This level looks good, perhaps this is the test with the best eyecandy. I really liked the texts, they made the test have some sort of a story.
The levels were fun, however I was tottaly pissed when I got back to level 7. Removing that evil part would be nice.
Oh and you should make it more obvious that the triggers are open once the boxes are destroyed. I thought there was one more box I couldn’t even see.
@Violet I’m guessing you just didn’t think of using golden jump with Lori. I had no problem with passing that level.
Placing schwartzenguards outside the boss arena in order to make a boss more difficult in the era of AngelScript is just unacceptable. Almost no actual thought went into these boss fights, with the author just throwing in as many hazards as possible into each arena. Download this only if you prefer “cheap” difficulty over genuine challenge.
Good level but not without issues. There are a lot of obscured hazards and often it’s very unclear where to go. One area requires you to collect an item but gives it only barely distinct looks and doesn’t provide any feedback when you get it. The introduction of pits is accompanied by fake foreground pillars and the last checkpoint is far behind.
one of if not the best chrysilis remixes i’ve ever heard, probably second to only crystalline action.
Looking for answers has an unfortunately accurate title, for that’s exactly what i found myself doing the whole time I tried to play it. In all honesty, I could not finish a single level, because I would inevitably find myself in one or more places where I simply could not figure out what (if anything) I was supposed to do next. In many cases, when I did make some kind of progress I wasn’t even sure whether it was intentional or whether I had happened upon some sort of bug in the level design. Walls appear and disappear without warning, trigger crates do not have clear effects, immense spike pits or ctf death pits abound, and layers move at bizarre speeds to complement sometimes empty-looking layer 4s. Huge airspaces are filled with countless ghosts, ravens, bees, dragonflies, and pacman ghosts. More of those enemies lurk under the ground behind layer 3, meaning you can’t even plan for challenges in advance. In one place massive quantities of completely invisible wind, combined with non-regenerating cheshire2s, make an ascent all but impossible. Another area fills the screen with so many smoke rings that the fruit platforms you’re supposed to ride have trouble even spawning. Water levels change according to inscrutable rules in front of the ugliest tileset you’ll see. Nothing seems passable unless you made the level/s and therefore already know where all the traps are and which random/secret routes you’re supposed to take.
There are glimmers of good levels shining through, like a section in the first level where you jump from one alternatingly masked and unmasked series of blocks to another to avoid landing on spikes below. Everything is clearly technically proficient and done with a purpose. It’s just that that purpose feels completely unfathomable.
Great to see a test where eyecandy isn’t a last-minute addition, but this is really unbalanced. Trivial jumps randomly interleaved with madness. At one point there’s just a complete wall of warps and I think the level must be broken somehow. Elsewhere Jazz has to sidekick. Don’t know what that’s about. Glad that it’s pretty though.
I think the new Labrat levels may actually be my least favorite of the pack… probably in part because I’m less attached to the tileset, but also because they seem to deviate less from the standard JJ2 formula and show less of the author’s experimental side. Experimental level design has a long history in JCS, not all of it positive, but the author’s earlier work always fell on the side of enjoyable and memorable. These Labrat levels are not without their good points, but they also feel more ordinary, though by no means bad. An uninspired FarkasUrdung level is still better than a lot of other stuff out there, but the Labrat levels feel less purposeful and more thrown together. I definitely appreciate some of the efforts being made here, though, like the serious take on a bird gameplay section, and a lot of the work with springs and weapon blocks and such, as always. I had fun and I’ll probably play them again. There are lots of pickups and enemies and that’s great. But I’m not sure they’re the best of the bunch.
Snow Castle 2016 starts out strong; you stand next to a closed wooden door that clearly can be destroyed by some kind of ammo, but nothing you have right now. Instead you go inside the house to your left, go down some stairs, and take either of two exits (both concealed to various degrees by layer 3) on a looping path that takes you back to whichever exit you didn’t take before. By the time you get there, you’ve got toaster ammo, and it turns out that’s what you’re supposed to use on the door.
That’s the theory, anyway—it should be mentioned that the toaster ammo is really close to the beginning of that looping path, so you could just grab it and head back. There’s also, if I’m understanding the level layout correctly, an entirely separate second looping path coming out of the starting house on the left side, only this one doesn’t contain any toaster or seemingly anything else of any use. It’s just there to get you lost. It’s respectable enough to play, I suppose, but it still leaves me with the feeling that maybe I’m missing something about why it’s there.
Still, if you don’t pay too much attention to your surroundings, you’ll end up on the right path—toastering through the wooden door—eventually. And then the level gets less interesting. The path might branch a little at some point, since there was a time or two I remember seeing enemies I clearly hadn’t gotten to, but I’m not sure about that… otherwise, though, it’s very much your basic JJ2 gameplay with limited graphics and not much to keep you from speeding through everything. There are plentiful carrots and big ceilings, a great recipe for letting a (non-Spaz) player helicopter across all the careful level design and skip all the careful pickups and enemies.
And the level certainly does some things right along the way. Ammo isn’t abundant, but there’s a good amount of it, some of it clearly tailored to its surroundings, and the seekers in particular can be helpful against dragons below you or ravens above you. Enemies seem mostly practical and appropriate, though I don’t think the suckers quite fit in. Everything tiles properly, and the lack of background layers is more the fault of the tileset than the level.
Nonetheless, I left Snow Castle 2016 feeling cold. The layout meanders through layer 4 in random directions until it reaches an abrupt exit that I think was prompted more by running out of room than by anything particular to the design. Despite the fairly open nature of the path, the walls are all so thin that you’re constantly looking at other, relatively distant parts of the level at the same time, which is distracting. And very few parts of the layout feel especially memorable—a vine covered in gems, maybe, or the two or three times you drop down from a vine onto a dragon-infested house, but that’s about it. The totally straightforward tileset use and level design beg comparison to HH98 and TSF, and I honestly think the official levels did a better job providing distinct, memorable gameplay. Nothing about Snow Castle 2016 is bad, but nothing about it demands to be recommended either.
Ooh boy. I wish this level were longer.
It’s not revolutionary in its structure—go left a bit, find a trigger crate, go left a bit more, find three trigger crates, enter a door, fight a boss. It’s not difficult at all—there’s one area with some pillars sticking out of a pit of spikes, but the JJ2 engine makes it trivial to navigate them. The tileset use isn’t unusual or innovative. The boss arena has nothing interesting about it.
And yet, everything is done well.
Sure, the level leans a little more heavily on big thick walls than it needs to, but it’s still pretty to look at with varied tiles and chains and lights and things. There’s a lot more put in here than just the minimum amount of effort needed to use Castle. Part of the reason the level is so easy to beat is that the enemies can be taken out by bouncers—and the level gives you bouncers. That’s a satisfying feeling. Ambient lighting is played with enough to be visible yet not frustrating. The paths to reach the four trigger crates are not innovative but they are all distinct from one another and give off a quiet confidence. Pretty much any given aspect of the level is respectable, but the level is short enough that it still feels a bit empty.
(There could also be more pickups, I think. That would help make everything livelier.)
OK. Let’s start.
I FREAKING LOVE THIS EPISODE!
But, all uncontrolled praise away, let’s look at WHY I love this.
Beautiful. That is the most fitting adjective here.
It feels like you ARE a part of the world here.
Sometimes I forget everything else while playing. Top notch! 3/3
Obviously good stuff. A little hard at times (Though I can’t even beat Devil Devan on Easy without saving Mid-Battle.),but fun. Very creative too.
In a race it would come in 0.5th place because it’s better than just 4/4.
BONUS POINT GIVEN. 4+1/4
Well, everything has a weakness, and maybe more Themes would have been
interesting, but how would that work? Then the aforementioned difficulty problem.(I mean, even as a noob I should be able to win on EASY!)
But that’s everything neative I have to say. 1.7/3
If you like a good adventure, download it. (Heck. download it anyways unless
you are REALLY bad at JJ2)So Download ADVISED and 9.7/10.
First Review! YAY.
Well, here we have a Classic.Let’s go!
It’s great! It has a cartoony feel and really fits into the JJ2 world.
It looks how it should. 3/3
Just everything you need, including some tiles integrated from official tilesets.
Now this is most important for amateur builders (like me).
It can be a little tricky, but I can live with it. 3.2/4
Get it. Now. It’s not like you have anything to lose, and even then, this is gold.
9.2/10 And Download not recommended, but ADVISED.
This is how you do it.
It’s easy to dismiss Jazz 2 as just a multiplayer game, because its default single player campaign is so easy (at least if your age is in the double digits), but that’s not really fair. Jazz 2’s single player is easy but there’s still something undeniably fun about it, and many levels over the years—Agama’s Night World comes to mind here as an example—have succeeded on the basis of giving you that gameplay with all the ingredients measured out just right. Keep changing up the flow of things, but not too much, not too frequently, and yet not too infrequently. Ammo pickups, springs, enemies, crates, coins, carrots, on and on and on for as long as Jazz (or Spaz if you’re nasty) can run and jump. It’s a proven formula for success.
Blackraptor does not quite follow that pattern to the letter, despite the level’s name, but instead treats it as a template to add just a little bit to here and there. Enemies feel tougher and more demanding of strategic handling. Health feels more rewarding. Change in level design is accomplished by mixing in and out different parts of the tileset across the course of a single level, rather than employing level transitions to use entirely new tilesets. Obviously the xargon set gets a lot of credit here for offering so many possibilities in the first place, but blacky uses those possibilities to immense effect, liberally covering the screen with layers and eyecandy that somehow rarely (though not never) obscures the level design more than it should.
I played through this level a number of times while it was in development… I’ll confess I haven’t actually played through (or even downloaded?) its final release, which hopefully cleared up some issues I had with unclear design elements, so I can’t comment too much there. One way or another though, there are times when the level becomes less clearly linear than others, and at its extreme that can become frustrating. The level shines when it’s basic JJ2 gameplay with that added bit of polish/heft/zest/shine to it, and conversely falters when it wanders too far off in another direction. The White World is an example of this—it feels very blackyish, to be sure, but it doesn’t seem to totally fit in with its surroundings.
I feel somewhat the same way about the scripted enemies, despite having rather contributed to their existence… the fact that they’re fairly back-loaded, appearing toward the end of the level but not the beginning, gives off the impression that the level was designed linearly and those enemies were a late addition. (Fun fact: basically true.) Obviously I’m not complaining about scripted enemies on their own, but I think a more balanced distribution would have worked better in this case, to prevent the impression that the level loses confidence later on in its ability to please without bringing in bells and whistles. There’s nothing wrong with games getting better or more complicated with time, but it’s important for that progression to feel natural, rather than to give the impression that the earlier parts of the game simply didn’t get much editing after they were first designed. (A similar problem applies in blacky’s JJ1 pack as well.)
Nonetheless, I don’t want to give the impression the above complaints are a huge deal. It’s just that we’re all very familiar with the standard JJ2 gameplay, and when most of the level is that—albeit implemented very well—it’s only natural to talk about the handful of deviations from that pattern. But really, the level plays and looks great. It’s huge and majestic, hard but not impossible, pretty but not incoherent. There’s always stuff to do. There are plenty of secrets to find. There are no obvious places to skip ahead. It’s a great level that sometimes strays outside its wheelhouse but is mostly more on point than can be managed by some entire packs.
Castle Turtlevania is that frustrating level that does a lot of things fairly well but nothing great, and you have to wonder what would happen if that weren’t the case. If there were all new enemies, for example, would it be an amazing single player experience or would everything else suffer as a result? I’m not sure. But it’s still possible to play this and think every few minutes “huh, this is pretty cool,” even if not “this is incredible.”
TreyLina’s review includes a lengthy list of cons that I find myself about half-and-half on. Yes, firing up is weird, hiding vital warps behind layer 3 is rarely advisable, the death system is frustrating, and it is kind of barren-looking. Haunted House is always a kind of barren tileset, at least in that it has no background layers, but it is possible to do more with it than this. Still, I appreciate that eyecandy was never the main focus here.
Other things she listed I’m more okay with giving a pass. Being Jazz-only is fine in principle (though the implementation shouldn’t be buggy). Not being able to run (initially) is fine. The health system, including the carrots you’re always allowed to pick up, is fine. Branching out a bit from typical JJ2 gameplay is generally something I’m in support of, and I don’t think any of those things are bad decisions. The bird mode is maybe a little silly, but I didn’t mind that much because the antigravity buttstomp was so much fun that why would I ever want to be a bird? Again, maybe it’s a little bit buggy, but it’s fun! Enemies dropping ammo is somewhat muted by the fact that they’re all the default enemies, so non-blaster ammo isn’t as useful as it could be, but by gosh I’m glad the level tried doing it anyway.
Basically, Castle Turtlevania is a level with a lot of heart. (Even though it chooses not to represent health with heart icons anymore.) My reaction to its flaws is not “eww” but “aww”—it’s clearly trying and I want it to get better. I look at its pride in its ideas—two distinct unlockable ways to fly! distinct areas with captions and themes! a non-euclidean maze!—and I look forward to what those things can look like someday with a bit more polish. Yes, it’s buggy and not so pretty and the bosses really aren’t very good, but these feel like symptoms of a lack of practice, not of passion. This is a great step. This is good confidence. I hope to see more.
The irony of Forest Forgotten is that the forest part of it really is better off forgotten.
I’ll explain. The level is divided, like A Generic Single Player Level II, into various biomes, though not as distinctly as in blacky’s take on the same tileset. There’s a leafy forest in the bottom left, a dead forest in the top right, a shrine in the bottom right, and a bunch of vertical spaces, platforms, vines, and grass everywhere else. Most of it’s fairly interesting, but the leafy forest is mostly just aggravating… layer 3 leaves cover up your view of some of JJ2’s most persistent enemies, and there are so many random single food pickups it becomes tedious to try to collect them all. The lack of visibility is the main issue, though. This would be okay as an interlude in the middle of some other level, but here the forest comes right at the beginning—well, depending on which direction you start walking—and gives much the wrong impression for what the rest of the level will be like.
Because I rather liked most of the rest of the level, for all its bizarre design choices. As far as I can tell, the only part of the main level area that’s directly important to completing the level is the ruined shrine in the bottom right. Everything around it—all the grassy platforms, swinging vines, hidden coins, etc.—is there in case you want to beat the level by collecting 40 (mostly hidden, often behind layer 3) coins instead of doing things the more traditional way. Personally I only found 39, but I trust there was another one out there somewhere.
A thought occurs to me that maybe besides the coins, that large area was also there to provide bouncer pickups for accessing the shrine with. In that case, maybe my being able to shoot the toaster powerup through the wall with a bouncer bullet (and thereby gain more than enough ammo to power down through the pit) was a bug, not a clever use of a nearby bouncer pickup to tell me what I was supposed to do. :|
Anyway. I’m not sure this particular brand of non-linear design quite worked for me, mainly because there weren’t a lot of obvious hints pointing the way forward and a lot of the level all looked the same. I had to resort to the tried and true test of looking for uncollected food/undefeated enemies to see if I’d already been somewhere or not. This is a common problem with a lot of sets, but from Xargon I guess I’d have expected more eyecandy diversity.
That confusion aspect is a shame, because when I could tell what was going on, Forest Forgotten was fun, engaging, and creative. Swinging platforms, arrows, animated tiles, crates, and more are all put to good use in puzzles that you’re given just enough information to figure out how to solve. The shrine area sends you on several puzzle-heavy quests in order to smash certain trigger crates before you can beat the level, and they (and the shrine in general) are definitely the most memorable aspects of the level and also where it feels most like a Spaztic work, albeit one that is much fairer than her Mines of Moria ever was. Good fun stuff. The wider exploration areas with all the coins and enemies are close, but there’s something missing that keeps them from feeling quite right.
I don’t know if there was ever a larger story surrounding this level—the shrine at the end stretches on for long enough that I felt it had to be building up to something, but that something never came—but it probably doesn’t really need one. Forest Forgotten is an interesting, often exciting set of ideas that aren’t quite supported by their eyecandy and aren’t quite clearly connected to each other, but definitely worth a play nonetheless.
Your mash-up tileset conversions always amaze me. Keep up the good work! I’ll definitely use this conversion in one of my future levels!
This is cool. I like the usage of the tileset and colors.
it is exist?
[Nonsensical rating removal]
Surely this one too not for a newbie as like me.
Again died a lot, then i figured it eventually. Yet skip many stuff.
Atleast kind of satifiying level for me. Bound me on pc a lot of turn.
This Xargon tileset is pretty decent as i always said.
Liked the Secret Hours song. Good job.
Useful, something to add for my utility collection :P
Reminds me such Indie Future House tracks.
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