Concerning general apsects
of the level:
- While I'm generally a fan of subdued foreground palettes, sprite palettes are the sort of thing one needs to be more careful with when dimming. All of the grey foes (Thwomps, Dry Bones, Grinders) look fine, as do the Podoboos, but the P-switch and red mushroom end up looking very odd and washed out, and would look better better changed to something a bit closer to their default colors. What stands out the most, however, is Mario's palette--since only the first few colors can be altered anyway, he ends up looking very bizarre and discolored with just these altered (and not n the most logical way), but the rest of his colors unaffected. Best not to mess with his palette at all.
- Speaking of palettes, I have a little trouble telling what's solid in the level. Most problematic are these sort of jump-throughable platforms:
...They're a little too dark compared to the other metal FG objects, and almost look more like non-interactable background pieces. What's more, they're often connected to those thin pipes, which are
non-interactable background pieces, yet look more solid than the platforms themselves. It might be a good idea to move both the pipes and platforms to a different palette, and change each of their colors, so that the platforms are brighter and more saturated (and therefore look more similar in hue to the rest of the solid objects), and so that the pipes are less
bright and less saturated (and thus look more distinct from the solid objects).
Concerning the design
- The main path is fine, but there's some parts of the secret path that seem a little too hard for the first castle, evening assuming a higher average difficulty due to the shorter length of the path. A few of the obstacles seem a little to cramped and difficult to avoid, especially this one:
...This masochistic gold statue spawns one tile to the right of the wall, immediately jumps up and bashes its head against the spotty metal thing, then falls back down and lands in essentially the same spot, wherefrom it repeats the same bit of self-harm over and over again, all the while giving Mario only a tiny gap through which to manoeuver. What's more, this obstacle appears twice
in the level.
- These two Ball-n'-chains seem a little too perfectly well-timed vis-a-vis one another, making a hit difficult to avoid if the player doesn't luck out as regards their position with respect to one another.
- First the player has to avoid the Thwimp...then a Grinder unexpectedly comes out of the tunnel with no warning and no space to jump over it (and the aformentioned Thwimp still blocking the way which the player came...and then
a maverick Thwomp unexpectedly ambushes the player the instant they emerge from this narrow tunnel. Leans a bit to the overkill side of the street, no?
Concerning the bonus room
- I appreciate the idea of this room, but it's laid of in such a way that it's not readily possibly to tell exactly what you're expected to do here the first time you enter the room (and possibly the second, third, etc.). It's not that hard to re-enter the room and try again, but it might be a good idea to give a slightly better visual clue as to what exactly is going on the the room, so the player at least has some idea as to why they're re-entering in the first place.
- Also, the room seems a bit more difficult to exit than it needs to be. It's not immediately obvious that the player can't make the jump from the upper platform here...
...And the exit pipe itself is a little annoying to access thanks to the shallow jump needed and passable platforms:
...which seems awfully silly. It's also not immediately obvious that this
pipe, of all places, should even be the exit, rather than, say, the pipe the player entered the room by. Why not just put a more easily accessible an obvious exit pipe nearer to the coin itself, so as to avoid any confusion? Also, minor cutoff where the pipe meets the lava.)
On the whole, though, the changes themselves all seem to be to the levels benefit, so mission well accomplished in this respect.