Level Review #3: Piranha Plant Junction by Herobrine8219
Reviewed by castlewars.
Level Design: 4.37/10
This level has a decent flair to it, and it seems to one of the classic run 'n jump kinds, which have a retro feel to them. It feels as though whoever made this just wanted to make a level because they wanted to submit something to the forum, and the result is this casual-feeling level. Amongst a lot of the nonlinear, puzzly levels that submitted, this is one that feels like one from the classic Mario games; simple and linear, and I also liked the way that it stuck to its theme, apparent in the blocks being used. That's good for anyone that would prefer this kind of level, but it does have its flaws, unfortunately. Firstly, the level feels really flat. Even though there is this degree of slopes, it's just using the same slope block rather than varying to create the slope, and this makes the level feel flat. Using shallower slopes with the 45° slopes will give a feeling of it actually having variation and will make the level feel more naturalistic, because it felt really artificial when I played it. The second issue that I found was the fact that at some points, the player will have to spinjump on a Grinder in order to continue. I've always taken a frown to this, but there was the point when the only way to move on was a random jump, as shown here:
Yeah, right. I actually did wait 15 seconds for the Grinder to come, but it didn't appear. Then I had to risk it and just spinjump straight into the Muncher patch. I did catch the Grinder in the end, but the actual issue is the fact that it's hard to maintain stability once you've just landed on a moving object. You might want to either get rid of this altogether or change up so the Grinder approaches with the player. Despite these, it was still a good level with the element of retro. I actually had a bit of fun playing parts of it.
There isn't even a rule that states that all custom music must belong to the Mario series, and I said that because a lot of levels I've seen have Mario-based custom music. Even so, the music is a perfect fit for this level. Not only is it the music that plays in jungle levels in NSMBWii, but the exotic feel of the music immerses the player in the jungle experience, although it is a bit carefree for the nasty enemies that are in stock. The music that played for the Petey Piranha battle was a bit overhyped, if you ask me, considering it's just a midboss, and it can make some people falsely assume that it's the final boss.
Don't worry, Herobrine8219, and there is no need to feel bad about this score. Use it as a scope for improvement rather than a derogatory comment against your level. Straight to the review, now. Let's start with the good parts. For starters, the forest graphics used really conveyed the feeling of a forest in this level, and this can add a sense of realism to it if you put it side-by-side with the music, and it was also nicely decorated as well, but there are a couple of cut-offs, unfortunately. The first was in the screenshots provided earlier, right where the bush intersects with the cliff, but there's one here as well:
Look to the bottom right-hand corner of the second Ptooie here, and in the bottom right-hand corner of the third bush, there is a point where the bush runs off the edge of the cliff. This gives it a sense of hanging over this cliff, and it doesn't look good, Removing the second bush will give the third bush space to be placed down, so why not do that? There was no clash either in this level - everything was SMW-styled, except for a few. The first clash was the Venus Fire Trap's fireballs, which are still in SMB3-style. I also found that in your opening screenshot of the level, the BGOs used were not designed for forests or anything to do with nature. In fact, the BGO (background-132) is supposed to be used with block-446, the SMW bridge tile, to complete the bridge, although that's not as major a clash as the last one. The final clash that I found was the Grinder, and this is the second issue relating to the Grinders. They are castle-based NPCs and they fit with castle tiles, so if you still want to keep an NPC with Grinder-based properties but doesn't clash, then you can make a forest-themed graphic and replace npc-179, the Grinder. However, there are still more issues, but I won't point anymore out, and just say that you did an adequate job with them, by conveying the theme, which easily outweighs everything else because that's what the level's based on.
NPC Placement: 3/10
In a nutshell, the NPC placement wasn't as good as everything else. However, the Piranha Plants were the most common enemy and they helped convey the theme really well, but overall, the level lacked in something that all "good" levels have - coins. Yep, there were no coins at all in the level. But then it can be hard to place them due to the sheer number of Piranha Plants in this level, but remember this: if you think there is an open space where you can place coins, then go ahead and do it. Don't worry about the formation, but then again, don't overload the level with coins. I also found that although the level was of an average length, there was no checkpoint, particularly before the boss battle. This means that the player will have to walk all this way in order to re-reach the boss again. The boss battle, on the other hand, was unfairly difficult, I have to say, and the fact that the section is really small means that there is nearly impossible to dodge Wart's fireballs and die. This would make this a frustrating level after a while when you compare it side-by-side with the lack of a checkpoint and the fact that there is more of the level afterwards. Also, the first powerup isn't even until after the second Grinder. This would make the level harder and adding a powerup box at the start will make this level significantly easier.
Overall Result: 4.87/10
Whew...that was one hell of a review. Fix all the issues mentioned above and you'll be on your way to becoming a good level designer, even if this level is simple, linear and has a retro feel to it, and I would strongly advise you to place some form of coins, a way to dodge Wart's fireballs, and a forest-themed graphic that replaces the Grinder.
Level Status: APPROVED