Another spiritual successor to the 12 Days of Christmas concept (which had a level design contest on this site built around it quite some time back), where starting December 25th, I would build one level per day for the next 12 days. However, it would actually take 14 days this time around to finish the 12 levels, and then a few more days to do everything else of significance that wasn't the levels themselves.
I agree with @mikairanutshack, the Very Hard difficulty fits better. @MetBalls : I haven't played Infinity Edge yet, but it surely suffers the same problem and should also be tagged Very Hard then. I am obviously talking from a non save-sate gamer point of view, as this the only way of playing these games genuinely.
I gave up at the Madeline level because I had enough spending my time backtracking due to the lack of 1-ups and power ups. The levels are hard enough by themselves. If you were provided with more/infinite lives and easy power up access (like Top Secret Area), the game would be totally different, you could focus on the difficulty of each level without having to go through so much frustrating backtracking. It would have been a lot funnier that way.
At the very least, you could have provided an unlimited save prompt (yeah, the frustration of getting a game over after having reached a midway point with much pain is indescriptible). And maybe a fast overworld walking (when you backtrack a lot, it is so slow... and was part of what made me give up).
For the point, I would suggest that, starting from a certain difficulty (say for instance Standard:Very Hard), every game should provide an easy way to earn lives (or 99/infinite lives) and possibly power ups (for non Kaizo games). If it doesn't, it should be, to my opinion, rejected. If the game is made up very challenging, player must have to concentrate on the genuine level difficulty, not spending hours backtracking.
The game otherwise is great and levels are very beautiful =] I won't give it a rating though as I haven't completed it.
I would like to preface this review with the recommendation of this hack, as it was very fun, as well as the note that I have rated this hack a 5 out of 5. However, I absolutely believe that the difficulty should be Standard: Very Hard. This is much harder than some of the easier Standard: Very Hard hacks on the site. Another side note, the lack of lives was very punishing.
Here are my thoughts:
In general, I believe the hack overly relied on a few of the same sprites for most levels:
Fireball-shooting Piranha Plant
Chargin'/Kickin' Chuck (Specifically, the unmodified footballs bouncing based on RNG. Very annoying, dying to these did not feel fair.)
Line-guided Fuzzies (later, fireball-shooting)
Amazing Flyin' Hammer Brothers
Bullet Bill Launchers (later, homing bills)
And to a lesser extent, custom boo rings.
Quite a large difficulty spike, considering the first 2 levels were not challenging at all. But this is more of a progression-based problem, rather than the level itself.
The chargin' chucks being placed next to 1-tile cement blocks was a bit hellish, considering you could not flee very effectively. I found this quite humorous, as well as terrifying.
Got to the midway on first attempt, second half of the level was much harder. The first of many in a similar vein.
The Myth of Ratatoskr:
Very creative level, also VERY long. I am glad I beat this in one go, it might have gotten a bit grating had it gone on for too long.
Another case of the first half being pitifully easy compared to the second half. Speaking of the second half, this was probably my least favorite section in the game. A combination of ice physics, blowing winds pushing you rightward constantly, floating water over pits, as well as hammers raining upon you as you weave between fish. All of that could be excused, if not for how infuriating it was to be marked for death instantly whenever you touched the right side of a water block, as the wind would not allow you to get back into the water. You would just slap your face into the tile repeatedly, as you helplessly descended into the abyss below.
My Best Madeline Impression:
The first half of the level was surely not easy, but perhaps compared to the second half, you could consider it to be. The first section of the second half was very long, and very hard. Then, it is followed up by a second section, without another midway, that is just as long as well as hard. I found myself repeating countless times, "God, when does it end?" Some problems with the latter half of the level include spawning issues of vital platforms that are key to progression, as well as the wall-jump blocks being a bit annoying. My fingers were hurting while playing this level from gorilla-gripping the buttons so hard, to make sure the wall jumps would be pulled off correctly. This level was fun, but I really did not want to play it anymore, if that makes sense.
Easily the hardest level, hardly the easiest level. This is the most severe case of the second half of the level being lightyears harder than the first half. Realistically, the first half is actually the first quarter -- as there is 4 sections in this level, but 3 of them are after the midway. The last one is an autoscroller, and I have never seen so many fireballs on screen in my god damn life. This level had me begging for mercy -- tears in my bloodshot eyes as my soul was physically ripped from my body, time and time again by the Phanto who would zoom onto the screen at Mach 5 while I was minding my own business, merely attempting to dodge one of the dozens of fireballs headed directly towards my person. The amount of projectiles in this level is enough to make worldpeace blush.
As a testament to how much of a rollercoaster the difficulty was in this hack, the first half was able to be beaten in one go, as well as the first section after the midway. However, that did not matter -- as this was yet another example of there being a 1:3 split with the amount of sections on each side of the midway. This level was difficult, but compared to the level preceding it, it was nothing more than a brisk walk in the park.
Overall, this was a levelengine hack. Quite short and (strong emphasis on relatively) easy compared to his previous works. I highly recommend playing this, as it was a very enjoyable experience.
I really liked the ideas, presentation and aesthetics. With that said, I found the levels to be a bit too precise and most of the times enemies are in obnoxious positions just to annoy the player. The Sinosoidal level end probably is annoying because the player will not be expecting the chargin chuck at the end. Multivariable has birds that fly at high speed and are hard to reaction. The Ballroom level went a bit too far in the second half with some much stuff going on at the same time. Overall, not a bad hack, but the enemy placement most of the time made me very sour. Also, I suggest change it from Standard Hard to Standard Very Hard, since this hack is more difficulty than it seems to be.
Very creative hack, I do agree with Morsel about the lives...nonetheless there is a life farm you can find. The wall jump level was my least favorite but that's mostly because of the wall jump asm. A good challenging and fun hack overall.
Excellent hack, as always. Perhaps one or two of the levels are not as interesting as the others, perhaps the second half of the madeline level is a little too punishing, perhaps you could start with a few more than five lives--still, it is ultimately a fair challenge and there is much here to entertain and instruct. Even better than its spiritual predecessor.