|j2lcdunno1.j2l||What is this?||16.52 kB||07 Jan 2005|
|NaturesRuins.j2t||Nature's Ruins||197.50 kB||17 Dec 2001|
I don’t even know myself what this is. I think it was supposed to be a battle level, but it turned out it should have been for a CTF level. Or was it the other way around?
Anyway. See what you think of it.
What is this?!‘s level design is (for the most part) built out of tunnels through walls instead of platforms in the sky, a choice which I approve of immensely and vastly prefer. The level appears to be divided into several parts – outside, temple and cave, all placed logically – and each location has a design which is roughly believable, if man or nature ever built the world to be used as a battling arena. The level is somewhat horizontally based in places, suggesting that it indeed was once intended to be a CTF level, but this is not a bad thing at all and it’s always nice to have a passageway which is more than five tiles wide. (Platform based levels are often guilty of never having passageways, unless forced to by moving up against the top or bottom of the level.)
In any case, the level design is somewhat complicated, so it takes a while to figure out which places can go to which others, and which way sucker tubes point. (You wouldn’t expect sucker tubes to work in this environment, but somehow they feel like yes, they should be there.) After some minutes of playing the level you should get an idea of what’s going on, but it can take a little while, partly due to the intense graphics which I’ll mention later.
Once you’re used to the level, of course, the fun really begins. The weapons are well chosen – each of the available powerups (Seekers, RF’s and Bouncers) have special areas of the level where they’re the most useful, even the RF’s which are usually left out in the cold and random. There is enough open space in the upper right and long space in the middle that the missiles can have a decent change of actually hitting someone for a change in situations besides melee battles where other attacks would work just as well. Coupled with the occasional wall put up between areas, causing you to take a specific set of passages, the end result is a very nice feeling level where you may actually have to think about what you’re doing.
(NOTE: Gameplay for this level has only been tested in a 2-4 player type scenario. Balance may vary significantly with more players as certain spots may or may not become focal (perhaps the powerups). Still, I liked what I did see.)
PROS: Inventive mix of Battle/CTF layouts, I particularly enjoy the upper left area.
CONS: Small masking bug at one point, I don’t really like the upper right area very much (and it was mostly untouched in gameplay).
Before you can get used to the twisty level design, you will be struck by the enormous level of eyecandy What is this?! has to offer. Every layer is crammed full of beautiful sights – five distinct layers are used with X and Y speeds set to 1, and in a great number of cases they’re all used in one spot! Everywhere you go there are twists, trees, different backgrounds, complicated walls, bushes, blocks, caves, vines and a thousand other decorations. Layer 3 in JCS looks great even if you have no idea what it’s going to do.
Many levels with lots and lots of eyecandy fall into the trap of obscuring the level design (see: virtually any level made using “Swamps of the Sleeping Jaguar”), and this happens a little in certain spots, but for the most part you can still see the level beneath the finery. I do have a few complaints – it’s hard to tell what’s a vine and what isn’t – but most stuff seems logical and you could spend a long time looking at the trees.
PROS: Everything looks great, you can tell a lot of work was spent on this level.
CONS: A tiny bit overcomplicated in some areas, and some people might complain that nothing moves. (Moths work in multiplayer, right?)
This is always somewhat hard to review, as it’s difficult to tell what’ll be enough ammo with more players than I tested it with. In any case, there is quite a lot of ammo in the level, all easy enough to get, and in some interesting formations (again, see the upper left corner). Everything seemed to respawn at about the right speed (maybe a little bit fast? hard to tell), and I don’t think I ever really ran out of anything. There were a few complaints which I’ll outline in cons, but nothing too serious.
As for other stuff… there are two carrots that I remember seeing, both pretty well placed. I quite enjoyed the bottom right one, which just felt… right. It felt like yes, that is exactly where a carrot should be. The other carrot is also good, allowing for much strategic shooting as you prevent your opponents from healing up. Finally, there are the normal three powerups (no toaster, which makes sense as toaster isn’t too useful in this level somehow).
PROS: Everything looks good to me.
CONS: Seeker powerup is the easiest to get, one or two annoying springs, and of course… there’s only one start position. Ouch.
In case the rest of this review didn’t give you the idea, I quite enjoy Newspaz’s What is this?!, and can only suggest that the rest of you download it as well. It’s still extremely early, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of the best levels of 2005, even though it could use a more start positions. The filename is j2lcdunno1, indicating that there might be a sequel… yes, please.
PROS: It’s a great level, ok?
CONS: A few small bugs I mentioned during the review.
Ugh. I had to restart this review 3 times now because of stupid computer self restarts and internet crashes, so I’m rather frustrated right now. Anyways, here goes:
Since this level has only one review (although its a great review) I decided to review it.
“What is this?” is a solid, enjoyable level by Newspaz of J2LC. It’s no wonder it made it into the bash, since this level excels in several categories.
The layout of this level is interesting. In fact, its a mix of several different types of layouts. There is an open, platformy terrain in the top right, narrow corridors in the temple area, and corridors linking to “rooms” (open areas) in the cavern area. Yes, this level even has a dead end with a carrot in it. This bizarre mix of ideas can only add to the creativity of the level, and through my experience with this level, works alright (although people tend to stick to one area frequently). The gameplay of this level is also nice. There are even springs on the sides of masked objects to bounce you around, which could become very chaotic with several people playing. Although the gameplay is generally good, there are a few
annoyances that could be improved in it. Some springs are rather unneeded (like the one in the very topmost platform on the top right; what is it doing there?) and some could be of a different type of spring (the two red springs in the bottom right room, a blue spring there would suffice). 6, 22 – the area there should be revised. The floatup is too noticable and annoying – it causes a noticable delay before you hit the red spring. The slope should be smoothed out so the floatup wouldn’t be needed and there would be no delay. 57, 30 – Spaz can run and double jump up to the blue springs, while jazz has to go underneath the one ways to get up there. Otherwise, I rarely found myself bumping into stuff or getting stuck, although I think the room in the bottom right could use another exit since its a big dead end (at least have the sucker be lower so you wouldn’t have to climb up to get out.)
Rating: 8.5 (Generally good, and an interesting combination of different things, but it does not come without small bugs/annoyances which horde up together).
Probably the section this level excels at the most, the eyecandy is probably even more bizarre than the layout, and probably gives the level its name, “What is this?”. Although strange, it’s creative and adds to the already-strange mood of the level.
There is a good amount of eyecandy in the level, and thankfully none of it really gets in the way or blocks view. The eyecandy could be confusing at first, but personally I got used to it quickly. The trees in the backround layer could be moved up more though, since they are barely noticable and the top right of the level is more empty than the rest. There’s not much to point out about eyecandy, though some of it looks particularly random (ferns growing out of the center of stone boulders and rocks growing on tree branches?). To sum it up, the eyecandy has a lot of creativity in it, and is pulled off nicely. The level doesn’t really have much of an atmosphere (except some screwed up jungle perhaps?) but it still looks good.
Placement of Stuff
Let’s start out with the ammo, since it is battle. Personally, I didn’t find the ammo as creative as the previous two categories. Most of it is seemed to be placed in bunches, forming random shapes, usually rectangles, lines, or stairway like things. The majority of the +3 ammo is in the top section of the level; underneath in the caverns you’d find more powerups and +15 crates (while on the topic, I don’t think having two +15 crates of seeker ammo next to each other is a good idea). I think the top right could’ve used more ammo, since it’s quite empty in terms of events. Powerups (3 of them) were placed alright, I didn’t have any problems with them. Maybe the seeker was a bit easier to get than the rest, and more of a target since it even has a carrot next to it, and a Toaster powerup might’ve been good here (replace the RF with the toaster, perhaps?). Otherwise, nothing noteworthy. With the carrots, I think the one in the top could’ve been further away from the seeker. With the one in the bottom, I found that either it was ignored for most the game because of the inconvenient area it was in, or many people camped at it because it was a good place to regain health in without being noticed. Strategy wise, that could be a positive or a negative thing. Suckertubes were well placed. There also appears to only be 1 start pos, which could explain why people pile up in one area.
Rating: 8.3 (not as creative as the previous categories, and there is room for improvement)
The area where this level excels at the most. One of the most bizarre quality levels I’ve played (even the name indicates it’s strangeness), this level has seemingly random, but yet nicely pulled off eyecandy, and a combination of different layout types. The music choice is even original (although really weird..). As for Fun Factor, this level was fun enough to play in, although after the random level selection in the anniversarry bash forced people to play this level dozens of times it started to get boring.
Overall (not an average):
I like this level, and so do many other people (its average is 8.8 and it made it into the bash). There is a lot of things in this level that make it stand out from other levels of the same set, and there is a lot of things in this level that make it enjoyable. (While I was typing this my computer crashed a 3rd time (4th if you count the internet crash), good thing I was typing this in notepad this time ;D). You should definately download and play this level if you haven’t had a chance to through the numerous times it was hosted. Among all the positive things in this paragraph about the level, there is still always room for improvement.
Final Rating: 8.7 on the dot. This is a great piece of work that definately earns the rating and the download reccomendation I’m giving it, and I hope I will have a chance to review & play more of Newspaz’s works in the future
Edit: wow. It took me an hour and 7 minutes to complete this review. Darn computer crashes..
Eat your lima beans, Johnny.