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.
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.