RecommendedQuick Review by Blackraptor

Posted:
12 Oct 2011, 01:20
For: Jazz 1 Layout Editing Suite
Level rating: 8.9
Rating
8.5

I wish I had known about this before I made my JJ1 pack > <. If I ever make a sequel though, rest assured I will definitely be using this. A very important and I would even say essential tool for JJ1 level design that cuts back on a LOT of time spent level editing. To reiterate: it will save you a LOT of time and work…

RecommendedReview by Blackraptor

Posted:
11 Oct 2011, 09:21
For: A 2-nd Level CTF Pack
Level rating: 8.0
Rating
8.0

I played both of these online with a couple of people, and thought they could use another review. So i’ll quickly state my impressions on both of the levels and how they played.

Tyuka’s Realm Forsaken

I had a duel in here, and it’s a really hectic level. The scores just kept piling up with both me and my opponent trying to out-rush each other in a really crazy way. When we both captured the map became a lot more strategic, with a lot of anticipating the opponent’s moves and hit and run tactics. I really liked the base placement, I think it adds a different element to the level and certainly makes for very unique tactics when playing. The fact that it only takes a couple of seconds to reach both bases, and that both of them can be camped simultaneously through the middle area makes it a pretty important area to control esp. to prevent rush tactics. It also makes the pacing of this level wicked fast, which I found to be a really good thing. The level of detail was also well done and I liked the method you’ve chosen to decorate the eyecandy with esp. with the use of the crystal shards. Music choice also boosted the level’s atmosphere and made it more aesthetically appealing. Overall, a nicely made level with a unique gameplay that’s fun as hell to play in. My first impressions were that it is deserving of an 8 or so, but after properly dueling in it I’m inclined to boost that up to an 8.5-8.7 range because of the playability of the level.

Games: Alive Sky-High

This level is substantially bigger than the former so I ran a 2vs2 in it instead of a duel. First impressions are that this is more of a party-based level than one for serious matches for a number of reasons. Although the level is fairly large, the bases are located a very short distance apart from each other. The powerups, shield and also the full energy on the other hand is located on the outside perimiter of the level, meaning that you are basically helpless to defend the base while you are collecting powerups/health. I’ve seen my team member score 3 flags in a row because all of red team was on the outer rim of the level and couldn’t get back in time :P.
Also, the carrot placement I find kind of strange. The Full NRG is easily campable and is kind of awkwardly placed, imo. I’m assuming its there to counter-balance the seeker powerup but the entire area it is in is just a bit strange. The tileset choice is interesting, and very quirky with some quirky eyecandy and a quirky theme. Can’t say I love/hate it like some of the other reviewers but it’s definitely interesting in the fact that its strange and different. I’m not sure what to rate this level, its not bad in larger servers but I would definitely never play a duel or even a team game in this that would be taken seriously. This would probably score around a 7 if I were to critique it as a serious, balanced map meant for 2vs2s or larger.

Finally, I just wanna say that despite of what my comments may sound like I did have fun playing both of these levels, especially Tyuka’s Realm Forsaken, and would certainly rather see them hosted instead of all the overhosted crap like semi etc. that people just play over and over. I really hope you do decide to make more levels in the future as well, FS.

-Blacky

Review by Blackraptor

Posted:
21 Apr 2011, 18:30
For: Rage of Aquarius
Level rating: 8.9
Rating
N/A

woah, i know i said i was finished with JCS but this tileset is actually weird enough for me to consider using O_o

RecommendedReview by Blackraptor

Posted:
5 Apr 2011, 23:31
For: Conflux
Level rating: 8.3
Rating
8.4

I was able to play this online with a couple of people, and although i think this level is more suited for large servers i did get a fair idea of how the level plays.

First of all, the level design mixes several different themes together, made possibly by Spotty’s Foomerge tileset edit (which I myself used, although it was a heavily edited edit of that edit cough :P, in phantasmagoria). All these themes (or as SJ describes them – “elements”) combine within the level to create a unique and interesting design. If I could summarize the eyecandy style here in one word, it would have to be chaotic. A great attention is paid to detail here, and no area of the level looks dull or bland, but sometimes the mix of seemingly unassosciated tiles together in such a small space can be a little bit disorienting, especially the background layer eyecandy. That being said, I liked that the eyecandy was kept out of the way for the most part, and besides the disorientation from the style itself, it did not interfere with the gameplay of the level. Also, going back to the style of the detail here, I think the way the appearance was designed, as a blend of everything with the castle area in the middle, gives the level a unique personality (for lack of a better word) and I liked it. Although, it could take some time to get used to.

As far as the layout and gameplay of the level go, I mentioned before I think it is better suited for larger amounts of players, like team matches or ffa games. Tho the level doesn’t look very big, the amount of passages in the layout and the presence of water here means it can be kinda hard to find your kill, even in a 2vs2 game. Also, i counted 5 carrots here (tho I could be wrong?) which is a lot, and means you probably shouldnt be playing duels here, even if one of the carrots is hidden and the other seems like it could only be gotten with a copter. There are also a few warps scattered throughout the level, which make getting from one side to the other fairly easy. It also made it a lot harder to stalk others in this level, because I couldn’t be sure where they were going, and it was already hard enough to find them in the first place. I’m not a big fan of using water in levels that don’t look like they would naturally contain it, but it was used here in an interesting gimmick with the bouncer powerup requiring a sugar rush, and used in combination with a fire shield placed in the level. The strategy involved in choosing when and where to use the shield, and the option of obtaining it through the use of the #2 powerup for a longer timespan, makes the water here serve a purpose (as well as the food scattered about), which is fine.

In terms of ammo, I found myself mostly using the RF powerup for long hallways or seekers for the vertical/water areas of the level. Bouncers were also very useful, but it took time and careful planning to get the 100 food required to obtain them, so they couldn’t be depended on for the entire match. There is also a #6, #1 and #8 powerup, and some fastfires. They tend to be scattered towards the top of the level (besides the bouncer), which I guess is meant to counterbalance the shield being at the bottom-center of the map. TBH, I mightve placed the blaster a bit lower down, since its about a second and a half away from the RF, but generally I think everything is spread out nicely. I mentioned this already, but I like how the food placement here serves a purpose, beyond just a sugar rush. The water and the option of obtaining a powerup and a longer shield time really make the food a lot more deadly than it usually is (although i still doubt it will play any significant factor in determining the outcome of a match, but w/e :P).

The music also fits perfectly, although it reminds me more of a sci-fi show than the HoMM series here, for some reason.

Overall, I have a tough time rating this, because its meant for large games and I could only play this with 3 people today, but I’d definately like to see this in the Anniversarry Bash this year. The interesting gimmicks, plus the unique design style and theming, and generally solid level design in general, means this is a level you shouldn’t miss out on, and that you’ll probably see hosted in public servers in the future. I’m giving this an 8.4 for now, although that may change after I get to properly play this as it was intended (8-32 people).

~Blacky

RecommendedReview by Blackraptor

Posted:
4 Apr 2011, 14:45
For: One Starry Night
Level rating: 7.5
Rating
7.3

Reviewing this as part of the review exchange thread on the forums, so here goes.

One Starry Night by PT32

Basically, according to the description and what the author has wrote in the readme, this pack features a concept that blends the level design styles of jj1 and its sequel counterpart. I haven’t touched JJ1 in a long while, but i’ve played through it and more or less remember a general picture of what the levels looked like, especially the first 3 planets. However, this pack draws from Holiday Hare, namely the first one featuring Holidaeus. I’m going to review these levels as a whole instead of individually, since this is a pack and I think it is more fitting that way. Also, for like the first time i decided to use jazz for the playthrough.

What i liked about these levels is the difficulty level was excellent, the design was solid in the fact that it was consistent and i didnt encounter any bugs, and that the levels delivered on its intentions made in the description of the pack, although since i dont recall the original holiday hare levels well i cant judge on the extent this element has been reinterpreted here. However, as much as I loved JJ1 I have to say that a lot of the elements that were present in its level design feel very dated, especially using the engine of its sequel. This extends to the levels themselves to a degree. That being said, I still found them enjoyable to play for some old fashioned and straightforward single player action. I’m kind of torn on the rating though, but generally around 7-7.5 seems fair. Download reccomended, since I think this deserves more attention than it currently has.

RecommendedReview by Blackraptor

Posted:
27 Feb 2011, 14:05
For: Cave 2
Level rating: 8.1
Rating
8.2

I had 20 minutes to kill so I decided to play this, since the preview of the level interested me. Interesting and original use of the swamps tileset (though this style has been done before) and I liked the eyecandy and cave-like atmosphere; it was a refreshing change from the typical swamps level. Also this was challenging to play (I wouldve got a gameover if you didn’t hide all those extra lives here) though i thought some of the enemy placement was kind of cheap. However, the ammo placed throughout made this a lot easier (seeker/toaster ftw), though unless you are really skilled at this game you’ll probably find that instead of using any strategy, just spamming seekers everywhere is the best way to go. Save points were generously placed here, but i think they were needed since the combination of hard to hit enemies and death pits would get frustrating otherwise. I also really liked the boss battle here. Not much else to say really, good eyecandy/innovation, ok placement of pickups, good level of difficulty and fun to play = 8+ and a download reccomendation.

-blacky

RecommendedReview by Blackraptor

Posted:
25 Jan 2011, 08:51
For: RaneforusV
Level rating: 9.3
Rating
9.4

I’m a bit behind with the rating, but i’ve lately revisited this and tbh there’s really not much more you can ask for from a conversion. I wasn’t overly fond of Raneforus in JJ1 either, but the work done to it here (esp. the past/present versions, which is a neat idea for a theme) is not only beautiful to look at but also does a great deal for the usability and possibilities of the tileset.

I was kind of planning on ending the review there, but it looks like it fell just outside the scope of a quick review so i will go into a bit more detail and mention some things i was gonna leave out.

The reason i’m giving this a rating of 9+, which I think is quite high given that most of the graphics weren’t made by the author, is easy to explain. Most tileset conversions, even sets from JJ1, need a fair bit of of tweaking done before being ‘complete’ for JJ2 and ready to design a solid level with. Whether this requires the addition of useful tiles such as poles or destruct blocks or whatever, or going a bit beyond by providing extra detail or editing the palette, these elements have been generally present in conversions to make them more usable. It takes a certain amount of work, especially when the original set is very lacking by itself. The tiles added here may be taken from other sources, but they go a long way in not only enforcing the theme of the set, but increasing the variety of Raneforus exponentially.The execution here was almost flawless (tho i kinda agree with lrk the theming in the future version does clash a bit).

I hope the versatility and variety you’ve added to this tileset will make people consider using Raneforus in the future, it looks like some very nice work can be done with this. Excellent job.

RecommendedQuick Review by Blackraptor

Posted:
21 Jan 2011, 10:34
For: Dream Stage
Level rating: 8.9
Rating
8.7

I saw this hosted a couple of times and was almost overwhelmed by the visuals and atmosphere present here. The level is also solid to play, but the graphics is where it really stands out. D/L recommended.

RecommendedQuick Review by Blackraptor

Posted:
17 Dec 2010, 07:48
For: Light Switch
Level rating: 8.7
Rating
8.4

Interesting level based around a pretty cool concept. Fairly standard otherwise, but still solid. Bonus points for using the music I made.

RecommendedQuick Review by Blackraptor

Posted:
4 Sep 2010, 23:35
For: Foreign Country
Level rating: 8.2
Rating
8.5

played this the other day and man was it nostalgic to see this set. this level looks beautiful and is also layed out nicely and plays fairly well. also, i’m pretty surprised how well the rayman graphics still look and the level did a great job of showing that

Review by Blackraptor

Posted:
27 Jul 2010, 18:02 (edited 28 Jul 10, 01:18)
For: Psychedelic Experience
Level rating: 8.7
Rating
N/A

You have to either download the music yourself (1200 Micrograms – Magic Mushrooms) or ask me in a PM and I will send it to you. J2O unfortunately doesnt allow me to link to it…

I dont know why you are getting amnesia errors if you run the level with JJ2+, try closing other processes that are running?

edit: oh, and playing in easy mode gives you another chance if you fall into a pit. just thought i should point that out…

RecommendedQuick Review by Blackraptor

Posted:
26 May 2010, 11:03
For: Another Dimension
Level rating: 8.2
Rating
6.8

An alright way to kill some time, the levels are more or less decent tho very outdated, and feature some interesting ideas and design. The overabundance of food and powerups makes this pack way too easy.

RecommendedQuick Review by Blackraptor

Posted:
20 Jan 2010, 21:52
For: Episode Five: The Fortress of Ruin
Level rating: 9.8
Rating
9.7

Probably among the very best packs uploaded to this site. There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said, although I still think the difficulty level of these levels is insane. A fitting end to a pretty remarkable series of episodes.

RecommendedQuick Review by Blackraptor

Posted:
20 Jan 2010, 21:40
For: Tomb Rabbit 2 Unfinished
Level rating: 9.4
Rating
9.5

Yeah the pack might be unfinished, and most of the levels are pretty standard on their own, but as a whole this pack is fun as hell to play. It’s got this oldskool platformer feeling and the design is executed brilliantly. It’s a shame that only a few levels are finished, as it makes you wonder how awesome the rest of the pack would’ve been.

Review by Blackraptor

Posted:
13 Jan 2010, 21:07 (edited 13 Jan 10, 21:57)
For: Dreamscape
Level rating: 9.5
Rating
N/A

dude all the levels in the pack are finished, you dont have to use ANY cheats to beat the levels :P (unless maybe youre playing as lori, and in that case i dont really care) i just didnt feel like feel like doing the rest of the levels like i planned in the story since i have no interest in this game anymore

i never had any bugs when playing through these (esp. ones that crashed my game) so its prob a problem with your game, but if you find something specific let me know i guess and i’ll get around to fixing it…

also, i know the levels can get frustratingly hard sometimes. i didnt make this with the intention that the people who play this, beat it in one sitting. try focusing on beating a few levels at a time, its much more rewarding imo :)

-blacky

Review by Blackraptor

Posted:
23 Jan 2009, 09:04
For: Battleship?!?
Level rating: 8.2
Rating
7.0

So I had nothing to do late tonight and decided to play this while listening to some music.

…10 minutes later, I was back to where I started.

This level is pretty small, and there’s not much to do here. I liked the layout, tho it needs to be expanded on a much larger scale. There’s some pretty cool secrets here and it was entertaining throughout the extremely short time it lasted.

The eyecandy is oldschool, and uses the basics of Windstorm Fortress. Nothing here was too outstanding but it was all more or less solid in its own way.

The regenerating floating lizards got very annoying at the end, but regardless the level was very easy to beat despite rushing through it, and as a standalone it offers very little effort and challenge to get through imo.

However, nothing was particularly bad here and overall this is a pretty solid level that can provide some entertainment, at least for a short while.

-br

RecommendedReview by Blackraptor

Posted:
23 Jan 2009, 00:17
For: Surreal Landscapes
Level rating: 8.1
Rating
8.0

A solid level with good eyecandy that brings back a sort of nostalgic feeling. Incidentally, this level is the reason I recognized the Xargon conversion and inspired me to build a level with it, as it successfully blends several different landscapes together in a way that doesn’t seem forced.

The vertical approach resulting from the steep hills made maneuvering annoying at times, but that’s the only complaint I can put against this level.

Besides that, this is an enjoyable level that should’ve been released years ago. Download recommended, although i’m guessing most people, one way or another, already have this.

-br

RecommendedReview by Blackraptor

Posted:
15 Apr 2007, 23:06
For: The Froggy Quest (v.2)
Level rating: 8.8
Rating
7.5

I got bored and decided to review something. So here goes.

“The Froggy Quest” is an interesting little pack based around a rather simple story of rescuing a frog and stopping an evil plot. The majority of the levels (or virtually all of them discluding the cutscenes) are based in various edits of the castle tileset, and are all rather similar.

A prevaling annoyance in the pack was the narrowness of the levels. They’re built on a very small scale and there’s hardly enough room to move around in some areas. The crowded appearance does no benefit to the eyecandy either, and makes the levels look really weird. This lightens up a notch in the latter levels, but is still an issue found throughout the pack. Placing springs amplifies the problem, because it looks really awkward when there is a spring placed 3 tiles under a ceiling with some ammo under it. Surely jazz can manage to jump 3 whole tiles by himself.

The difficulty was at first mediocre. There were too many carrots and the main source of damage were annoyingly placed bats (which camouflaged with some of the tilesets). Later on the enemy variety slightly increases, and there is a lot more emphasis on platforms, spikes, and spike balls. On the whole I’d say the difficulty was alright (starting out very easy, then getting challenging), but the carrots could have been toned down a bit.

I have mixed feelings about the eyecandy. As I said before, the crowded feeling of some levels does no help to the eyecandy, and more layer 3/foreground eyecandy could definately have been used to improve the grading. Some areas looked rather creative, but others gave off a feeling of amateurness. All this balances out to average. Hooray.

The levels use some interesting gimmicks, but many of them are reused way too many times. I’ve lost track on how many times I’ve had to push a crate to some TNT, or navigate platforms and avoid the spike pits (and spike bolls) beneath. However, there were some unique and interesting parts, and playing as a frog was nice. I also liked the structure of several levels (minus the ridiculously small scale). Some levels could have been longer though, and perhaps the scope of the pack could have expanded beyond the castle areas.

Overall, this was a short pack with some nice ideas incorporated into it. However, many things could have been touched up and nothing in particular stands out a great deal. It was enjoyable enough and didn’t stall long enough to get boring, but more variety could have been introduced. I don’t particularly agree with the high rating it currently has, although it was fun to play when bored, which is why I am reccomending it for download.

~Blacky

RecommendedReview by Blackraptor

Posted:
30 Mar 2007, 04:03
For: Episode Three: The Battle for Carrotus
Level rating: 9.6
Rating
9.3

Hmm. This gets finished right when I’m not around to see it ;P.

Anyways, a lot of the important stuff has already been stated. This is heavily story based, so the majority of the levels are short cutscenes (which actually contain a lot of innovation and are quite interesting). This is great from a storyline perspective, but means that there’s less actual levels to play (although I should confess that I actually enjoyed finding out what the other rabbits said about me in the orbital base scenes). The levels themselves are also not as long as the levels in the previous packs (Deserto Orbital Base can basically eat all these levels and still have room for dinner) so the amount of time it takes to play through this is significantly shorter than the other packs. However, the levels themselves are very enjoyable and well constructed, and full of interesting ideas.

One thing that particularly pleased me in this pack was the focus of creativity being more on the events then the eyecandy or other miscellanea. It was very refreshing to play through a level full of creative obstacles then a level that the creator spent all their time on making it pretty. In terms of the actual gameplay content this pack contained virtually everything a good platform game should have, and is a refreshing and welcome change from generic heavily detailed levels. The difficulty was also perfect (I played on normal mode, at least). I found myself dying a handful of times, yet during no point of the actual experience did I feel frustrated enough by an obstacle to cheat, and carrots and savepoints were placed in the right locations. In general, there was a lot of innovation in this pack, which played a key part in making this pack stand well out from the crowd.

The eyecandy looked good enough, but it did clearly take a back seat while the gameplay and eventing took the lead role. There was also not as much variety due to setting this pack takes place in (although this isn’t as severe as Invasion of Deserto), but the levels themselves engaged you well enough that this did not turn out to be a problem at all.

I would not say that any of these levels completely stands out from the others (although SWS Fencer was probably the longest and Holographic Training was quite an experience itself), which is alright, but the pack could have used the inclusion of some monumental work (perhaps a large level taking place during a large battle between Carrotus and Shellion warships?) especially since it’s not too long content wise. An important (relevant) boss battle could have also been added to symbolize a climax of the episode (EP1 had the rocket turtle threatening to demolish a large city, EP2 had the return of devan) however the episode flows together well enough as it is. Some levels also seem shorter then they should be, namely SWS Anapsid.

To conclude the review, I really did enjoy playing through these levels. They were designed very well and incorporated various elements that made them special and enjoyable. There is a lot of innovation involved in everything here, ranging from the levels to the interestingly made cutscenes to the very interesting tileset. Mike certainly did take advantage of a lot of features of JCS and this episode effectively demonstrates why it is essential to pay attention to innovation in eventing and gameplay and not just stack truckloads of eyecandy in every layer. This also makes good use of cutscenes and hopefully will set an example for future plot-guided packs to follow.

I’m giving this a 9.3. This pack contains a lot of creativity, solid level construction, enjoyable obstacles, and a good story to back it all up. One wishes it could have maybe been slightly longer or more climatic, though.

There’s really no reason that you shouldn’t download and play this.

~Blackraptor

RecommendedReview by Blackraptor

Posted:
3 Jan 2007, 23:27 (edited 3 Jan 07, 23:27)
For: Damn + v1.2
Level rating: 8.3
Rating
7.5

How does this get rated higher then virtually every tileset (read: TILESET, meaning something actually DRAWN by the author instead of ripped tiles/palette changes) when the author hardly drew anything at all here?

Anyways, the tiles have been reorganized here quite a bit. I never really had too much of a problem with the original layout of damn, but a lot of things (such as slopes) are grouped together for convenience. Others, like the dead tree thing and the bridge are scrambled up and were easier to use in the original :/. There’s also a lot of free tiles left in various places, which could’ve been filled in with something. You also removed some tiles (a version of the sideways spikes), which you shouldn’t be doing when you’re making improved versions of tilesets unless you’re low on room or something, which you’re not.

A noticable amount of tiles were added (such as a warpable backround, gargoyles, and the inferno bg tree), however pretty much all of them were ripped from one place or another (some from even non-custom sets like the cave tiles p4ul made for inferno2.0). Useful tiles such as a larger variety of destructable blocks, upside down poles, hooks and rain were also copied in from one place or another.

Masking in the set was also improved, which is nice. Vines are now usable in damn and a few things are smoother. I don’t know why you kept the backround (both the original and the warpable) completely masked though, but whatever.

There’s quite a bit of palette versions here. They look good for the most part, but the Dark edit might be a bit too dark and the forest version hurts my eyes a bit (why do you need a forest version for damn nation…?). The hot version looks awesome, though.

Overall, this is an improvement on the original. However, a 9.5? The author hardly drew anything in this set, just copied and moved around some tiles, and this is rated around the same as things like Swamps and Egypt? I do like this, and I am planning on eventually using it, but I do think it’s horribly overrated.

Nevertheless, it’s still a good edit, and I’ve seen some nice levels with it already. Download reccomended.

~Blacky

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