You're meeting all of my standards, help.
Allow me to gush about this level for a bit before moving on to criticism, because this definitely is a refresher from all the monotonous and repetitive levels I see around here. This level does so much stuff right it's ironic how a level from someone who hasn't touched the engine in years appeals more to me than the general stuff I see floating around.
Enemies placed intelligently to both help the player progress, but aswell provide a challenge without being unfair, dragon coins which are actually easy to get, gimmicks which are mixed and matched and expanded upon in multiple ways. This is like a dream, haha.
While I would by no means call this a perfect level, it's easy for me to say that it's one I have enjoyed a lot, despite its difficulty. I really like some of the ideas you've incorporated into this level, such as the grinder (yes that's their name) ride near the end of the first half. I can tell this level was touched up a lot to make the areas feel just right, which is something I clearly don't see enough around here.
I really like your approach when designing, but there's one rather major issue I've had with this level, which is that it tries a bit too much.
I probably could forgive this if you used multiple midpoints
, but as it stands the progression in terms of difficulty and the amount of stuff there is in this level feels kind of janky and over the top. For example, I think having a midpoint before the aforementioned grinder ride would be a good idea as I can see it as a common spot where the player would die (I know I did a few times).
As for quantity of good stuff, I find it kind of sad how some of the ideas you had were just one-time occurances, such as the moving layer in the start or the attach-to-layer dragon coin. They're easily overshadowed by the two main gimmicks of the level and it makes me wonder if it wasn't better if this level was split in two - one about grinders and one about pipes.
I'm gonna continue that thought process here because I think I get the intention of switching things up right there after the midpoint, but I think each half does provide enough content to fill in a full level each (albeit without secret stars, most likely, unless you dedicate some side-areas to them).
Overall, I found this level to be very enjoyable. You have definitely not lost your touch (or at least hit a very specific sweet spot with this level). I'd just watch out for where to stop adding stuff in the future. It's weird because everyone else I tell the exact opposite.
8.2/10, moved to Pretty Good.
Hope to see more of your stuff in the future!