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[FAN JUDGE] y'all levels any good? [39/86]

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Sorry for the huge delay, again. Hope this leaves anyone willing to make any changes with enough time to do so. I will do my best to get the last reviews done tomorrow.

018 arghhh5


Design: 19/60
While a fun idea, the execution unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired. Most of the issues I had with the design have already been kindly pointed out in your level thread, the biggest being that ducking, the main level's main gimmick, isn't well communicated and never once necessary.
While the super koopas, easily the level's biggest threat, are indicated, their spawns heavily depend on how fast the player approaches the level. When I attempt to rush the level, there tends to be little to no time to react. On the other hand, when I take my time, things quickly get overwhelming, because the super koopas then tend to clutter with other obstacles such as the fishes and spike balls. I'd definitely recommend reworking the pacing, to either have the setups be more lenient and fair for every playstyle or to encourage a certain playstyle by e.g. having the level be on a timer (when done poorly a tight timer could easily worsen the experience as well though, watch out). If you plan to allow for a slower approach, I'd recommend increasing the distance between most setups, because if you only back up for just a little in certain spots, you tend to respawn columns of super koopas with no time to react.
Another issue is the indicators themselves, especially in the second half when coins are scattered everywhere. I would definitely get rid of the coins below the thwomps, as their behavior is predictable. As LuigiTime already correctly pointed out, the level never makes it clear, that you're meant to duck under most super koopas. Tile-merging trickery, a message box or even a different level name could do the trick.
But all of that would also only pay off, if the ducking mechanic were actually made an essential part of the level. It starts out decently but once the thwomps are introduced almost every setup requires you to jump instead. As an additional thing to consider, ducking is only benefitial when the player has a powerup.
Still, even with a somewhat ruffer gameplay experience, I found the level to have a lot of charm and certainly memorable.

Creativity: 14/30
As mentioned before I enjoy both the main gimmick as well as the idea behind how most obstacles are setup. Even with the sadly flawed execution aside, setups stay very same-ish throughout. Ducking becomes less and less of an option and instead more of a "find a safe spot in the water", which doesn't feel consistent with earlier sections of the level.

Atmosphere: 2/10
Glitched graphics (orange platform, thwomps and even the superkoopa when killed) are plentyful and unfortunately make the level feel a lot less polished than it is. Too bad the aesthetics are kept "fully" vanilla (e.g. no custom palette or music), which while obviously not bad, is unable to leave an impression. If you swap the orange platform with the brown platform floaring on water and do a little tileset mixing, you should be able to get of the graphical glitches, while still being able to use the same enemy types.

Total: 35/100


021 LuigiTime


Design: 35/60
While certainly not the most groundbreaking level gameplay wise, I had a blast playing it. If I had to pick one gripe, I have with the design approach, I would go for the wonky mixture of a regular, enemy-based design and pure platforming-based sections, which often feel less fleshed out. The first half overall is neat and home to multiple fun obstacles and excellent enemy palcement. The addition yoshi-coin challenges and note-block jumps stand out positively.
It's the second half, my criticism mostly applies to. Starting off, I don't think the p-switch "puzzle" doesn't do the level any favors. On my first attempt I carried to switch to the finish, not knowing what to do with it. Then, when I finally found where to go, I instead died on the blind fall to the secret room, which requires you told hold either left or right with no prior notice. The platforming in the second half sadly lacks a lot in variety. Most of it boils down to moving right, while holding down run and jump, to land on wigglers or note blocks. There are very little additional enemies to look out for, nor sections where you have to work with timing jumps right or other types of platforms, to add some variety. Then there's the occasional empty screen (17, 19) which could use some more action, as well as the known wiggler glitch, which allows you to bounce off or get hit by wigglers above a certain height onscreen. The section pictured in the screeshot above (screen 18) was were this was glitch was the most occurrent and usually lead to me getting hit unfairly. But even though simple, and in my opinion worse than the first half, the level's enjoyable all throughout.

Creativity: 14/30
Though no unique gameplay gimmick, wigglers and note blocks were used to great effect to create fun setups. The yoshi coin challenges and eye candy aesthetics (pipes, plant columns and clouds in the background) are also very noteworthy. I would have loved to see more variety in the second half's setups.

Atmosphere: 8/10
Very cute. I love the unique coloring, distinct and original FG and BG and general theme. The music's perfectly incorporates the level's cute feel.

Total: 57/100


020 Anas


Design: 47/60
Generally fantastic, but also insanely difficult. So difficult in fact, I'm not ashamed to admit that I savestated my way through the cave sections, as well as it being my only "major" complaint with the level. The difficulty curve felt a little unbalanced and with both halfs being fairly length and every little mishap ending in death, things can get frustrating quickly.
The outdoor sections, at least to me, felt a lot more manageable with the only big annoyance being the chucks, who's throwing cycles never wanted to align with what I was going for. The tutorial works great with the messages explaning all you need to know, as well as a few introductory setups, allowing you to practice all you need to beat the level. It's the p-switch setup where I hit my first roadblock, because the chuck and sumo brother suddenly decided to flawlessly work together.
The first cave has multiple very creative setups and the difficulty still felt manageable. I do think there was too little time to react to the first podobo, when sliding the full distance. Also having bats immeditaly come at your while near the top of the screen feels a little harsh (screen 7). All other setups were good to great to me though, and having to race against a skull raft, while having to glitch through a corner, stands out as one of the level's most memorable moments.
The second outdoors section is the calm before the storm. Enjoyable overall, aside from the screen scrolling setup. The second cave section is insane with each setup more bonkers than the latter. I don't think the warning sign is enough of a warning. I expected a layer 2 smasher, but expected the cement blocks to still be safe. Guess not. Maybe see if you can find a way to slow the player down even more (e.g. wall of throw blocks to get through), to have them see the layer 2 in action beforehand. My least favourite setup in this section is on screen D, as it's one that most feels like trial and error. Another thing to watch out for too is the time, which can get fairly low if you take your time with each obstacle (and happen to beat it in one go lol).
Huge compliment on making one of the most clever and varied level I've played thus far. I had a blast playing and crying for help.

Creativity: 28/30
This was a first for me. While I was certainly aware of "note block surfing" being a thing, I never knew it was reliable enough to build a level around. Having a slide on the left and right corner have a hugely differing effect, made for even more creative setups. The variety stays high throughout, easily justifing the level's length.

Atmosphere: 6/10
Visually simple but pleasant to look at. Both new palettes are neat and the atmosphere in the cave section is particularly tense due to the fantastic song choice.

Total: 81/100


016 Ryman


Design: 16/60
I'll avoid talking around the bush. Large collections of rooms and ideas are very hard to pull off well and often suffer from similar issues. These type of levels used to be more common during the eariler days of VLDC and often have a ton of charm. However they often lack coherency, with too many concepts for their own good and none of them properly explored. The quality of the rooms varys immensly and room 7 quite possibly could be difficult enough to be considerd kaizo, which is a big no. I believe the best feedback I can offer is by commenting on the rooms separately:

The first room is alright but the first two flat and easy screens feel very separate from the last few jumps. I'd recommend extending the room by a little, and having the difficulty increase more subtly.
Room two does very little and is over before it even started.
If find a way to get rid of the blind jump (neither spinys nor munchers at the yoshi coins jump are visible), and have your enemy placement on the final few screens feel a little more deliberate, you've got a fun room on your hand.
Room 4 has interesting ideas but can be frustrating to play. Using exploding block enemies underwater to get additional time to dodge them is clever, as is having to avoid getting too close to enemies to preserve a throw block. Since the latter isn't immediatly obvious and easy to mess up, a way to reset or have the goal be clear from the start, would help a lot.
I'm glad the puzzle room is optional because it requires the awareness of mulitple glitches and tricks, I'd doubt all judges to be aware of, to even have a chance at solving it. I skipped it on my first playthrough as I didn't know how to get the second mushroom. But even when you know the correct solution, lining your reserve item up in the exact way to feed the baby yoshi, is more annoying than it has to be.
Room 6 is all about the mechakoopa section, which although somewhat jank, is clever because you're unable to jump on them. The jump over the muncher near the very start is way too precise though.

It's room 7 where I unfortunately draw the line. On my first attempt, this was where I quit, as I couldn't figure out how to progress. I assumed it had to with a eating block snake, but didn't know how to activate it. Turns out, you have can't collect the coins of the blocks in your way, bounce on the disco-shell until the p-switch timer runs out and then use a turn block to jump on the, now brown blocks, to avoid the disco-shell from falling off screen. This isn't just cryptic but also insanely tuff to pull off. And best of all, what follows is tricky platforming while balancing on a single block snake, which might be even more difficult.
The final room is a lot tamer in comparison, even if the opening jumps can be ruff and I have yet to figure out the intended solution to getting to the exit. On both my winning attempts I found weird ways of getting rid of the koopa, for example through random screen scrolling.

Overall, we have an interesting set of rooms, which are held back by bad pacing. Rooms often feel like the start or end of a neat concept but stitched together they make little sense, with a difficulty curve that couldn't be further off.

Creativity: 17/30
Even though I've been fairly harsh towards the gameplay experience, the level is chock-full of short level ideas and concepts. Some great, some not so much, but creative nevertheless.

Atmosphere: 3/10
Visually the rooms themselves are kept very vanilla, but look mostly fine. The problem I have instead is that there is no consistent theme going on, making not only the rooms clash gameplay-wise but unfortunately also atmospherically. The music on the hand in my opinion fits the hectic pacing of the latter rooms very well.

Total: 36/100
Check out my new hack thread:
Thanks for reviewing my level! I personally underestimated the difficulty and creativity it had and thought I had to spice it up even more. But it seems I didn't have to radically redesign the level for that. I took note of the problems you mentioned and ironed it out just now. It should be far better and less trial-and-error.
My Mode 0 guide.

My Discord server. It has a lot of archived ASM stuff, so check that out!

thanks mad, i need to practice lvl making more if i can get a new computer
...and with the last requests finally being done, it's time to close the curtains. I really hope you enjoyed, I certainly did, even if I always underestimate the time I need to properly articulate my thoughts and feedback for each level.

014 Infinity & Green Jerry


Design: 37/60
I always admire those who dare to submit water levels, as they tend to be frowned upon, often wrongfully so. Reason being, when designed poorly, they tend to be among the slowst, least engaging levels out there. When done well though, they can place among the very best in contests, because their potential is a lot less exhausted and almost never generic. This level is fortunately part of the latter group.
Level design wise the focus is not on providing a collection of crazy setups, but rather on a more laid back and classic approach with great pacing and well thought through enemy placement. In the second half the action intensifies without the introduction of castle enemies felling forced or too harsh. Instead the difficulty progression felt just right, partially through the screen scrolling which always granted enough time to analyse the situation but still required you to put youself into danger.
If I were to only make a single suggestion on what to change, it would be to drop the boss fight. Due to the slow underwater movement, it's difficult to get to Wendy in time, if she doesn't appear right under you, making most of the boss fight a boring waiting game. Also it might be just me, but I assumed the meteorites/rocks hurt the player, therfore making most of the level a whole lot more difficult for myself.

Creativity: 16/30
Even though the level, especially in the first half, is a little lacking in memorable setups and a proper gimmick, aside from being a water level, it's thematically very unique and having the outer space gravity be a water level instead is clever.

Atmosphere: 7/10
The music's such a bop. Visually, even without complex graphic tweaks, you managed to nail the distinct space aesthetic. The background although fitting is very simplistic.

Total: 60/100


010 IronFoxGaming


Design: 30/60
A fun level overall, but the most interesting bits are hidden behind optional puzzles one can easily skip. If you do so, the level feels very flat and has little too offer besides its gorgeous aesthetics and the vertical section, which is over before it even starts.
I think that's a shame, because I love the idea of hitting blocks from below to use koopas/shells to activate other block. But outside of the puzzle room and one or two other bonus items, the idea is never realized to its full potential. Also none of this is to say, the level without the bonus games is bad. It unfortunately just lack memorability.
Another thing I thought I should mention: I have yet to properly figure out how the purple blocks work, when they turn into a coin block and when they instead disappear. Not knowing so, sadly made me miss out on the last yoshi coin twice.

Creativity: 13/30
Aesthetically the trees and rock tileset were made through clever use of tile merging and recoloring. With a lack of a proper gimmick and unique setups, the creativity gameplay-wise unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired.

Atmosphere: 9/10
I love the dreamy, relaxing atmosphere, the music generates. Visually I especially find the highly detailed tree to be magnificent. Freat work!

Total: 52/100


Kusrry


Design: 51/60
What an insanely fun and ambitious level. The first third is near perfect. The progression of setups is fantastic, slowly increasing in complexity, while always staying true to level's sliding theme, as well as simple enough to quickly understand on what to do in each situation. In the first section the only setups I didn't love were the first two saws on screen A, which leave much less reaction time than other setups, especially since you come right out of slide and can also easily speed right past the saws. My only other issue was with the fairly long wait for the platform on screen E.
Section two also starts off wonderfully, cranking up the enemy variety, making familiar concepts and setups feel just as fresh again. It's mostly just the last few setups, which I found to be a little overwhelming. Screen 10 for example, I still don't know how to apporach correctly, as the amount of enemies and platforms make it very cramped and difficult to analyse. I'm also not a fan of the slide on screen 2 requiring you to hold down the jump button to make the jump, as the note block is not visible before starting the slide, therefore giving you too little time to react. I'd recommend either removing the note block or moving one of the grey platforms closer.
The final section is easily the least consistent one to me, featuring both some of my absolute favourite setups but also some of the worst. I would probably recommend moving the info on the player being able to carry the slide, while climbing, to the start of this room, as this the first time it's releveant. Also I'd put a larger emphasis on not being allowed to move when in the air, as it, at least to me, was not easy nor intuitive too pull at first, wondering why I couldn't get it to work consistently. The setups I liked most usually included lineguides and fish. Ones I on the other hand didn't like were the tight jump off the first vine on screen B, screen D which feels way too simple compared to the rest of the room (+ I failed to recognise the block as a throw block at first) and at last screen 10 where I have yet to figure out on how to pass the saw in a slide.
The puzzle, while clever, felt like a huge clash with the tight pacing of the rest of the level, so I'm glad it was optional. I beat it once but was unsure quite a few times, if what I did was the intended solution.
Last but not least I don't think the level needs of a low timer on some of the sections, even if the level encourages going fast. Even if I ended up critiquing a lot more than I initinally intended, making the level sound a lot worse than it is, the design score should hopefully indicate how much I loved playing the level overall.

Creativity: 27/30
A creative gimmick with excellent execution and an off the charts collection of clever and varied setups. What more is there to wish for?

Atmosphere: 5/10
I'm very torn. Visually I dig most of what the level has to offer. The background in all three major sections is gorgeous and the ExAnimation and palettes, although I don't love all of them, are for the most part excellent. I wish the second sections FG palette had a darker outline though. As of now there is too little contrast. My biggest issue is with the plentiful glitched sprites and vine cutoff in the final section. It's not the end of the world but sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise very polished level.

Total: 83/100


MrMartley64


Since I've seen that you've taken down your submission and been made aware that your level unfortunately break the rules by having more than one exit, I'll keep myself brief and skip the rating.
The switch palace gimmick sadly doesn't add much and instead only acts as a check if all four sub-rooms have been beaten. The rooms vary quite a bit in quality and difficulty. My favourtie was probably the water one, which was both the easiest and fairest out of the four. While not particularly unique, enemies were well placed and the length felt just right. The castle section also was one of the better ones, even if the transition from the p-balloon section to regular platforming felt very off. Enemy placement, although at times a tad spammy, was fun, and the net climbing section at the very top felt a fitting ending to the section.
My problems are rather with the other two sections, with the yellow switch room being the lesser evil and mostly fine if it weren't for way too over the top lineguide section. The cave room is easily the worst and unfortunately the first impression I got of the level. It's riddled with way too far jumps, blind jumps and enemies you can't react to in time. The platforming near the ending on the other hand is mostly fine.


028 RZ1 (UPDATE)


Design: 42/60
Creativity: 16/30
Atmosphere: 6/10

A solid improvement to the previous version. With most of the level still the same, the score isn't too different. Still, the minor change of having the second half as a sublevel (therefore restarting the timer), as well as dropping the flight section, helps the level both feel more fair and coherent. The timer in the second half felt just right in my opinion, the first half's timer on the other hand could maybe be decreased by a tad.

Total: 64/100

Originally posted by Anas
Thanks for reviewing my level! I personally underestimated the difficulty and creativity it had and thought I had to spice it up even more. But it seems I didn't have to radically redesign the level for that. I took note of the problems you mentioned and ironed it out just now. It should be far better and less trial-and-error.

You're welcome. I wouldn't consider myself to be a particularly player, but from the levels I've reviewed this year I would easily consider it among the most difficult, only matched by Heraga an Samuel Zuccati's entries. Still, a level being very difficult on its own, if it doesn't cross the line to kaizo, a line your level clearly doesn't cross, is not a non-issue. It's only roblematic when jumps and enemy placements feel unfair or when the difficulty curve throughout the level feels off.
Both things I believe you've improved greatly on. Even if a lot of the changes feel minor, the overall flow feels a lot better. Only complaint still being, the throw blocks at the start of the second cave still don't slow you down enough.
Check out my new hack thread:
Originally posted by Mad Lad
Kusrry


Thanks very much for good words and detailed feedback!! I'd fixed issues as far as I can before the deadline!
Originally posted by Mad Lad


028 RZ1 (UPDATE)


Design: 42/60
Creativity: 16/30
Atmosphere: 6/10

A solid improvement to the previous version. With most of the level still the same, the score isn't too different. Still, the minor change of having the second half as a sublevel (therefore restarting the timer), as well as dropping the flight section, helps the level both feel more fair and coherent. The timer in the second half felt just right in my opinion, the first half's timer on the other hand could maybe be decreased by a tad.

Total: 64/100


Thanks for the updated review! I really appreciate the feedback, it definitely helped me improve the stage
Super Mario World 3: The Koopas Strike Back
Super Mario: Grand Journey
Thank you for reviewing my level. I was, oddly, glad to hear all the problems you had with it. During the time I had between work shifts, I tried to improve and stretch out my level a bit more to make it more enjoyable and memorable. If you'd like, I'd appreciate it if you wanted to take a look at the newer version I have uploaded.
https://bin.smwcentral.net/u/33514/Haunted%2BRiverwalk.bps

Please if possible
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Out of Curiosity, would you be willing to take a look at my Level? I would like to hear other people's Reviews/Opinions on it. Like I mentioned in my thread, my Level this time is Simpler and more Straightforward that my Previous 2 Endeavours in this Contest.
To just as much of a surprise to myself, I've decided to contiune my fan judging journey. Although from now on I'll not be taking requests anymore and instead do my playthroughs in alphabetical order, hoping to get to everyone before the offical results are announced. Also I'll be changing my previously excessive and at times overly long style of reviews to simpler judge comment. Mostly to do myself a favour. The previous ones ended up being very exhausting to write and to let people improve their entries before the submission period ended. I'll play and comment on every level, even if I've already reviewed them, to keep all judge comments on the same level and update scores, which weren't the main focus before. Also, hi AnEvilGhost, I hope you don't mind me stealing your idea for the additional difficulty and fun scores.

Now with all that out of the way, let's start with the first ten (wow he do be fast now) levels alphabetically:

#23 2pvenezuela


Design: 26/60
Creativity: 16/30
Atmosphere: 4/10
(Difficulty: 3/5)
(Fun: 5/10)

Total: 46/100

Quite the unusal experience, consisting of two halves that differ so much, I feel like they weren't designed by the same person. The first half is very tightly designed with its high difficulty being balanced out by its short length. Still some setups (mostly those with 1F0) feel borderline unfair, with timing so close it pretty much requires the player knowing the upcoming obstacle in advance. The chuck-based setups offer a lot of variety and creativity though, with the spin on the classic chuck gate probably being my favourite. It's unfortunately the second half where things start to fall apart. With a few clever setups aside (mostly the ones including chucks), a lot of obstacles feel very rushed and amateurishly designed. The 3-up moon secret for example has coin guides that trick you, quite a few screens have nothing going on, which especially after the first half sticks out like a sore thumb and the warning signs, which look to be this sections key idea, were only used once (chucks falling onto you underwater) to warn you, ahead of time, of something not immediatly obvious. The aesthetics are alright but unfortunately can at times also get distracting. In the first half for example the climbing net borders are both used as platforms and as decoration.


#44 Aeon & Magi


Design: 52/60
Creativity: 25/30
Atmosphere: 10/10
(Difficulty: 3/5)
(Fun: 9/10)

Total: 87/100

An near perfect experience in every aspect. Gorgeous visuals, intuitive but challenging setups and a fair and logical difficulty curve. The gimmick, now possible with the new ruleset, was used in many more clever ways than one might think at first. My only wish would have been to have the two level halves be more distinct besides the fuzzies hitboxes being slightly larger. Also I felt the timer was unnecessarily harsh.


#08 Anas


Design: 48/60
Creativity: 28/30
Atmosphere: 6/10
(Difficulty: 5/5)
(Fun: 7/10)

Total: 82/100

Insanely difficult but also insanely clever and fun when you get around the mastering each section. The gimmick is introduced wonderfully and stays fresh throughout. With how unforgiving, especially in the final cave, some setups can be, replaying fairly long stretches of tuff jumps only to get one more attempt can end up being frustrating to some. Podobos and the turn blocks you can bounce off on the sides were especially notorious for leading to most of my deaths.


#58 AnEvilGhost


Design: 43/60
Creativity: 27/30
Atmosphere: 7/10
(Difficulty: 5/5)
(Fun: 6/10) (also including first playthrough)

Total: 78/100

An insanely clever gimmick level, offering what feels like an infinite amount of fresh setups. Its difficulty on the other hand can quickly feel overwhelming and with coin guides being rare, you're mostly on your own. I thought every section slightly overstayed its welcome especially with how long the level as a whole already is. The first section introduces the gimmick in a safe environment and progresses nicely until the last few screens which feel like a huge difficulty spike. The last jump feels especially harsh, and depending on when you arrive at the first layer 2 section, you can get crushed on the higher pipes with no prior warning, which was what happend on my first attempt.
Section 2 is one I come to like more and more with every playthrough. I immensly struggled with it on my first attmept though. The tutorial once again is well done but once we get to the pokey setup, I found the clarity on what to do in each setups to be lacking, and with a single misstep or wrong screen scroll almost always ending in death, that very much affected the amount of fun I was having. Creativity-wise the section was off-the-charts amazing though, so don't think I would have preferred the section to be skipped instead.
The final section I'm probably the most torn on. Like the rest of the level it has tons of clever setups to offer and the lineguided platforms and on-off switches mix greatly with the screen looping gimmick. Pacing-wise I found this section to be the most off though. The final screens, as well as the small sublevel after that, are some of the least difficult and exciting setups the section has to offer, instead of building up to a final memorable climax.
Even though, I'm sure you're aware of it and I can't think of any way to fix it, I still need to mention it as it clearly affected my gameplay experience: If you move while looping to the top of the screen, you sometimes can get stuck on the slope, delaying your fall a little longer, which can be especially annoying with enemies you need to tightly time your dodge around (pitchin' chucks baseballs).
I really hope I wasn't too harsh as once I learned how to beat the more difficult setups (and started playing with savestates lol), I had a blast and I am still in stunned by multiple of this level's ideas.


#21 Aurel509


Design: 51/60
Creativity: 23/30
Atmosphere: 7/10
(Difficulty: 4/5)
(Fun: 8/10)

Total: 83/100

I wasn't aware tight platforming could be this fun. A large portion of the level involves you, the player, waiting to time your jumps just right. When done poorly, levels like these can either feel unfair or feel like an endless waiting game. This one fortunately does a lot right and feels like neither of those things, while still making sure setups stay interesting and challenging throughout. The fist section, aside from the final timed platform which I find too harshly timed, plays incredibly well. The vertical section and boss fight nail the slow but tight platforming aspect even more so with not a single jump or thread that feels poorly indicated. Every jump you make is nerve wrecking but all the more satisfying when you pull it off successfully. My only issue is with the yoshi flight section, which I find ruins the slow pacing of the rest the level. While, yes, there are a few obstacles in the first section that put you under pressure like the timed platforms and the line-guide section, they feel much less severe than this room. Still, don't get me wrong, I do think the section also is clevely designed, even if the obstacle that easily gave me the most trouble were the lotus plants at the very start, just out of place in the context of this level.


#24 Azula16


Design: 22/60
Creativity: 14/30
Atmosphere: 6/10
(Difficulty: 2/5)
(Fun: 4/10)

Total: 41/100

Darn it. I wish the level would have continued in a similar fashion to the first half. The cape section, while offering something different, is poorly designed and couldn't feel more out of place. Neither flying at full speed nor flying at slow speeds is an option, as obstacles aren't indicated well (enemies can fall right on top you with no warning) and throw you off now matter how you play or how fast you try to react. Cape strats such as turning around (which may or may not help), I don't consider viable to expect for a VLDC level. The first half of the level, even if trivialised by handing the player a cape (entire first half can be flown over and every single can be enemy taken out with a cape spin), has a lot of charme. Most of this boils down to the clever idea of having only one half of platforms sticking out, which made for multiple fun setups, I would have loved to see from.


#22 Blizzard Buffalo


Design: 24/60
Creativity: 13/30
Atmosphere: 7/10
(Difficulty: 2/5)
(Fun: 5/10)

Total: 44/100

Sadly the level is all over the place in terms of its design, because there is a lot to love here. The gold mine theme and visuals are cute (although the waterfalls look swimable), and the level certainly has multiple interesting ideas and setups to offer. The first half has decent enemy placement but is very flat. After that the level layout gets more interesting but the level not necessarily more fun. Especially once the generators, which add difficulty in all the wrong ways, and bottomless pits are introduced, it feels like the design does a full 180, suddenly requiring precise jumps, I wasn't at all prepared for. The final yoshi coin is very cleverly hidden though and ends the level on a great note.


#25 blocc


Design: 41/60
Creativity: 21/30
Atmosphere: 8/10
(Difficulty: 3/5)
(Fun: 7/10)

Total: 70/100

For the most part a clever and varied level based around bowser statues. Especially during the beginning, where usually the player should be gradually introduced to the level's ideas and setups, the feels especially cramped, getting my off to a rough start. After that the level's flow steadily improves though, with the shell-kicking koopa section probably being my favourite setup up until then. The second half shakes things up in an interesting way, requiring you ride along a row of jumping bowser statues, which takes some getting used to, but is super fun once you get the hang of it. Unfortunately, instead of finishing on a particularly memorable setup with the level's main enemies, we finish off with a cramped big boo fight, which at least in my eyes didn't fit the level. Also with having to scroll the camera up to grab the throw blocks, it's even harder to keep your attention on the, already hard to predict, boo streams.


#03 Boosius


Design: 19/60
Creativity: 12/30
Atmosphere: 6/10
(Difficulty: 1/5)
(Fun: 4/10)

Total: 37/100

I always think it's cute when contest levels attempt to tell a story. Design wise it unfortunately doesn't have a lot going for it though. What's there ain't bad. The problem rather is, it's over before it starts. I like quite a few of the setups in the auto-scroll section, the level's main event, but sadly most setups offer way too much safe space and struggle to keep the player busy, making the screen scrolling feel tiresomely slow.


#78 bry


Design: 50/60
Creativity: 23/30
Atmosphere: 10/10
(Difficulty: 2/5)
(Fun: 9/10)

Total: 83/100

Wow, this was such a vibe. This level nails the atmosphere like no other. A lot of it is down to extraordinary music choices, which synergise perfectly with the dreamy abstract visuals. Also I wasn't aware breakbeat/jungle music in SMW was a thing, but I love it. The design for the most part is able to keep that high standard up even if not every section is as memorable. Aside from the podobo section which gets repetivite rather quickly, the first room is a ton of fun and feels, due to its different level height, like a horizonal and vertical level in one. Next up is the water section with tons of podobos and grinders which, while still decent, is probably the least interesting section the level has to offer. After that though we get clever storytelling, a fair but engaging line-guided elevator section (along with motivational aid), and a unique approach to a vanilla boss fight with well telegraphed attacks, delivering a great climax to an already fantastic level.


Originally posted by IronFoxGaming
Thank you for reviewing my level. I was, oddly, glad to hear all the problems you had with it. During the time I had between work shifts, I tried to improve and stretch out my level a bit more to make it more enjoyable and memorable. If you'd like, I'd appreciate it if you wanted to take a look at the newer version I have uploaded.

No worries, happy to hear you found the feedback helpful. I'm very excited to check out what the changes look like in action. Only seen a few screenshots while lurking on discord so far and they've looking promising.
Check out my new hack thread:
Originally posted by Mad Lad
Aurel509



Thanks, glad you enjoyed it still tho, yeah unfortunately I did that kinda at the last minute couldnt find any people to test it, my fault tho.
Wanted to do something a bit more like the 1st part for the Yoshi section, the problem being Yoshi is just completely broken with normal line guided saws/grinders and I didnt knew that until I tested my thing, so I kept the idea and tried to fix it as best as I could, still like the result overall.
Layout by Koopster
Thanks for the critiques. I agree about its difficulty spikes looking back at it, I should've changed some obstacles in the last part of the 1st area as it probably was a bit overkill at some points. I wasn't really sure how to end the level too, so I just put in the easiest setups for last as a sort of "victory lap" rather than one huge climax. And finally I wish there was an easier way to fix getting "stuck" on the springboards at the top of the screen, but I tried my best to mitigate it as best I can.
Hopefully for the future I can get some more hard judging on my level before having a final version, but this still was useful.
If time permits, I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on my level.

Woah, you're back on it! Living up to your name, I see. Could you review mine?
Every dream is but another reality, never forget…

My In-Progress Hack

Update time! Managed to finish the next 10 reviews. I'll give a quick reminder that I'm playing the levels alphabetically and don't take request currently.

#37 codfish1002


Design: 39/60
Creativity: 22/30
Atmosphere: 8/10
(Difficulty: 3/5)
(Fun: 6/10)

Total: 69/100

I'm in love with the para-beetle idea, but I think the section in its current stance is both not particularly fun to play and messes with the pacing of the rest of the level. Currently the section is nothing more than a few precise jumps and a lot of waiting. The rest of the level is very cute though and a lot more action packed. Dolphins are used in a variety of interesting ways throughout, even if the spike filled dolphin jumps can feel like a bit of a difficulty spike.


#01 Daizo Dee Von & EvilGuy0613


Design: 53/60
Creativity: 28/30
Atmosphere: 10/10
(Difficulty: 4/5)
(Fun: 9/10)

Total: 91/100

Incredibly high effort in every single aspect. With an entirely new playable character, a beyond mesmerizing background and quite possible some of the best use of ExAnimation I've ever seen, a full score in atmosphere is more than deserved. The level is yet another to make use gimmicks, now possible with the new ruleset, giving blocks a different effect ones hit. Through this we have coin block which disappear once hit from underneath and, my personal favourite, one-time-use note blocks which require you to plan ahead or think quickly. Both, as well as vine blocks, are used in a large variety of different ways, each more clever than the other. The level design may not be for everyone, as it's very unforgiving and one slip-up usually results in death, which especially considering the level's length can get frustrating. Still, every concept is carefully introduced and even if it requires you to react quickly, manages to always feel fair. Additionally it very much helps that the difficulty curve feels just right.


#42 DetectiveZvarri


Design: 49/60
Creativity: 17/30
Atmosphere: 5/10
(Difficulty: 2/5)
(Fun: 8/10)

Total: 71/100

A very simple athletic level with top notch enemy placement and excellent pacing. Turn block bridges are used to perfection to delay the player, by keeping them busy dodging chucks or volcano lotus fire in the meantime. Platforms throughout are very well timed and obstacles are always easy to read. While the design is generally fantastic, the other two categories got a little less attention. The aesthetics don't manage to leave much of an impression and even with most setups being fun to play, I wish there would be a tad more variety.


#09 Dispace


Design: 32/60
Creativity: 11/30
Atmosphere: 7/10
(Difficulty: 1/5)
(Fun: 5/10)

Total: 50/100

A fairly simple level, able to stand out with its very non-linear approach. Exploration is easily the most fun aspect about the level, even if it usally doesn't turn out to be worth it. I found about a gazillion p-switches but have yet to find a good use case for them, aside from a few coins and a cape I had already gotten to. And even though the non-linearity ensures the level stays entertaining throughout, the lack of creative setups and a proper gimmick makes the level otherwise unfortunately not very memorable. Also with the high quantity of possible routes, their quality can vary a lot, with some feeling much more empty than others, as well as including the occasional unavoidable blind jump.


#85 Donut & Segment1Zone2


Design: 35/60
Creativity: 15/30
Atmosphere: 10/10
(Difficulty: 1/5)
(Fun: 7/10)

Total: 60/100

Although unbelievable gorgeous, the design, especially in the very flat first half, suffers from a big lack of memorable setups and enemies that pose little to no threat, making the gameplay fairly forgettable. Luckily the second is mostly able to redeem that. The moving hot air balloons on layer 2 are a genius idea, I would have loved to see the level make more use of. They mix very well with the scale platforms though, making for a fun athletic section with jumps that tend to line up very well.


#39 Dr. Gaspacho


Design: 38/60
Creativity: 19/30
Atmosphere: 7/10
(Difficulty: 3/5)
(Fun: 6/10)

Total: 64/100

A little all over the place, especially with its difficulty curve, but otherwise a neat collection of clever chuck-based setups. The first half, to me, is clearly superior, being home to most of my favourite ideas, like having to dodge a chuck while waiting out the p-switch timer, as well as how you get to the bonus section near the start of the level. The bonus room itself is also a lot of fun to play but the bright background tiles can occasionally be disorienting. During the second half there is a lot less going on, especially if you ignore the optional yoshi coin challenges. Also I unfortunately wasn't able to find a way to access the switch palace level. Another thing worth mentioning, being a problem which carries through the whole level: If you kill chucks in the wrong spots, you can potentially get stuck.


#74 EduzinMMA
I'm sorry to say, but the patch sadly doesn't seem to be working.


#35 Eli Jenkins YK

Design: 27/60
Creativity: 12/30
Atmosphere: 4/10
(Difficulty: 2/5)
(Fun: 5/10)

Total: 43/100

A surprisingly action-packed underwater level, suffering from one major issue: It's difficult for all the wrong reasons, leaving you with no way to reset, when you fail to hit or swim past a turn block in time. And no matter if a throw block is for an optional powerup or required to progress in the level, you always have a single attempt. This feels especially mean in the setup right before the end, where you not only need to rush but also avoid getting too close to enemies at all costs. Whereas the first half feels way too short, the second, aside from the final obstacle, is actually very fun to play with the optional powerups being interesting in their risk/reward ratio.


#05 E-man38 & bebn legg


Design: 35/60
Creativity: 17/30
Atmosphere: 9/10
(Difficulty: 2/5)
(Fun: 6/10)

Total: 61/100

I adore the level's gimmick and it's easy to see how much love and care went into making each version of the level visually distinct and gorgeous to look at. The level also plays decently in all its three iterations, but unfortunately the execution of the gimmick leaves a lot to be desired, with switching being either barely required or not encouraging enough with too little changes between each version. To clarify, if you don't lose your mushroom early on, you can beat the entierty of the level in night mode, completly disregarding the level's gimmick. If you instead decide to switch a lot, you're likely to run into one of the roadblocks, requiring you to figure which version of the level to visit. I didn't consider these moments to be particularly fun, as all you had to do was backtrack. Also the puzzles did at times feel a little cryptic. Munchers not hurting you when they're asleep, while urchins do, is a weird double-standard. Having only two version of the same level, as well more complex puzzles, would have in my opinion been the way to go. The boss battle at the end was super neat though.


#51 Enan63


Design: 53/60
Creativity: 16/30
Atmosphere: 7/10
(Difficulty: 2/5)
(Fun: 9/10)

Total: 76/100

The level flows incredible well and is almost flawless in its design. With each of the three sections, the level gets progressively harder, while always bringing something "new" to the table. In the first section a lot of time is still spend on the ground with parakoopas and especially the chucks being used in intersting ways and placed perfectly. In section two you spend almost all of your time either in the air or on line-guided platforms, making for a nice change of pace. A few jumps, here and there, might feel a tad too wide but most importantly, every jumps is intuitive, making this section a blast to play and the first attempt feel just as a fair as latter attempts. The final section is easily the most difficult, with the final jump off and back onto your main line-guided platform being particularly tough with all the saws around, but also a great final climax.
The only thing stopping the level from being among the top entries is its lack of fresh new ideas. Almost every obstacles plays well, but is in most cases already commonly seen in other athletic levels, aside from maybe the use of chucks in the first section and the lower platform setups in the final section.


#38 Enjl & Waddle


Design: 45/60
Creativity: 22/30
Atmosphere: 8/10
(Difficulty: 3/5)
(Fun: 7/10)

Total: 75/100

A very fun platforming level based around the usually dreaded wall springboards. Fortunately doubling them up is a clever way to make them feel a lot more reliable and easier to control. The first half is near perfection pacing-wise and riddled with creative and memorable setups. The quality of the setups doesn't dip during vertical section, but the camera can occasionally be scarier than the enemies themselves, as the springboards propel you up to the very top of the screen. Also I did find the double grinder setup at the very top to be way too precise. The boss fight is fine but feels like a step down compared to the rest of the level and picking up throw blocks seems more difficult than it should be.


Originally posted by Aurel509
Originally posted by Mad Lad
Aurel509



Thanks, glad you enjoyed it still tho, yeah unfortunately I did that kinda at the last minute couldnt find any people to test it, my fault tho.
Wanted to do something a bit more like the 1st part for the Yoshi section, the problem being Yoshi is just completely broken with normal line guided saws/grinders and I didnt knew that until I tested my thing, so I kept the idea and tried to fix it as best as I could, still like the result overall.

Oh now that I know that, I'm surprised by how well you managed to "save" that section. Very impressive! Keep in mind, that I found the section generally very well designed, just now fitting in the context of the rest of the level.

Originally posted by AnEvilGhost
Thanks for the critiques. I agree about its difficulty spikes looking back at it, I should've changed some obstacles in the last part of the 1st area as it probably was a bit overkill at some points. I wasn't really sure how to end the level too, so I just put in the easiest setups for last as a sort of "victory lap" rather than one huge climax. And finally I wish there was an easier way to fix getting "stuck" on the springboards at the top of the screen, but I tried my best to mitigate it as best I can.
Hopefully for the future I can get some more hard judging on my level before having a final version, but this still was useful.

Hey, you're welcome. I tried going a little more into detail with my critique, as I really appreciate your judging effort and haven't yet seen anyone give any kind of "extensive" feedback.
If I'm still around during the next VLDC and you manage finish your level a little in adavance, I'd be willing to give it a shot if you'd like.

Originally posted by SMWizard
If time permits, I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on my level.

Originally posted by solgaleo35
Woah, you're back on it! Living up to your name, I see. Could you review mine?

It might still take a while as I'm judging in alphabetical order, which looking back might not be the most fair lol, but I do indeed plan on still getting back to both of your levels.
Check out my new hack thread:
...and gone is my streak of quick updates. Let's see if I'll be able to beat my highscore of two in a row. Anyways, here are the next 10 levels:

#55 Fostelif


Design: 26/60
Creativity: 7/30
Atmosphere: 5/10
(Difficulty: 1/5)
(Fun: 4/10)

Total: 38/100

A perfectly functional and decently fun grassland level. Aside from the level being even more trivial with the switch palaces activated, especially in the later half of the level, there is very little I dislike design-wise, other than it being fairly empty with enemies too far apart. For a level design contest though, the lack of a (non-visual) gimmick and creative setups, aside from the yoshi-coin challenges, is its biggest flaw.


#53 FrozenQuills


Design: 52/60
Creativity: 28/30
Atmosphere: 9/10
(Difficulty: 4/5)
(Fun: 8/10)

Total: 89/100

If it weren't for the two puzzle rooms with the swinging platforms before the midway point and ending, this level would easily be among the very best I've played in years. Whereas the rest of the level is action-packed and very intuitive, the puzzle rooms leave no room for error and keep you captive until you figure out that one particular solution and flawlessly pull it off. If you struggle with these sections, the previously fast pacing comes to a complete halt, and with almost every slip-up requiring you to reset, frustration is quick to occur.
Everything else the level has to offer, I absolutely adore though. With the gimmick being this niche, demanding each obstacle to always line up perfectly, I never expected to see it in a non-kaizo level, let alone be this fun. My worries about the difficulty also mostly turned out to be unfounded, as every obstacle can be reset and paused by holding right against the note block on the current level, allowing you to perfectly plan your next move. And the level was knowingly build around that, with the time you have for each obstacle feeling just right and enemies that are placed to perfection, to delay you just enough to have the setups throughout the level feel progressively more tight on time but always fair.
Oh, and then there is the moon puzzle where I sadly, even with save-scumming, have to take the L. I can't for the life of me get the timing of the platforms down.


#41 Fruitloops


Design: 36/60
Creativity: 21/30
Atmosphere: 6/10
(Difficulty: 3/5)
(Fun: 6/10)

Total: 63/100

I have no idea why the first room/half is a thing but it couldn't feel more out of place in this otherwise very fast-paced level. Essentially, you play the room twice, once to grab baby yoshi and then, to get back to the door, while occasionally throwing yoshi up to eat a berry. Aside from the awkward to use green note blocks, there is litle to no challenge or points of interest and the repetition certainly does not help either. The second half is a hectic platforming section, making good use of yoshi's abilities, and for the most part a blast to play. Up until the last two setups the pacing feels just right, requiring you to play fast, but not to be on WR pace or play recklessly in order to keep up. The last two setups unfortunately lack clarity though (the coins are of no help), and with how little time the vines grant you, they feel like cheap traps. Also I didn't realize the green block was a throw block, which only added to the confusion. I can understand the lack of reset doors as that would interfer with the tempo/pacing, but with how easy sections are to mess up with no way to recover, it's a double-edged sword situation.


#26 GabrielJohn


Design: 19/60
Creativity: 6/30
Atmosphere: 5/10
(Difficulty: 1/5)
(Fun: 3/10)

Total: 31/100

With the competition being very high every year, especially this year with little to no outright bad submissions, I unfortunately have to adjust my judging to reflect that. In order to sort the decent from the great and accurately rank levels in their quality, I need to take advantage of the whole range of scores and this level sadly happens to be among the less interesting ones to me, while sill being far from terrible.
Almost all of the challenge comes from the bullet bill generator, which can be dangerous even on its own, but also is one of the most boring ways of adding difficulty to a level and often leads to the enemy placement being sub-par. If you were to remove the genertor, only the parakoopas near the very start and the flying hammer brother at the very end end up being potentially dangerous. The layout unfortunately is very flat and repetitive. The bridge near the start for example has the same setup four times in a row. And with a clear lack of creative setups, and the ideas that are there barely explored, I'm struggling with ranking the level any higher.


#49 GbreezeSunset


Design: 42/60
Creativity: 30/30
Atmosphere: 6/10
(Difficulty: 2/5)
(Fun: 6/10)

Total: 77/100

Easily one of the most unique and clever gimmick levels I've ever played and knowing this was pulled of with vanilla resources only, makes it all the more mindblowing. On their own, most of the rooms are neat, making great use of the concept in a variety of ways, but I can't help but think that the level feels like a collection of rooms and ideas, rather than a coherant whole. Also the first two introductory rooms are the only ones actually able to pose a threat, whereas the danger in all other rooms is negated through reset doors, which for the level in its current stance admittedly are essential. I wouldn't mind the lack of enemies, if most rooms would offer a challenge besides throwing/kicking an item at the exact right time. The third room and second half prove that both a more puzzle-oriented or enemy-oriented apporach could work. Unfortunately the second half is very short lived though and ends very abruptly with an optional moon room, on the same level of difficulty as the rest of the level.


#71 ghyn


Design: 50/60
Creativity: 28/30
Atmosphere: 6/10
(Difficulty: 4/5)
(Fun: 8/10)

Total: 84/100

Wow, I never expected to see Breaking Bad level's of storytelling in VLDC.

In all seriousness, the level's theme is genius and the final delivery had me in stitches. The creativity and variety throughout is off the charts amazing and I really only have one "major" gripe with the level as a whole. Due to how demanding the latter fast paced sections can get, the slow walk of shame to the reset pipe, everytime you mess up during the first few seconds, feel like a slog. Especially the first room after the midway, as well as the sliding section felt very trial and error-y, making the constant resetting feel particularly punishing. Once you've gone through the, at times tiresome, learning process though, all sections are incredible satisfying to play. Only during the sliding section I would have loved to be able to see the shell as well as a few coin guides.


#36 HamOfJustice

Design: 44/60
Creativity: 21/30
Atmosphere: 8/10
(Difficulty: 2/5)
(Fun: 7/10)

Total: 73/100

Never has backtracking been this fun. And the idea, while simple, is honestly gold. The first half is a lot calmer, but already filled with properly though through setups and keeps things interesting with platforms only solid to mario. Additionally to make the first half more spicy, you can try to keep up with the 1-up at the top.
It's the second half, where you realize what the level is actually about, when things get very interesting. Every setup you already considered fun beforehand, just got more complex. But since the safe zones stay the same and since you're already aware of the level's layout, you can plan ahead for each obstacle. My only major issue is that the level becomes a lot easier if you respawn after getting the midway, as the powerups blocks are in the same spots on both routes. If you however don't have the additional powerups, the second half feels like quite the spike in difficulty.


#15 Heraga


Design: 41/60
Creativity: 23/30
Atmosphere: 6/10
(Difficulty: 4/5)
(Fun: 6/10)

Total: 70/100

The first half is a p-balloon section done right. Due to being an autoscroller the biggest annoyance, the p-balloon timer running out too early, is no more. Also the screen-scroll pace feels just right, giving the player enough time to pass each section while never feeling slow like most autoscrollers do. Aside from one or two, the setups are very intuitive and fair.
I love how the gimmick is turned on its head in the second half. The gameplay, while still fun, is a little ruffer around the edges. Usually having the p-balloon hitbox be a little more forgiving, is in the players favor. Here though it makes jumps a lot tighter than they probably should be, which especially in comparison to the much more forgiving first half, feels very harsh as every mistake leads to imminent death. The setups on the other hand stay just as clever throughout the second half.

#52 huebrbr


Design: 29/60
Creativity: 16/30
Atmosphere: 6/10
(Difficulty: 4/5)
(Fun: 5/10)

Total: 51/100

I rarely have had such mixed feelings on a level. The level is both riddled with neat ideas, as well as huge balancing issues and sections feeling way too cramped. My biggest issue with the level is probably its non-existent difficult curve. The level can shift from corridors with a few bouncing parakoopas, to precise and cramped spinjump sections or four chucks running and jumping at you from all sides. Also powerups seem to be abundant for most of the level. Setups vary a lot in the quality. The platform rides for example, even with occasional camera issues, are among my favourites, whereas the shell you had to throw inbetween two spikes and jump on felt unnecessarily precise. Also one of the setups at the start of the second room required you to spinjump off a platform, which there was to no indication for. The aesthetics are debatable. I really love the theme and the portraits are super cute, but the very saturated orange in the background almost hurts my eyes and the boxes for example I found difficult to interpret as solid.


#60 Humberto Quackenbush


Design: 37/60
Creativity: 14/30
Atmosphere: 5/10
(Difficulty: 2/5)
(Fun: 6/10)

Total: 56/100

A decently fun thwomp-based level with muliple neat setups throughout but little I haven't seen before. There are a few other ideas, mostly in the first half, but the thwomp setups, which progressively get more and more complex, are the level's main course, as the level name already suggests, and also easily the most interesting. I would have loved to rate the level higher, but the level suffers from quite a few unfortunate minor mishaps, the biggest being the huge blind jump at the final lava pit, requiring you to told right. Secondly the midway entrance is right under a thwomp, which is never a good idea. Also in case I didn't miss anything insanely hidden, the level only has four yoshi coins, which otherwise are very fun to collect. Lastly I think the overly jolly and adventurous music really doesn't fit the cave aesthetic.
Check out my new hack thread:
Originally posted by Mad Lad

#26 GabrielJohn


Design: 19/60
Creativity: 6/30
Atmosphere: 5/10
(Difficulty: 1/5)
(Fun: 3/10)

Total: 31/100

With the competition being very high every year, especially this year with little to no outright bad submissions, I unfortunately have to adjust my judging to reflect that. In order to sort the decent from the great and accurately rank levels in their quality, I need to take advantage of the whole range of scores and this level sadly happens to be among the less interesting ones to me, while sill being far from terrible.
Almost all of the challenge comes from the bullet bill generator, which can be dangerous even on its own, but also is one of the most boring ways of adding difficulty to a level and often leads to the enemy placement being sub-par. If you were to remove the genertor, only the parakoopas near the very start and the flying hammer brother at the very end end up being potentially dangerous. The layout unfortunately is very flat and repetitive. The bridge near the start for example has the same setup four times in a row. And with a clear lack of creative setups, and the ideas that are there barely explored, I'm struggling with ranking the level any higher.


That's Quite a low Score. That's Unfortunate to hear. If you look back at my Previous 2 VLDC Attempts, this is a more Different Approach. I had to Think Simpler (No Enemy Spam, No Cutoff, etc.), but not too Simple as it would be boring to play. I Guess I thought too Simple...a Shame. I thought I had the Right Idea this time.
Didn't quite manage to finish all the reviews I had planned for today, so expect quite a few more soon (...famous last words).

#04 idol & Squirrelyman157


Design: 55/60
Creativity: 28/30
Atmosphere: 10/10
(Difficulty: 3/5)
(Fun: 10/10)

Total: 93/100

I still struggle to grasp that the level's visuals are fully vanilla. Everything from the foreground tileset to the detailed, paiting-like background with beyond gorgeous color choices screams perfection. Fortunately the level design and gimmicks manage to leave just as much of an impression. Aside from a few awkward setups, those mostly being where you need to bounce up a shell, while simultaneously dodging torpedo teds, as well as a few difficulty spikes, leading to the first half overall being the more difficult of the two, I have little to no complaints. The level flows incredible well with obstacles staying insanely creative and varied throughout and almost always having the perfect balance of being both intuitive and complex.


#81 Idunno


Design: 42/60
Creativity: 17/30
Atmosphere: 9/10
(Difficulty: 2/5)
(Fun: 7/10)

Total: 68/100

A neatly designed, fun athletic level with enemies always lining up well, gorgeous aesthetics and the switch palace near the end being an especially cute idea. The roap setups, while always well designed, can get a little repetitive near the end though due to enemy variation being fairly thin.


#70 Infinity & Green Jerry


Design: 34/60
Creativity: 14/30
Atmosphere: 7/10
(Difficulty: 2/5)
(Fun: 5/10)

Total: 55/100

An outer space level disguised as a water level. While clever, I wish there was a little more to the level besides that. Don't get me wrong, the level is a fun slow-paced underwater level, especially during the second half with the castle enemies shaking things up by taking up more space or requiring you to act quicker. But I can't help but feel that an additional gimmick, besides the visual theme, could have gone a long way to make the level more memorable. As of now the rocks / meteoroids have very little effect on the gameplay, barely able to hinder the player due to the underwater controls being slow and precise. Also the boss at the end ends up being tedious due to underwater movement being too slow to chase Wendy down, making most of the boss feel like a waiting game for Wendy to spawn right below you.


#57 IronFoxGaming


Design: 37/60
Creativity: 17/30
Atmosphere: 9/10
(Difficulty: 1/5)
(Fun: 7/10)

Total: 62/100

An insanely gorgeous and simple but well designed level brought down by one major flaw. The timer is awfully tight especially when you attempt to go for the level's additional challenges, which to me are the clear highlight. While the path straight to the finish is enjoyable with multiple setups of interest on the way, the first half comes off as very flat with very little threat on your direct path. The second, vertical half of the level on the other hand is very fun to play, both with and without the additional puzzles. However you can potentially softlock yourself if you spinjump on the koopa near the start. The first optional puzzel room and the quirky purple blocks are where most of the fun comes from though. Figuring out how these blocks work is a little cryptic, making me appreciate the puzzles never being mandatory, but very cleverly hinted at. Getting to the final yoshi coin was the only puzzle I never managed to solve.


#12 JP32


Design: 28/60
Creativity: 14/30
Atmosphere: 5/10
(Difficulty: 3/5)
(Fun: 4/10)

Total: 47/100

While I appreciate offering multiple difficulties, I don't think it does the level any favors, as the changes are only very minor with the most difficult version being difficult for all the wrong reasons with quite a few enemy placements being borderline unfair. What carries through all versions of the level though is that, aside from the start and end of level, powerups feel mostly useless as Yoshi always gives the player a "free" hit and either you get Yoshi back, get another one shortly after or instead have probably lost. This over-dependency on Yoshi has both its advantages, like the level having a clear focus and theme with most setups based around that, as well as its disadvantages, where losing Yoshi (which is a single mistake) can feel very punishing. Up until the flight section, the level feels decent to play. Losing Yoshi up until that point is recoverable, aside from the setup with the sumo brothers, but usually still penalizing the player by you not being able to get additional time. After that though, the level gets both a lot more unforgiving, which doesn't mix well with a tight timer. Since the invisible coin blocks in the flying section, meant to block you off from getting the yoshi coin above it, aren't marked they can just as well be a mean trap while dodging the pokey. The final section with the pipes provides very little new and the camera tends to get in the way.


#66 Julintendo


Design: 32/60
Creativity: 12/30
Atmosphere: 8/10
(Difficulty: 2/5)
(Fun: 6/10)

Total: 52/100

While the bamboo makes for beautiful decoration and excellently fits with the level's cute theme and visuals, I really wish it had a bigger impact on the gameplay, aside from helping you cross small gaps and climb down safely to a lower platform a few times, as the level unfortunately already is on the more linear and shorter end and lacks a proper gimmick. Obstacles, aside from the very end where the chucks can get a little excessive, are fine and fun to play but rarely manage to stick out. The cloud secret shortly after the midway point lazily has two yoshi coins hidden in the same way, and also lets you skip about a quarter of an already short level.


#06 KekShadow_08


Design: 34/60
Creativity: 9/30
Atmosphere: 5/10
(Difficulty: 2/5)
(Fun: 4/10)

Total: 48/100

A very inoffensive but also not very memorable forest level with a simple, linear layout and the biggest plus easily being the enemy types used, working very well together. Both the para-enemies and enemies in bubbles often block your path and make for a great obstacle when crossing a bottomless pit. Even though bullet bills can in a few instances feel a little harsh, mostly when placed close to where you land after a far jump, they manage to keep the "action-level" high. However most challenge is mitigated by the level's generous number of powerups. A proper gimmick and clever setups are mostly absent though.


#69 Kevin


Design: 39/60
Creativity: 23/30
Atmosphere: 5/10
(Difficulty: 4/5)
(Fun: 5/10)

Total: 67/100

I really hope this doesn't come across as offensive but this feels like something straight out of YUMP. Super creative but also somewhat jank with at times questionable design. The setups in the first half for the most part play very well and stay very fresh throughout. Since the pattern of the footballs and the the rhythm of chucks kicking them can vary though, the timing in the more fast-paced setups can potentially screw you over. By this I mostly mostly mean the longer skull raft section and less so the very last jump in the first half. The first skull raft setup also felt particularly mean with no way to reset (which considering it's still fairly early on, isn't too bad) but also very tight timing-wise, even when you're aware of what to do. It's mostly the second half where things get messy and setups start to feel unpolished though. The first two setups weirdly alter your momentum but still feel surprisingly intuitive and easy enough to pull of reliably. The chuck setups felt terrible though with the camera being a big issue, as well as the flying fish right after that, being difficult in all the wrong ways and having nothing in common with the rest of the level.


#45 Klug


Design: 32/60
Creativity: 11/30
Atmosphere: 5/10
(Difficulty: 1/5)
(Fun: 5/10)

Total: 48/100

A fun but simple collection of short "p-switch runs" with very little else going on. Reset pipes are always there, in case you happen to lose the p-switch, which I appreciate. Unfortunately with the timing on every single of those sections being so generous though, the gimmick often feels secondary and formulaic. Why not for example extend one of these sections and have the player needing to press another switch halfway through? The difficulty curve also is very wonky with the first half's jumps being a lot more demanding. The very first p-switch bridge for example has a fairly low muncher ceiling, as well as the third one a very tight wall-springboard jump with koopas constantly in your way. In the cave section on the other hand, the p-switch bridges couldn't be easier with jumps offering a lot of room for error and fish pretty much unable to hit you. Other enemies are just as easy to avoid.



Originally posted by GabrielJohn
That's Quite a low Score. That's Unfortunate to hear. If you look back at my Previous 2 VLDC Attempts, this is a more Different Approach. I had to Think Simpler (No Enemy Spam, No Cutoff, etc.), but not too Simple as it would be boring to play. I Guess I thought too Simple...a Shame. I thought I had the Right Idea this time.

Sorry if I offended you in any way. I tried my best to choose my words carefully to best explain why I gave it the score I did. I don't think I've played your VLDC12 entry but I can wholeheartedly grantee you that this level is miles ahead of your VLDC 9 quality wise, so you definitly are on the right track. Finding the right kind of complexity should probably be your next goal.
My best advice would probably to check out some of the simpler, better ranked levels and analyse why they work as well as they do. For example Enan63's entry from this VLDC has no complex new gimmick but still managed to be one of the most fun and well designed levels I've played thus far. His level is all about proper pacing. You immediatly feel how every enemy and platform is placed just right, giving you always enough time to react while also keeping you constantly busy. Also instead of having large stretches of land with enemies sprinkled on top, his level can be seen as a collection of interesting setups which blend together perfectly. Being able to make interesting and memorable setups is something I unfortunately can't give you a secret formular for, but instead learned thorugh lots of experimention.
To summarise, for your next few levels I'd recommend keeping things as simple and not force yourself to implement a gimmick. Instead try to focus on your level layout and enemy placements. Make sure to test your level often in the process and see if each level element (enemy, platform) has a reason for its placement (enemies for example should almost always lead to the player having to adapt).
Check out my new hack thread:
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