I very much enjoyed the first and the third level; the second one, a little less.
Some custom music would’ve been nice but the vanilla track choices aren’t bad either.
You can tell this is a Slaz level from its gameplay gimmicks. Some are great, others not so much, but all of them are very creative nonetheless.
3 levels, each scratching different itches, and rather inconsistent difficulty compared to each other.
Let’s start with Jungle Town since it’s the first map. The gimmick is that you can’t use your weapon, unless you get a special pickup that give you 1 shot (generally needed for destructable blocks) or you get the 3 way rockets from the coin warp. You also get multiple birds (I believe they respawn, unless I’m mistaken). Logically the difficulty is worked around this handicap, and does it so mostly successfully. The only issue is when you are supposed to shoot the destructable block you have to go running back and forth to get the 1 shot pickup, which adds padding to an already big and long level. Thankfully this particular level has a layout that generally nodges you in the correct direction, though due to the already mentioned lenght, you might get some fatige by the end. The level like the other 2 has an open structure, letting you do the exploring until you reach the path needed to progress, where you’ll generally be required to find a trigger crate or a 1 shot pickup. While the level is well designed, I think it should have been divided into 2 seperate levels, since the scenary will start to blend together, and being lost in an average sized level compared to a giant one is quite the difference.
Now for French Town, you can shoot in this level, so the difficulty is ramped up accordingly, but it stays well manageable. 1 thing I need to mention before anything else, is how cool the background for this level is, it’s basically a wide shot of a city (presumably in France). I wouldn’t normally even consider an idea like this, but I think it fit in very well, and looks unique. Now for the gameplay. You’ll be doing quite a lot of trigger crate hunting. Unfortunately this can sometimes lead to frustration, since you often have to enter sewer areas, and due to the tileset used, the manhole covers often blend in with the grass, so you may end up running around looking for the correct path and missing it multiple times. The level ends with a pretty fun boss fight. Luckily the level is shorter than the previous one, so it ends roughly at the time it starts to wear out its welcome.
Unfortunately this can’t be said about the final level. The biggest positive is definitely the music, which is my favorite track from the original game (Dark Groove, Hell2 level). This isn’t to say the level isn’t good at all, but there are some really big flaws in my opinion.
Number 1 the massive difficulty SPIKE, pun intended since a lot of it comes down to the spikes, they are placed in such positions that you have to make perfect jumps to avoid them which is hard with the often cramped up spaces they are placed in. Unfortunately due to the level having probably the most confusing layout out of the 3, means if you don’t know exactly where you should go and how to get there, you will be traversing through these spiked areas constantly while trying to find out where you have to go next. Add on top of that, some enemies respawn.
Number 2 is the layout and the trigger crate hunting. Even though the level may look smaller compared to the first one. I’d say it feels twice the size. The high difficulty does add a lot to it, but what doesn’t help either is how you may find a trigger crate on one side of the level, and then have to retrace your steps back to where the crate opened a new path on the other side of it. And since on your way you meet multiply trigger blocks, you won’t really have an idea which one it does open up (yeah you get text messages, but on your first playthrough will you really remember where the mentioned area is?). At one point you are required to defrost a frozen spring, so you have to go look for flamethrower ammo. The funny thing is when I got there, I couldn’t pick it up, because you have to jump from a vine/rope so only a double jump will work, which Jazz doesn’t have. This leaves your only other option as far as I could tell, getting hit by the Floating Sucker enemy, which launches you high enough to get the ammo. Of course there’s a 3rd option, but you might not have that option due to circumstances. The 3rd option is using TNT and letting the explosion throw the ammo down where you can pick it up. There is a big reason why this may be out of question, you may not have TNT anymore. Maybe you are wasteful and used it when not necessary (you get maybe 6 from the previous level) or more likely, you killed the deflated Floating Sucker with it, since when it hits the ground it will be so low that crouch shooting will still have your shots going above it, so you can either ignore them, or kill the with TNT, since no other ammo will hit them (yes, even the seeker ammo won’t register it walking around on the ground). So unless you play as Spaz or are lucky, you’ll have to take damage to get an item needed for progression, which would be fine normally, but the level is already difficult enough. There were also some areas where I had no idea how I was supposed to progress.
Edit: 2023.01.23 I was informed that the intended way was to buttstomp the Floating Sucker. Fair enough, since it respawns, it can get annoying if you don’t know that since if you shoot it by instinct it will fall into the spikes where you can’t kill it without taking damage, or you can run back far enough where it will respawn as a Floating Sucker. (I guess I was impatient at that point and didn’t even consider buttstomp an option) This also does justify some of the respawning enemies since now I actually realised they serve a purpose. Since those high areas can be reached with buttstomping, though in my opinion some require too much precision.
Number 3, the moving platforms. I don’t know if the intention for them was to work like this, but they are extremely annoying, and make platforming a crapshoot basically. You barely get any control over your character whenever you land on these moving platforms, since they will catapult you off themselves unless you are standing next the wall, but since you can’t just through them since the One-Way funcion wasn’t added to them, you have to try your luck by going to the edges and jumping from there which requires far more patience and precision from the player than it’s realistically worth. One of these examples is the frozen spring area. If you return from where you picked up the flamethrower ammo, you’ll eventually have to somehow jump up to the area with the frozen spring. It’s in the area where the gold coin is, even getting back to that point is questionable since in the underground area I have no clue how I’m even supposed to continue, there’s a long strech of spikes with 2 Floating Suckers and a very tall wall with a Normal Turtle on it. I have no idea how you are supposed to get back up there when returning. I ended up using JJFLY and JJINV cheats to see through to the end, because I had very little fun that would justify me to find the end of the level through normal means. And judging by the boss arena, I think I made the correct choice. Seriously? Bubba boss in a small space with springs covering the ground, walls and ceiling with 2 pinball bumpers? It is quite a shame because otherwise the level is pretty, and like I said, at least the music choice was awesome.
Still though, I think the first 2 levels were good enough to warrant a recommendation, since those were well worth playing through.
The 3rd level would need some changes to be enjoyable because as of now it’s a confusing frustrationfest. Maybe I missed something or assumed the wrong path as the intended one, but then it should be made more obvious. I’m sure it’s not that confusing for the actual level designer, since they were the one to come up with the layout and different ideas, and spent who knows how long creating the level. But if possible either simplefy the level a bit, make more deliberate methods of shoving the player in the correct direction and if possible don’t have the trigger zones and trigger crates be 2 levels worth of distance from each other.
But like I said, the other 2 levels are good in my opinion. So this pack get’s a download recommendation.
Edit: 2023.01.23 Due to some of my issues being cleared up for me level 3 makes a bit more sense, Navigation can still be tricky and frustrating, but certain choices at least have a purpose rather than being oversights. Due to this I’m bumping the score up a bit.
A non-linear level with a funny little storyline using a recent tileset. Mainly traditional JJ2 gameplay with only slight variations of existing enemies and obstacles. Quite easy for the veteran player but fun to explore for anyone. Nice that the final 3 gifts have arrows pointing towards their location, really improves the flow for completionists!
I always enjoy playing this when it comes up during JDC events
The thing I like most about this level is that it feels like a good looking level made for all skill levels. it’s probably enjoyable for anyone to play. Something very suited for the holidays. Since I get that vibe of this level I also have some nitpicks and tips to make it a more enjoyable experience for everybody:
1. Most of the Rabbit messages were a bit strange or unfunny. I would refrain from using (inside) jokes that most people would not understand. I personally liked the informative messages the most by far. And this is my favourite text box in a SP level yet.
2. I’m not a fan of the mechanic that allows you to finish the level before getting all the packages. I really felt like I needed to get them all and that it outright felt like cheating not to do so. That said, It also took me 30 minutes just to find the last package. Others talked about an arrow, I agree this would be helpful. But I would also be fond of combining that with collecting all the packages. (and make the bottom segment easier for easier difficulties, see #4)
3. For me the UI for the package counter lacks a tiny bit of polishness. I didn’t expect it to be there. I didn’t notice the UI until i collected my sixth package. I think what would really help is if there was some sort of temporary icon/text flash whenever collecting a package, so you really notice that the counter goes up. Maybe a temporary text size or colour change would really help. Similar to how other games handle stat counters.
4. I’m pretty sure that jumping from tiny hook to hook in succession (mainly in the bottom area) is too hard for casual players and should not be part of Easy and perhaps Medium difficulty. Casual spaz players will definitely get stuck here. This isn’t really your fault since this is a trend that has been going on for decades now and with even the most respected SP packs (HH, Devres, etc) are brutal when it comes to these designs. Most leveldesigners tend to only look at difficulty with the amount of carrots or enemies given, but not take into account very difficult platforming obstacles (often combined punishing with pits/hurt events) where casual players are most likely to give up. As i’ve been watching a lot of casual random JJ2 streams it’s very easy to overestimate rabbit control and the intuitiveness of casual players, I’m talking about players that get stuck in TSF, yeah it really happens more than you think. Sure, as of now you don’t need that package to complete the level, but that’s also stealing completionists of their fun. Which is a shame, because I would really like to recommend this level to new players, and I think that’s almost possible, but with parts like these they will get frustrated over the whole experience.
5. Same thing goes for the package at position 10,77. I understood how to get there by buttstomping because of a hidden ice block, but I assure you that this visual queue is too hidden for a lot of players. Maybe collapse scenery is a better option here. Post review I also noticed the stomp scenery at 222,175 in MLLE, which is even more vague, definitely needs a better clue or nobody finds this.
6. Most secrets are cool, some are a little confusing. Overall I enjoy it more when you can see what you are collecting, but often in this level you have no idea what you are collecting. There is a secret at 246,147 with a carrot and a hor spring, but since I was full health i was completely confused as to what I’m missing out on. If there is a horizontal spring inside a wall and I don’t gain anything I immediatly think I should freeze the spring. I’ve had this a couple of times where I felt a bit dissapointed when I could run into a wall and only found something like 4 food pickups. Perhaps it’s because there is no coin warp. With coins it feels different because the game gives you a very clear audio queue and stat counter. 4 Coins in comparison feels a lot more exciting than 4 food. Maybe the best policy is to only put gems and coins behind foreground secrets for that reason, or script something that makes it more noticeable and exciting than it currently is.
7. The level is great for what it is but I also want to note it’s not a really ambitious. For me personally I would have also loved if the boss fight had a change of scenery like Treylina mentioned. Another downside for me is that the level itself also lacks memorable landmarks, which is an issue when running around a map collecting stuff. While searching for the last packages I often got lost in the maze. I can safely say that the change in scenery, caves and open area’s were not enough to really make sense of where I was and where I need to be. It maybe would have helped if paths were blocked off after collecting the needed package.
But even with these nitpicks I highly recommend checking out this level. It’s a fun festive level and very enjoyable for most players.
2022-01-08: A lot of feedback has been used to improve the upload, see the changelog. This is why i’m adjusting the rating a bit.
I’d say this is probably your best level so far. Still a lot of the issues your previous levels have had are present.
Them being lack of difficulty due to big open areas with very scarse enemy placement. Along with item placements.
The level feels like the layout has been 95% complete, while item and enemy placement are only 50-60% complete. Which is a shame, because the actual level layout is pretty good, reminds me of the original levels though more linear.
More item pickups, a coin warp with coin pickups, more enemies would have all added to the score of the level.
Luckily the level is still pretty competent. You tried to vary enemy types, and luckily you didn’t overload the player with 80+ ammo at the start of the level. Ammo is far better spaced out and placed much more liberally. There are also a couple of secrets, though I found 2 which were empty (which is why I feel like item and enemy placement is only 60% finished).
I appreciate your effort to keep making level, and you are improving. My personal score would be 6.9 but I can’t give that score, so here’s a 7/10.
It’s a rather simple and short level that could’ve been better with more pickups and more enemies. Albeit rather unremarkable, I can tell that Spyro really tried to make something nice. Can’t recommend it though, unfortunately.
Alright, here we go…the somewhat devils advocate. I put N/A so people will read the text, not the number.
TL;DR: It’s a solid, expansive map with attractive visual flair, but don’t expect any boundary-pushing gameplay with spectacle. It’s mostly traditional (albeit trickier) gameplay with an extra coat of paint and context. And perhaps that’s your jam!
EDIT: This review is a bit outdated. Will update once I’ve played the new version.
The long version:
**WARNING: Spoilers below. **
Disconnected thought dump
The NPC dialogue was silly (and somewhat cute at times). It added some life to the world.
The gameplay certainly fed my " Let’s explore the heck outta everything! " instincts on a first playthrough. I liked challenging myself how much I could defeat with blaster alone, though I did occasionally use other ammo for enemies in super tricky spots.
Nice to see this set finally used, and the extra Christmas aesthetics are a fun little flair. The water layer reflection also makes its debut in an actual level! I’m not sure if it would move at this temperature, but who cares this is a cartoon rabbit game.
Was hoping I could unlock more areas (maybe secrets) by freezing springs. I never really use ice in single player. Maybe there was but I wasn’t looking hard enough.
Those bastard tiny dragons blending in with the scenery…
The bossfight was…underwhelming. All that build-up. And then it’s just a bog standard xmas Bilsy fight and we come to an agreement after defeat.
Quality of life suggestions
Minimap: Such a large, expansive map would benefit from telling you where you’ve already been, and where to go next. Maybe even hints for the next missing present? It’s not exactly fun when you’ve almost collected everything and you’re navigating for miles on end through dead enemies, just to find one or two missing collectables.
coughs in Spyro flashbacks
OR an arrow that points to the next missing present, akin to treasure mode pointing to exits once you have enough. More simple and doesn’t really cover the already explored areas, but perhaps way easier to implement?
More checkpoints: While I never died, lesser seasoned players may do. For a giant level, it could be really cumbersome to die in some places. In that case, it’s probably better to put the boss checkpoint just after the hole to avoid the long falling sequence (maybe one slightly above the arena?).
Warpable checkpoints before you’ve collected the minimum amount. Because big map and collectable items, yadda yadda.
This is really minor, maybe a trigger scenery tile that changes in clear sight when you destroy the trigger crate? Would give players a clear idea what it does. I almost forgot myself…
As you descend into hell, the surrounding environment would slowly transform into a firey hellscape, setting the mood and realization that something is off.
Give the Bilsy bossfight/arena more spice. Add fire hazards, floating platforms, bubba, idk. Maybe he could leave a temporary, hazardous trail of fire as he warps away, and he aggressively warps to your position? Or, maybe these ideas are better left for an extra phase, instead.
A tougher, extra boss phase would’ve give more experienced players an incentive to collect all presents (and the PU reward would still stay). This could delve more into the story, too. Who knows…maybe we could end up fighting Santa himself, mad about his dirty secret being revealed.
You can get stuck between the tiles at 113, 104 and 163, 125 (in-game pos). Any other sections masked like this will have the same potential (so I won’t label them all unless asked). No big deal, debug or cheat mode will help and it takes a lot of fiddling to trigger it.
Super nice! This looks great and is fun to play. The non-linearity is done well, in that you don’t get lost too easily and come across the important parts of the level more or less naturally. There are some nice Christmas-themed custom events (I loved the falling Christmas balls) and there are small secrets everywhere which makes the level fun to explore. Overall it definitely has that holiday vibe and it’s nice to see that Jazz Jackrabbit games can still deliver that in 2023.
The (medium) difficulty felt just right too – you can’t just run around willy nilly, but it’s also not too challenging. There’s even a small story to the level which is nothing too special but nevertheless executed well.
This is a great level and you should play it!
Not much to say honestly, this is a damn near perfect level, with an insane size, gorgeous eye candy and level design crafted to near perfection.
The whole open ended nature of the level is greatly appealing to me, reminds me of Silent Night level made by Slaz. Here you need to collect gift packages instead of coins. Aided with a very soothing soundtrack to the level, makes for a great overall package.
My only complaint might be that for a level this big, some extra checkpoints would have been nice, other than that, this is a perfect level in my eyes.
Over the years JJ2 has seen an explosion of multiplayer gamemodes. Sch wizards as BlurredD and EvilMike wove together arcane contraptions of sucker tubes and trigger scenery to create levels that, even when played in vanilla JJ2, still followed the scoring rules of Team Battle or Last Rabbit Standing or the like. JJ2+ canonized these, and others with more complicated rulesets, from Pestilence to Headhunters. Mutators expanded the playing field still further. But somewhat lost in all this was the idea of single player gamemodes.
In general there have only ever been two goals in single player levels: either get to the exit (which may involve a boss battle), or collect all items (usually coins). Within collecting levels there are two subtypes, one where collecting everything makes you win immediately and one where you have to go to a specific place afterwards, but they’re largely the same thing.
But there’s a third mode that’s lurked around the edges, only making an appearance every once in a while: horde mode. The level design stays constant, but enemies keep appearing, and either they die or you do. A major example is TDI_07.j2l from Moonblaze’s “The Demon Invasion,” where a regenerating coin and an invisible coin warp serve as a countdown timer. hgfDiamondusColosseum.j2l from happygreenfrog’s “Operation Cleanup: Turtle Terror Revisited” uses scripting to implement an enemy quota, so the level will not end until you’ve killed enough (regenerating) enemies. Both make the assumption there must be some sort of measurable goal that the game itself keeps track of for you, or else why would you bother?
The Lapidarian Chaparral says screw that noise.
The Lapidarian Chaparral decides that you, the player, are in charge of keeping track of how well you’ve done and whether you’ve accomplished whatever goal you might choose to set for yourself. It demands you make up your own emergent gameplay. It puts itself in your hands as clay to be molded into whatever experience you prefer. It is single player by way of sandbox. It is, in a way, a metaphor for JJ2 and JCS as a whole.
Sure, with some work Lark could probably piece together a complicated system of a generating coin, an electro-blaster SCE, and various belts, animated tiles, bridges, and so on, that periodically dropped a coin into a pseudo-random spot in the level, so that you have to keep moving around to find the next coin. It would be pretty cool. But there’s a boldness to giving up on that altogether as irrelevant.
Sure, the concept still has some limitations as implemented. In the current version of JJ2+, regenerating enemies and pickups don’t give points, but pickups spawned from regenerating barrels do, so if score is your goal, you should focus there. Sure, certain areas are purely safe, so if your goal is actually to set a stopwatch and see how long you can last, you’re just gonna hang out next to a carrot and walk away from your computer. But does Lark really want you to do that? More importantly, do you really want to do that? Or do you want to blast turtles?
Anyway. Cool to see Jungrock. Level looks nice. Didn’t notice any bugs.
Gosh. Lark. Long time, kid. Thanks for dropping by. Happy new year.
I didn’t think Jazz 2 levels would make me cry. I didn’t think Jazz 2 levels would make me cry three times.
Well, other than the fact that the approach of this level is not my cup of tea, I think it’s overall a good level. I think the layout and the eyecandy is really cool. The open ended nature of the level actually appeals to me (though this most likely came due to the fact that it was designed as a battle level originally). Music is pretty good, though I don’t know why there’s that noise at the beginning of it that sounds like background chatter in a bar.
Things I didn’t enjoy are basically the fact that the level can’t be ended in a traditional way, since there’s no level end trigger, basically you just run around the map until you find everything. Which brings my second issue, everything respawns. Obviously it’s not a flaw, since it’s an endless loop level anyway, but still, navigating through the level gets a bit frustrating when enemies you’ve already dealt with spawn back on top of you. Also, it’s supposed to be a single player level, but pickups all still have the “battle level” mindset, so you only pick up ammo and health (and a secret water shield).
Rather than making it an endless loop, I think it would have been more fun if there was a coin warp that teleported you to the end, once you collected all the coins after exploring the map.
Still, the level itself is really good, just the overall fundamental design to it isn’t really for me.
Ah, I missed this one when I was doing my Psych3-edits tour the other day! This has some good moments with warps but doesn’t always do a great job of trying to impose layout edits. I miss the fly carrot but reluctantly accept the float sucker stomp sequence is also neat. Definitely on the more interesting side of the genre, though imperfect.
A decently lengthy pack with highs and lows. The highs show up more toward the end, so you leave with a good memory, but it takes some work to get there. I like the original, memorable sequences like the airboard level, the frog level, the fun and colorful rainforest level—I’m less into the trigger crate chasing, and there’s a lot of it.
Gorgeous looking level. You somehow made a Diamondus/Inferno wall mashup look so natural that I didn’t even consciously think about it when I first played it. The large crystals from Ceramicus in the foreground do look a touch out of place with their lack of detail. But that’s more than made up for by screen-filling parallax background layers that give the sense of an expansive landscape behind the sprite layer – moreso than any other JJ2 background I’ve seen.
In gameplay, it’s a traditional CTF level and wears that on its sleeve, no wacky gimmicks. But I always like when levels are asymmetrical and I always like when carrots are placed in out-of-the-way areas, and this level has both of those things so I like that.
Besides, there’s next to nothing to actually complain about here: balance seems good, the level flows pretty well thanks to extensive usage of One Way events, and both flag bases are interesting to approach and defend.
Definitely looking forward to seeing more, and being doubly impressed if you do pull out another great level within 23 days!
Its not bad for third lvl !
I like that you are trying to use background layers and adding some eyecandy into the map. As abdgrenv said, ammo and enemies placement feels kinda random, and unbalanced, also i dont see the point of putting free powerups and carrots right in your way, it feels like you got it for free and its not really challenging.
It kinda looks like you are just testing on this map what you can do in jcs and thats totaly alright, but i would reccomend you to upload those maps into discord jcs chat than here. We can tell you there advices and opinions there so you can improve. In my opinion on j2o you should upload single player pack with more than one map. I think ppl would enjoy it more that downloading sp map one by one. But as I said, for 3nd maps its very good visualy and i think you can make big things in the future! (sorry for the low rating but 6,5 is too high imo, i just want to average it)
Pretty decent level overall. Has some platforming challanges added in, which was a nice addition. There’s 1 secret, and a detour to break a crate to be able to progress.
Issues are mostly the same, a bit too much ammo packed right at the start of the level, while the level isn’t really difficult enough to warrant that much ammo, and especially that many health carrots.
All things considered, I had a decent time.
Eat your lima beans, Johnny.