Reign wrote:Super Mario Enigmatic is a puzzle episode
Let me stop you right there. This is not a puzzle episode. Puzzles are difficult to solve, but easy to complete; this episode's "puzzles" were easy to solve, but relatively difficult to complete. Although it's more puzzle-heavy than any other episode I've played, it's more like a test of skill (mostly dealing with timing, requiring either speed or patience) with occasional puzzle elements. Example:
Having to jump across enemies? Not a puzzle. Navigating a P-switch labyrinth? Not a puzzle. Destroying bricks using a shell generator? Not a puzzle. Avoiding various NPCs while waiting for a spring to be generated? Not a puzzle. Jumping through small gaps between lava sprite-swaps? Not a puzzle. Trying to fight a boss, but you can't because you have to wait for the generator to give you another weapon? Not a puzzle, but it IS quite teious. There were very few times I actually thought to myself "wow, this is actually a puzzle," and the only time I thought that in the absence of switch blocks is 11-5, and even then, it took me longer to beat the level than it did to solve the "puzzle." Don't get me wrong, there were many levels with switch blocks that didn't qualify as puzzles, either.
AND NOW, MY REVIEW OF SUPER MARIO ENIGMATIC:
To begin, the story was actually presented quite nicely, though there could have been a background during the intro. The little joke after the fight with Bowser got a chuckle out of me, and the message about the friendly Koopa in the desert ruins also made me laugh. In fact, I only have one quarrel with the story: "masterplan" is supposed to be two different words, not one.
NOW, ON TO THE EPISODE'S STRUCTURE:
Rather than have each stage in one level, you gave each section its own level, meaning that when a player passed one section, he/she could continue from that section until getting game over or proceeding to the next level. This could work, and sometimes, it did. However, the problem with this is that the "puzzles," heretofore refereed to as skill tests because that's what they really are, are so short, that I ended up hearing the same few seconds of the songs before I either passed the section, or I died. I got really sick of Bianco Hills (1) and the desert song (61) because of this, respectively. The episode needed more songs like the desert ruins (62) and the ice song (9), or, in other words, ones that don't have obnoxious intros that get super repetitive after a few deaths. At the very least, you could let us save between sections; it is honestly not like anyone is going to get game over in them with 99 lives, and it's not like anyone could go back to get power-ups, because there are none. The only other reason to do this would be to keep a steady flow, but having the music restart after each section, on top of breaking the flow, often gets really annoying, as stated previously.
On top of all of that, whenever I made it to a boss, with the exception of Bowser, the music would cut off. While this may just be compatibility issues with Windows 8, I still think this could be designed around: give the bosses their own level on the world map. That way, whenever the music cuts off, I can just restart SMBX to restore the music, and I won't lose any progress.
Finally, the character swap station is entirely pointless because you can just pause the game on the world map and push left/right to change characters. It has been like that ever since The Invasion 2.
AND NOW, ON TO THE LEVELS THEMSELVES:
I would like to begin this section of my review by displaying my sequence breaks:
This advice came a bit late, don't you think?
There's a bit of cutoff with the tiles on One Sunny Day (mini), but this is a minor complaint.
Also, some of the boss battles, such as the Wart battle and the Triclide battle, are really boring fights; you're basically just waiting for the blocks to appear. One is especially tedious, but I'll get to that later.
AAH! THAT NOISE! MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOOOOP!
I don't know what you're referencing here, but I can tell you now that it is too obscure; this is basically a guessing game for anyone who doesn't get it, such as myself.
By the way, the hammer bro fight is easier than the boo boss. If you were trying to have a steady difficulty curve, the bosses should switch places.
One thing to note about the star challenges: you should use SMB3 stars instead of SMW stars; I made it to the end of Flagship Star Challenge, but accidentally went in the door before getting the star, and I had to beat it again. It's not like it would make much difference; players could still tell if they beat the level by looking at the star, and it's not like the SMW stars affect any level besides their own.
In the desert levels, I noticed that the oil's movement in the pipes is smooth, but then it jumps, making it look unrealistic. Choppier animation would be better in this case, as long as each frame is distanced evenly from the others.
There's no need for the hyphen between "shyguy" and "infestation" here.
Speaking of, I actually liked the "don't kill the Dynos" gimmick. It helped to add challenge to the episode without making it some sort of puzzle. However, I dare you to tell me this was intentional:
Just below where I'm stainding in this screenshot, there's an invisible note block. If the note block is activated, even by accident, the poison mushroom will not leave the area by the door, and there's nothing that can be done but to die:
and now, my review of Tedious Turtle & the Terrible Timing:
The mother brain sprite swap boss was just plain tedious. Not only was it another "wait for your weapon" boss, but TEN HITS? REALLY? On top of this, the optimal strategy is to grab a shell and toss it right after another is generated to avoid there being too many shells or the wall re-activating, meaning you'd have to wait twice as long just to do 1 damage. What I'm saying is that I didn't really like that part very much. It was so tedious, I forgot to restock on lives, and got game over on the ice boss. That was the only time I ever got game over on this episode.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, look no further than this screenshot:
All right, back to the rest of the episode:
You see this screenshot? The section in this screenshot is just boring, and adding a lakitu doesn't change that, nor does it make it any more difficult.
Something of note that may not quite be a sequence break is that pipes in the first section of Koopaling Headquarters can be jumped over. Just sayin'. Also, why did you have to reuse a song? As I said before, they can get quite annoying as it is.
Speaking of, the semifinal section of the Koopaling Headquarters actually had me stumped for a few lives before I realized it was just another skill test. Congrats. (However, I did not ever think that it was a puzzle)
So, how many Iggy/Ludwig sprite swaps do you think we're willing to put up with, eh? You'll have to do a lot more than design the room a bit differently to make it challenging. Just look at Wendy here:
The final Bowser fight was just long enough to be threatening but not tedious. Good job making a final boss that doesn't feel like it's dragging on for too long.
As for the final boss, I kinda wish I didn't have to talk to Luigi each time I went to fight him. You could have made the door active in the first place, or made a separate level for the final boss. Speaking of, by the time I made it there, the music had cut off for SMBX. Maybe it only does this on my computer, but I still think that episodes should be built around this. None of the skill tests were so difficult as to take all 99 of my lives, so preventing being able to save between the final stages and bosses only serves to greaten the chance that the music will cut off after the next death.
You had a great idea for a unique episode here, but it could have been executed a bit better. I'm sure if you iron out the flaws, this could be even better than it already is.
Still not a puzzle episode, though.