Serene Cavern [Re-Review]

Levels that have good quality and are worth playing.
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Serene Cavern [Re-Review]

Postby Magus » Sun Mar 20, 2016 8:44 pm

Another one.

I made this level right after I finished Industrial Infiltration, but didn't release that one until I got this one done since uh, I wanna make sure people who are new to my levels aren't scared off from anything after Industrial infiltration, haha. This level's basically just of the waterfall cavern type, with all sorts of little gimmicks and whatnot to stay interesting. It's a level with pretty challenging moments, but nothing too overwhelming I'd say. Like in my other level, there's an SMB3 star waiting for you at the end of the level and two SMW stars hidden elsewhere.

Recolored backgrounds (both) of them), water, waterfalls, bubbles, grassy filling of the tileset, and SMB1 grass done by me. Other custom graphics can be found in the Ultimate CGFX pack.

Music: Slimy Spring Galaxy from Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Screens:
Spoiler: show
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Get it here:
Last edited by Chad on Sat Apr 09, 2016 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Moved for re-review.

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Re: Serene Cavern

Postby WerewolfGD » Sun Mar 20, 2016 8:47 pm

Judging fir the screens, the level looks nice and detailed. I will play this later. I suggest you darken the background because the background has same color with the tileset.
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Re: Serene Cavern

Postby Magus » Sun Mar 20, 2016 8:52 pm

Camacho wrote:Judging fir the screens, the level looks nice and detailed. I will play this later. I suggest you darken the background because the background has same color with the tileset.
The background's already darker than the tileset. I would have made it a little darker, still, but I couldn't find any colours that would suit it, so I just stuck with this. If someone can find a way to make it look better, be my guest. I personally don't find it distracting at the moment, but if others beg to differ then something must be done, clearly.

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Re: Serene Cavern

Postby Enjl » Sun Mar 20, 2016 9:05 pm

I agree on the background colour. Just turning down the brightness in paint.net by 20 or so should do.
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Re: Serene Cavern

Postby Magus » Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:34 am

ok I fixed that. Might make some new screens later, I'm a little busy rn

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Re: Serene Cavern

Postby Kyogre » Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:42 am

What a strange music...I like it.
Btw, warp 16/17 has a wrong entrance- and exit direction.
However it's a very nice Level!
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Re: Serene Cavern

Postby Magus » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:07 pm

Kyogre wrote:What a strange music...I like it.
Btw, warp 16/17 has a wrong entrance- and exit direction.
However it's a very nice Level!
Oh, thanks for notifying me. It should be fixed now.

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Re: Serene Cavern

Postby Chad » Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:00 am

Serene Cavern: Official Review

This level is certainly fascinating. It begins as a simple water cave, but once you explore deeper, it reveals its true colors and tries some intriguingly unique aquatic gimmicks, a few of which I'm pretty sure I've never even seen before. Bubble BGOs attached to the layers of Cheep-Cheeps swimming inside of them is such a simple thing to do, and yet to my knowledge it has not been thought of before and creates a completely unusual type of obstacle. Upside-down water edges on the other hand may not be anything new, but they have a wide variety of interesting applications and environmental influences that this level nicely demonstrates. Add in some clever Jelectro arrangements and facilitate all of that with complex and tricky design, and you've got yourself a pretty solid level. While I do feel it could have spent more time exploring things like enemies controlling bubbles or bubble enemies generating from level boundaries (especially in the second half), what's here is still very cool.

The core design of the level, while impressive as I mentioned earlier and still well done, does suffer often from minor spacing issues. Although the amount of space in each area of the level is still enough to plan and act with and uses those spaces effectively to create good maneuvers, there are several places that could have been expanded a bit. Examples of this would be the yellow switch, the tunnel directly following the midpoint, the bottom area of Section 3, upper Section 4, and Section 6 as a whole. While the space provided does always work, it isn't always optimal. The sensitivity of SMBX collisions becomes more important and it's easier for you or enemies to get snagged awkwardly on the corner of something. I also didn't care much for the gimmicks involved in getting the secret stars. The first one's creative, but it's unreasonably difficult to stay in the chasing AI's bubble once you get it to the top, and I ultimately had to resign myself to damage-boosting that part. The second star, while much more harmless in comparison, doesn't really add a lot to the level. You introduce the moving water, and that's it, gimmick's over. The lack of variation and even enemies here makes the room feel unfinished.

The atmosphere conveyed in this level is excellent, though. The music is Slimy Spring Galaxy, the water is reminiscent of Cosmic Cove, and the surroundings take clear inspiration from both and uses them well. The twisted layout, interior details within the tileset, and unusual water applications create a very otherworldly feel together. I always love a level that feels like it's taking you outside the standard expected realm of logic while still making sense in its own established consistency, as though I was visiting another planet. However, I agree with the above comments about the background. The colors are indeed darker than the tileset in terms of exact shades, but they're still very similar to the eyes. It's not so bad that it's difficult to navigate, but the background's presence is still too strong. The underwater background is much better, as the colors most used aren't so close to what you interact with.

Overall, I had a great time with this. It's got creative variety, clever planning, tight design, and a compelling atmosphere. Most of the issues I found weren't major, and the issues I did find weren't many.

I give it an 8/10. Pretty Good.
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Re: Serene Cavern

Postby Magus » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:19 am

Chad wrote:Serene Cavern: Official Review

This level is certainly fascinating. It begins as a simple water cave, but once you explore deeper, it reveals its true colors and tries some intriguingly unique aquatic gimmicks, a few of which I'm pretty sure I've never even seen before. Bubble BGOs attached to the layers of Cheep-Cheeps swimming inside of them is such a simple thing to do, and yet to my knowledge it has not been thought of before and creates a completely unusual type of obstacle. Upside-down water edges on the other hand may not be anything new, but they have a wide variety of interesting applications and environmental influences that this level nicely demonstrates. Add in some clever Jelectro arrangements and facilitate all of that with complex and tricky design, and you've got yourself a pretty solid level. While I do feel it could have spent more time exploring things like enemies controlling bubbles or bubble enemies generating from level boundaries (especially in the second half), what's here is still very cool.

The core design of the level, while impressive as I mentioned earlier and still well done, does suffer often from minor spacing issues. Although the amount of space in each area of the level is still enough to plan and act with and uses those spaces effectively to create good maneuvers, there are several places that could have been expanded a bit. Examples of this would be the yellow switch, the tunnel directly following the midpoint, the bottom area of Section 3, upper Section 4, and Section 6 as a whole. While the space provided does always work, it isn't always optimal. The sensitivity of SMBX collisions becomes more important and it's easier for you or enemies to get snagged awkwardly on the corner of something. I also didn't care much for the gimmicks involved in getting the secret stars. The first one's creative, but it's unreasonably difficult to stay in the chasing AI's bubble once you get it to the top, and I ultimately had to resign myself to damage-boosting that part. The second star, while much more harmless in comparison, doesn't really add a lot to the level. You introduce the moving water, and that's it, gimmick's over. The lack of variation and even enemies here makes the room feel unfinished.

The atmosphere conveyed in this level is excellent, though. The music is Slimy Spring Galaxy, the water is reminiscent of Cosmic Cove, and the surroundings take clear inspiration from both and uses them well. The twisted layout, interior details within the tileset, and unusual water applications create a very otherworldly feel together. I always love a level that feels like it's taking you outside the standard expected realm of logic while still making sense in its own established consistency, as though I was visiting another planet. However, I agree with the above comments about the background. The colors are indeed darker than the tileset in terms of exact shades, but they're still very similar to the eyes. It's not so bad that it's difficult to navigate, but the background's presence is still too strong. The underwater background is much better, as the colors most used aren't so close to what you interact with.

Overall, I had a great time with this. It's got creative variety, clever planning, tight design, and a compelling atmosphere. Most of the issues I found weren't major, and the issues I did find weren't many.

I give it an 8/10. Pretty Good.
Thanks for the review! Glad you liked it.

The last couple of sections I had to design were a little rushed perhaps, I wanted to release it ASAP, but I could always revise them a little to make them more interesting, because I do agree that at least section 7 could have been more elaborate and interesting. The idea of section 2 is that once the chasing AI is at the top of the section, you use a koopa shell or a fireball (the reason why I placed a fire flower at the top of the section) in order to kill the Cheep Cheep and stop the bubble from moving as a result. I will include this bit of information in the sign at the bottom of the section, since it seems like it isn't clear enough as of now.

I can understand your issue with the cramped spaces (and I should definitely make the segment with the yellow switch more spacious in any case), but I do feel like, as you mentioned, in most cases it's workable enough. I'll go over the parts you mentioned and see where it might get a little too tricky.

I don't think I can do much more about the cave background other than darken it a little more if necessary, although darkening it too much might make it look weird with the rest of the level. I usually just get a background from the gfx pack that fits, but in this case nothing really fit with the tileset and the other SMB3 cave background didn't seem ideal either (especially given the fact there's a fairly limited palette of the kind of blue-green of that tileset, so I don't have a lot to work with for a recolour).

I'll go over any places that seem a little awkward in terms of design and improve on them where possible. Once again, thanks for the feedback!

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Re-Review: Serene Cavern

Postby ShadowStarX » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:20 pm

Serene Cavern re-review

Design & Gameplay: Very Good
+ I found this level to be relatively fun and also relaxing. It has a nice world 3 difficulty in my opinion, since it has some challenge but only some. I also think that the level has the right amount of variety: it's not repetitive nor a 'newgimmickinevery10seconds' type of of level. The NPC placement is relatively clever and the coin placement is good too. The level also has a fair amount of powerups. I also found the length to be good, even if it was SLIGHTLY longer than it should be. I cannot really say specific compliments that Chad didn't already mention though.
| The last section didn't really feel that well to play, since the switches were just making the level longer without any challenge getting added...

Atmospher & Visuals: Great
+ The atmosphere of this level is great. The music is (and slightly surprisingly, since it felt a bit too slow-paced) fitting and the graphics were also appealing, since the duocoloring felt natural. There is a decent amount of BGOs in my opinion. I didn't notice any graphical bugs such as clashy sprites or cutoffs.

Score: 7.75/10
A really good and relatively relaxing level without any major flaws. (and the level didn't get worse than before, it's just that I didn't like it as much as Chad)
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