2. Shadows Taking Over
The man on the boat sees evening approach, but this is not much of an obstacle. Is it? If not, there are plenty of other things which will serve the role.
If Red Steps acts as the player's baby steps, this level might be thought of as training wheels on a first bicycle. In this second stage, the player is introduced to challenges (and design philosophies) which are emblematic of what is found throughout the bulk of Ganymede's roughly 80 main levels. You will also be introduced to new enemies, like the bumbling little Peepers.
This is the first level where, in terms of design, I break away from SMW tradition a bit more. I have studied level design for much of my life, as a hobby and interest, and Shadows Taking Over is the first of many levels that have multiple paths towards a single exit. If you have played 2D Sonic the Hedgehog games, you will understand. It is largely up to the player to go whichever way they want, to explore as they desire (or not), and discover one of the many cadences each level presents. I am a perfectionist and obsessive over making levels that are fun and have a flow. The player should always be doing something, always moving, looking, seeking, fighting. And I want the player to take initiative, but not force them to see everything in one go. It is my sincere desire that you play through the levels I make and go, "hey, this is good shit. I wouldn't mind playing it again." Every one of my levels are large (though not terribly long), and full of stuff to find and do. Multiple playthroughs will, I hope, reward you multiple times with rich and enjoyable experiences.
The first time you collect a food item, such as the watermelon slice, you'll probably notice, savvy SMW vet that you likely are, that you've just collected a Dragon Coin. Like the clocks, food takes the concept and expands upon it. The man on the boat will have a much better time on his journey if he keeps his stomach full. To reflect this, a food item adds 20 seconds to your timer, with a corresponding 20 units added to your roulette ticker. And this is one example where I deliberately disobey the written rules of SMW level design for good cause. This level, and quite a few others, may not have exactly five food items to find. Sometimes, you feast, and sometimes you starve. This helps tie into the health system, which I will explain in the next post.