I’m not sure if one of the JJ2+ updates broke anything, but the music doesn’t change for me. Also oddly “neve.s3m” doesn’t play, and I had the same issue with the original levels.
Edit: I opened up the original UMX file in OpenMPT and saved it as an S3M over top of the one in my JJ2 folder and it works now.
A pretty small level compared from what we’ve seen from blacky. Though the visuals are still pretty neat to look at. Though it’s really hard to navigate in this map since it’s dark. That’s the main reason for me not to rate this higher. Though it’s layout and gameplay is decent. The background looks wonderful with the scripted additions.
While I am not a huge fan of “occult” themed levels, I think Nocturne is generally visually appealing, with “off-colors” giving a surreal feel to certain parts, but some of the eye-candy is slightly distracting. I consider the layout, game-play etc to be generic.
Well designed, but those terrible recolors of Medvio and Waz18 are just unacceptable.
A very impressive level thematically and eye-candy-wise.
You can’t easily enter the bases from the areas directly below them, as you’re forced to go even lower or take a fairly repetitive series of platforms, and even the top area forces you to butt-stomp to enter them, making you vulnerable; If that’s your cup of tea, I hope you enjoy it, but I think those aspects are annoying.
Without careful playing, attempting to camp and/or take the seeker pu can kill you, and I like that aspect, but way more in smaller games or duels.
The navigation may be a little more flipper-reliant than necessary, as springs could be easier to use for areas lacking a lot of choices etc.
The layout, ammo placement and everything else seems to be very solid.
Is this a GREAT level? – Definitely, but it’s not without its flaws in my opinion.
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.
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.
Took ages for me to complete this entire level, haha.
Tired of dying, and died really a lot.
Even Easy and Normal is hard for softcore player like me.
Tileset pick is pretty decent. Some scenery music was good but did not like the general ambient.
Entire level is total great work, but surely this map is not for newbies.
As said by Blacky, this level follows the core design of it’s predecessor but modernizes everything else. Everything has been enhanced by neat AngelScript tricks and modern design ideas, as well as entirely new areas being added to explore.
Overall, this feels like a traditional single player level with the basic elements of an original JJ2 level present. You run and jump finding crates, collecting gems and coins (for the biggest coin rewards ever!), exploring some hidden paths, and enjoying the vast amount of carrots. Ammo progression is quite natural too, starting off with Bouncers and moving up to more Seekers and RF’s near the end. The enemies are largely untouched by AS, aside from things like a cool boxing glove trap and stronger (ice) turtles and crows. All in all it’s definitely a generic single player level, a very cleverly designed one that is.
The real standout quality here is it’s sheer size and how it tries to form a ‘world’ by interconnecting various areas with different atmospheres and music. The way of progression in this level feels both rewarding and surprising. It’s probably the biggest single-single player level to date if you count just the amount of gameplay. Also a nice feature is it’s excellent use of JJ2’s difficulty setting, which is not even a scripted feature by itself. Not many JJ2 maps have such meaningful differences between Easy, Normal, and Hard even though it’s a feature for events programmed into the game! I lost on Hard pretty early in the level due to the Cheshire Cat part, but got through Normal twice (once without losing a life) in about 1:45 on my first run and 1:15 on my 2nd (those are estimations). And by the way, the boss is very original, funny, and well made too!
Some parts are definitely a bit confusing, such as finding the exit in ‘White Hell’ and finding the cheese (play and you know what it is, lol). Another strange thing is that you are being warped to a ‘hub’ at some point which makes you think you need to backtrack to earlier areas, while in fact you need to find an entirely new area that just happens to be accessible through this hub. Also, Normal mode could use an extra savepoint or 2, getting set back so far at times might demotivate some players.
I happened to get stuck once, and because it’s underwater I had to use jjk to get out: https://s20.postimg.org/vdjqhm0ql/Jazz2_AGen_SP10_Year_000.png
Overall one of the most amazing levels ever released, and unless anything better comes out in December, this will be the clear winner of the JCS Awards. Download recommended? Of course! Lay down your work and play it now!
This remade level truly competes for the title of the best standalone single player level ever made for the game in my opinion. The visuals are top-notch, although sometimes probably even too excessive, the gameplay very versatile along with the scripted features that make it even more original. The musics are well chosen too. Download recommended.
Probably one of the best levels ever made for JJ2, and I don’t say that lightly.
While I could argue that some parts are confusing almost to the point of frustration (especially towards the end), I’ve not had a single JJ2 experience to date which was this immersive and rewarding. It was almost metroidvania-esque.
I really like this level. I remembrer it in Annvicersary Bash 18 pack and it’s awesome! I recommend everybody to download this!
Edit: It also appeared in Anniversary Bash 17 and Anniversary Bash 20!
Phew, this took a while to play through even on Normal difficulty, but it was definitely worth it! For this review, I won’t go into detail about every single level as that would be boring, instead I’ll try to remark some positive and negative situations that stood out to me.
This pack contains about 24(?) actual levels divided into 3 episodes and 2 bonus maps accessed solely through a pre-existing savefile, and some more levels acting as cutscenes telling bits of story dialog. Unlike the original JJ1, and just like SWAG, it’s possible to start from the first episode and play through the whole game (just like in JJ2 basically) which makes the pack feel more like a single story.
The first parts of this pack are about identical to earlier versions of Lost Ages (as expected) but then it gets way more wild with custom sprited events including big dragons, robots, and even teddy bears. To answer the question in the download description: yes, I can see Blacky did a lot of experimenting as these levels progressed. Most of it came out positive though, and everything stayed loyal to JJ1’s standards (as in, it never felt like I was playing a different game).
But let’s talk about what’s dreadful about JJ1 and how this pack handles it: the low resolution with poor visibility of your surroundings. Well, luckily most levels are very horizontally oriented which is good, but I’ve had some enounters with enemies walking off from ‘stairs’ or ledges which are only triggered into memory once it’s too late, as well as some enemies falling off ledges (while others don’t and turn around) which can be very tedious and makes you think you (as the player) are being punished for no good. Most notable levels with this flaw are “Hot Rabbit Stew”, “That Tree Level”, and “Mechanical Heart” where some vertical movement is unavoidable to progress.
Leaps of faith, which are another plague on JJ1, are present but little and not too harsh. The level “Dark Dragon Lair” had some, and I had a bad experience near the end of the first bonus map (the dreamlands) where I really didn’t knew what to do for quite a while. A commonly present strategy is placing pickups in a way to mark long jumps, but on that one jump, there was just a circular shape of bouncer ammo’s above a moving platform. It turned out I had to make a long jump to the upper-right where the exit had been hidden from me all along.. Overall, in this pack the platforming happened in tight spaces and relies on skill and memorization rather than luck, while on the memorization part there are some cases where you can fall from ledges into groups of enemies on your first try. Oh well, it’s JJ1 so that’s forgivable and not exclusive to this game.
Also, on multiple occasions larger enemies (as well as moving spikes and spikeball hazards) can appear late in visible memory. I don’t know how JJ1 works exactly and thus can’t explain it that clearly, but imagine running at a mediocre pace and suddenly you get hit by an enemy ‘popping’ in on your position. Again, this is probably just a JJ1 thing, but maybe it could’ve been avoided by more carefully placing the pathways towards large enemies. I don’t know, and at least it doesn’t happen that often.
What I liked most about this pack is how it took ideas from the original JJ1 levels and brought it to a higher level in both depth and difficulty. Moving platforms? They’re there in tons of variations and directions. Backtracking using jumping shoe items? It’s utilized in several levels and done cleverly. Airboard areas? They’re done well on several ocasions (most notably Chernobog). Big bosses? There’s 3 of them and designed more challenging than JJ1’s original flimsy pushovers. But some new ideas are done well too, especially the level “Firewall” where you’re trapped between two laser beams forcing you to progress at a slow but steady pace. It’s also quite generous as the lasers don’t kill you, but simply warp you back without resetting the enemies you defeated earlier. Well, sometimes the level may feel boring and lonely if you tripped and have to do half the level again without shooting, but that’s a luxury issue I guess :P
Aside from the common JJ1 thingies I mentioned earlier, what I disliked most in this pack is that many enemies (mostly the bigger ones) are too sturdy and take too many hits. The original JJ1 had levels with tons of sturdy enemies too, but was often generous with fastfire pickups. In this pack however, fastfire items are quite rare, which made my left thumb tired from all the mashing at times. Yes I could’ve used a repeat key program. But still, I would’ve made some enemies like the dinosaurs and robots less sturdy at least on Normal difficulty.
For bugs, well I’d say these levels are well designed and tested all on your own (good job there!) as it all seems to be in place except for a few things. In “That Tree Level” I could skip part of the level by letting a platform push me through a horizontal wall to the upper checkpoint (I believe it was the 2nd tree where you move back up) right after the part with the 4-hit shield. In the level “Cloud Forest” the music sometimes looped the first part endlessly. In the little ‘thank you’ level at the very end, listening to the catchy disco mix for too long resulted in a crash. And in the 2nd bonus map, picking up the bonus gem and finishing the level results in a crash with ‘File not found: BONUSMAP.053’.
Overall, I felt both surprised and excited about this pack’s release on the last days of 2015, and having played it just confirmed my expectations. It’s not perfect but it’s variety and surprises sure outweight it’s minor flaws. It’s not as balanced as Violet’s SWAG, yet designed somewhat more generous and thoughtful than Mission Spaz. If you never liked JJ1, chances are slim that you will enjoy this pack. And if you haven’t played JJ1 but might consider trying it, I wouldn’t suggest starting here by any chance as the difficulty is definitely more rough. But if you are fond of the original JJ1 and/or SWAG, you are missing out HUGE by not playing this pack. I believe a 9 is a fair number here. No perfection, yet huge fun and challenge with surprises and secrets waiting to be discovered!
This level has amazing visuals, but its gameplay tends to be overcentralized. All carrots and both bases are placed in the top 30% of the level, and in a map of this size, that simply doesn’t work out. Sometimes I also wish for a wider choice of available paths.
Probably the best CTF level of its size so far.
The rich array of animations and other details result in a spectacular looking level that is bursting with energy. The layout is simple but well constructed, with some fun and quirky gameplay elements. An abundance of ammo and powerups makes this enjoyable in large games. The flow is a little awkward in the lower parts, but it’s no big deal.
Pretty awesome stuff, though there were some areas where the pinball paddles were kinda hard to use optimally while going down slopes. Love the clock and bottom section.
Lol good find FS, that is bizarre. Looks like they only act like that for the player that froze them, so that can’t be manipulated to the disadvantage of others :P
Frozen batlevators will act like bats out of hell.
Awesome. Some players might find the EC bit too much but I think its just great. Layout seems to be good too, and with some practice its really easy to move around.
Eat your lima beans, Johnny.