaber
7. Midnight Caves Zone by Chaobrother
8. Egg Outposts Zone by Tyrannic
9. Floral Road Zone, Act 1 by "Lat'"

Aaaaaand here are the extended reviews.

1. Clock Tower Zone by RedEnchilada and Pac
I've been out of the SRB2 Loop WAAAAY too long. I had no idea there was an Axis2D LUA script that could transform 2D mode to include curving and bifurcated paths. This is completely blowing my mind. But the level was hamstrung by odd control quirks. I play as Knuckles a lot, as you may have noticed, and I found that often when I jumped from a wall I'm climbing on, I was unable to glide in that direction...the glide forced me back towards the wall, which made some sections impossible to complete. Dunno if this is a bug in SRB2 or in your scripts, but it was a serious problem. I can't bring myself to ding you for it though.

EDIT: RedEnchilada tells me this is an issue related to Analog Mode. I'm restoring Clock Towers to first place in light of this.

2. Seraphic Skylands Zone by Spherallic
Welp, I was lost half of the time, but I frankly didn't care because I was having a blast. This might seriously be the most gorgeous level I've ever seen in SRB2, and there were quite a few times I literally gasped at the visuals. Gameplay wasn't too shabby either (obviously, or I wouldn't have put it so high up).

It was a great platform level...simple mechanics with increasingly complex execution, like the, uh, "blowers" (dunno what to call 'em). I love how you managed to make platforming's something that gets harder every year, it's the oldest challenge in the SRB2 book, and you've added some thrilling twists to it. I'm still trying to decide whether or not I like your choice to create an entire lengthy path for the purpose of collecting an emblem, but I'm leaning towards liking it.

My only advice is, make the layout a bit more intuitive, I went around in quite a few circles.

3. Glacier Gear Zone, by toaster
You, good sir, have just demonstrated exactly how amazing 2.1 can be. The new mechanics, the custom enemies, the seamless integration of graphics, were all amazing. I especially loved the bouncy 2D grid section that FINALLY demonstrated a challenge that really FEELS like it belongs in 2D. My favorite thing about this level was how creative you were at punishing the player for not making a jump or timing a hazard correctly. Rather than killing the player, you forcibly divert him onto another path! That is fortunate because this level is VERY punishing.

My main complaint is that the puzzles are very unintuitive at times...the Knux path, for instance, did not make it obvious that you were supposed to glide over that red laser field and then dart between the glass partitions quickly enough to reach the platform on the other side (yes, SpiritCrusher, I know it's not really a Knux path, but the other path blocks Knuckles, meaning he has to take this route). However, as I say, your level does a very good job of making sure that most mistakes aren't fatal, and some are even opportune.

4. Sacred Woodland by HAPPYFOX
Wow. This level did some truly amazing things with the swampy woodland textures. If nothing else, you've reminded us exactly why Castle Eggman Zone currently sucks: it's a flat and empty thokfest with sparse visuals and lots of running. Your level is the opposite...there's something to see and something to do every which way you look, and your theme transitions are great. Plus, you use Trapgoyles artfully and in gradually more difficult ways.

That said, I have some very big beefs with this level. The first thing is the transitions. The silent teleports in dark passageways really are jarring. And I DEFINITELY did not expect to see a high-tech teleporter leading me to Brak Eggman in the middle of an ancient stone temple. My second complaint is with that awful hallway with the spikeballs. Those spikeballs are the exact same color as the stone floor and it is impossible to see or avoid them. Also, I'm not convinced I even know what that room is for in the first place. But, all in all, a very artful and entertaining level that relied on novel mechanics, kept me on my toes, and encouraged me to explore. Please expand on this.

5. Sand Valley Zone by Chrome
A nice spin on desert/mine shaft theming. I thought it was a little heavy on the BASHes (frankly I've never liked those enemies, they annoy the hell out of me) but I can live with that. Any level that contains extreme vertical variation tends to get props from me (as long as it's tasteful and sensible, as it is here). No particularly outstanding mechanics here (aside from the interesting use of multiple types of quicksand) but gameplay is solid and entertaining nonetheless.

6. Emerald Lake Zone, Act 2 by glaber
I'll be damned. A retro level that actually looks, plays, and feels good. Nearly every retro-style level I've seen up to this point (across all versions of SRB2) had serious design flaws like flatness and the dreaded "2D implemented in 3D" monstrosity. But no, this one was actually fun and fit the mechanics of SRB2 could run, jump, and explore. I have to agree with RedEnchilada: I like simple levels as long as there's plenty to explore, even if only for the sake of exploring. It's why I still love GFZ2 after all these years.

Nevertheless, all the flaws with this level have still been laid bare by everyone else: there are a million other levels where exploration is possible, many of which are far more interesting than this, so it's eminently forgettable even with all the custom sprites and sounds. And by the way, thanks for reminding us that you invented a little pseudoslope mechanic, we already remembered and we weren't that interested the first time. I know I said I liked your slopes, Glaber, but only as a little quirky experiment in Medivo Zone...they are tacked on and pointless here.

7. Midnight Caves Zone by Chaobrother
In many other contests I'm sure this would have been one of the better levels, but you had the misfortune to run against a bunch of seriously strong, bold, and innovative creations that push the envelope at every turn. There are many parts of this level I like, particularly the dramatic cliff area at the beginning, but it doesn't stand out, and that's largely because you spend too much time with hallways. In one sense this level is just one big hallway that sometimes looks pretty and sometimes throws curveballs, but it's a big hallway nonetheless. In the era of 2.1, straight running and jumping may no longer be sufficient.

8. Egg Outposts Zone by Tyrannic
Your texture choices might have made more sense to me if I took a whole bunch of mescaline first. On the one hand, I really did appreciate your loving attention to detail for the path scenery, with all the grass patches and the interspersed machines, but I just couldn't get past the clashing colors. Jungle textures have to be used very carefully (in retrospect, when I built Tortured Planet, I think many of those textures looked tacky and fake in parts of Sunshine Atoll Zone, and I question whether there is EVER a use for the yellow or orange ones). I'm here to judge gameplay, not visuals, of course, but sadly gameplay misses the mark in more or less the same way the visuals do: this level is a mix of relatively interesting ideas hampered by problematic design flaws. The only thing you did SERIOUSLY wrong was not deafing the rings (in this day and age, there is no excuse for that), but there were a lot of other questionable design choices.

For one thing, as a Knuckles player, I am irked that you would create a path split at the beginning, let the player travel fairly far along it, and then OOPS SORRY KNUX CAN'T CLIMB THOSE WALLS. If you want to block off the player from a path, find a way to warn the player BEFORE they set off, don't let them proceed for a while and then force them to backtrack (ideally, find a way that DOESN'T involve hanging that "No Knux" sign unless signage fits thematically).

Now, about that crystal room. Navigating in the dark was insanely frustrating, a lot of those platforming challenges were needlessly finicky, and sometimes the narrow spindash exits weren't obvious, causing me to wander in circles around the room. The part where the entire cavern room collapses and the cave transforms into an outdoor section was easily the most interesting part of the level, although did you stop to consider what murder it is on framerate? I also have to say that the first time I played through, I didn't get the full experience because I just climbed by way to the top of the "outpost" without using the dramatic stairwell...maybe find a way to discourage the player from cheating thusly?

Now as for the Deton hallways, there wasn't always room to maneuver...any area where you have to flee from Detons should never even remotely have any semblance of crampedness. I did like how you mixed up the kinds of hazards and increased the difficulty, and it was fairly obvious what you had to do, but making the hallways as narrow as they were really hindered the premise.

You show promise as a level designer, but try to think through your ideas, make them organic, and don't slap stuff together because you're married to the idea. And for heaven's sake, pick better texture combinations.

9. Floral Road Zone, Act 1 by "Lat'"
Meh. There was nothing seriously wrong with this level, but there was also nothing seriously right with it. The problem is that there's just nothing to do. It's too flat. There were some hills and ledges but they were very low. One of the benefits to making a level with a lot of vertical variation is that the hills block off what's ahead until key moments, and create the illusion that the level extends far beyond whatever regions the player is exploring; your level didn't do that at all.

I get that this is supposed to be the first level of a pack, but take a look at something like Greenflower Zone Act 2; hopelessly archaic by 2.1 standards, but it illustrates some key principles of level layout. That level not only gives you places to explore, it gives you reasons to WANT to explore them. And the SOC'd LUA'd mechanics just weren't an interesting enough twist to keep me entertained. You've got the basic principles of competent level design and SRB2 convention down good, but now you need to figure out how to create something interesting and novel.
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Sonic Team Junior
My votes. Now with reviews!

1. Seraphic Skylands Zone
2. Glacier Gear Zone
3. Sand Valley Zone
4. Clock Towers Zone
5. Egg Outposts Zone
6. Sacred Woodland Zone
7. Floral Road Zone, Act 1
8. Midnight Caves Zone
9. Emerald Lake Zone, Act 2

Floral Road Zone, Act 1 by "Lat'" - 4.5/10

This level seemed really average to me at first glance. Very basic gameplay, which is to be expected from a first-zone type of level, but it doesn't change the fact that it's not that enjoyable to play. Somehow, the level seemed less linear than it actually is to me the first few times I've played it, which is a good thing I guess? Length-wise, it felt okay, perhaps a bit too long for what it is (but not as terribly short as GFZ1 which is good) but it didn't overstay its welcome too much. The visuals were passable, although the skybox really seemed like a mish-mash of graphical assets from different sources, which made it look weird combined with the odd perspective it has. The thok barrier also looked odd, being so weird and flat, but it did make the sky visible enough. If the level had been just these things, I'd think of it as just average.

Sadly, there are a few things that prevent this level from being just average. The most obvious thing is the level-up/progression/whatever system that's implemented into the level. I'm guessing that it also brought along the existence of the useless 5-ring monitors and the unnecessary tweaks to the 10-ring monitors? Either way, as a Sonic player and someone who feels the pace of SRB2 is good as it is, the system actively decreased my enjoyment of the level. The concept of space and scale in the level, already quite mixed and lackluster in your level, just gets thrown out of the window completely once the player accumulates enough rings to get a speed boost. Sonic becomes more and more uncontrollable and the level seems smaller and smaller with it, amd eventually I wanted to actively avoid collecting rings in the level which is a bad thing indeed. It's neat that you possess the technical talent to make those things and implement them in the level, but sometimes less is more. The level doesn't need it in any way. Other, far smaller issues I had with the level were some confusing areas, a path split of which one path didn't lead anywhere, and placing things in plain sight after the level end sign.

This level might be a good start to a full-scale modification, and I guess the custom stuff makes the level more unique in a sea of bland, first-zone levels, but it brings the stage down to a below-average level.

Sacred Woodland by HAPPYFOX - 5/10

Unlike practically everyone's first level, your level has a great atmosphere and good visuals. But please, optimize your filesize next time!

The map felt very consistent, with a similar mood throughout yet different enough areas to stay engaging to the player. The gameplay is for the most part pretty basic, with some ups and downs. Parts that stood out to me were the waterslide section, where the Trapgoyles were an actual hazard and the Robo-Hoods with fire arrows, a concept that I would have liked to see fleshed out further. As it stands, it's unnoticable enough for me to miss it on my first playthrough, especially because they look identical to regular Robo-Hoods. Parts that felt worse to me than the rest were the crumbling platforms without a lower path to fall onto, causing the player to have to wait for the platforms to respawn, and the completely unnecessary Brak Eggman fight at the end with invisible walls. This map would've been so much better without the ending it currently has!

Other minor flaws that stood out to me were the hardly visible spikeballs, the slight disjointedness of the level due to the large amounts of teleports, and the fact that jumps felt really hard to make. Most jumps were barely possible as Sonic, and the fact that you used blue springs in some areas only made the issue more apparent. I was also saddened to see the level become less and less visually appealing towards the end, but I still liked the level enough in the end. Just get rid of that Brak Eggman fight!

Glacier Gear Zone by toaster - 9/10

my PM to toaster said:
I really really really like the level (although it's not perfect), so I had a lot of trouble finding flaws with it. Therefore, here's a recap of how much I love it.

Unlike Seraphic Skylands, the gameplay in your level is actually interesting! Not only that, but it's loads of fun, partly because of the individual elements which are great in their own right, but mostly because of the ways they are combined which really make the map incredibly fun and an absolute blast to play through. Special mention goes to the Wacky Workbench floors, a great gimmick on their own, but you've added so many fun twists on the gimmick that it's almost ridiculous. Every single variation on the gimmick, from the timed waterfalls shorting the panels out to the room with the horizontal bouncing action, is incredibly fun and really gives the gimmick the staying power it needs to be entertaining throughout the entirety of the level. Other gimmicks like the waterslide and the yellow pistons are given a back seat compared to the bouncy floors (and rightfully so), but are also entertaining in their own right and are used enough times to not become weird anomalies in the level.

The technical stuff in the level is also definitely worthy of praise. There's the aforementioned Wacky Workbench floors, the glorious box boss and the other creative ways to obtain the emblems, and the amazing custom enemies. The Waddaleks are one of the few types of enemies I've seen that pose an actualy threat to the player while not being highly annoying and/or unfair even if you know how to avoid them. They're also well implemented into the level, instead of simply used as cannon fodder (like most Crawlas) or spammed into oblivion (like most Jetty-Syns). I especially love the Waddalek in the 2D section, which you have thankfully given a way to exterminate.

Visually, the level is about as strong as it is gameplay-wise. I still wish I could've come up with combining those cyan CLIFF walls with the ICEFLR floors, it's so incredibly pleasing to the eye as the textures fit really well together, plus there's the fact that it makes the difference between walls and floors incredibly clear, which is awesome. As someone who puts a lot of effort into detail, I was overjoyed with all the different details in the level, from the millions of well-placed boxes (and how they're diagonal sometimes) to the electrocution effect of the underwater bouncy panels. The level looks as good when speeding through it as when you take the time to explore the level thoroughly, it strikes the best possible balance between visibility and prettiness.

SpiritCrusher raised a very valid point in his review, namely the 'obstacle-course'-like nature of the level. I don't really agree with how much that brings the level down: while I do like lots of path choices and different ways to get through an area, I also really like how your level gives the best possible experience when playing to the rooms, because of its slight linearity. Where I would best describe Seraphic Skylands as a walk through a large park, with a few paths to pick from and a large amount of terrain to explore, while not being truly engaging to the player, I would compare Glacier Gear to (for example) a well-built rollercoaster: while the level is not even close to being as linear as one, it's tailored to give the passenger/player the best possible experience when going in/through it. It might be shorter and less varied than a walk through the park, but in the end it's far more enjoyable. Your level also has a lot of choices, so perhaps I should say it's more like a set of similarly-themed but sufficiently different rollercoasters. It's definitely as fun as several rollercoasters, that's for sure!

There are only two things that I think should be improved. One: the range of the Waddaleks. They've still sniped me from miles away several times. ;_; Their placement might also be a bit too good sometimes, especially in the stalactites-and-drill area where they might cause a bit too much trouble combined with the infinitely falling water. Two: the final area is a bit lackluster compared the level before it: I understand that the level has to end somewhere, but you have to take either the upper path which is just running with a few Waddaleks, or the lower path which is wading through slime and a single, really annoying Waddalek. Both paths and the entire area in general also seem lacking in terms of visuals, just like the very final area. However, I do really like the focus on the factory tower when passing the end sign, that's very neat!

I can't wait to see how Cloud Convoy and everything else you'll make turn out, as this map is already a solid 9 in my book. Keep up the good work! <3

Clock Tower Zone by RedEnchilada and Pac - 7.5/10

In terms of technical stuff, this level definitely takes the cake. Axis-2D is amazing in every single way, making 2D mode actually fun for once and opening lots of creative possibilites with 2D levels.

And luckily, the level itself is definitely more than just a simple tech demo for the script. The level has come a long way since its first incarnation, especially in terms of visuals. The level actually looks really nice now, with the elaborate skybox and tons of attention to detail almost everywhere, and I'm still in love with the rotating midtexture cogs. And man, there's so much stuff to do in the level! Tons of branching and interconnecting paths, combined with an amazing gimmick and well thought-out enemy placement made the level enjoyable and a challenge to play through.

However, the level is not perfect by far. This is more of a script issue, but it's really hard to determine whether to press left or right at which point during U-turns, resulting in me getting stuck and sniped by millions of Robo-Hoods. The final area also might be a bit too challenging compared to the level before it, especially due to those gosh-darned Robo-Hoods sniping at you all the time. It's also STILL hard to see what's coming at times, from blind jumps to get power-ups to where exactly the arrows are and if they're going to hit you or not. The area before the final one also felt a bit cramped and confusing, perhaps due to it being ridiculously interconnected.

Still, this is an amazing technical achievement and I can't wait to see other great levels get made for Axis-2D!

Emerald Lake Zone, Act 2 by glaber - 4/10

Man, those crashes are annoying. Somehow it now crashes every single time I try to start it up, but that's not really your fault.

What is definitely your fault though is your tendency to deliberately include bad content and assets in your levels. Sure, you've definitely carved out an unique niche for yourself, but seeing how people tend to make fun of you all the time, that might not be a good thing in the slightest. Some of the design choices in this level baffle me, especially coming from someone who has been making maps since before I discovered SRB2! For example, why would you include an older version of the level inside the level itself? It does nothing but make the map take longer to build, and I think you're the only one who wants to play an inferior version of a level that's already below average.

The visuals also leave a lot to be desired. The fact that the main wall texture is a 4x resized texture without any smoothing out really makes the level unappealing to look at, combined with the uninteresting geometry, barebones decoration and barely any detail to speak of. Other things that struck me as odd were the reskinned Crawlas, the dead fish (the fact that they're not moving might not be your fault but they still look odd) and the unfitting underwater ground flat. It's a shame, really, because there's not a lot wrong with the level itself, it's just very plain. Your insistence on keeping bad things in levels (especially ENTIRE OTHER LEVELS) is what really brings the map down, and your inability to do something about that after so many years results in a last place for this level from me.

Midnight Caves Zone by Chaobrother - 4.5/10

This level, like Emerald Lake, is ultimately very plain. Unlike Emerald Lake, it shows potential.

The map feels very disjointed, with all paths differing from each other just a bit too much. You've got the DSZ-like path with the waterslide and the flooded cave, you've got the CEZ-like path with the CastleBot FaceStabbers and the castle, and there's the path with the temples and the glass floors, which felt the most unique and looked the best. Most gimmicks in the level are only used once, which only increases the disjointed nature of the map. The odd mixture of textures also brings the level down, with a weird combination of realistic rock textures, brightly colored red, cyan and dark green CLIFF textures, DSZ, CEZ and even some SRB1 textures. The level also felt very confusing at times, with weird turns and twists everywhere, especially in the final area where the ending sign felt really out of place (I was expecting it to be at the top of the waterfalls).

The areas where you focused on one thing, be it one visual concept or gimmick, were the areas where the level really shined. The temple room with the glass floor looked really neat, as did most areas with just the realistic rock textures as those tended to contain interesting geometry as well. The disjointed nature of the level also added a good sense of exploration to the level: I never knew what to expect next, which somehow heightened my enjoyment of the level. Your sense of scale is also quite good, with no area feeling far too cramped and most open areas being done well.

You've just got to work on your sense of direction, not only in terms of horizontal movement with turns everywhere (never use arrows in levels, make the layout speak for itself!) but also in vertical movement, as going down all the time feels counter-intuitive in a game about platforming, where going up is the normal way to go. But please, continue making levels, you've shown potential and I'm interested to see what you can make next!

Sand Valley Zone by Chrome - 8/10

If it weren't for the quicksand physics, which still leave something to be desired, this map probably would've gotten first place from me. (Aside from the auto-first of my own level, of course!)

As it stands, the quicksand gets too much on my nerves sometimes for me to really enjoy this level. It's a shame, because the design of this level is absolutely superb. Tons of different paths, tons of path splits within them, a perfect map length and somehow it's hardly possible to get lost in it all. Your design skills are amazing, with difficult but not overly annoying enemy placement, great pacing and build-up from start to finish and a multitude of highly creative ideas which are well executed. The visuals, while not being mind-blowingly awesome, work perfectly for the level, not distracting from the gameplay but still appealing to look at. Every single area in the level feels just right, not too large or too small and with tons of hidden goodies and fun gameplay everywhere.

But man, that quicksand. The brown quicksand is highly annoying, with me needing to frantically mash the jump button to get out of it, causing the mid-air action to trigger which causes even more trouble sometimes. I understand that it's a hazard, but it's not really a challenge but more of a large annoyance most of the time. The endlessly falling quicksand-falls above death pits also annoyed me greatly, especially when my jumps decided to not work and I would plummet to my death. These things aren't your fault, but they still stand in the way of being able to fully enjoy the level. I look forward to playing this level again when quicksand physics are better, because then I can truly enjoy this amazing level.

Egg Outposts Zone by Tyrannic - 5/10

A recurring theme in the levels from this contest seems to be the large amount of effort put into the levels, from custom content to large amounts of gameplay and technical stuff. And man, this level definitely takes the cake in terms effort put into it. The amount of unique, complicated and technical stuff in this level is mind-blowingly high, with tons of different concepts, gimmicks and ideas at every turn. The level offers a lot of gameplay, is very interconnected and might perhaps show the most potential of all the levels in this contest and many previous contests.

However, you still have a long way to go. This level suffers most in how all the ideas are executed, varying from okay to very badly, with some beginner mistakes (undeafed rings) along the way. I'll just get the worst offenders out of the way first: the dark room with the crystals, while nice in theory, is an absolute chore to play through and goes on for far too long. The absurd amount of frame lag once the ceiling gets destroyed doesn't help it either, and combined with some often-occurring general flaws in the level (which I'll get to later) the area is actively bad. Other badly executed areas in the level include the platforming before the crystal area, with most sections being completely skippable even as Sonic, the first Deton-gauntlet of the level in which it's basically impossible to make it through unscathed and most mushroom platforming, as the mushrooms didn't feel bouncy enough. When I first played though this level, I took the left path split which contains all those things, which left me with a worse impression of the map than I should've had.

The second time I played the level, I took the right path split. And boy, does it blow the left path split out of the water! A lot more detail, a lot more creative gimmicks and far better execution of literally everything. The ginormous room especially caught my attention. You might want to move the star post to before the button though, as the lasers deactivate when the player dies, making the area impossible to complete without ridiculous amounts of backtracking. Falling down in the room also is too big of a punishment due to its sheer size, making the floor a death pit might actually be a better idea.

Now, for some things I found in the level that weren't limited to just one path. The visuals were eclectic to say the least, with practically every jungle texture in existence being used liberally throughout the level, but somehow most areas didn't look completely terrible. You might still want to cut down the amount of textures significantly though, a more focused set would do wonders for the level. Something else you might want to work on is your sense of scale, as some areas were too large and others were far too cramped and small. Make your levels more suited to how the characters handle, and keep tweaking the layout and its size until it feels just right! Good flow is also something that this level lacks, with blue springs regularly appearing throughout the level. You might also want to make sure that the player can see at all times what is coming: most Deton gauntlets were hard to navigate, as were the dark crystal rooms, and the giant room on the right path had some grass edges that obscured a lot from the players view, making it too easy to fall down all the way to the bottom.

I can't really blame you for not paying attention to those things, as those are advanced concepts and this is your first map (I assume?). But for a first map, this is perhaps one of the most pleasant surprises I've ever had the pleasure to experience. I can see you becoming a great mapper in the future, please, keep on making levels!

Seraphic Skylands Zone by Spherallic - something/10
My level!

And now, some information about Seraphic Skylands and its creation.

Seraphic Skylands is my first ever released single player map, and the second or third single player map I've ever started. Since the start of the level in January 2011 (this is a very early picture of the map from that time), a lot has happened, from me taking several breaks from this community to the release of 2.1, not to mention the many OLDC's that have took place despite the hiatus.

During the creation of this map, I've learnt many things while making this level and other levels, such as creating actual gimmicks, understanding the concept of flow in a level, making not-terrible custom graphics (and skyboxes, in the past few months!), a myriad of technical map-related stuff, but most of all: how to make an enjoyable single player level, but I'll let you guys be the judge of that in the end.

I've decided against adding enemies in this map, unless they actually fit the map's aesthetic and add something significant to the enjoyment of the level. As someone who is not proficient with LUA and SOC in the slightest (after 2.1's release, the level has gone without properly ported thing scenery for a month) and with the vanilla enemies being terrible, this boiled down to having to ask someone else to make cool custom enemies, which I didn't do because I wanted this level to be as much of my own creation as possible.

The level wasn't supposed to end where it does right now, but due to both ZDBSP and ZenNode breaking when nodebuilding the full map, it has been cut short. I don't know what I'll do with the unused parts of the level, I might release them separately from the main level, try my best to make them work, shove them into another level entirely or not release them at all. SRB2DB just can't handle me, I guess. :v

I'm happy to finally have this level out there, open to the public. I'm proud to be in this exact contest too, with incredibly strong competition from toaster, Chrome and RedEnchilada & Pac. I've had a lot of fun playing through their levels, almost as much fun as I had making this level, despite how long it took me to finish it. I'm actually glad it took that long, because I could apply just about everything I've learned in these 3 and a half years to the level. But the reason it took so long to finish the level was that whenever I felt like I wasn't giving it my all, whenever I felt like what I was making wasn't up to snuff, I'd just leave the level be and come back to it when I was in the correct state of mind again, when I felt like I was making the level actively better. A lot of love, soul, and especially time was put into the level, to hopefully make it enjoyable for people to play, but also to create the exact atmosphere I wanted the level to have.

Seraphic Skylands Zone:
(...), but to me [the level] just… has no soul.

As a result, reading things like this really upset me.
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As a result, reading things like this really upset me.

My apologies for that. I admit that my review for your level was a lot harsher than it should have been; I was reacting negatively to seeing it in so many #1 spots. (The ranking is still the same. I ranked the levels first, then I wrote the reviews after reading other people's so I wouldn't repeat what other people have said as much.)

Now that I know that your level was in development for so many years, it makes perfect sense to me why I felt the way I did when playing it. Seraphic Skylands feels like a level that's been playtested and playtested and playtested and playtested and playtested until it reached perfection... which also sanded off all the rough, interesting bits that I actually appreciate in a level. It's like a meal—I like something with a bunch of different flavors and textures to it (ideally working in harmony to create something better than the sum of its parts), while your level was more like... one single perfect flavor that comprised the entire experience. Clearly a lot of people love that, and you should be proud of it, but I don't really like that style.

But hey, look at how high I rated Egg Outposts Zone. Don't worry about my opinion too much. ;D


Sonic Team Junior
Kart Krew™️
Seraphic Skylands Zone > Sand Valley Zone > Glacier Gear Zone > Clock Towers Zone > Floral Road Zone > Midnight Caves Zone > Egg Outposts Zone > Sacred Woodland > Emerald Lake Zone, Act 2

Seraphic Skylands: oh my god thank you for finally creating the level that lives up to richard jacques's legacy
Sand Valley: Some rough spots, like the poor use of detons, the hallways, and some of the sand mechanics. However, my first impression was "we should steal this level and make it Arid Canyon 2". Brilliant use of gimmicks and massive size and variety.
Glacier Gear: Fantastic work all around, keep it up. I didn't like the alarm lasers; they're difficult to get past as Tails.
Clock Towers: The first 2D map that's ever been fun to play. Thanks.
Floral Road: It was confusing sometimes, but had an interesting flavour.
Midnight Caves Zone: As others have said, you're substituting arrows for flow and leading the player on. The spiral at the end was incredibly confusing even with the arrow!
Egg Outposts: Don't kick yourself for being so low in the rankings. You made beginner mistakes, but the effort you've put in really shines. It just happened to be that you submitted your level to a contest made mainly of heavy-hitters and levels that have been polished to a mirror finish.
Sacred Woodland: Way too many teleports, and for the love of god why is Brak in here?
Emerald Lake: Why the hell did you include your unfinished beta IN THE SAME MAP?

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ms reflec beat stan
Single Player Levels:
-Seraphic Skylands Zone by Spherallic
-Sand Valley Zone by Chrome
-Glacier Gear Zone by toaster
-Emerald Lake Zone, Act 2 by glaber
-Midnight Caves Zone by Chaobrother
-Floral Road Zone, Act 1 by "Lat'"
-Sacred Woodland by HAPPYFOX
-Clock Tower Zone by RedEnchilada and Pac
-Egg Outposts Zone by Tyrannic
Might I ask why you rated my and Pac's map so lowly? It just makes me curious.


Absolute territory where
Kart Krew™️
My match ranking:

Climate Chaos>Moonlit Precipice>Crystal Coast

And my comments:

Climate Chaos, 8/10
I wasn't expecting more from you! I had fun with my friend. My bad points on it are the skybox being way too huge, at the point I can't see that the big steel walls were pipes (Software limitations, yay) And, I also sometimes had FPS drops for no reason. Also, the lava doesn't really affect the gameplay because I did not see it in many "cliffes".

Moonlit Precipice, 6/10
The level was really fun, but was cleary built on Jade Valley. (As you said in #Srb2Fun), there was also some pegging errors, but this is not the end of the world. I can't really say more.

Crystal Coast, 1/10 (101/10)
So... I didn't see this one coming ><
First off, ugly pit under the opaque water, no, just NO!
Also, the succesive platforms, what the hell is that for? And why is the level expending in sections that are mostly empty? I mean, I can found a THZ factory, a ATZ non-flooded room... But this might be your first level, which explains this. The flat areas might be good for rail-rings fights, like another map in another game... (OrangeX3, looking at you!)


Inactively lurking
This'll be my first time voting... So, I'll try to be informative as possible. I'll be doing the Match/CTF divisions first before doing the single player levels. (If I can get around to doing them, that is.)

First up, Match:

Crystal Coast Zone by Steel Titanium

There's only two words that can describe this map: Big and empty.

I'm not really sure what you were going for with this, but there's not a whole lot going on here... If this is your first map, it's a good attempt. However, the size of it is unnecessarily huge. Also when you start the map, everyone ends up spawning in the same place together in some areas. You might want to make it so that everyone is scattered and not grouped together.

One glaring issue I saw when I was hosting was that when someone jumped under the blue spring where those three floating platforms were, he got stuck under it. We did get him out after shooting and killing him. Though, to be honest, it seemed rather unfair and cheap if one were to get stuck under that said spring. It'd be best to just remove those platforms completely and replace it with something else.

Another thing, why is that lake in the that you placed there a bottomless pit trap? Not being able to see able to see if it has a bottom or not is a bit of a dick move... Though, it was fun sending people to their doom when I spin dashed over it while hitting a teleport monitor.

As much as I enjoyed spamming rings (since that was about the only thing you could do) this map needs some work. I'm not sure what I can tell you how to improve on it, but it wouldn't hurt to look a reference pictures or other maps to get some ideas. If I had to take a guess, you wanted to make this some sort of beach resort match map, seeing that there's several different types of "buildings" in this map.

Overall: I'd skip this one.

Moonlit Precipice Zone by Knux576

You joined in while I was hosting and you told me that this was your first map. I gotta say (even though I already told you) this was a pretty good looking map. I do like some of the details you have put in it. ...Even though the grass ledges in one area were floating in the air, but that's beside the point and can be easily fixed.

If there was one issue I had with this map it would be that there are too many rings. We pretty much spent the entire match in one area just chucking rings at each other that I started to think that we'd never run out. It's good to have a good abundance of rings, but having too many seems a bit unbalanced. Maybe trimming the amount of rings in the map may help balance it out.

Other than that, I really did like this map. I can seem myself coming back to keep playing this.

Overall: I will defiantly play again.

Climate Chaos Zone by EvilEternity3000

This map has an interesting concept to it. Reminds me of Tidal Palace Zone with the raising water, except that all the elements are thrown at you every 10 or so seconds.

But, the couple of things that I didn't like was that the outside area is pretty much lag central. But, I went back and played it again in Software mode and it seemed a little better. Though, I still suffered frame rate issues whenever the whole area was flooded. The level layout in the outside area is a bit ugly... I'm not really sure how to describe it, but everything felt too "hilly" and I always found myself cornered when I was playing this map.

I like the idea behind it, but it feels that there should be some more polish to it, especially the outside area. Adding some scenery wouldn't hurt because it just looks a little bland out there...

Overall: I might play this again.

Match Final Verdict: Moonlit Precipice Zone > Climate Chaos Zone > Crystal Coast Zone

Next up is CTF:

Old Sport Zone Act 1922: New Money vs Old Money by Jellybones and Eblo

I did have a review typed up or this. But, when I went back to read your post about the map, I think it was pretty clever. Granted, I never read the book, but it certainly did sound interesting. Despite how this map is based on a book, it doesn't make for a good CTF map. It certainly feels like it could be a hangout map rather than a CTF arena. And everything was way too big for my liking. Not to mention it was pretty easy to get lost in.

However, I am rather interested in this book. I should go and check it out.

Overall: I may not play this again. But, props to you two regardless.

Quicksand Caverns Zone by RedEnchilada

I didn't like this map at first because of the quicksand. But, after playing it through a couple of times, it wasn't as bad as I thought. However, the quicksand is still annoying. Thank god for elemental shields!

If there was something that I didn't like about this, I'd have to say that some of the weapon panels are hidden under the quicksand. Sometimes, I'd pass by them only to go back and see that I had passed up a weapon that I could use. However, trying to get to them, especially when you have someone hot on your tail, not worth the effort. I also noticed that there were team monitors hanging off the edges of the quicksand falls on the team flag platforms. The only other way to get them is to spin dash into them... But, every time I did that I'd always fall into a pit. Thus, making getting those monitors not worth it either.

I'd vote this map higher if only it wasn't for the facts I listed above. However, I still like this map and I'd give it another go.

Overall: I might play this again.

Forbidden Woods Zone by the cyan

Probably one of my favorite CTF maps for this contest. It does have a nice feel to it and feels pretty balanced.

I could probably say that this map is flawless. However, there is just one thing: The springs that lead up to the flag posts. I cannot tell you how many times I've bonked my head on those lipped ledges just trying to get up to the flags. Of course, I could have went the upper route to save the trouble and heart ache. Sometimes I kind of forget that the upper route of the map exists and making a detour just to get to the flag post would take too much time. But, that's just a minor nit-pick. Though, those ledges near the flag posts are pretty annoying.

Overall: I will defiantly play this again.

Wtf? Ctf by Root and CyanFox

...It's a cute idea. But, as the title implies: What the honky?

I'm not sure what the story is behind this map, but all I know is that breakfast has taken an odd turn for the worse. Firstly, the map in way too small. Anyone could spin jump to the other side, get the flag and spin jump back to make a capture point. Little to no effort at all.

Secondly, the textures. Oh god... I actually had to turn the brightness down because it was so bright. Never use single, bright, textureless colors as walls.

Thirdly, why does the waffle team get an infinity ring and scatter rings while the pancake team only gets bombs? Seems like one or the other team is getting the unfair advantage. Not to mention that there's a lack of weapon ring pickups and the rail ring. No love for rails?

Lastly, the theme doesn't make sense. I guess that was suppose to be the jest of it, but seriously...

All I can tell you how to improve is to look at other CTF maps and see how they are structured. They don't always have to be symmetrical, but least make it look interesting and non-blinding and tiny. Maybe have the battle take on top of a kitchen table where the waffle and pancake team duke it out while running past huge drinking glasses and giant forks and knifes. It's just an idea.

Overall: I'd skip this one.

Techno Laser 4 by CoatRack

Techono Laser Act 4? What happened to Act 2 and 3?

Jokes aside... When I first started playing this map, I was completely lost. I wasn't sure where to go and every way I went I always ended up back at my own base. Not sure how I accomplished that, but at least I was in familiar territory. After wandering around trying to get myself familiarized with the layout, I eventually made it to the other base. And soon enough, I managed to know my way around the arena.

To be honest, I never did like the first Techno Laser map and I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this one. But, I did like it better than the first one. However, getting lost on the first go pretty much put a bad taste in my mouth. I'm not sure if I was the only one who got lost on the first run through, but I couldn't make heads or tails of which way I was going.

On the bright side: It's good that the opposing team can't use your team's portals. It also makes for a cheeky way to set up traps for any person using those said portals.

I'd give you a higher score, if only I didn't get lost for the first time playing this. But, I would probably play this again.

Overall: I might play this again.

CTF Final Verdict: Forbidden Woods Zone > Quicksand Caverns Zone > Techno Laser 4 > Old Sport Zone > Wtf? Ctf

Lastly, the Single Player levels:

[This post will be edited once I play through them a few more times.]


Egg Outposts: Don't kick yourself for being so low in the rankings. You made beginner mistakes, but the effort you've put in really shines. It just happened to be that you submitted your level to a contest made mainly of heavy-hitters and levels that have been polished to a mirror finish.

I wouldn't even be physically able to kick myself...

No, I'm pretty much extremely proud that at least a few people seemed to put me 3rd/4th/5th with such good competition. That's more than I could ever have asked for, especially given my pretty low skills in design.

Monster Iestyn

Sonic Team Junior
Kart Krew™️
I've noticed people around have been complaining about the fish in Emerald Lake Zone Act 2 - but I must point out glaber did not actually make these.

They're the fish scenery from Botanic Serenity Zone, included along with all of the other BSZ items for vanilla SRB2.

Doesn't mean they're any less boring, of course.


Single player
1.Sacred Woodland (me)
2.Glacier Gear
3.Seraphic Skylands
4.Clock Towers
5.Sand Valley
6.Midnight Caves
7.Floral Road
8.Emerald Lake
9.Egg Outposts
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Here's my votes, better late than never!

1.Glacier Gear - I'm speechless, just wow, when you started showing this in IRC I told you this could possibly win, and that feeling still is there, yet more confident as of this new version! Keep up the good work!

2.Seraphic Skylands - This level was beatiful! Wonderful scenery, extraodinary textures, and... gargoyles! For your first SP entry, this turned out VERY sucsessful. Although, a little nitpick, the pit at the end does not have a death pit special effect on it. :V

3.Clock Towers - This was just wonderful to play! It also reminded me of Tick Tock Clock from SM64. Also a very wonderful way to show of Axis2D. Although, when I play a combo in SP (Sonic&Tails) the bot doesnt follow me :(

4.Sand Valley - I loved playing this stage all the way through, but the quicksand how it just sucks you in got on my nerves after awhile. :P

5.Sacred Woodland - Wonderful choice of music, the visuals are great! But honestly some rooms feel a bit too cramped for my liking

6.Floral Road - The speed meter was a nice kink, but you should consider making rooms less empty.

7.Emerald Lake - Some of the grass here lacks grass edges, also, after destroying a motobug, the birdie stays still for a few seconds, then continues as normal. Also, SLOPES! Yay yay yay yay... Please remove these.

8.Midnight Caves - Honestly, I dont see why it is called midnight CAVES, because most of the time I'm outside in the dark. Also, a bit of odd texture mixing too.

9.Egg Outposts - You say this is not OpenGL compatible, and here I am playing in Software without any glimpse whatsoever, I ended up quiting during the cave because you literally have no clue where to go.

Match and CTF votes should hopefully follow shortly...
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Sonic Team Junior
If I have time before voting ends I'll post my review, but for now here are my rankings for this month's oldc.

Single Player

1. Seraphic Skylands Zone by Spherallic
2. Glacier Gear Zone by toaster
3. Clock Tower Zone by RedEnchilada and Pac
4. Sand Valley Zone by Chrome
5. Emerald Lake Zone, Act 2 by glaber
6. Floral Road Zone, Act 1 by "Lat'"
7. Sacred Woodland by HAPPYFOX
8. Midnight Caves Zone by Chaobrother
9. Egg Outposts Zone by Tyrannic


1. Climate Chaos Zone by EvilEternity3000
2. Moonlit Precipice Zone by Knux576
3. Crystal Coast Zone by Steel Titanium

Capture the Flag

1. Techno Laser 4 by CoatRack
2. Forbidden Woods Zone by the cyan
3. Old Sport Zone Act 1922: New Money vs Old Money by Jellybones and Eblo
4. Quicksand Caverns Zone by RedEnchilada
5. Wtf? Ctf by Root and CyanFox


Now 100% less jaded!
I honestly have nothing to say about this OLDC, as I wasn't really impressed by anything, so here're my rankings.

1. Seraphic Skylands (Control sector anyone?
2. Sand Valley
3. Clock Towers
4. Glacier Gear
5. Floral Road
6. Sacred Woodland
7. Emerald Lake (
8. Midnight Caves
9. Egg Outposts
1. Climate Chaos
2. Moonlit Precipice
3. Crystal Coast (0/10 best in show)

1. Forbidden Woods
2. Techno Laser
3. Quicksand Caverns
4. Old Sport
5. Wtf? Ctf
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