Quite impressive SNN. I seem to recall the third demo originally being scheduled for last December or so, and I admit I was starting to wonder why things had been delayed so long. However, it's clear from this demo that you've hardly been fooling around in that time.
I quite liked the story developments--I came in expecting a simple stroll through a few music-based worlds with the occasional diary entry giving some background on the composers and so forth (much like the last demo), but this was by no means the case! It was much darker than I had expected (by no means a bad thing), and the major plot twist is indeed quite genuinely shocking.
One of my issues with the last demo was that though fun and innovative, it was rather too easy (then again, it was
just the first two worlds). This is certainly not an issue this time round. However, I fear the pendulum may have swung too far in the other direction, and far too quickly--the difference in difficulty between the levels from the last demo and the new material is quite jarring--between the second and third worlds the game goes from rather simply to fairly challenging with virtually no intermediary stage. I think it's important not to underestimate the effect of infrequent, non-transferable powerups, as well as the scarcity of one-ups when you take away bonus stars, (most) coins, and large lines of enemies which one can hit with a star/shell/bounce off of repeatedly--especially with the trial-and-error nature of some levels demanding a few deaths.
Anyway, some more Specific Critiques:
- The new instruments are, of course, an improvement on the whole. However, there's a few changes I wasn't too keen on. The Pianist's Rest tune is a little too over-dramatic for my tastes now; the original had a certain subtlety to it that I think is lost here. The main overworld theme also sounds a little off for some reason; I keep expecting there to be an extra note each time it shifts instruments.
- Additionally, despite the appearance of an asortment new, better instruments, our good old friend Wheezey the Trumpet seems to have retained his starring role. I guess he must have a union contract or something.
- The R-block hhallahh mentioned should probably be explained in-game. Maybe I'm a bit slow, but I wasted far too much time on it when I first played Staccato Westwood and again after getting the rope before I finally realised I needed the ability from the Muse Mart (also not listed in-game).
- Considering the number of times the player has to return to Staccato Westwood (as well as the door leading back to the first screen), it might be better to put Boothoven's "Mozart defeated" message in a block, lest it seem like he's saying it over and over again long after the event has occurred. Mozart's demise must have really
hit Boo hard...
- Speaking of Boothoven...
Though a fine composer Boo may be,
His lyrics are a travesty;
The way that he distorts a word
Is really something quite absurd.
But seriously, "Keep the code hidden / or you I shall ridden" is a bit of a stretch, even for doggerel. How's about:
Hide the code well
Or you I'll dispel.
Keep it out of sight,
Or you I shall blight.
Hide well the code
Or you I'll explode
Hide it right good,
Ya twit, understood?
(All right, better quit while I'm ahead...well, less behind)
- Speaking of composers, It seems a little odd that Ol' Choppy perishes when knocked into the lava, but seems to have no issue with it flowing up into his face repeatedly beforehand.
- The grey block here blends in annoyingly well with the background, with the net result that the player accidentally bumps into it about 300 times when swimming past, sometimes falling into the spikes below when the water suddenly vanishes. It might be best to alter its position slightly, or better yet, chance the color to something more noticable.
- Stupid as it may sound, I found the area name "Rocky Duct" very...eww. I'm not entirely sure why, but those two words feel as though they should not
be placed together. "Old Rope Hideout", on the other hand, I found terribly amusing, as it seems to assign volition and agency to the aforementioned old rope.
- Speaking of old rope, using the rope to access the infamous Pianist's Rest secret exit generates a vine instead of a rope.
- It's sort off odd that diving into the fetid Staccato swap lands Mario in a charming cavern filled with pure, blue water with the ancient-sounding, majestic music from the beautifully named Lamentable Sea in the background. Maybe something a little greener here, with the (new) normal water music?
And last but not least, a few Bugs:
- Where Mario stands when he places the last item on the podium in Staccato Exodome appears to determine where he starts in Access Lift X7.. If the last item is our yellow friend on the left, no problem. But if's our blue friend on the right, the lift is shifted to the left slightly...
Which means it comes to a stop here, with the door stuck inside the wall, forcing the player to kill themself.
- Also, in Leopold's castle...
- Finally, beating the S.S. Sorrowsong causes a never-ending overworld event until the game freezes. Was this perhaps the non-promised surprise for finding all thirty-seven exits? If so, I must confess that it did, indeed, surprise me. Not the most pleasant surprise, of course, but one must recognize that the surprise's being an un
pleasant surprise was, in itself, a further surprise.
But enough griping. As I said, it was good fun to play, and featured some rather ingenious puzzles. It might benefit from a few fixes though, and a slight tweaking to produce a slightly curvier difficulty curve. I look forward to seeing what new surprises the final product brings with it (
I wonder if Rameau is one of the Lost Composers?
). Huzzah, Kudos, may the road rise up to meet you etc., &c.