The Devious Four Chronicles - Episode 6 : The Fourth Sector
Made by Scorpion
Mario and Sonic have earned a well deserved vacation from the Devious Four's attacks. Sonic decides to have a normal adventure with Mario. Instead, they find a whole new world filled with wonders, bombs, and a strange creature called Sectorial. Unfortunately, trouble is brewing in the dimension between dimensions, and it's not to be taken lightly.
It took me a some time to figure out how to get all these secrets, but I finally got it, so let's go:
Level design: 7/10
Most of the levels were decently builded. They had a nice structure, good gimmick, etc. Some places could look a bit better and there are also some glitches here and there. Nothing major though. Some parts were a bit repetitive, but they weren't annoying. There were some minor cutoffs here and there. I wouldn't care in vanilla hacks, but it looks a little ugly with custom graphics. Nothing major though. Looks like it had got small inspiration from TSRP2R (like Tetrad's Hideout). Some levels also "cut off" near the boundary, check it just in case. Some midpoints don't work too (example: Scorpion's Lab).
Well, this was obvious. I see you made really great work with it and it took you a lot of time to create them. They fit well with the level theme and they give also a really good atmosphere. Great job!
It's probably the most major thing in this whole hack. It started easy, getting more difficult with the overall progress. Some levels were challenging and fun, yet some were a bit too tough or a they forced me to take a hit. Some parts have a lot of ball and chains or cleverly placed Thwomps which make a bit of artifical difficulty. Some things require tools, but god thanks for extra hearts.
Even if the enemy's goal is simple, the plot goes more and more complicated in progress. It's a very good story based hack. It was also hiding some questions and mysteries through the whole hack. It deserves a 10.
Well done OW, I love the graphics. Great job on this. The only con would be the paths - some of them reveal a bit weird and some hardcoded paths glitch up when they meet together resulting in getting stuck and resetting the game (or rewinding).
Good music, some of it is used from SMWC's section, but most of them is custom. Most of them fit well, a few were a little out of place. Some themes are quite catchy and I like the noise effects in the Lab and the wind effect in some cutscenes/rooms.
Nice ASM. Cutscenes, custom sprites, custom blocks, some other custom stuff. I think they're good. Your bosses are also fine, yet sometimes a bit too tough (example: when you're fighting Scorpion and destroying the SopDPG). Good thing there are a lot of mushrooms in harder battles, they save the players life. I like the idea of bonus health, it really helps in later levels.
Replay value: 8/10
Except for some graphical bugs it's worth playing, but some spots may annoy you a little. Not recommended for begginer players, as it gets quickly hard. I think I enjoyed this hack.
Overall: 68/80 (85% - 8,5/10).
Good job. Try to fix some glitches and it will be great.
This hack has some potential, some pretty decent levels here and there, but there are major level design flaws, far too frequently for me to give an opinion similar to those that are already posted here.
I encountered several situations (I've lost count) of getting trapped somewhere that I can't get out. In ONE level, (Flashy, yellow, only spotty visibility) I managed to get trapped in 3 different places that forced me to leave the level and start over. The level has 3 midpoints, and the second and third don't even work.
There's one stage with a midpoint that spawns you in a black void, where you just fall and die if you spawn from it. Did you test this thing at all?
Nevermind the slowdown. Holy moly, the slowdown. So much everything on screen that the game would start running at 20% speed for extended periods of time. That's just painful.
The first half of the game's bonus stages don't even lock the screen, so the screen scrolls to the right which just looks awful, since the bonus game loops around over there.
That said, the numerous heart containers are a nice offering, and you were sure to have mushrooms available quite frequently (Instead of fire flowers/feathers, which don't heal the player), so good on you there.
As far as switch palaces go, you remind the player that they've hit switch palaces very frequently, and it felt incredibly rewarding to have sought them out. I'd say more than any other romhack I've ever played. They make a huge difference, and I think that's fantastic.
It's worth noting that the choice of music was nice. Though the bonus rooms kind of take away from that, by interrupting music and killing the mood, inserting a happy little tune in the middle of a level.
Very unusual sound effect choices. Some enemies make a screen-scrolling sound when they attack, some make a coin sound, some make a watery 'bloop' sound. These are quite out of place, and seem more likely to confuse a player.
I think the custom made graphics are interesting, but they lack the contrast that conveys clearly to the player what they're dealing with. Thwimps are abstract purple flowers with an orange X, Thwomps are flat-topped hourglass things, but still hurt to stand on despite looking safe. Almost every enemy is some combination of bright orange and dark colours, but so are many tiles that compose the levels. This makes things very visually busy, and it is difficult to process everything that's going on.
Your custom art has come a long way since your earlier work, but I believe there is still room for improvement as far as conveyance is concerned.
The stages with the wavy effect and animated backgrounds have this awful flickering effect, though. It's really bad, almost full-screen flashing of messed up graphics. I stream the romhacks I play, and a couple of my viewers have photosensitive epilepsy. This sort of seizure-inducing flashy nonsense isn't really considered acceptable, is it?
I'm sorry to say, but this was far too broken for me to have the patience to continue playing in its entirety. What I take away from playing this hack is: If you have a level that's so long you find it necessary to have 3+ midpoints, don't you think maybe making them actually work would be nice? Or perhaps just breaking up the level instead?
It's like the hack wasn't tested at all, least of all without tools. It's definitely an improvement over your previous work, but I think there is a massive need for very necessary improvement, if I'm going to play or recommend another romhack of yours in the future.
Moonbeast, Episode #3 can be downloaded from SCORPION's signature. #4 is getting remade, #5's difficulty is being adjusted. As for #1 and #2, they haven't been made yet.
Anyways, this is easily the best hack in the series so far. Been following it ever since 2009, and after so long the end result turned out amazing. I would go as far as to say that it's one of the best hacks I've ever played.