|File Name:||Bits and Pieces|
|Submitted:||2016-03-30 02:27:58 AM by levelengine|
|Description:||Welcome all. |
After about 10 and a half months, I got Bits and Pieces done. It's meant to be another showcase of gimmicky level design, originally based off of user suggestions, which could be seen in the works in progress thread.
I ended up surpassing the initial prospect of 10-20 levels and now have a grand total of 49, some of which are relatively long.
To get to the special world however, you need to complete the 48 exits from the main game in order to access the defunct power station and power the portal. Can you reach it, or even complete it?
Now also includes more midpoints for the longer levels.
Firstly, I found several areas in which the player could get stuck with no means of escape other than waiting out the timer, or suicide. Ones I found were here (if you didn't bring a P Switch), here and here if the player didn't realise they were about to be locked out. Avoid instances like these at all costs.
When the player enters this room, in the nightfall level they're dead.
Although I thought "you toke a shot!" was a pretty nice level, it had this coin trail that leads the player into munchers. I know that this was not your intent, and that the player is meant to use a P-switch, however since they see this before the P-switch, they will be inclined to jump down it, assuming there is something down there (as I was).
I also believe you didn't take into account that in the "Aperture Meadows" level, the player dies if they kick an object when standing still which can lead to some uncalled for deaths.
Make sure that big Mario is unbale to wedge himself into one-block high spaces that would push him left, as that results in his death, as seen here, here and here. If you insist on having these areas, your best bet is to use the invisible block sprite.
Not sure why this pipe kills me.
The piranha plant has a weird hitbox and hurts me if I hug the side of the pipe. This isn't an issue with the ones that pop out to the left.
Now I'll address the elephant in the room. You knew it was coming; the difficulty.
While I'm definitely not opposed to hard hacks, this certainly takes the cake. The fact that several other mods prior to me (including kaizo mods) dropped it says it all. After playing through the entire thing, several recurring design choices became abundantly clear to me.
Although all of the enemies were cleverly placed, you definitely went overboard most of the time. This image sums it up. Not only is there literally no room to breathe, the player is forced to race against a P-switch. Since they're on a timer, they neither have time to stop or plan out their movement.
With the rate these guys throw projectiles at you, it's quite annoying to get passed them, even with the throw blocks you provided earlier on. On that note, this was one of many areas in which the hack was met with major slowdown, which at times could make it all the more frustrating.
Another area where the player has little breathing room, where the player must avoid these scrolling coin-sipping flame things in conjunction with these grinders. Not only that, but I died when I got to the top anyway, because I collected one despite standing on the block above it.
Even with the "boomerang" powerup, the amount of phantos combined with the reticle will make sure the player loses it, and after that, it's over.
Similarly, in the giant fan level if the player loses the cape towards the beginning (which they will) there's not much else they can do.
The bat levels were difficult for the wrong reason too, for the fact you couldn't touch the floor or you'd turn back into mario. I found no way to do this without taking a hit. If I took it slow, I'd hit the floor and get killed by the vertical scroll. If I rushed through, I'd of course be hit by a Bowser, since they bounce everywhere in my direction. Speaking of the bat levels, in the horizontally scrolling ones, the player would be killed by touching the side of the screen. I double checked to see if I'd just hit an enemy, but alas, no. This granted the player less room to move around.
This trail of coins is misleading, as it leads the player into a pit of munchers.
This is basically a death trap. If I stand still, I'm killed by the piranha plants. If I jump, I'm killed by grinders.
W-why would you do this ;~;
I tried many times to get this shell, but Mario's hitbox and falling speed wouldn't let me.
As I touched on before, player timing is a big issue in this hack. Aside from the screenshot I linked regarding the P-switch run, there are plenty of other moments like this. With the way you place your enemies, the least you could do is allow the player to stop and think for a moment, rather than have to charge through, not having time to map out their surroundings. This area in the glue fatory level is similar, albeit not as bad in my opinion.
The levels in which the timer drained were among my least favourites in the hack, as a lot of the time I had to play through multiple times because I waited a second too long for an enemy to give me a good clearing. "Seeing Red" was hell, with the combination of metroids that prevent you from jumping until you shake them off and the gimmick with the invisible on/off spikes.
Simple Sunset was not as bad in retrospect, however the time draining gimmick still didn't work well with the fact I also had a secret exit to find. It was even worse when I realised I had to be big Mario and execute a well timed shell jump. (I tried many times as lil' Mario, but to no avail) In these sorts of levels, I highly suggest giving the player a means to restore their time. This one may be very good.
Similarly, in "The Anti-Anti Level" you should put points in the level where the player can collect more lives, as these moons take them away and you've spammed them literally everywhere. Speaking of this level, I see you put double midway bars despite the fact most of the player's deaths here will be through game overs. Har har.
I'm inclined to believe you did not do a proper playthrough of this hack before releasing it to the public. Aside from the things I've pointed out, here is my main reason:
In fever swamp, the player is greeted with the five dragon coins that will trigger the level exit. I'm really not sure how you could miss this; if at all. They're on the first screen and are the first thing you see upon entering. I suppose you used them to test if they work properly and didn't remove them in post?
Your autoscrolling levels keep scrolling, even after the supposed end of that sublevel. That obviously wasn't intentional, as the player is able to see things like this, and in the "Clockworks of Dhama" level, this interesting situation.
In the second "Fort Gaspar" level, the status bar awkwardly shows up in the background.
I like how you handled the Aether gate. Post game content that can only be accessed after beating everything else is always a plus in my book. Problem is, you don't need to do that, as the player can walk down the path and access the special world as soon as they access this level. They don't even need to beat it.
When the player revisits virus soup during the second "Annihilator" level, the p-switch music is glitched, and while it doesn't crash the game, it's weird. Similarly, in several levels, I noticed the death music is also glitched.
On the subject of glitches, I noticed several other instances of glitched graphics:
Killing a grinder with an axe turns it into a Koopa troopa head. This is because grinders were never intended to be killable. Fixing this should be as simple as changing the sprite properties so that it vanishes in a puff of smoke rather than falling off screen.
It seems you didn't notice the propellors on this block are glitched, along with these warp blocks that I hit a few seconds later.
Was this meant to be an awkward purple koopa troopa...? Granted, they appeared later in the level too, but their colours looked correct.
Very minor, but for whatever reason, when Mario hits these guys, his death animation glitches a little?
I could go on and on. Sadly, despite everything I'd heard, I expected more from this hack, but ultimately the overly frustrating design brings it down. You definitely know what you're doing, and I can give you credit for how carefully you thought about some of the design choices, but I feel that instead of wanting people to have fun, you wanted them to feel frustrated. Even in difficult games, "frustrating the player" should never be a priority. A fun challenge is a challenge that the player can overcome, not one that they have to luck themselves through, which I unfortunately felt to be the case for much of this experience.
If you plan to resubmit, first and foremost, fix the issues I've mentioned. After you've done this, I want you to play through this hack yourself in full. Ask yourself if it's really fun or not. See if you can find ways to refine it to change the frustrating challenge into an enjoyable one. Not only that, hire testers if you didn't already. Make sure they enjoy it too. If you insist keeping the difficulty as it is, you may be better off resubmitting as a kaizo.
I hope this helped, thanks.