Official Level Design Contest 2021: Round 1

Official Level Design Contest 2021: Round 1 1.3

ACStriker

SRB2Kart ArcadePak dev - living enigma
Time for abridged version of my thoughts about the maps
Please change the textures or something; the amount of small color patterns and flashing colors pretty much give me headaches, so I can't even get to play the stage for all what I want. I could tell you used some nice slopes from the little time I could play it though, so I would love to check what else was here if it wasn't for the flashing clash.
Visuals: the sonic sector art was cute
Music: meadow match
Gameplay: The most defining feature from this map is that its the only emerald hunt map in this OLDC...and that's it.
Visuals: A bit simple but uses Mario Koopa Blast assets and even enemies which is not common, and some stuff like pipes and carpets look pretty good.
Music: The default music was...okay. Feels a bit too much in the background.
Gameplay: I despised a bit the spike enemies but other than that it is pretty good.
Originality: Infringio Robo Blast 2, that last Brak was fun surprise though
Visuals: Decent enough, though everything is quite packed in and sometimes the (lack of) colors blend a bit too much.
Music: This is funny. I can definitely see the pick being oriented to the map being a race with Metal Sonic as in a challenge against a street racer. Didn't mind it too much though it can get grating if you spend enough so that it starts looping 2 or 3 times.
Gameplay: The concept is neat. However, it is a very...unnatural race. Invisible bariers everywhere so the map is like "you gotta go where Metal goes" which feels a lie when the map is relatively open. A layout that doesn't feel cramped like this and that can have visible (but not forced) barriers instead of this could be good.
Originality: Street racin' with Metal on a map, pretty original idea for a OLDC entry but also an one-trick pony for this map.
Visuals: Outside of the crystal wall at the lava area, everything is good. Fun to see a map that's a mix between Haunted Hills and a bit of Red Mountain.
Music: Pretty muted, couldn't hear much so not much to say.
Gameplay: Fun while it lasts, because it can be finished around a minute in.
Visuals: Good enough for the most part. Outside snow areas are okay but the castle areas feel bland (specially the insides). Visual clarity could be clearer (Some textures regarding paths, and also the fog is a bit too silent hill)
Music: Diamond Dust 2 from 3D Blast. Not bad but not one of my favorite tracks.
Gameplay: Several paths from what I found, and layout wise its pretty playable on the most part. The area with the pistons however could have much better directioning to know where you have to go :shitsfree:
Okay so visually the stage is a lot of purple and you actually have to use Software for visual portals to work...but that said, the portal effects look very cool and the level itself...just look below
Music: y e s 2
Gameplay: This is a 2.5D stage. THIS IS A 2.5D STAGE WHERE YOU PLAY IN 2D BUT THE STAGE IS IN 3D AND IT WORKS WELL AND IT LOOKS GOOD AND IT PLAYS GOOD AND THIS IS IN SRB2 WHICH IS VERY DIFFICULT TO DO HOW THE F
Originality: 2.5D. What else do you need to know
oh, and there is also a loop in the stage. Once again, H O W
Visuals: Interesting; while a bit out of place for Sonic, it actually does well for the stage itself. There are also original enemies (I bet from Rayman 2) so that's cool
Music: Y e s
Gameplay: Y E S
I really liked the mix of platforming, boulder platforming (and puzzles) and the last sections where you gotta go for it "all-or-nothing". Very fun!
Originality: yes indeed
oh why the grass looks like that my eyes
Visuals: Its decent. Nothing particlarly impressive but nothing tterrible except for the snowy-grass textures and the rock flat used underwater are too noisy (bad)
Music: OK good music choice, not much to say
Gameplay: Map that feels big, good fun layout
Visuals: All SRB2 assets and feels a bit bland on the colors but that nitpick aside, the level is coherent, readable and geometry is very well made
Music: NiGHTssssssss
Well it was a neat track fitting but nothing too energetic
Gameplay: Pretty good, I like the exploration paths avaliable and experimentation with slopes. The transition to that 2D slide was also genius
Unedited first impression:
yes yes yes yes yes
I love the visuals, the music is nice, I absolutely love the layout which feels both like a playground and actually tests your skills but doesn't punish you with death if you fail
The ring draining mercury was also an interesting touch

Second impression:
Its still good but...hmmm I don't know what to say

Visuals: Everything uses new pixel-ish assets which is quite neat, simple but sweet for my eyes. The rings are coins and there are original enemies as well. Basically its all original (or based on another game that I don't know) and I commend that effort.
Music: The music was neat and that both coins and enemy popping had original sounds was such a nice touch!
Gameplay: Reminds me of a collect-a-thon, since you have to get 500 rings/coins. The map is a small castle and its surroundings so you focus on picking up coins (there are some that are worth 5 and 10 rings) around the place some few times. They respawn which is good for getting that 500 coin requirmenet to clear the stage, and while you can end up dropping everything if hit by an enemy, this incentivates using your roll on the castle walls (being careful).
Originality: The collectible aspect and everything in presentation being modified makes for quite an original map. Pretty good :)
remind me to post the rest later
 

glaber

Emblem Radar Ready
The knuckles Path in Blizzard Bastion Zone was not that visible. Especially the part behind the cracked wall in the dark room where the cracks are hard to see. Only reason I could find it was because I found it on a previous run.
 

PrismaticAngel

Dutch word-doer
So I already submitted my votes some time ago, but I'll post my comments about the levels here as well, in no particular order.

Here's a link to my playlist for this OLDC, being all blind playthroughs.

Lava Temple by Vixuzen

I was initially surprised by how much I actually like the level, but the usage of the rolling rocks for both traversal and puzzles was really well executed, and it was fun to go down slopes and half-pipes with them. The second part of the level even has paths for each of the main characters with a 7th for custom characters, even. I love the textures and enemies as well, which really make it feel like a Rayman level.


Falcon Emissary Zone by InferNOr

This is a really nice sky base level. I like how you can use the propellors to launch yourself up in the air, and the part where the gravity increases is a nice change of pace. Sometimes it was a little confusing regarding what to do to proceed though.


Drenched Dam Zone by Voidy2246

So while the concept was nice, the execution just failed with the invisible walls and those awful fans at the end. The time limit is fairly lenient, but when you’re in a race where you don’t know when the end will come, the player will just rush as much as possible to make sure they’re on time.


Mercury Mine Zone by Rexeljet

This was a really fun level to run through. The visuals are neat, and I like the Knuckles and Amy paths. Though you might want to adjust the speed of the mercury falls, as it’s almost impossible to not get hit if you aren’t Sonic.


Ridge Rapids Zone by particle

This is a good level, simple but effective. I like that Amy and Knuckles got their own paths, though in the case of Knuckles it came at the expense of only making certain walls climbable, which I feel is not good design. That 2D part is also entirely unnessecary.


Fort Sunset Zone by DylanDude

Well, visually it’s nice and the enemies are cute, but at the end of the day this is more of a special stage than an actual, well, level. Though in that regard it does its job well.


Hollow Hill Zone by Othius, Inazuma & Spectorious

I really liked this level. The aesthetic is great as always, with the combination of blues and purple making for a very interesting and otherwordly look. There’s lots of space to run around and build up speed in, the new goop is pretty interesting, and I like the nospin path too.


Ante-Station Zone by Twins'R'Okay

Well, this was a cool level to play through. The visuals were pretty cool, and the usage of non-euclidian geometry and mikoportals was pretty neat. Though I have to mention that in some cases I had trouble with depth perception in this level, particularly in places where the camera was set at an angle.


Music Mash Zone by WasifBoomz

The fact that you needed to put in a flashing lights warning should’ve immediately set off alarm bells that your level should be using different textures that aren’t straining on the eyes. The music is also oddly silent, which is a shame for a level named Music Mash. For music themed levels, look towards stuff like Band Land from Rayman, that level is themed after all kinds of instruments and doesn’t use flashing lights, more importantly. That aside, the references to your earlier levels were cute and that room before the end where you get pushed forward in a circle is neat. Oh and that maze with the fake walls… don’t do that please.


Teal Tundra Zone by SunCyclone

This level feels much like your previous foray, except this is an ice theme instead of a desert. The level design feels quite hallway-ish and angular, and aside from the underwater part at the end there isn’t really much else to talk about.


Blizzard Bastion Zone by PhilJFou

While this level is pretty nice concept-wise, there are some parts that drag it down. The turret room is quite punishing and the maze wasn’t that fun. The ice slide was very cool though.


Abyss Caverns Zone by yyeellooww7

A nice and simple cave level, with a water and lava path to change things up. There’s not really much else to say though.


Koopa Kastle Zone by Glaber

This level is fine enough, although it really reminds me of a Final Demo map what with the lack of slopes and angular design, but then you had to include Brak at the end for… some reason. It just brings the overall quality of the level down if you include a vanilla boss without alterations.


Zaxel's Thunder Yard by Zaxel

Oh boy, another Zaxel level… Leaving aside the questionable content, let’s just talk about the questionable level design. For starters, was 2 troll exits really needed? The first one should’ve been enough as a joke, but the one at the end is completely dickish because it causes you to be trapped in an infinite loop of dying, which I know isn’t your fault, but it still makes you start the level over from the beginning. As for the level itself, it’s better than the previous ones, though it still goes on for quite some time, but I did like some of the secrets.


Bombastic Beach Zone by Shapeshifter Boi

Uh, there isn’t really much to say here because the level is over in less than 30 seconds. But I guess the bumpers were neat and that rock you have to climb as Knuckles is nice. I guess this level is unfinished or something?


Emerald Glade Zone by DoodlesYT

This just screams ‘first map’, and while that is fine, as we all have to start somewhere, actually playing it is kind of boring. As this is an Emerald Hunt stage, the gameplay is just finding 3 shards. As mentioned, one of the shard locations becomes inaccessible if you happen to kill the Springshell, and have to rely on the Whirlwind Shield. The map is also devoid of scenery and looks bland. The Sonic on the ground was nicely done, however.


Well, that’s it for this OLDC then. I hope to see some cool levels in Round 2 this December!
 

Chezi

Chili Dogs
I beg you pardon? What does being a "boomer" means about Mania?
He’s clearly joking around. There isn’t a correlation between being a boomer and Mania. “Am boomer” was reflecting that he couldn’t recognize where the remix came from
 

Icarus

Phantasy Savior
He’s clearly joking around. There isn’t a correlation between being a boomer and Mania. “Am boomer” was reflecting that he couldn’t recognize where the remix came from
Oh right, Mania was a great thing because it actually introduced Classic Sonic to younger players (and even non-Sonic fans) and it's great.
 

Icarus

Phantasy Savior
i.e. as i grow older having gradually less and less interest in playing new games and binging new sonic soundtracks so i end up forgetting a lot of them
Mania is literally an ode for the older Sonic fans.

Too bad Sega is currently ignoring Classic fans once again.
 

WasifBoomz

Member
The reason why Music Mash is quiet is so you can hear the piano which is MIDI because of the sound and music limit.
 

flarn2006

Member
That is because it was not inappropriate enough to disqualify the entire level, but it was inappropriate enough that it made people uncomfortable and thus needed to be removed. The solution didn't have to be either extreme.
Still no need to remove the old versions. If people really want to see what it was, and are willing to risk feeling uncomfortable, why make it difficult for them to download the old version?
 

SeventhSentinel

STJr Team Representative
Administrator
Sonic Team Junior
Kart Krew™️
Right, because it's very important to keep inappropriate content accessible to a community largely comprised of minors.
I don't want that shit on the message board. I certainly don't want it associated with my account. End of story.
 
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glaber

Emblem Radar Ready
Still no need to remove the old versions. If people really want to see what it was, and are willing to risk feeling uncomfortable, why make it difficult for them to download the old version?
Because it was Borderline rated M/NC17. Let's put it that way and leave it there.
 

Othius

[A person in a place]
Because it was Borderline rated M/NC17. Let's put it that way and leave it there.
That is absolutely an exaggeration. Everything was entirely sfw, and none of the images were even sexualized whatsoever. The entire suspicion and concern that comes from this is because put a big sign calling it a LOLI ROOM, for some reason. Which, of course, has connotations.

(For the record: the judges can remove any thing for any reason, and I agree with that. I'm not arguing that it shouldn't have bene removed. I'm just arguing that it is in no way 18+ or NC17 material.)
Post automatically merged:

Just finished my votes and reviews. Pasting them into here so that y'all can read them early.

Singleplayer:
I hope this level doesn't feel as rushed to hell as it is. The wonders of a collab, all three of us worked together to help knock out this whole stage in a record time of EIGHT DAYS. I don't like tooting my horn about it too much but dammit I'm proud of that. It has a lot of fundamental issues, however, like the lack of a difficulty progression whatsoever. I'll fix this in a separate release, however.
Holy fuck dude. This level blew me away my first playthrough. The improvement you've had in level designing since Overgrown Heights is astounding. I was convinced you were going to win this contest, however seeing other peoples' votes I guess I was wrong about that.
InferNOr, you've successfully made the first good airship level in 6 years, and, IMO, the only good one to exist in the standard SRB2 platforming style. I absolutely love your approach to room design, as there were a ton of rooms with unique shapes that I haven't quite seen in SRB2 before. It was inspiring, to say the least.

There are a few issues I need to point out, however.
* Frustrating Enemy Spam: You place way too many enemies. It's really easy to get ganged up on with no way to avoid their hits. It's EXTREMELY frustrating when I'm jumping across a thin rope as Amy and get sideswiped from my blind zone by a fucking bee travelling at mach 2.
* Some untelegraphed and bullshit level design: The fans on the left path only bring you high enough if you aim your jump into the bottom of them. Anywhere else and it consistently kills you.
* Ring Placement: You place rings like it is a battlemod map. Ring placement is different in battlemod, where the main goal is to grab a group of rings and get out. This does not work in SRB2. Rings in Singleplayer maps are for guiding the player and adding a collectible to incentivize maneuvering while still keeping the stage flowing. You also place 10 ring monitors just... randomly on the ground, which feels really sloppy.

I think if you fix a few of the stage's glaring issues, you have a legendary stage on your hands. Great job, I'm extremely excited for whatever stage you have coming for the next contest.
You've got big balls to lay out every issue of your stage in a minute-long cutscene at the beginning. I respect that.

This level is really fun. I think it is the first axis2D level made in literally 2 years. I hope it'll inspire people to make more axis2D stages.
Your music choice is great too, Sonicesque pieces are always a jam.

I have a few issues though.
* When you have the camera at wacky angles and expect me to jump on polyobjects, it's hard to tell which direction I'm actually going in. Even something as simple as a transparent line over a pit showing which direction I'm moving would be helpful, because I never know WHERE on the polyobject I'm forced to land on.
* Some of the teleporters after the mikoportal area will send you in the wrong direction, sending you back through the portal at high speed. It's pretty funny though ngl.
* A lot of the background feels flat and undecorated
* A lot of the angle switches are super jarring and jagged.

Otherwise this is another high quality singleplayer map coming from you, I'm super excited to see what you make next.
Hot damn this is an immense improvement over Dark Marsh. You've really listened to the criticisms given for it. Gone are the cramped hallways and annoying enemy placement. However, the hallways here feel really bare. This doesn't really have the architecture of a TEMPLE... In fact, it doesn't have that much going for it architecturally at all. The walls are kinda flat and samey, try adding pillars or some repeated element to spice them up a bit. Look how levels like Castle Eggman 2 spices up its rooms, and that'll help you lock down that theme better. This felt more like a dungeon than anything.

* Those bone ladders are COMPLETELY non telegraphed. There's NOTHING indicating what I should do there. I think they should be replaced, or you should find a better way to signify what they do. As far as ladders go they're janky as hell too, you might be better off just replacing them with springs.

* The music change happened without a level theme change. This is very jarring to the player. If you have something that requires a music change, make it change up the stage's visuals extensively as well, or it will feel anticlimactic. Fortunately if you polished the final gauntlets to give it an entirely new theme, you have the added effect of making your stage feel like a bigger adventure, and have far more climax than just running through an area that exists. You have a great thing going on here, though!

This level has the most gameplay depth in the pack. I love it, I can't wait to see what stage you make next.
Hell yeah, another skateboard park. Your mapping style fits great when playing with momentum mods, which I assume is the point. Level design wise this was a Gigalopolis 2, outfitted with all the great things about Gigalopolis... and all the bad things about Gigalopolis too.

* Some areas are too flat! You have big slopes, but these areas very commonly become FLAT ground and hallways without any decoration whatsoever. I think you could definitely do with adding more sector decorations to your levels. They're minimalistic to a detriment. There are often massive areas without any height variation whatsoever.

* The ring drain water doesn't pose any threat. I think making it damaging or a death pit is a bit punishing, probably, but ring drain water is completely unthreatening, and entirely annoying and frustrating. When I fell into the big hallway full of it and had to trudge through it to the end, I let out an absolutely massive sigh.

* There's not enough to DO. I often find myself running without anything else to do, lots of this map feels unfinished, or only blocked out. You should go back in and add more depth and polish.

Other than that, this is definitely another Rexeljet level, and I'm super happy to see that! Your mapping style is super fun, especially with dashmode characters, or a momentum mod. Great job!
Fuck you Zaxel.
...That being said, damn dude this is your best level yet! Other than your questionable secrets and stupid ass fucking troll exits, gameplay wise this is pretty great! You introduce a gimmick, you challenge the player with that gimmick, I love how you tie all the thunder related things here, and most importantly the level has some MEAT on its bones. It feels like I've gone through a whole ass adventure by the time I'm done. There are some glaring issues, though, ones that have plagued all three of your OLDC maps.

* Your hallways are too small!! It's hard for my camera to move in these hallways, and I can get hit by an enemy I can't see. Make your hallways at least 512 units wide to give the player enough space to comfortable move their camera and character.

* Your level feels a bit short. No, not in length, I mean in height. You really could do with giving this place some vertical scale. It appears to be a thunder FORTRESS, so make it feel dauntingly large. Make it a castle only fit for the prince of thunder. This will also help you bring gameplay upwards instead of outwards, which helps conserve grid space.

As always, I can't wait to see what you make next! This level very much addressed some of the biggest issues with Heroes Hall and Hakuryu Dojo, so if you can address this stages issues to, I think you have a golden stage on your hand.

...Also PLEASE don't do the troll exits again. I personally have no issue with them, but god dammit I told you TWO WEEKS BEFOREHAND that the troll exits would TANK your score, and look how other people are rating your stage. You did this to yourself, Zaxel.
This level made me very happy. It was an extremely cute first attempt at a level, and it does a lot of things right, too! The aesthetic is on point, and the platforming and slope play is really solid. It has some fairly big issues, however.

* The noclimb walls! God damn it is frustrating to completely lock off a character's main way of nobility. There are a few levels in this pack that noclimb EVERYTHING and I absolutely hate it. Noclimb everything didn't really make sense either, it gimped my ability to explore whatsoever. It surely didn't prevent me from getting around, one good glide after a badnik bounce and I find myself right at the ceiling of the stage. It's pointless.

* Way too cramped! There are so many hallways and platforms here that are super tiny, it made it feel way too easy to slip up, as well as catching my camera on areas.

I'm still super impressed you knocked this out as fast as you did. And it's your first map too??? If this is the quality you can do under those circumstances, I think your next attempt is gonna be fantastic. Good job!
My god is this your first stage? Some of the FOF setups you have and the linedef effects you are using are VERY impressive. The general progression of this stage is good, however there are quite a few issues when it comes to telegraphing your obstacles. This level is plagued by very unclear and unappealing visual design.

* This colormap is very bad. It desaturates the stage into this awful gray midtone. It looks awful. I guess it's cool as a blizzard effect, but the way it makes everything the same color of gray is too much of a compromise for clear gameplay.

* That brick texture is very bad. It is very small and turns into a moire effect very quickly which is hard on the eyes. Replace it with CEZBIG textures.

1624633884047.png
1624633899453.png

Look how much more readable your stage is by just replacing the CASTLEH texture with CEZBIG1, and removing that goddam colormap. It looks less like a Blizzard, sorry, but that effect you were going for is not a good one.

* Bad telegraphing. Lots of breakable walls in this map are very hard to see, the ice in the water on Knuckles' path is nearly invisible, and the turret room doesn't really tell you where to go. Don't use arrows! Manipulate the level geometry itself such that it leads you in the right direction.

* Despite all the good ideas, there are 3 rooms specifically in this map that are horribly designed on a fundamental level, and that you really should remake in a separate release.
- * THE TWO MAZES: There's a maze on the main path, and one on the Amy path. Mazes are horribly unfun, frustrating, and non replayable. They kill the flow of the level, no matter how easy you make it to figure out how to progress. Give these rooms platforming or something.
- * THE TURRET ROOM: Oh dear fucking god this must have taken a long time to make. Too bad it's completely unfun to play. My camera gets caught on the conveyors, I get randomly sniped, I get pushed into a wall without any visibility, I'll slide slightly off the edge of the conveyor. Holy SHIT this room gets on my nerves replaying it.

* There's one other thing I noticed. The bastion itself is all squares! It feels straight out of 2.0. Look at Castle Eggman 2 to see how you can use circles and different polygons to make your stage pop out. You should also slope some areas, like doorways and windows, to give them more shape. This will help it feel far more believable.

Otherwise I really love how this map feels like a big adventure. It's surprisingly solid for a first map, despite its shortcomings. I think it's crazy how many different effects you played with. Please make more stages, I'd love to see how you improve from here!
(An update of this map would be really cool as well, because it has a lot of good ideas.)
This level is definitely a vibe. It plays a lot like Wasteland Wilds in that the gameplay is super solid, albeit a bit flat, and it's lightly decorated. This level was super fun to play as Metal Sonic, Modern Sonic, XMomentum, any character or lua script that makes you go fast the longer you run on flat ground. It was super exhilarating! There are no bad rooms in this map, although a lot of them feel really bland. This map does nothing wrong, so don't let my 50% score here fool you. It just doesn't do that much interesting. I know exactly why, too, you were talking about how you rushed this, and how you had a months-long dip in motivation for working on it.
Don't let your scores here dissuade you, I think getting a remastered and polished version of both this stage and Wasteland Wilds would be a treat, as they all have tons of potential for visual updates, and don't do anything wrong gameplay wise. You have some solid levels on your hands, keep going!
This map was fairly insubstantial and boring. The black rocks are pretty, cool, and so is the music, but the stage has too much running without much to do, the aesthetic switches around constantly, and it ends before it really gets going. There isn't really a main gimmick to speak of, and instead just an assortment of random challenges. However I think your usage of slopes for platforming is really cool, do more of that! It's a fun way of spicing of regular flat platforming.

Here's some tips for your next map
* Make a set of gimmicks and challenges to design your stage around, start them off easy and simple to understand, and then progressively make it get more difficult as you go. It's a level design tactic from Miyamoto himself, and it is a good way to give your level a sense of progression.

* Tone down the ring placement holy fucking shit. Rings serve two purposes.
1. Leading the player to the intended path
2. A fun collectable off to the side, not too much of a hassle to collect.
Your ring placement has a few issues. First of all, the ring trails are way too long, it feels less like they're hinting me towards a place and more like one of those shitty Mario Maker speedrun levels where they hold my hand the whole way with rings. Your ring circles, on the other hand, entirely break the pace. If you're trying to collect all rings in a path as you run by, you can't with how large the circles are, and you have to either ignore the missing ring in a super unsatisfying way, or slow down to a crawl to walk a tiny circle every 2 seconds. Not to mention the way the rings are placed feels really sloppy.

Despite this I still quite enjoyed this level, you have a lot of potential, this was a lot better than my first go :v. I can't wait to see how the rest of your maps turn out.
This level was tremendously hard to rate. The biggest issue is that, because it is an entirely different game style, I can't rate it based on how it does SRB2's standard platforming gameplay. Instead, I have to rate it off of visuals, clarity, graphics, music, how it all ties together etc., in which case there are literally no errors, so it's a theoretically perfect map, but the game style is completely uncomparable to the rest of the maps in the pack, and the game style isn't really replayable either so I have to rate it so low just off of being a fundamentally less engaging gameplay style. And that really sucks! I don't like having to place such a solid map this low.

Here's what I have to say, I love the music, I love the aesthetics, I love the charm you put into everything about this. You should turn this level theme into a full Singleplayer map, seriously, people will love it :v.

(P.S You should've submitted this as an Arena map or a Match map, seriously. You shot yourself in the foot by making it an SP map.)
This level was very mediocre. It surprised me how... amateur this felt from someone who has been making SRB2 maps for literally longer than I have been alive. Your gameplay was fairly alright and simple, however it struck me odd how there was absolutely no decoration on the walls at all. Every wall is flat, and only has a single texture. There are 3 slopes in the entire map. The MIDI music could have easily been replaced with a higher quality

Also I can't believe you wanted TWO brak fights here. Putting a vanilla boss in a custom stage immediately kills all replay value. It adds nothing new and thus makes it a slog to go through. I think natural maps are your forte, and I'd love to see another stage that plays like Sky Top for next contest. I know you're able to!
...Ow.

Wasif, I need to address something with your maps right now. Please, for the love of god, use real locations and themes as a basis for your maps. You've gone for the wAckY AbSTRact map 3 times now, and you've made something completely unenjoyable 3 times now. Your linedef executor play is great! I know you know what you're doing technically. Your puzzles are creative! Unfortunately, I can't enjoy that when your textures and music are this horrid sensory overload that actually hurts my head. I can never understand what any of your levels are, except for maybe hypertower, because none of your level themes are actual places that could ever exist or that I could ever imagine existing.

I want to look past the goddamn bright colors and midi music, and rate your stage based on its gameplay. I truly do, but dammit I can't because this stage gives me actual headaches. I don't care if your gameplay has improved much since hypertower. It probably has, and good job on that. I physically cannot bring myself to play through this.
Wasif, you're able to make real themes and real locales, rooted outside of abstraction. You're able to use a color scheme that doesn't use every single primary color at maximum saturation. That's absolutely possible, so please do so, and your maps will be better because of it.
My god this went through the same steps as Hollow Hill.
-Rushed out
-Custom palette
-Rush music
-secret sector art

That being said. This stage has... nothing to it. The two big rooms here are relatively well made! I like what you did with the slopes at the beginning. The two hallways here are stupid as hell. Those bumpers are near impossible to avoid. It just makes me frustrated.

The stage ends before it can really kick off. This ended up fairly unmemorable. Give yourself more time to make a stage! This was short and sweet, but given more time I can assure you'll be able to make a stage with more depth and replayability to it.
This level has a chronic case of cramps... Not in a medical sense, LOL, but in that you don't give the player enough free space to MOVE.
Highlight the entire level in Zone Builder, press E, go to 'EDIT SELECTION' on the right bar, then input "*2" (asterisk included) into the X and Y Absolute Scale variable. This will make your level twice as long and twice as wide, allowing you to actually have space to move around. Other than that, there are a few other big issues.

* The invisible walls, holy shit. This breaks immersion so hard you can't even IMAGINE. I can never tell when crossing platforms if I'm gonna be cucked by a random invisible wall. That's not how you guide players. If you want to stop the player, then use an actual goddam wall.

* Metal goes PITIFULLY slow. I decided to play as metal and follow along directly behind him. He stops at random places, takes a long time to turn, takes his jumps slowly and carefully. It doesn't feel like he's racing, it wasn't a challenge to beat him at all.

Despite this, I think your decoration was pretty nice, especially that outer CEZ skybox place. The music definitely helped add to the vibe as well, unfortunately the level was just frustrating to go through. I hope you can take this into account when making your next level, because you're so close to making something fun here.
This level definitely is a level. It feels like you got the program and placed whatever you could wherever you could just to get a feel for it. That's great, however it ends up in a level that feels like... a test level. Use what you've learned to make a stage with actual gameplay in the future. It'll pay off.

Match:
This map is super well made. I love the way you do your details in your maps, MK. The cranes and ropes were a really nice touch. Your detail is on point, it's large enough to allow for freedom, while small enough that interactions will happen. This is an extremely good use of SRB2s vanilla assets, although maybe some custom music would help the energy, though. I loved this!
This music choice is fantastic. I was very close to rating this first, because while MKs stage is better technically and fundamentally, this place just makes me happy. The music is fun, the big slope jumps are fun.
This level looks really nice! It's decorated well too, I like the nod to Granite Lake. The detail is on point, the map is well sized, there are things to do. I can still scope out my area well. I had no issue with this map, so don't be bummed I put it in third! There's nothing done wrong here, but I don't think it does much to be truly outstanding or memorable. Even still, this was a great map, good job!
This is definitely Magmor. Despite the tried and true aesthetic at play here, I this map has a really bad issue of being too flat and too large. That outside area, that's just a big flat plane! It has a few rocks, but it's so flat. The aesthetic still holds up from 2.1.
There isn't much notable about this stage at all, sorry. It has no visually great setpieces, nor does it have that interesting of a theme. That's not to say it does anything wrong, it doesn't, it's an extremely solid map, you just don't... DO much with your theme at all, so it becomes quite forgettable.


Battle CTF:
This level was a really short and sweet CTF map, and it hits all the marks! The music and aesthetic changes for the time switching was a really cool mechanic that, after I saw Marcos do it, I've wanted to see more of. You've definitely scratched that itch in that regards. The map itself, while relatively unambitious, is extremely solid in the way it plays. It was super exhilarating and nerve racking trying to bring the flag back to base while being bombarded by the whole other team and the stage hazards. There are no stalling spots whatsoever either, I have no issues with this one, good job!
Okay, InferNOr, what the hell is that side path with the arched entrance for? There are a few rings, and then a dead end. Jesus, at least put a spring to bring it to the main path! It LOOKS like the main path, and that's caught me up so many times trying to get to the base. I get trapped there.

There was no telegraph that the oil was gonna be instant death, it has to be learnt by actually falling for it, and I think that's a load of bullshit. There should really be any kind of sign or warning that it's DEATH. I expected it to act like the oil in Arid Canyon (slippery quicksand), and it did not.

There's no reason to go to the outer edges of the center area. None at all, every player stays confined to the innermost side of the middle platform and completely ignores everything else. That's because it's just one large flat plane with a few oil holes. It's entirely pointless, except maybe as a way to stall the flag, and way too long. That leads into my other point, the map is far, far too long. I'm doing a lot of straight shot running, only needing to avoid the oil, like, twice, and it takes a full ass 40 seconds to get to the other base! That's way too long, it gets extremely boring, extremely fast.

All in all, despite being pretty, this map has a lot of really bad gameplay issues. I'm sorry, but I didn't really enjoy it. I really enjoy your other battle maps though, so I'm interested in seeing your next attempt. I hope you learn from the mistakes made in this map.
 
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DoubleATam

she/her
The hub's stage voting mechanism sometimes randomly stops responding to my inputs. Maybe it's because i'm using half-controller half-mouse? Sometimes random controller buttons work instead?
I eventually got through, and usually it works. I guess it's kinda my fault for being a weird person.

I hope next contest there can be pre-level warnings, because a lot of levels turned out to need them. (And some of their solutions for that were suboptimal.)

Overall I had fun. I'll leave more detailed thoughts in my voting thread though.
 

cookiefonster

Wiki Admin
Somewhat last-minute, but here are my reviews for each level! Some of the reviews may be a little hastily written.
1. Lava Temple

Positives:
- Very creative uses of the rollout rock, with puzzles that really make you use your brain!
- Solid visual design and aesthetic.
- Generally good sense of platforming.
- Having a different ending path for each character is genius. All six characters get their own little path that requires you to use their abilities to get through the level, sometimes even with rollout rock shenanigans. I found Fang's the most creative and Metal Sonic's the most challenging.
- Overall, enormous improvement over Dark Marsh! I'm most relieved that the green instakill liquid is nowhere to be seen here.

Negatives:
- I don't like that the giant eye enemies (or enemy-looking things) are, as far as I know, impossible to kill.
- The bone ladders aren't telegraphed clearly. How is the player supposed to know that one particular wall texture allows you to walk up it?
- Although I generally like the indoor platforming room with the chain launchers, I find it irritating to get the highest angle off a launcher and get hurt by the ceiling.
- Very minor criticism, but since we're in 2.2, if it looks like a slope it should probably act like a slope.

2. Hollow Hill Zone Act 1

Positives:
- Generally fluid level design and gameplay.
- Excellent visual design, a perfect balance between being consistent and varied.
- Good use of springs for level direction and spectacle alike.
- Good-looking crushers used as setpieces, reminds me of Sonic 1 or 2.
- The slippery slowly sinking liquid is a neat gimmick, if somewhat strange in usage.

Negatives:
- Death pits are way deeper than they have any reason to be.
- It's a very tedious waiting game to deliberately descend in the liquid.
- Depending on which path you take, glaregoyles may only show up at the start and then never be seen again. Not good for a gimmick to only show up once at the start.
- In the room with the breakable floor marked by an arrow of rings, the way ahead exclusive to spin characters isn't clear, because the spin gap doesn't look like much of a spin gap.
- There's a path ahead of that breakable floor where continue going through glaregoyle gauntlets, but after following a column of rings down it appears to be a dead end, unless you just happen to notice springs on a wall that are near invisible. It's not good form to make springs that are vital to progression so hard to see.
- Speaking of springs, it's hard to tell sometimes whether springs are red or yellow.
- I'm not sure why the same identical chain of diagonal springs at the end is near the end is mirrored; it feels unnecessary, like a fake path split.

Other notes:
- If you don't mind me nitpicking grammar, the heart emblem's hint says "it's" where it should be "its". (sorry, that one specific grammar mistake irritates me)

3. Mercury Mine Zone

Positives:
- Slopes are used in a way that feels very Sonic-like.
- Expansive enough that maintaining boost mode as Metal Sonic is doable, which many levels (even vanilla levels) don't do.
- Stacked path structure makes for good replayability.
- Solid visual design.
- The ring-draining mercury has the right amount of prevalence as a hazard: common but doesn't take up the entire level.

Negatives:
- I don't think it's fair for the liquid to drain your rings and drown you at the same time. One or the other would be better.
- Not sure if this is something the level would fix, but I would have loved it if an elemental shield could prevent ring drain.
- The mercury falls are perhaps too fast and hard to avoid. They go down quickly enough that spindashing all the way and then jumping is the easiest way to get past them, and that isn't kind to Amy and Fang.

4. Falcon Emissary Zone

Positives:
- Excellent visual design, perhaps the best in the contest! It's exactly the right degree of colorful but not too colorful... at least in the outdoor rooms.
- Good usage of fan gimmicks for level progression.
- Creative and varied room design.

Negatives:
- The indoor rooms are quite a bit too dark and purple.
- As with your prior levels, you used way too many different enemy types. When making a SRB2 level, it's good form to only stick to a few enemy types, so that the player gets used to whichever enemies are featured in the level rather than constantly being bombarded with new ones.
- Some rooms look weird and bloated, with off-the-path secrets that don't seem to serve a purpose, or springs that don't lead you anywhere meaningful.
- I'm not sure what the point of the low gravity section is. I don't find it very fun.

5. Teal Tundra Zone

Positives:
- Pleasant visual design and theming—I've got a soft spot for ice-themed levels.
- Fun to run through as Metal Sonic because of his boost mode.

Negatives:
- There's not a lot going on in this level to make it interesting aside from blasting through. An enjoyable level, but one that plays things a bit too safe.

6. Zaxel's Thunder Yard

I'll sidestep the existence of the troll exit in this review, since you've been criticized enough for it already.

Positives:
- The lightning field speed gimmick is a very fun one. Perhaps underdeveloped, but fun no less.
- Generally much more solid layout and sense of level design than either of your prior OLDC submissions. Good improvement!

Negatives:
- It's not a good idea to mix pity shields with other shields.
- I also don't see the point of having enemies take more than two hits to kill. Two hits already make for an extremely threatening enemy, and any more than that is just tedious to kill.
- Don't put tiny textures on large walls that can be seen from far away. Large textures are much better for such walls, since it makes them easier on the eyes.
- Some of the hallways are very small and cramped.
- I don't think the 2D sections add much to the level.

7. Ridge Rapids Zone

Positives:
- Pleasant visual design and aesthetic.
- Layout that invites exploration with some engaging platforming mixed in. This one is quite a joy to explore!

Negatives:
- There is never any reason to place score monitors directly on a map, unless you've modded the map in some way so that they're more than just 1/50 and 1/5 of an extra life respectively. They're an extremely underwhelming reward for exploration; just put super ring monitors or shields or any other sort of monitor instead.
- Some of the waterfalls are weird and confusing to get through. It's especially confusing to have to go to the rightmost edge of a waterfall to proceed instead of being blocked off by a wall.
- The 2D section (or sections?) doesn't quite seem to work as intended. Note that I'm not a big fan of 2D sections in SRB2 levels anyway.

8. Ante-Station Zone

Positives:
- Incredibly creative uses of 2D mode (or Axis2D, rather), far more than I usually see from 2D SRB2 levels or sections of levels. The fact that you made the entire level in 2D really allowed you to get creative with it.
- Good usage of enemies in 2D mode coming from the 3D space.
- Cool visual design and flair throughout.

Negatives:
- Many parts don't have a lot going on or are basically "hold right to win".
- I'm not a big fan of the usage of platforms moving against the 2D axis. It never feels clear when you can or can't land on them; disappearing platforms would've worked much better.

9. Abyss Caverns Zone

Positives:
- Decent visual design.
- It feels weirdly enticing and satisfying to get through the black areas and tell platforms apart form death pits.
- I like the placement of speed shoes down low after the lava section. It's a good and fitting place to put speed shoes: somewhere that's a little tricky to access, but can be reached without breaking the pace and then put to good use. It feels like a lot of people making SRB2 levels forget there's such a thing as speed shoes.

Negatives:
- I'm not sure if I like the fact that the level abruptly switches from a dark cave to a lava section.
- There's one part that especially feels pointless: a spin gap/breakable floor that seems to be a spin/non-spin path split, but really just quickly leads to the same room. You either spin under the gap, or you break the floor and jump on a spring to bust a ceiling. That part serves solely to transition to the abrupt switch listed above.

10. Fort Sunset Zone

Not sure how to judge this one. It's not a very interesting or memorable level, though it is a respectable deviation from the other levels. My main problem with this level is that the coins are opaque to Fang's pop gun, and also annoying in some way as Sonic if I recall.

11. Koopa Kastle Zone

Frankly, it's strange that such an amateurish-seeming level would come out of someone who's been making SRB2 maps since the final demo days. I know this level is inspired by 3D Mario games, but as Pipe Towers Zone proves, you really can't slap the gameplay style of a Mario game into SRB2 and expect it to be all that fun, and this level is no exception. It's also strange for this level to put in old-timey spincushion sprites (back when they were called sharps)—seems like something only done for historical interest. I also don't understand why this level ends with the Brak fight near unedited, and surrounded by a death pit that looks like lava at that.

If there's anything I can praise about this level, I guess it's the imitation of the "gauntlet of hazards" style that Mario castle levels use?

12. Blizzard Bastion Zone

Positives:
- You're using Castle Eggman's chain launcher gimmick in exactly the right way: when launching off them at a high angle, the player can reach upper paths or even skip through big chunks of the level. At lower angles, the player is sent on lower paths.

Negatives:
- Unfortunately, the positive listed is about the only thing I like about this level. I can tell a lot of work went into this level, but unfortunately it's far too confusing to be fun to play, with extremely unforgiving gimmick sections and enemy placement.
- It's also not a kind level to the eyes, especially with the prevalent usage of a tiny brick texture on large walls.

I appreciate the attempt to make a challenging level, but it falls flat in many ways. Some improved visual design and telegraphing of gimmicks would have done wonders, and you should keep that in mind for future levels you make.

13. Bombastic Beach Zone

This one's way too short for me to say much meaningful about. There is an interesting attempt at engaging hazards in that hallway with spinning bumpers and fireballs, but the level never gets time to develop that idea, and it's easy to skip that part anyway. The final room seems like something that you'd need to climb up to progress, but it's actually pointless since the signpost is in a small crevice in that room.

14. Music Mash Zone

I really want to like this a lot more than your prior OLDC levels—this one has some creatively designed puzzles and varying paths! But its visual design is WAY too far on the unrealistic extreme. With SRB2 levels, you should make your levels look fairly realistic, so that the player can connect it with something that exists in real life, or perhaps a well-known setting in fiction. The visual design weighs this whole thing down and only serves to accentuate the bizarre, incomprehensible platforming and level design you've got there. Connecting your levels to realism would help enormously with making them cohesive and enjoyable.

15. Drenched Dam Zone

Extremely confusing and extremely cramped. I want to enjoy this level, especially since it's meant to be speed-based, but I simply can't because the invisible walls throw me off so much. Making this level more spacious would do wonders, and it would no doubt make the invisible walls less confusing.

16. Emerald Glade Zone

This comes off not so much like a level as someone's first attempt at using Zone Builder, figuring out how it works and how to implement level features. Now don't get me wrong, experimenting like this is the perfect way to learn Zone Builder (or any software for that matter)! I advise that you keep learning how to use Zone Builder and figure out more about how SRB2's levels are made.
 

glaber

Emblem Radar Ready
the sharps are ment to take the place of the Mario Series Spinies since we don't have any to use. Also Spincushions didn't feel right thematically.
 

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