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[Fan Judge] Aeon takes an Eternity to review levels
Forum Index - Sunken Ghost Ship - Old Contests & Events - The 10th Annual Vanilla Level Design Contest - [Fan Judge] Aeon takes an Eternity to review levels
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e: I'll usually be going through the levels in submission order, but if you want me to judge your level soon(tm) feel free to message me!

Hello! I am the Aeon. Also known as MarioBros980. I'm a regular user, also known as ASM, Patches, Tools, 65c816, etc.

I actually planned on doing something like this before the contest started, but I wasn't expecting to be beaten to it by 3 different users lol (wonder if we can have a "fan results" thing once everyone's done). It helps other people improve their levels (hopefully) and it's something I like doing, so why not I guess.

Fairly obvious, but scores are subject to change as more levels are uploaded.

That being said, I hope enjoy your stay! See you around!

DESIGN: 36/50
OVERALL: 72/100
Solid level overall. Tile 1F0 works decently as a gimmick, even if it's nothing new at this point. The first few screens do a decent job at introducing the theme to newer players, but I think the first Dragon Coin and powerup locations could be swapped, as there's a lot less danger in getting the former. Some of the obstacles are fairly boring to go through, in particular at the part where you have to spinjump on a Diggin' Chuck rock near the end of the first section. It goes on for too long, and there's not much else to it than just trying not to fall off.

The final obstacle with the saws feels out of place. Another water section could work better, I don't think it was used enough. The level has already shown some interesting ideas, such as combining the helpless Cheep-Cheep with tile 1F0, so exploring them a bit more would be great.

I really like the visuals. They are different enough from pure vanilla that they are fresh and interesting to look at, but still keep a somewhat classic feel to them. I'm not sure if I like using the same type of bricks as 1F0 for decoration, though.

DESIGN: 16/50
OVERALL: 42/100
The biggest issue I had with this level is the lack of any sort of consistency design-wise. The first half is incredibly generic, lacking any sort of distinct theme (other than Dolphins) or progression, while the second half does the exact opposite and feels all over the place. There are a lot of different enemy types and obstacles, from moles to bullet bills to pokeys, and most of them are only seen once in the level.

The level also fails on rewarding the player appropriately for exploring, notably on the little side path right below the exit from the cave room - there's a little hole that appears to have something important in it, but has nothing other than two coin blocks. This is made specially weird by the fact that there's a Dragon Coin in plain sight nearby - why not just place it in there? Additionally, there's also a blue P-Switch near the end of the level that appears to have no real use (also, it's a little bit misleading as it appears to be silver due to the palette edits. Try remapping either the switch or the dolphin's colors to fix that, or just remove it actually).

This doesn't have anything going for it other than the above-average aesthetics. The design here definitely needs a lot of work.

DESIGN: 0/50
OVERALL: 0/100 (DQ?)
I don't mind challenging levels as long as they're fair and interesting. Unfortunately, this level is neither. It's basically a series of precision jumps without much effort or thought put into them, and the ice physics really don't help. This is the one level so far I'd say is in desperate need of a complete rework, from the core idea to the design as a whole.

DESIGN: 26/50
OVERALL: 62/100
The first section works well enough as an introduction, but it goes on for way too long. Most of the setups aren't particularly interesting and it seems to really overstay its welcome.

The second half of the level is a lot more interesting, but it has its own issues. Other than the usual 1F0 shenanigans, there are line-guided platforms, falling platforms, spinjumping on enemies and so on. While I really like the idea here, I think it has a issue with conveyance, in particular when multiple of these little gimmicks are combined. There are parts where you need to spinjump on a Thwomp out of a moving platform to get on another one, for example, but it's not very clear to the player what to do, which will most likely lead to a few unfair deaths.

While it has a lot of potential, this level is currently needing a lot of polish. Cutting down the first half a bit and heavily tweaking the second half's setups would make this a lot better. There's a section where you keep spinjumping on a Thwomp while waiting for a sparky to come, and there's a odd-colored coin to indicate there's something important there. I think if the coin had palette more distinct from the regular yellow coins (e.g. change it to red) and was use them more through the level it could help with the more unclear setups.

DESIGN: 42/50
OVERALL: 75/100
A rare example of a nicely designed autoscrolling level. It sticks very close to vanilla, but manages to keep itself interesting all the way through. There's always some sort of obstacle for the player to avoid, but none of them are hard enough to overwhelm the player. There are a lot of clever setups, and adding the Volcano Lotuses to the mushroom spriteset was a really nice touch. It also helps that the level both makes use of one of the special autoscroll settings, which is a lot more interesting to the player than a simple slow autoscroll. There are no innovative gimmicks or mind-blowing aesthetics, it's just a simple, short-but-sweet platforming level. Nice work.

DESIGN: 8/50
OVERALL: 26/100
Yet another level that would have benefited from more focus. This is pretty much a 3-in-1 type of level, with a few completely unrelated sections, each doing their own thing. It starts using Rexes, then switches over to the Pokey spriteset in the second section, and in the third uses the spotlight, Mecha-Koopas and Ninjis. Each of these sections could be their own level, a lot of different enemy types and level themes are introduced but none of them are explored as much as they should have been, the Sumo Bros. and Pitchin' Chuck near the end of the second section being great examples of that. I heavily recommend focusing on one of these themes then cutting the rest.

DESIGN: 24/50
OVERALL: 58/100
Not a bad level. Once again we have two sections that don't quite feel like they belong to the same level, but there's something that connects them (the sparkies) so it doesn't feel as disjointed. The first half of the level was alright, and had some interesting setups at least, but most of them involved a lot of waiting. The spikes that go up/down were particularly annoying in that regard, and other than the forced waiting they didn't pose much of a threat. The second half is designed a lot better, but it's lacking in progression - the obstacles don't seem to change a whole lot as the level goes on. Also, either the intro is misleading and there's no secret exit or it's way too hidden, as even after going through the level multiple times I couldn't find it.

Visuals are simple but effective. Not much wrong there, but at the same time nothing particularly impressive.

DESIGN: 12/50
OVERALL: 30/100
I don't think the outline aesthetics work well here. Mario's colors being mostly black is specially bad, as the one thing you usually don't want is for anything important to merge with the background, specially if that thing is your player character.

With that out of the way, this is yet another level with the "multiple disjointed levels" issue. The multiple sections lack any sort of cohesion other than the similar aesthetic style, and it feels like you're going through three different levels. The sections individually have subpar design as well, as the randomness means it lacks several essential elements to a good level, such as progression and a good difficulty curve. The secret exit seems to only add some artificial replay value. It's right in the player's main path and requires no real effort to reach (it is made more difficult to reach without taking a hit if you're big, but that's still not good difficulty).

Minor issue, but sideways piranha plants aren't the best choices for hurt blocks, as the vines don't look harmful if touched from above. These could probably be replaced by simple spikes.

DESIGN: 10/50
OVERALL: 26/100
This level seems to put too much focus into the aesthetics, while the design was neglected. The sprite placement needs a lot of work, as most of them seem to be there only to populate the level, and others only appear once in the level as some sort of gimmick (e.g. the Thwomps). There aren't many interesting sprite setups either.

I can see what you were going for with the aesthetics here, but the palettes are very eye-searing due to all the intense colors. The first half of the level, in particular, is really hard to look at. Some of the GFX manipulation also brings this level down a lot. Pokeys don't work well as Goomba reskins, for example, as while the former is harmful from all directions, the latter can be safely stomped on by Mario. The Thwomp and bouncing coins also don't seem like they're enemies at first, which is a huge issue. Dangerous objects should look dangerous.

The first three sections were really random in their design, and the autoscroll room was kind of just there. It didn't add much to the level, and it would probably be better if it was just removed. Jumping over munchers and avoiding the bullet generator doesn't make for very interesting design. I suggest sticking to one of the sublevels you have and expanding them into a full level, with proper progression and consistency. Any of them could be made into full levels, really.

DESIGN: 26/50
OVERALL: 55/100
I like this one, but it's probably too simple. The invisible coin blocks, while used all the time in the level, weren't explored well enough. There were some interesting varieties (the Yoshi Coin room door where you have to hit the invisible coin blocks to be able to enter it comes to mind) but a lot of it felt like more of the same. As a result, the level end feels a bit abrupt, lacking a real conclusion. Many of the enemies were out of the player's way, such as most of the Swoopers, that were placed way too high for the most part. This also leads to you having to warn the player of them quite often (done with the coins), which is made specially weird by the fact that most of them aren't that threatening, as mentioned above.

The level would probably be better without the secret exit, considering its current placement. It seems to be there to artificially add replay value to the level, and the segment leading to it has absolutely nothing to do with the level. I get the reference at all, but it still makes the level more disjointed than it should be.

DESIGN: 4/50
OVERALL: 28/100
There's not a lot to say about the main exit path. It's quite clearly not the level's focus, and it by itself is a very bare bones level without much of interest.

The secret exit is insane. It's one of the best variations of the whole "replay a level to get the secret exit" gimmick I have seen so far, but the execution really ruins it. Most of the obstacles are really obscure at first (e.g. I wasn't spinjumping when I first got to the Spinies, so I had to backtrack a fair bit and do all the bouncing on wigglers again while doing so). It requires way too much precision/insight from the players, and some of the more puzzle-like sections are really hard to figure out (in particular the section near the Yoshi block).

DESIGN: 18/50
OVERALL: 48/100
I don't mind rompy levels, but this one is too short and generic to be fun. Designing the level around the Koopa shells is an interesting idea, but it was underused enough that it didn't go beyond being an aesthetic gimmick. It's also really hard to differentiate the solid shells from the actual shells - the non-sprite ones have a slightly less saturated palette, but that's not enough. I'd either make them all use different colors (e.g. gray, purple, etc) or make it so all of them use a different frame from the initial shell frame (the mid-rotation versions)... actually, maybe doing both would make the level a lot better.

It's also lacking in execution. The level doesn't do a whole lot with the enemy placement, and all of the setups feel really basic at this point. The difficulty stays the same during the whole level, with the sole exception being the kicking Koopas. Most of them are way too close to their shells, which leaves the player little time to properly react to them.

The secret exit is just there, hidden in a random pipe. It feels like an afterthought when compared to the main path, and the level might be better without it.

DESIGN: 23/50
OVERALL: 52/100
The autoscroll here feels like it's slowing the player down more than anything. There are many areas where there's a lot of waiting around, and most of the obstacles which don't involve Grinders aren't challenging enough. The checkerboard platforms used near the last dragon coin could be used more in the level, as it currently appears only once in the entire level. There's not much else to talk about, the level doesn't do anything too impressive with its design and stays simple until the end.

I like what you have done with the aesthetics here, but the climbable nets are too similar to the regular ones. This is made even worse by the way they're introduced - the first climbable net found in the level is right above a bottomless pit, so failing to notice the difference early on will punish the player with a death. The foreground would probably look better if it was made with the castle window tiles instead, they're similar enough to work as a substitute but are still fairly different from the regular tiles.

Also, I'm not sure on what the little hole near the pipe that leads to the midway is supposed to be. Its weird placement seemed to hint at some sort of secret at first, but I don't think there's anything important in there. Unfortunately, the scroll doesn't stop, so checking it out also leads to death. I think the whole cave midway section is unnecessary, actually.

And that's it for now. #tb{^^}
Holy shit you did a lot of reviewing. I'm honestly surprised you wrote all of that. I hope the people who's levels you've reviewed will take a look at this thread seriously, because the input you have appears to be valuable, to me anyways. Some of these levels definitely should take the time to further polish themselves, we have 6+ weeks, so no hurry. But there's no telling how fast that time can go too.

Also, I can't help but notice that Mario is dying in every screenshot you've taken. At least you're not being generic but holy moley, Mario needs a break. Oh boy, just realized what I did there...

Originally posted by Skewer
Also, I can't help but notice that Mario is dying in every screenshot you've taken. At least you're not being generic but holy moley, Mario needs a break. Oh boy, just realized what I did there...

It's a good screenshot gimmick for sure. Mario's death sprite in that neon level is hilarious.

Switch: SW-2766-9108-9399Twitter: @Vine_STYouTube: that ivy guy
I don't know what happened to your so called break, but thanks for the review!
Layout by Erik557
I'm gonna try making the block shells different colors. I went with teal, orange, pink, and purple. I'll play through it once, then upload an update.

Quintesson Judge: Silence, or you will be held in contempt of this court!
Hot Rod: I have nothing but contempt for this court!
- Transformers the Movie (1986)
An Eternity later, here are a few more!

DESIGN: 5/50
OVERALL: 10/100
Too short and simple to make an impression. It's essentially a flat stretch of land with a few enemies, most of which can be killed with the shell from the very first Koopa if you follow it for long enough. The dragon coins are kinda pointless right now, as all of them are hidden together around halfway in. The Bullet Bills are very badly placed due to the sheer quantity of them, the narrow area you have to dodge them and, most importantly, the lack of a warning sound when they're placed by themselves. Try using the shooters instead.

DESIGN: 10/50
OVERALL: 22/100
Biggest issue with this level by far is the vertical section. Due to sprite memory issues (possibly caused by the bowser statue flames), it's near impossible to successfully go through without any important sprites refusing to spawn. It's certainly in need of a complete rework.

Other than that, I feel the level's obscuring gimmick doesn't add a whole lot to it. There are a bunch of decent setups involving Rexes, Bowser Statues, Grinders and Timed Lifts, but none of these are properly developed through the level. The second half, even if ignoring the sprite memory issues, further complicate things by adding Dolphins, which are rather underused in the level overall. There are a few setups where they can throw the player into the spikes (one of which is pretty iffy, as it can instead make the player get "stuck" between the rope and the spikes, forcing you to suicide) but not a whole lot other than that.

To make the canvas gimmick a bit more fair (and give you freedom to work on some crazier obstacles), using the holes included in the same tileset would be great.

DESIGN: 39/50
OVERALL: 78/100
Very nicely designed overall. There are a lot of really cool setups here, I like how the fuzzies are combined with several kinds of platforms to make each of them a little bit different. The note block sections in the second half of the level are surprisingly challenging, and one of my favorite sections in the level overall. Dragon Coins are placed decently overall, the little bonus rooms help add some variety to the level. Only real thing that bothers me is that you'll usually have to backtrack a bit to get the green switch block (since there aren't any Koopas nearby), but that's fairly minor.

Really sorry for the delay, I was busier than I expected the past few days. I'll try to do it more often from now on (hopefully 2-3 per day at least).
DESIGN: 36/50
OVERALL: 74/100
A fairly good level, simple but well-designed. Spinies and Lakitus aren't exactly a new idea, but the "thwimp spinies" and rising pipes (which are used really well here) help keep things fresh, specially near the end of the level. It might take a bit too long to get going, though, as most of the early obstacles aren't as interesting - it kinda feels like the "introduction" to the Spinies and Pipe Lakitus goes on for too long.

Most of the secrets are hidden well enough, in particular the secret exit path, which I really like for the most part. There's quite a bit to explore, with the main level having multiple paths and one of the sublevels being rather long. Only real thing I'm not a fan of is that you need to be big to get some of them, as it doesn't do much other than force you to replay the level, this time taking as few hits as possible.

DESIGN: 0/50 (14/50)
CREATIVITY: 0/30 (12/30)
AESTHETICS: 0/20 (14/20)
OVERALL: DQ (40/100)
(note: original patch was broken, so it's technically a DQ. I still wanted to try reviewing it, so using glitchmr's fixed version for this one)

A generic cave level. I like how you have used skull rafts for this, but I don't think enough was done with them to make the level interesting. At first there's a lot of waiting between obstacles, which made the first half of the level empty and a bit boring.

The areas where you're not on the skull raft are a bit better, with some interesting uses of Spike Tops and Piranha Plants, but there are a lot of sections where you're just sliding and killing Buzzy Beetles/Piranha Plants later on. The lava sections do get more interesting near the end, though, which some trickier jumps being needed to avoid the Blarggs and bats. So while the level isn't too good right now, I can see some potential - if the entire level was
as well designed as the last few screens this could be pretty fun.

DESIGN: 41/50
OVERALL: 84/100
Wow, that's a really creative gimmick! The level makes some great uses of it too, there are a lot of interesting setups with the "warps", specially in the cave section. All of the obstacles are really interesting, though, the optional ones that lead to Dragon Coins being the most memorable. The "waiting" section with the eating blocks and the Pitchin' Chuck is probably the weakest part of the level - it's not as interesting or fun as the other setups, and avoiding the baseballs is pretty easy too.

For the issues, the grassland part of the level is a bit too cramped, with very little room to maneuver. It normally wouldn't be that bad, but the level kinda throws one obstacle after the other and doesn't have many breather areas, so it feels a bit overwhelming to the player. The level's already pretty good as it is, but spacing the more challenging obstacles a bit more would probably drastically improve it. I also occasionally had some issues with the springs, the player seems to "stick" to them for a bit depending on where you land, but it's nothing major since you can just go back to the spring and do the warp again.

DESIGN: 33/50
OVERALL: 76/100
Overall, this level is pretty fun to play through, but it desperately needs some polish on a few setups.

Firstly, the obstacle where the Diggin' Chuck rocks are introduced might need to be tweaked or redone. You aren't expecting them during your first playthrough, so you'll likely be going at full speed with the rotating platform. Due to the weird timing, you'll either be right below the rocks before they fall, or going down with the platform, too low to avoid a hit when you jump off. This is made worse by the fact that they're high up on the screen, and therefore hard to notice at first. The obstacle with the multiple coin question blocks would work a lot better as an introduction, as it encourages you to wait out and you also get to observe their behavior/interaction with slopes.

The area right after the midway is poorly designed (early on in the vertical sublevel). There is a Diggin' Chuck and an individual rock right out of the player's view above the first two swinging platforms, and they'll more likely than not lead to a few unfair hits (and possibly death, since they're right before the powerup block). Since you'll start out small after dying once, that part will be made even harder on further tries, since you'll have to go through it without taking a single hit.

While still tricky, the rest of the level manages to provide a fair challenge, with some really interesting uses of the rotating platforms. Looking forward to improvements.

DESIGN: 20/50
OVERALL: 52/100
While this has some good ideas, it suffers a lot from the lack of focus. There are too many different themes and enemy types crammed into a single level, each section appears to be based on a different set of sprites, without much to connect all of them, so it feels like a 3-in-1 type of level. None of them are developed enough, so at the end it's really unsatisfying to play, and feels like it lacks a proper conclusion.

To talk about more specific issues, the rainbow shells' placement is pretty bad, as most of them can fall right on the player without you being able to properly react to them, and I died a few times as a result. Some more minor issues are the blocks half-buried under the ground, which don't work really well as decoration, and the signs everywhere which are kinda pointless for the most part.

More coming soon(tm). I've been doing some score tweaking but I think I'm taking too long with it so I'll be speeding up the actual reviews a bit from now on.
is it me or did superwario1999 get an 82 from each one of the fan judges (the ones with sane charting anyway)
Originally posted by Erik557
is it me or did superwario1999 get an 82 from each one of the fan judges (the ones with sane charting anyway)

Not really, it got 83 from me, 86 from snoruntpyro and 62 from Falconpunch. Hobz has his weird scoring. No other fan judges got to this entry.

There were instances of identical scores in this contest however, I find it interesting that it happens sometimes. For instance, cyphermur9t's entry got the exact same score from me and idol in all categories.

Legacy ports zip (now that those went down because Dropbox)

Thanks for your feedback. I've changed the first screen in the vertical section and swapped a few obstacles in the first section.
If you want to play the updated Version, you can find it here.

Good work with reviews, I liked it.
I'm glad that what I wanted to propose (a generic and fun level) was well accepted by you. My initial mistake was trying to use simple enemies that at one time left the level monotonous and too easy. I think this is no longer a problem, since the last two reviews made me very happy.

On two details cited:

Originally posted by Aeon
Most of the first few obstacles are not as interesting.

I modified the foreground in some parts before the mid-point. I think I minimized the problem.
To be more precise, I have two comparative images of the main level, old and new (with modified background).

Originally posted by Aeon
You need to be big to get some paths.

I think this detail was directed to the area where the secret exit is, where it has no powerup. My solution was simply to add a flower question block in the secondary cave, more precisely just after the player uses the springboard to access the secret path.

I'll post an update of the level, not today, maybe tomorrow. Thank you very much for the opinions.
DESIGN: 31/50
OVERALL: 68/100
The main idea behind this level is interesting, but I think more could be done with it. The first section in particular is too similar to the original SMW levels it takes inspiration from, and it feels like it's a bit too condensed overall. The athletic section is decent, but the red line guides are hard to properly identify due to the sunset background, it blends in too much. It's also a bit distracting, since you'll need to be paying attention to the coin guides, the line guide colors and the saws at the same time, and they're all at different points in the screen. I'd say this one only needs some tweaking in a few setups and the palette, while the first one (grassland) could use a redo.

The castle is probably the most creative part of the level. The parts where you have to go behind the net and then get to the front again while avoiding the grinders are really nice, but at the same time they don't fit in too well with the more traditional style the level follows. The net before the secret exit path is a bit too long, the "net door" should probably be moved back a few tiles.

On the secret path itself, I really like how it's designed - it appears to combine two different levels from SMW into a single section (it reminds me of both that one Valley of Bowser level with the Diggin' Chucks and Vanilla Secret 2), and it's what I'd like to see more from the level. Great job on that one, the secret exit itself is also decently hidden.

The last, Tubular-style room is solid, but I'd replace the question blocks the Volcano Lotuses are above with regular cement blocks. I expected it to be a lot longer at first, and tried to hit most of them hoping to find more P-Balloons. The section is fairly short however, and it appears that you're only given one for the whole section, so I couldn't make it to the goal post in time and I died. Other than that, I couldn't find any major issues with it.

Originally planned on doing a lot more, but I had some unexpected issues (wasn't feeling too good today). I'll try to compensate the lack of reviews tomorrow.
its quite late to request but could you do my level.
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