I've been looking for a hack thread with a sufficient amount of progress - not too much so it's hard to go back and change things, but not too little so there's nothing to post about - and this hack thread seems to work quite well.
First of all, let's start off with the Lemon Plateau overworld. To me, it looks pretty flat, maybe a bit more varied terrain heights could work here.
But regardless of that, there are two main things which I seemed to have noticed (referring to this
throughout) - Firstly, the pink 'circle'. I am aware that the 2px wide line cannot be helped, but it seems to look a bit off when it's right next to the border. That area going down too looks a bit off-perspective, even though it isn't and is absolutely fine. That was pretty nit-picky but eh. The red 'circled' area looks two things: One, it looks like the grass is flat and stuck onto the front of the mountain. Two, due to the flatness it makes it look like there are perspective errors. Having two of the black lines above that grassy area will fix both of them issues. But I am assuming that the grass area is where a secret level is - or a normal level for that matter - and that you will continue up that mountain. So if you did have them lines you'd probably not want to add the rock-climbing pegs or a ladder and just let Mario climb up the bare mountain. Which to be honest isn't a big deal for me.
Moving on to the decoration of the overworld: It's very well done, not too much or too little. My only complaint on that aspect would be the stars in the cliffs. They look a bit odd to me.
The palette is also very nice too. I can see a difference from the original SMW overworld palette, which is good. Not too much of a change but I don't feel that a massive change would be required for this kind of world. So good job with that.
Getting onto Lemon Plateau 1. I like the graphical mixes between the cave and outside tileset. I am not sure if this is in the level due to the screenshots not showing it but maybe the cave graphics should be accessible to stand on too - as in the grass disappearing.
The palettes in this level are really nice. The grass and cave graphics both have nice palettes which fit together well. Good job with them.
I've never really been a fan of mixing graphics from all the games in SMAS - like in this case having the bushes from SMB3 with the SMW graphics - but this isn't really an issue as SMW doesn't really come with much choice for aesthetics.
Speaking of aesthetics. I'd like to say that you should be careful with them. Don't go overboard and/or focus on them too much. I've seen other hacks do it and it really ruins the level design as the designer is thinking "Got to add decoration!". Trust me, it's easy to fall into this trap and hard to get back out.
Moving on through the levels. I can see more pretty palettes and some decent level design. I'm liking the way you've slightly edited the ? Blocks and the Used Blocks so that the hack looks a bit different from a standard vanilla SMW hack. And I'm liking their new palettes too.
I'm assuming you're using the SMW alternate enemy graphics in this hack. Which is fine- it makes it different in my opinion and is actually quite a good idea.
I'm not really a fan of the coins in the dirt in Lemon Plateau 2. It looks a bit odd really. I think it looks like a translucent coin floating around - which could be collected if you touch it. Maybe a palette change with it would do the trick.
Onto the cave aspect: I don't mind claustrophobic caves - or castles for that matter - so that doesn't bother me. I'm not entirely sure on the bone piles which are stuck to the ceiling of the cave, and I'm a fan of the orange (which looks pretty similar to the orange of the main body of it) of the ? in the ? Block. The white would fit fine here I think.
That orange is back too in the next level. Still looks odd here. But the decoration here looks fine, and so does the level design. One thing I'm not sure about though is this overly stretched tree
. It looks really weird to me.
This time in the hack seems like a good time to introduce Bullet Bills, which you have, so I don't think difficulty will be an issue (but that's hard to tell from the screenshots).
The palette in this level is probably my... third favorite? I'm not entirely sure really as I really like it but I like two of the later ones more!
Getting onto the castle of this world. Am I to assume this level has a roof and is vertical scroll enabled from these two
screenshots? If I am then OK - if not it could look really weird with the columns going up into---nothing.
To be honest I'd like to see a bit more ? Block usage, although maybe you've just taken the screenshots, not purposely, without them in. I think that's the reason because by chance where you've taken the screenshots there are no ? Blocks.
Now: What's to determine the difference between a solid castle brick
and a castle brick that doesn't look like it's solid and acts like a second-ledge that would be outside
? This looks pretty confusing to be honest.
Regardless of that. I'm liking the slight tad of green which is added to the palette - it looks like the castle has bits of mold growing in it. Not sure if this is the intended impact but I rather like the idea of it.
I believe I'm onto world 2 now. I am thinking what is the relevance of kiwis or lemons in these levels - but come to think of it what was the relevance of the donuts or chocolate in Donut Land and Chocolate Island in SMW?
Now Kiwi Woods 1 has got my favorite palette so far. I can also see some decent level design and ideas here. I think maybe a more of a change in the midway-point palette couldn't go a miss here to fit more with it's surroundings though.
I'm not going to say the floating grass looks odd because it doesn't for me. It's different but hey, this is the world of Mario - anything can happen. We have a dinosaur that breathes fire there (Bowser or Yoshi? Take your pick).
So yeah, this level looks pretty decent so far.
Not much is shown of Kiwi Woods 2, but it looks good so far. I like the palette here - my second favorite - and it gives a nice feel of the level being set at night - while the one before felt like it was at dusk. I like what you've done with that. Maybe darkening the sprite palettes would work here to add more to the feeling of night time. I'm not even sure if that is the feel you're going for but it works.
Kiwi Woods 3 looks decent. The palette is not as good as the others though - maybe because I think the green really needs to be darkened or something as it really stands out too much at the moment. Meaning the green of the grass and the trees. Also, that orange ? is back - it looks really odd when you hit it and it goes white as well.
The level difficulty seems good for this point in the hack - and I suppose so does the level length, but maybe it was a -bit- short for my tastes.
I also believe that a bonus room could be added (perhaps there is one but you didn't show it) as I thought the level was a little
But overall, I rather liked the level - minus the few things I pointed out above.
I've never really played any Zelda games (yes I've been told I'm missing out on some fun stuff) so I won't know if you throw in any Majora's Mask references. But that's not really an issue as a good plot is a good plot - I like good plots, I like no plots. To be honest I don't really care about plots (not in a derogatory way - I'm just not really fussed if the plot is "Peach has been kidnapped, go save her).
But yeah. I can really see some decent progress and I will be sure to check back at a later date to see what more delights you have to showoff.
I wish you luck.