Note- This was a suggestion from Dracyoshi for me to touch this level. I haven't a clue why...but looks like you get lucky today.
Note- I have absolutely no intention on rating the boss itself, but rather it's conceptual involvement to the level as a whole. At the end of this review I will give my input on the boss's design, but it will not reflect this review since it exists as it's own ".lvl."
I admit, I did struggle to correctly guess what the atmosphere is until I fought the boss. I didn't understand that this level was designed as a castle for a game, so a few things became clearer to me in the end.
As for first impressions, I do like the atmosphere quite a lot even though it is very claustrophobic.
A mixture of lava and heavy influence on plants and fire-breathing plants was a very nice touch, and then only doubled by the boss itself.
Level Design [1/5]
Now, I am taking into full consideration that this level is designed specifically to be difficult, but there are quite a few problems.
I am taking one point off just for this phrase: "Note: there is a known bug when the platform disappears. Just go back a little bit and it will appear again. This bug only happens if the main game and the level editor is working at the same time, so I recommend you to avoid this from happening." I couldn't care less what causes a bug or how I, as the player, can fix it. It is your job, as the designer, to reduce the amount of bugs, glitch and exploits are within your level. To give out a warning such as this is a lazy excuse to leave it in the level rather than design around this strange flaw.
Next we are going to touch onto these irritating fire chomps you have, since they persist as a physical obstacle more than an NPC. For one, these things seem to "shift" between being physically present to being completely intangible to NPCS. This created a lot of issues during the beginning of the level as I intend to jump and get my mushroom yet the goombas seem to decide whether to turn around or not. I haven't a clue what the hell was causing this, but fix it; it is so freaking irritating. Then there's the over abundance of these things with very little indication as to when they will shoot. Either make these things perfectly destructible, at the cost of time, or make it very obvious as to when these things are going to shoot. The constant fear of WHEN it will shoot is what causes a player to loose their footing.
Next, lack of sufficient powerups. While I did get impatient, I noticed a lack of real powerups, coins and 1-ups. For a majority of the level, you are only working with one powerup at a time. To be fair, I get this is difficult but you need to give the player the chance to beat the level and fail rather than rip the rug from underneath their feet and laugh as they fall.
Next, rotodisks. I admit I love this things, but you used them way too much. I will touch more onto this topic NPC Placement, but I will note that their involvement hurt both that category as well as this one.
Next, section 2's invisible bridge. I can understand the concept of forcing the player to deal with your obstacles since my old project did the same thing. But forcing the player into a loop of warps until they finally realize that there is a random invisible bridge is a cruel method of design from my perspective.
Lastly, this level is way too claustrophobic. From a difficult-level designer's perspective, I can understand exactly why this level is made the way it is. But that doesnt mean you need to keep the level so small.
What I mean by this is the follow:
-The level is visually so compressed to ensure the player can't focus on anything other that what is right in front of them.
While this is a neat premise to work off of, you don't understand that an experienced player, such as myself, won't appreciate this style. You have so many openings to add in some clever npc placement within walls to help avoid makign the level feel like such a cramp space, or even just expanding the field of view so the player can feel a little at ease. A very strong case of this is the lava chasing section, which isn't too difficult once I get a hold of yourself. The lava approaches fast and you are already in a super tight space. Logically, this will make someone panic unnecessarily on top of all the crap that they need to focus on such as roto-disks and other enemies. I HIGHLY suggest readjsuting this level to not be so gosh darn cramped to the point it stresses the player out.
There's difficulty / Then there is just being unnecessarily rough on the player
Graphical Continuity [2/5]
I really only have two main issues with what graphics were used.
-The bushes would never grow inside a castle. I am sorry....but this makes no sense from a logical point of view. You would be better off using lanterns and ropes to fill in the BGO Placement aspect of the level rather than using these bushes.
-The Fire Chompers. There is an instance where you CAN kill one of these things, which requires a bomb. They don't have a death effect OR event that turns off their fire ball projectiles. I mean this is a tiny mistake, but a huge one at that.
BGO Placement [4/5]
While I disagree with what was used, I will say you did place the BGOs in key parts of the level in order to occupy the right amount of space on the screen.
However, dont mix a tileset's blocks that match the BGO you used. All this does is confuse the player if they aren't paying attention.
Granted, such an issue is the fault of the player, but you shouldnt leave an opportunity for the player for misinterpret the level's contents.
NPC Placement [2/5]
-I give you a lot of prompts for effort, but you are much too cruel.
-Roto Disks that overlap each other's safe spots.
-Platforms specifically designed to give you a small window of opportunity PLUS podabos.
-Every mushroom's position is more dangerous than any other single point in the level. If you are going to give me a power...don't take it away this god damn fast. Take the first screen for example: Fire Chomp, Fire Piranha, 2 Goombas on the FIRST screen.
-Section 3's Koopas dont respawn. Meaning that is a one-time shot to get this jump absolutely perfect.
Difficulty / Replayability [3/5]
I would easily say I would replay this level again if it wasn't for the fact it is just so god damn hard. I highly recommend restructuring the level to be a bit more fair to the player.
My rules of thumb:
-Never make the player feel like the level cheated them.
-Give them as many resources as you feel like you can take them away. (I.E. Give them a fighting chance)
-Don't stress the player out more than you need to. Playing on a player's impatience is one thing, but playing on stress is unacceptable.
As for the boss, there's a bit you need to work on. First off, a little warning: this is nothing to me. My eyes can quickly dart and assess whatever is thrown at me, so long as I am not preoccupied. Meaning your clever method of trying to overwhelm the player doesn't really work on me.
HOWEVER, I will say that this method of "attack" is WAY too difficult for the common person to deal with effectively. I highly suggest slowing down the events or adding in random powerups to help the player.
Next, there is the lava rush attack. This is poorly executed in every way. For one, a more audible sound would be nice, on top of better visual indication to what happens before the lava comes up. I actually died because the tileset looks just the the BGOs. Which plays on my previous comment: don't let the player feel like you cheated them.
As for the boss itself, when has doing the same pattern three times to see absolutely nothing change ever been fun? I suggest reducing how many hits this thing takes and "code" more events for different forms.
Overall Score: 17/30
Final Score: 5.6/10