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[ACCEPTED] "By the Harvest Moon" by levelengine
Forum Index - Valley of Bowser - Moderation Questions - Hacks - [ACCEPTED] "By the Harvest Moon" by levelengine
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Counterfeit // FIRE AND FORGET [~]
(CCCP:~) counterfeit% cat чики-брики.txt
Current review. Start here and use this submission.




Permanent link to submission.
Quote
File Name: By The Harvest Moon
Submitted: 2014.08.31 ~ 14:28:48 by levelengine
Claimed: 2014.08.31 ~ 18:11:07 by Counterfeit
Authors: levelengine
Demo: No
Featured: No
Length: 5 exit(s)
Difficulty: Normal
Description: 3 weeks ago, I began making this short 5 level hack and put my other SMW hacks on hold as a result. Despite having started some other hack already, I made this one to honor my grandfather, who passed away a few weeks ago.

Now, you guys may play it. It features mostly original graphics, which I do not want taken due to the occasion they were drawn for. You have been told.

Strangely enough, while there are a few custom blocks, there is no custom music.
Tags: custom gfx, custom graphics, graphics, level, level design, no custom music
Rating: 0.0 (Votes: 0)
Your rating:
Download: Download - 369.71 KiB
37 downloads
Title screen has a nice silhouetted foreground against a harvest-orange sky. The moon is bright and the house seems like an old-fashioned log cabin on the prairie. It definitely seems to capture the feeling of times of old in a bittersweet way.

The intro says there's no story and just to play it. It's the same level used in the next stage.

The overworld is a nicely-crafted island with mountains having different biomes. Details are balanced and perspective is correct.

L is an action level combining many different kinds of elements, including bubble enemies and turn block bridges. It's consistent the whole way through, and a skilled player can breeze through it fluently while the less skilled player will hesitate a lot. It was very different playing through it the first time and the second time. The level has no conceptual development curve, which is a little disappointing. The intensity seems to peak in the middle of the level through the third-to-last screens, then it relaxes. Solid design, despite what it's missing.

O is sculpted beautifully around Butter Bridge 1's autoscroll mechanics. Lingering towards the left side of the screen is important because a lot of the shell-kicking Koopas will demolish you if you don't. The second half of the level looks confusing because the way the BG trees and the foreground are colored make the ground a little hard to make out. Super Koopas are placed very intrusively, but I find the rest a lot easier to weave around... until the end. The Pitchin' Chuck after the goal post is pure bullshit and you know it. :| The level definitely does have a technique you need to adhere to in order to beat it without a black eye, which is very cool. It's kind of like those arcade games and old NES games which would seem impossible unless you played it over and over again.

R has some sprite tile memory problems towards the middle of the level. If the Chucks follow you through the point where the Amazin' Flyin' Hammer Brother is supposed to spawn, he won't show up. There's also sporadic slowdown in the level. The design makes great use of moving platforms, munchers, and Fuzzies, though. It becomes excruciatingly hard towards the end of the level. I personally couldn't get through it without savestates.

N makes use of the On/Off switch for walls and floors. The time of day has changed to night. One thing that irks me is there's action behind the status bar that you are thrown into, e.g. the part between the Sparky and the shell-kicking Koopa above the throw blocks, and I feel like that's a cheap hit. This level has some strong applications of the idea and each part feels distinctive. I really liked that large structure with the castle sprites where it'd create floors you can't really backtrack from. The wooden stakes go behind the mist, however. The second part of the room was completely unexpected: visually, it's extremely busy. The hitbox on the vehicle is wrong because when I reach a corner I am clearly not hanging off of, I fall off of it before I can jump, and I hit enemies that are ahead of my graphic. I also go through my powerup when it drops from the box: this is bad ASM and I advise you don't use it or you contact the author of it to get it fixed. After that vehicle room, you are still overwhelmed by all kinds of moving crap (snow, and mist OVER you) and have to deal with slippery physics now. The mist is the #1 thing that made this astronomically difficult, as there were times I couldn't see where the ground ended through the mist. I think strongly that the mist shouldn't be forced above all layers.

E again uses the obstructing mist along with autoscroll. It's like a combination of all of the key elements in each level of the hack. Again, there are parts where the action is too close to the top of the screen and you really can't 100% see what you're doing. This continues through both halves of the level and it's incredibly annoying. The springboard's purpose wasn't clear to me -- that wall ought to be a lot closer to the springboard so when you realize you have to carry it, it's not too late. Something freaky happens halfway through the snake ride and everything goes complete banana apeshit. It's CRAZY FAST. Much to my dismay, that wasn't the end of the level (these levels feel really long.) The screen is almost white and it's nearly impossible to see any action behind the mist. There's another snake ride, back to being slow again. The part where the snake goes under your moving platforms has almost no margin of error - if you hesitate at all, the snake goes up and there's no way you can jump on top of it. It took me about 25 tries to get it. Lower the turn blocks or get rid of that little dip in the ceiling that prevents you from jumping far enough to reach it after it starts moving up. And, that still was not the end of the level. There's a small filler room which is thankfully much easier.

The most major problem with the hack is that the mist going over everything results in a lot of cheap hits and falls. Other people may have no problem seeing through the mist, but the contrast is poor, especially in the second-to-last room of the final level, and the high detail makes the screen so busy that I have to keep on reloading savestates in order to beat most of the mist parts. Other than that, just the vehicle hitbox is my only complaint. The level design is thoughtful and creative but I'm on the fence about that mist use. I don't really have an opinion on difficulty through aesthetics since it seems to have some purpose and context, but a lot of people expressed hate for this kind of mechanic elsewhere in the forum.

I can't help but feel the progression into white-out conditions in a bitter cold winter is symbolic of hard times and the end of life, and the overworld leading full circle back to the grassland is the start of a new beginning. I don't know if you meant for the hack to have a metaphor like that, but that's what I see in it.

Difficulty: (Very) Hard.
Verdict: Accept - only to be counted in event of a draw.
+1:
S.R.H.
Wakana
✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪
~ COU/NTERFEITGTX460 ~
Gentoo Linu/x userEx-Sta/ff
Overcaffeinated/My Anime_ List
I AM SILLY_2A Supporter
The Title Screen - Very simplistic, but nice-looking. There's not much to say about it, but I really liked it and have no complaints about it.

The Intro - Tells the player that there is no story. I don't really mind hacks with no story, but I think it would have been better if there were one. Anyways, the level and the palettes look like a snowy morning. Also part of the first level, L.

The Overworld - Very nice looking. Water could have been looking better if had those icebergs and related stuff. Felt a bit boring to me. I wasn't able to find any perspective errors too, so nice job!

L - A nice level, it combines many different kinds of enemies and ideas, including some very underused sprites and originality, making the level way more fun and exciting. It's great overall, but it has some tiny problems. Firstly, it had no real concept in it as I understood. It went from a relaxed level to an intense action level, and then got back to the relaxed level. The difficulty felt different after every play. Not really a major problem, but still, it would have been better if it was just an action level or a relaxed level. We also meet our biggest enemy in this hack on this level; the shell kicking blue koopas. You really, really overused them, and it got really annoying. I were about to give up sometimes. There also were a bit of slowdown in it, not major, but it still can be annoying. The level design was great overall, but could have been better if didn't have those evil issues in it. Now, let's get to the aesthetical design. The aesthetical design was also great. There were no issues about it, as far as I found, except for the slopes. Proably just me being too bitchy, but the shading felt a bit cut-off, but anyways, pretty much everything else was very well drawn, so you did a very nice job.

O - A great level with the not-so-often-seen autoscroll seen in Butter Bridge. You better be careful and keep yourself in the left side of the screen, because as I said before, there are those evil shell-kicking-shelless-blue-koopas here. But this time, it is not limited to just that! Now, we have evil flying koopas. If you want to play this hack, you must be very careful and skilled, and sometimes, even being good doesn't help you! Also, the two (I wasn't able to find anymore) secret 1-ups were very cleverly hidden, so great job. Anyways, the second part of the level is a bit harder in my opinion. The coloring of the background makes the foreground hard to make out. I suggest using darker colors for the background, as it is too foreground-ish at the current moment. Not sure if I were able to explain it well, but I hope you get my point. There weren't any other design issues, except for the goddamn chuck at the end. Oh god. Why? Whhhhhhyyyyyy? It was extremely unnecessary and annoying at the same time! I got hit when I were about to finish the level! Do you have any idea how that annoyed me? Ugh. Now, its time to talk about the aesthetics.. well, I loved them! The palettes were really fitting each other and great looking! I especially liked how you edited the sprite palettes. %99 of the people forget about them. Poor sprites.. :C What a sad story!

R - A very evil level. Lots of shelless blue koopas and shells again, but one of those were behind the status bar so it made them hard to see. Not nice. It also had some other issues. Firstly, the sprite tile memory problems. Some of the sprites didn't show up correctly which was very confusing. It also had an aesthetical issue in it; the chuck's rock. It's palette wasn't the best looking, to be honest. Seems like you forgot about it. Anyways, the level design was nice otherwise, it had great usage of some sprites and nice ideas in it. Pretty nice.

N - Oh god. Here we go.. this is the start of the evil fog usage, but thank god, it is not making the level too hard here. Anyways, I noticed that you started to use different graphics for the water. I wonder why? I think it looks better than the other one, but it didn't need a change in my opinion. It would have been better if it never changed. Also the theme is night. I just noticed that those levels had times during day. Very nice and clever. Also, not sure, but I think that the on-off blocks have P̀̇͆ͦ̽͗I͍ͬ̉L̖̖̭̮͖̲̪̃L͙̑͋̏̄̍ͪOͣ͆ͩ̃ͥͬW̟̲̼͆͑ͥ̒ ̔̉̒̐̄ͦ͐S̹̝̓ͫHA̯͓̳̅̅̎ͯͭͬD̤͔̬͔͎̦̊I͕͇̞̞̩̮̘N̲̈ͭ̍̌̃G̗̜̯̮͎̺.. why? Whhhhhhyyyyyy? Anyways, it has great usage of the on off blocks and the switches, great job there. In the second part of the level, there were a bit of ASM, but it's graphic style wasn't the best looking with your original ones. I suggest you to redraw it, but that's not a major problem, so it is still up to you. It's hitbox also had issues. Ugh.

E - Annoying fog that makes everything hard to see? Check. Evil traps? Check. Cheap tricks? Check.

Ugh. This level was just annoying. You can't see anything. Everything is white. Mario sometimes appears behind stuff, making it even harder. This was like a huge fuck you. Hell, every single part was busy as fuck that I had to disable most of the layers! I also wasn't able to see some enemies. I didn't know why you put a springboard there, so I died, you should at least have gave a hint in my opinion. After that, the snake gets AFDSPF;>ALF;PGE and turns super fast for no reason whatsoever. This really surprised me when I've seen it for the first time. The 1-up placement was nice, but overall, this level was a huge fuck you. I suggest you to remake this, or disable the fog and related stuff so at least it would be less hard to see what's going on.

Difficulty: Hard (+ savestates)
Verdict: Accept (An update would be soooo good though.)
Osh this was an heavy one, for some aspects.

In terms of design I liked it: it's pretty nice, sometimes excessive maybe, but I have no problems with it. The last few levels were too raging though, even if the difficulty curve is perfectly fine to me. You also tend to abuse kicking shell koopas, whose frequency annoyed me a bit. All in all, still a nice short and sweet hack, and it was pretty fun to go trough; players who dislike hard hacks are gonna hate this though...

I'm a bit unsure about your aesthetics. On the bright side, I liked the GFX and the way you made your palettes; although, as Cou mentioned already, the mist you used makes already hard sections even harder, since it's disturbing for the excessive brightness. Because of this, the last level was very very frustrating, and I had to abuse savestates to get most of the parts done. So yeah, while I don't mind the excessively hard design, I'd suggest to lower the brightness of the mist in all the levels that have it. For the rest, nice GFX, finally had the chance to see new ones here~

As misc issues, I haven't found any major ones. Some slowdown occurs here and there, but without bugging the player, since it's very minor; the hitbox of that DKC kart (forgot the name, what'chya gonna do?) is weird, like, you have to jump a bit earlier or you fall; the already mentioned mist palette also is too bright, so tone the palette color down a bit.

Difficulty is *insert swears here* hard, with a pretty difficulty curve.

All in all, I feel like accepting this hack: besides a few problems, I think it deserves its place in the hack section, mainly for the level design, which is well structured. Still, an update with the fixed issues wouldn't hurt~
If I have the time, I'll submit an updated version. I wanted to get more reviews, but these two are helpful enough.

Thanks guys.
Counterfeit // FIRE AND FORGET [~]
(CCCP:~) counterfeit% cat чики-брики.txt
Link to new submission

--

Level design is 99.5% the same and does not warrant a detailed review.

Changes:
- Contrast in level O has been improved significantly and the Pitchin' Chuck after the goal post has been removed.
- Contrast of objects behind translucent mist in later levels vastly improved; no more cheap deaths due to being unable to see
- Springboard moved next to wall on snake train

Still present:
- Bad collision with the vehicle in level N, including ignoring the powerup
- N and E are still very long levels
- Turn block bounce sprite does not match the breakable brick graphic

Difficulty: Hard
Verdict: Accept (much more concise for me to declare this time around)
+1:
Wakana
Domiok
✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪
~ COU/NTERFEITGTX460 ~
Gentoo Linu/x userEx-Sta/ff
Overcaffeinated/My Anime_ List
I AM SILLY_2A Supporter
Glad to see an update. While it's not a major one, I'm happy you fixed a few critical points.

I spotted a very few changes in level design, which kept a very heavy one as overall: pretty tough but fun at the same time. Some sections still needed a savestate abuse to be passed, but I guess it's what a hard hack is. Again, I think that you abuse kicking shell koopas too much: it's too much of a cheap trap and pretty annoying, as said in my previous review.

The major change is in the aesthetics, and it's about the fog color, which is less bright. Thanks to this change, the hack became 20% cooler. Unfortunately, some sections are still too bright for my tastes (I'd complain the very last sublevel in the last level). Overall, though, very nice aesthetics; compared to the older version, nothing but the fog color changed.

As misc issues, slowdown can still occur a bit (in the second level, the part with the blue blocks that can be picked up). Also, the DKC cart has a still buggy hitbox.

Difficulty is *insert swears here* hard, with a pretty difficulty curve. x2

I'd still accept this hack: a neat one, that shows how hard but still fair hacks should be like.
Looking through recent hacks earlier today, I saw this neat five level hack, and I gave it a go. I found the notion of attributing this to your grandfather immensely noble and sweet. The usage of custom graphics interested me likewise. What I initially considered a brief venture stretched into a multiple hour trek in this “normal” difficulty hack, and I discovered with haste that this hack was not quite as easy as it claimed. Although this hack proved demanding in its gameplay, I had a fun experience overall. You handled the other aspects of the hack very well for a hack with no quest; I have few complaints beside the overlying challenge.

This hack’s level design pushed me to the top of my game. Since I did not play the earlier version of this hack, I cannot comment on the supposedly more extreme difficulty of the previous iteration, but I will say that I had some considerable issues in parts. Your usage of enemies produced the greatest trouble, forcing quick maneuvers. In some situations, such as with the small dino before the midway point in O, enemies will cheat a hit on you by appearing from offscreen or from unseen hiding spots on the screen. Despite my exclamations against your Blue Koopa placement and otherwise, I thoroughly appreciated the enemy tropes that you used throughout your levels, particularly the spike balls in N, where you had to consider their trajectories and how to manipulate them for progression. I had to approach the non-autoscrolling levels at a moderate pace in order to dodge projectiles and obstacles. That aspect of the difficulty fit comfortably.

In addition to the enemies in your levels, the length and appearance of the levels caused many struggles in the hack. After L, the levels kept going onward and onward. When I first approached the midway point in O, I expected to reach the end, but then I encountered a whole new section to the level, albeit short. As I went further into the levels, I invested more time in each one. The later levels had time limits that did not correlate well with the challenge of each level, for I would attempt parts at a slower than normal pace in order to not die and would come close to death simply due to time. E turns this around and completely requires a fast pace with numerous flying Koopas and munchers, and this pace hurt the level’s other strengths. Unfortunately, I had to give in to using savestates occasionally, switching to ZSNES for that purpose. If I were to suggest one enormous fix that would make a playthrough without savestates possible for some players in any potential future version, I would highly suggest adding save prompts to the end of levels or including a small save kiosk before the first level. I got a Game Over about three times in my journey to beat these levels, and with only two known spots for 1-UPs, I had to abandon my dreams of completion without savestates.

Putting the level design itself aside, I dug the aesthetics and other choices in the hack. Your custom graphics weaved beautifully with the custom SMBX graphics, and except for the palette choice for the background in the latter half of O, which made platforming disorienting for me personally, you generated pretty palettes for your levels. The sunset levels and water areas looked gorgeous. I liked the simple overworld and how it connected back together in a ring. Keeping the original music for your levels actually performed well, complementing R and E especially. I experienced only very minor slowdown in a couple of spots with Chargin’ Chucks and the spike balls, which surprised me with the heavy presence of enemies in all of your levels. It would take some scourging to come up with any other lesser issues.

For good reason, this adjusted hack has been accepted; however, for reasons that I have expressed, I would deeply stress a change in the difficulty setting currently attributed the hack from Normal to Hard.
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