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Level 127 (World 8) - Bowser's Castle + The Void
Forum Index - Sunken Ghost Ship - Old Contests & Events - SMW Central Production 1.5 - Level 127 (World 8) - Bowser's Castle + The Void
Pages: « 1 » Link
This is going to be a long one, so expect many updates.

First, I was one of the first people who suggested that The Void be removed from Bowser's Castle and be given its own level tile, and it looks like that's actually going to happen. However, I'm not going to focus on that during this review. Instead, I'm going to look at what I found to be frustrating about the level design of both Bowser's Castle and The Void, since they're together right now.

Now I do like both of these stages. The music here was fantastic. I am a huge fan of Nightwish, and Ever Dream was probably my favorite song from their 2002 album. The Twilight theme from Twilight Princess was great too, and so were both of the boss themes. The graphics here were also phenomenal, and the level design for each section made for an overall great experience. Even though I say that, there were some parts that need to be toned down in terms of difficulty.


The second room in the castle was pretty fascinating, but I really think that the fading light needs to be removed. It made getting through this room pretty frustrating.


Even without the flickering lights, this room is confusing. Maybe if the background were a bit darker you could see where the actual path is, but still keep the challenge of the room.
In this same part, the fire chomps swarmed up on me at one point. Maybe some of them can be removed.

I found the part of the fifth room where you had to fly over a certain area and not touch the munchers to be pretty difficult. I suppose it could be left in if you wanted to, but I found it hard to do even with savestates.

Don't have that much to say about the room before Bowser except that I can see why SNN didn't like it.

The Bowser battle was just too easy for a penultimate boss, in my opinion. Especially when I know that the one in the next level is the hardest boss in the game. You might want to consider making a harder fight for Bowser.

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The Void in my opinion is the better of the two stages. I love how mysterious it is, and it was the perfect finisher to the game. I still get chills every time I play this stage.

I mentioned this bug earlier in a different thread, but I'll say it here; once you go into one of the eight sublevels containing the eggs and get through it, you can never return to it unless you erase your .srm file. Not sure if that was intentional, but I did want to go back in those rooms once, which is when I discovered this.


Mario's sprite is flickering in the hub room for some reason. I am 100% sure that this was not intentional.

What do I have to say about each individual room? Well, from left to right, I thought the first two were great. A bit confusing at times, but I liked everything else about them.

The third room in The Void was pretty horrendous, at least in my opinion. While I like the idea behind it, where it failed miserably was in the execution. Doesn't matter how many times I play this level, I always get lost here trying to find the next p-switch. Getting lost wasn't the worst part though; the invisible platforms were. Now, I would've been okay with them had there only been a few, but instead it feels like most of the platforms here were invisible ones. Maybe have them stay visible for a while longer before they disappear.

Room #4 was so much better than the third. While the ice physics here are still annoying at times, I like how much simpler it is than the one before it.

The fifth reminded me of an abandoned base from another hack I've played before. While I did forget where I was supposed to take the P-Switch in the second part, I did enjoy this section.

I don't have much to say about Desert Void. It's decent enough, but there were some parts I struggled with. I think it can be done without savestates, but I used them anyways to see if there were any bugs here.


Water Void was fair enough, but I did find some glitched graphics. See the two pictures above this section for details.

The Fire Void was one of my personal favorites. While there are some hard parts, there's nothing that really stands out as being unfair.


Just started playing the Final Void now, and found a bug with the Elite Koopas right away. When I hit the first one I saw, it turned into a regular koopa, with wings.
After finishing Final Void, I can say that it's definitely the hardest of the nine parts of the stage, but also my favorite. Everything about this place just seems so epic, and we couldn't have had a better build-up to the Ghost of Toadsworth boss battle.

I can remember this battle being one of the hardest I've ever faced. In fact, it was actually second to the Brutal Mario version of the Romancing Saga 2 final battle before I tested this level. Playing it again, I now realize that the fight was actually not that bad once I remembered what I was supposed to do. Some of his attacks were still hard to dodge, but overall I thought this was a great final battle for the game.
As for the music that plays during this fight (The Decisive Battle from Final Fantasy V), I think it fits the fight perfectly, but I think this is a port that should be improved to sound more epic.

So, that's my review for this level. If you want to test this level too, then please feel free to do so. I'm just one person with an opinion, and there's a good chance that your stance on this level will be different.

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Vanilla Twist!
I think this is a good case where some of these rooms simply cannot be salvaged. This is what we're dealing with:

-First room is okay, but the fact that you need to backtrack to get a silver P-Switch is absolutely stupid.
-Second room (smashing room in the first post): I also like this gimmick, but there needs to be a bit more indication of which floor tiles fall. Also, it's way too claustrophobic - if the roof was raised by 2-3 tiles, it would be perfect.
-Third room is a bit generic, but not horrid.
-Fourth room (your second image) is horrid. It's an invisible maze filled with Fire Chomps and needs to be scrapped.
-The flying room (fifth) is fine.
-The room right before Bowser also sucks. It's filled with poor design choices and really has no reason to stay.

Some of Bowser's Castle can be salvaged, but I think the majority will need to be redesigned.
Good point. I was wondering if some of those rooms were possible to fix anyways, but after reading your comment, some of them really do seem like they wouldn't work at all.

If anything else comes up during Bowser's Castle that wasn't addressed by anyone, I'll mention it. Besides that though, I think most of this review is going to end up being about The Void.

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Vanilla Twist!
- First room is okay, but I have to agree about the backtracking.
- Second room is also fine, I like the "falling ground" gimmick. However to make it fair, we could make the flickering less dark and raise te ceiling by one or eventually two tiles.
- Third room is fine for me.
- Fourth room is difficult. You can notice the difference between BG and FG, as the FG does move with the camera, and the BG doesn't. Maybe could we darken the BG a little bit and remove a few of the Fire Chompers?
- The flying room is fine. You can fly through the munchers by flying slowly and carefully, but if you want, you can move the ceiling one tile to the up.
- The last room is also really difficult. I think it's okay, yet we could get rid of some munchers. Also, some powerups should be easier to get. The first one is hard to get if you're big. You have to scroll the screen to keep the flower on the screen. Honestly, the Chain Chomp placement is quite unfair. Even if you try to scroll to get the powerup, you'll get hurt by the Chomp. I suggest removing it.


As for the voids:

- The first Void is good, but some blocks placement feel confusing due to layer priority. I suggest changing it and giving one or two more powerups, as it feels painful without any mushrooms.
- I enjoyed the second Void. It's fun and quite difficult. It has also some mushrooms.
- The third void is extremely tedious and a bit frustrating. It's a pain to find all 5 P-Switches and take it all the way back to the beginning. I suggest giving there a better puzzle or something. On the way, I liked the glowing ground, but it could a bit frustrating with the babysitting.
- The fourth room was quite short from what I remember. It was fine I guess, but I think you can remove the used blocks, so the player doesn't have to look for the P-Switch.
- The fifth room was pretty good as far as I know,, but there was a spot with silent bullet bills. I suggest removing them or applying the "bullet sound patch" to make it more fair.
- The sixth room was also fine, but if I'm not wrong, there were a few precise spots. It was also a bit long.
- The seventh room was fine, but it had some slowdown. Also, I'm not sure if it's fair to pass through a shitload of Lava Lotus fireballs and avoid getting hurt to destroy some "ice blocks".
- The eighth room was fine. I liked it, as it wasn't so precise. Maybe some P-switch runs could be removed, but it's not intentional.

I liked the look of the Final Void. It's challenging, but maybe avoiding these Elite Koopas isn't the easiest. Not sure about the P-switch runs and some long drops, but the second section was simply amazing for me. Maybe some people aren't fans of these, but I love challenging platforming like this. It doesn't have much enemies, but you have wall springboards, moving and falling platforms, some Koopa jumping and other things which are actually quite fun for me.

These are some suggestions, maybe it helps you.
I plan to go back and touch up pieces of the Final Void. I'm probably going to remove the Elite Koopas because our version of them turned out to be really difficult to deal with. I had a version of the level with normal enemies in it and I may see if I can dig that one up. If not, I'll find a way to use other, non-Elite Koopa enemies in the design.
^ We can also finally get the wavy background in that we planned ages ago. HDMA was causing breakages on the ROM at the time, but with JackTheSpades' new Effect Tool, we can probably spice it (and other levels) up a bit.
I'm going to touch up my parts of bowser's castle, perhaps even going through with the original concept (akin to bowser's castle from SMRPG) I really never did like how it ended up, but I always felt that the original castle concept clashed too much with the 8 void doors.


Edit:
http://bin.smwcentral.net/u/4803/BowserCastleAlpha.ips
(note that the hall doors aren't functional, the first 3 always go to might, and the second 3 always go to sight, and there's no "completion check")
I'm unclear on how exactly we're splitting this up, but here are my suggestions:

--Entrance Hall (~5-15 screens, one room)
--Midpoint?
--Choose a Door, one or two sets of four (ONE door, not "Complete all bajillion trials!") (~3-5 screens per room)
--Midpoint? (Or, if we can only use one midpoint, put it here)
--Inner Sanctum (~5-15 screens, one room)
--Midpoint?
--Bowser Battle

All of these would be new rooms, by the way. We can keep the original setting, but there wasn't a single room I enjoyed in the original version. Both this and the void got really carried away with "Oh boy oh boy, we have to make this super epic climax awesome for twenty minutes! Yay!"

As for the void, ideally I'd want it to go like this:

--Final Void Area
--Final Boss

That's it. If there are any other void areas worth keeping (Mountain Void?), relocate them to other worlds, re-theme-ing them in the process if necessary. Toss the rest.


Originally posted by Atma
(Link to alpha version)

I tried this, and to be honest, it just seems like a watered-down version of the original. I'm not sure that's the right approach, either. I think you're on the right track with the "fright" room, though. Gather 4 or 8 rooms of that size with different concepts, and that could be the middle section of the castle, where players choose 1 or 2 rooms.

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Youtube (Main) | Youtube (Alt) | Bandcamp | DeviantART
Originally posted by AxemJinx
Originally posted by Atma
(Link to alpha version)

I tried this, and to be honest, it just seems like a watered-down version of the original. I'm not sure that's the right approach, either. I think you're on the right track with the "fright" room, though. Gather 4 or 8 rooms of that size with different concepts, and that could be the middle section of the castle, where players choose 1 or 2 rooms.


I could make a new opening hall and use the smashing floor as one of the test rooms. I still think it should be at least half of the doors as the requirement for the test rooms, but let get some more opinions in here.
Originally posted by Atma
I still think it should be at least half of the doors as the requirement for the test rooms, but let get some more opinions in here.

Oh, considering how short they are, half would probably be fine. I just wanted to avoid a situation like Trial of Iron from ASMT. I was being a little hyperbolic :b

But yes, more opinions is always good.

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Youtube (Main) | Youtube (Alt) | Bandcamp | DeviantART
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Forum Index - Sunken Ghost Ship - Old Contests & Events - SMW Central Production 1.5 - Level 127 (World 8) - Bowser's Castle + The Void

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