RecommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
13 Aug 2018, 23:15 (edited 13 Aug 18, 23:32)
For: What in the blazes?
Level rating: 8.0
Rating
8.0

The temperature gimmick in this level is great and works really well – you need to stay out of the sun which necessitates some strategic movement but at the same time it’s not so unforgiving that it becomes a nuisance.

The rest of the level is a little bland, though it looks atmospheric enough. The dragonflies got a little old after a while because there are so many of them – more variety in the enemies department would’ve been an improvement. They’re also a little too easy to shoot with mouse aiming… honestly I think difficulty-wise turning it off would be better. There’s also a Bubba miniboss which was fine, and a final boss consisting of four Bilsies. Bilsy is never a good time but this version of him is passable, once you figure out you need mouse aim to kill him.

Honestly the main issue is that it’s so short – I’d have enjoyed more of this! The level feels like an intro level (minus the bosses) and I think you could build something bigger out of this that’d be even more fun.

RecommendedQuick Review by Stijn

Posted:
13 Aug 2018, 22:59
For: EmeraldusV
Level rating: 8.9
Rating
9.0

Excellent level and tileset. The whole thing looks beautiful and is challenging without being too difficult. The lavish eyecandy is a little confusing in the beginning but gets better after that. Most importantly, it’s a lot of fun to play and has some really good and surprising scripted features that add to the level without being a distraction.

RecommendedQuick Review by Stijn

Posted:
13 Aug 2018, 22:32
For: Psychomondus
Level rating: 8.5
Rating
7.5

Large level with lots of things to do and some interesting scripted features. What took away a lot of the fun was that enemies (some of which are quite difficult) respawn. This would be okay if it only happened after moving away but they can respawn right where you’re standing now which feels unfair. Otherwise, a fun and innovative level.

Review by Stijn

Posted:
13 Aug 2018, 22:14
For: Summer Madness
Level rating: 5.7
Rating
5.5

This is not a great level, but it has something of an early 2000s aesthetic, which I found enjoyable nonetheless. With that I mean that it feels like a level where the author was learning as they went, throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks, with things like a “candy pool” that are mostly useless but add a little flavour, or unashamedly giving you all powerups just before the final boss fight.

Those are not necessarily good choices – the boss fight is really easy with full ammo, for example, but it hits that sweet spot for me. I realize that my preferences are particular in that regard though, and from a more objective point of view the level just isn’t that good. Most enemies can be avoided by jumping over them, some obstacles (e.g. the red clouds) can similarly be avoided by simply letting yourself fall down, and there’s a scarcity of ammo in the first part of the level that is only made up just before the boss. The level looks okay but could have used a few more background layers and more varied platform shapes.

So in that sense it’s a rather mediocre level, and if you don’t have a fondness for lo-fi, retro-style levels I wouldn’t necessarily recommend playing this. But it’s clear that the author had some ideas and wasn’t afraid to experiment with them, which is great and bodes well for future levels.

RecommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
31 Dec 2017, 14:38
For: Holiday Hare '17
Level rating: 8.8
Rating
8.7

The fact that this project was finished at all, in 2017, only a little over its deadline, is a cause for celebration – earlier collaborative projects have usually ended in difficulties or run into multi-year delays, and this was basically thought up and finished in less than two months. So, well done to the authors on that basis alone.

But is it any good? Yes, it is – the levels are fun to play, have exciting custom enemies and pickups in them and especially the later levels display some beautiful script-based visual effects as well.

That said, the quality is a little uneven, which was always going to be the case with 7 different authors and little time to forge the separate levels into one unified episode. Blackraptor’s and PurpleJazz’s levels are sprawling, scripted affairs while Jelly Jam’s, Primpy’s, Slaz’s and Shadow’s levels are more in the spirit of the Epic MegaGames school of design and consequently a little less exciting, though still mostly pretty good. Cooba’s sits in the middle of these with some light scripting to spice things up.

I think this is actually one of the strengths of the episode, as it keeps things varied, and the difficulty curve is mostly a steady climb from the early, relatively middle-of-the-road levels to the later ones that have new challenges and gameplay concepts (though Shadow’s is a return to the norm). One constant factor are the winter-themed enemies, which are mostly souped-up versions of vanilla enemies such as fencers and doggy dogs. These were great, presenting somewhat more of a challenge than their vanilla counterparts without becoming too difficult (I played on easy). Then there were the Christmas presents, a new type of crates that only break when falling on the ground. These afforded some mini-puzzles where you have to figure out how to get them to fall down, which was also a fun diversion. And there’s also the boss fight at the end – I personally never really care for boss fights, but this one seems well done and wasn’t as unfairly hard as custom bosses often are.

One recurring problem is a lack of signposting. The most egregious example is probably the already infamous tunnel in Blackraptor’s level, which was unclear enough that it necessitated a step-by-step guide (see PJ’s comment). But Slaz’s level also had some annoyingly hidden warps. This kind of problem is often solved by playtesters identifying the issue, something there was probably no time for in this case. So it’s an understandable issue, but annoying nonetheless, and I had to skip part of Blackraptor’s level because I just couldn’t figure out how to continue.

So all in all, this is a varied, enjoyable episode that’s slightly hampered by its lack of testing, but a lot of fun to play anyway. Without discussing every level in detail, I can say that there’s something in here for everyone – even if you don’t enjoy single player usually, you’ll enjoy checking out the new concepts and enemies this episode brings to the table. So click that download button, you won’t regret it.

RecommendedQuick Review by Stijn

Posted:
26 Dec 2017, 18:01 (edited 26 Dec 17, 18:02)
For: Jazz Graphics Pack
Level rating: 8.0
Rating
8.0

I’ve never actually needed to use any of the tools included with this, but the information on JJ1’s file formats alone is invaluable – this is an essential collection of files if you want to do anything with JJ1 that’s not playing it or creating new levels (and even then it might still be useful)

RecommendedQuick Review by Stijn

Posted:
12 Dec 2017, 03:45
For: ELEKTREK PYRAMID
Level rating: 8.5
Rating
8.5

An enjoyable level. The layout isn’t very special but it looks nice, and has a few scripted weapons that make for fun games. Maybe not suitable for duels or serious games, but definitely a good choice for a public server or a JDC event.

RecommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
2 Sep 2017, 15:47 (edited 3 Sep 17, 10:51)
For: Kangaroo
Level rating: 9.0
Rating
8.5

This is very nice. The small kangaroos are like a souped-up version of the Fencers, swapping that enemy’s defensive parries with offensive jumps that go surprisingly high and far. They’re not impossible to avoid, but will certainly present a greater challenge than most vanilla enemies, which is a point in their favour as far as I’m concerned. One complaint I do have is that whereas all original enemies have a simple looping idle animation, these kangaroos stand completely still while not attacking. Which is fair enough, as animations are a lot of work, but it does look a bit strange and makes it obvious that these are imported rather than vanilla enemies.

The boss is a bigger and badder version of the small kangaroos, adding extensible boxing gloves to simply jumping at you to attack. The boxing gloves are a nice idea but perhaps a little too hard to avoid, reaching high enough that they’re very hard to not touch even when double-jumping over the kangaroo. This would perhaps be worth balancing a bit more.

But overall this is a very useful addition to the game, giving single player level makers more tools to work with and adding some variety to JJ2’s by now stale palette of enemies.

RecommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
21 Apr 2017, 14:10 (edited 21 Apr 17, 15:44)
For: Skyward Showdown
Level rating: 9.1
Rating
9.0

The level itself is good, layout-wise nothing very much out of the ordinary but quite solid, reminiscent of larger symmetrical levels like Medieval Skyscrapers with a few twists of its own like the pits at the bottom and the shields. Visually it’s a bit uneven; the background looks amazing and much of the rest too but the floating space ships (?) in the middle look less appealing.

The big gimmick of this level is obviously its superweapon, the Redeemer; a remote-controlled high-damage missile of which both teams get one and that respawns very slowly. It’s hard to say what its impact in a “serious” game can be as it is something you’d need to build new strategies around – my hunch is that it may be a bit too hard to outrun for how easy it is to control but maybe a skilled player will be able to deal with it more effectively, especially given the protection shields give. Either way it’s an addition that will make this level a lot of fun to play in JDC events and the like; it’s big enough for large teams and the redeemer adds a fun dimension to any game played in the level, though for extra mayhem you may want to make it spawn more often.

Worth checking out at least for the Redeemer, and also because it’s just a solid CTF level. Great work!

Review by Stijn

Posted:
27 Aug 2015, 22:16
For: The Antidote
Level rating: 7.3
Rating
6.5

This pack was okay. The premise of “an old school single player levelpack” is delivered well; everything is fairly “old school”, from the level design to the excuse plot to the music list.

The levels are mostly good old platforming with some trigger crate puzzles mixed in. Lots. Of. Trigger. Crates. Trigger puzzles can be okay and they’re pulled off well in a few situations in this pack but after the 5th or so crate exhaustion usually sets in and in these levels you’re at about the quarter-through point then. It’s not the biggest of problems, but it does make you wonder whether maybe leaving behind the old skool style and going for some more innovative puzzles instead might’ve been a good idea.

Perhaps repetition is this episode’s problem in a more general sense too; I found myself thinking of TSF’s Easter levels a few times, and then especially of those sections where you had to jump up a copypasted set of platforms that seemed to serve no other purpose than to make the level feel bigger. Now I’m not saying that’s what happened here, but things did feel a bit samey every now and then. It’s all perfectly serviceable, but not necessarily fun.

On the other hand there were many more enjoyable segments as well, with small detours that lead to bonuses and a lot of secrets. These did result in me having multiple powerups (including the Blaster powerup) halfway through though, which made the subsequent levels a lot less challenging than they would’ve been with sparser ammo. A more balanced distribution of weapons would’ve been better, though there’s few things as satisfying as having a fully powered-up blaster and running through the levels destroying everything in your path.

When it comes to visuals IJskonijn is an alumnus of the Spy school of design, where every layer is layer 4. Especially in the Jungle levels things look appealing at first sight but once you start moving everything becomes super confusing as platforms are used both as tangible objects and background scenery. This makes it quite difficult to see what parts of the level you can actually stand on. The other levels are a bit better in this regard, though some parts go off the other end of the scale and look fairly bland, with repeating patterns, and little eyecandy. A bit less of both (and fewer tile bugs) would’ve made for a nicer middle ground, but except for the more egregious parts the levels do look quite decent overall.

So what to make of this pack overall? As I said, it’s okay. It’s not bad by any means, and it’s an adequate diversion, but there was no moment during playing that I thought “wow, this is really cool” or anything like it. Good to download if you’re into single player and out of levels to play, but nothing out of the ordinary.

RecommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
5 Jan 2015, 02:32 (edited 5 Jan 15, 02:33)
For: Damn Exit
Level rating: 8.7
Rating
8.0

This level is easily recognizable as made by FireSword: lavish eyecandy, heavy on the conceptual side and with some interesting scripted effects. I found that it played fairly well, with a lot of fighting occuring in the lower corridors. On the one hand this was great, but due to the flatness of the level’s bottom area it was also easy for everyone to just run back and forth shooting with their blaster with no one really getting the chance to grab the dropped gems because everyone was constantly blinking.

There’s plenty of room to move around the rest of the level though, so if the fighting at the bottom gets too intense it’s always possible to roam around looking for potshots and gems people haven’t taken yet. There’s a fair amount of gems in the level and there’s a lot of useful ammo in the upper parts of the level as well which keeps things dynamic. The ammo selection is standard but seekers are relatively sparse but also really useful in the vertical parts of the level which makes them all the more desirable.

The level-ending warp is through a scripted portal in the middle of the level that looks rather spectacular, and puts you in a separate area where not much happens if you don’t have enough gems – in which case you just jump down back into the fight. The portal looks great and somehow even attracts players when they don’t have enough gems. The rest of the level is heavily decorated as well and makes ample use of Castle’s slides, which didn’t look that great, in my opinion; a matter of taste maybe, but I didn’t care much for it. There’s a couple of other areas which looked like tilebugs but might have been meant to look like that, knowing FireSword’s style. I guess I prefer a less experimental style.

Finally, the secret mentioned in the description involves walljumping for a bonus of 100 gems. I think it’s a really bad idea, games where people know of the secret will become “who will get there first” races instead of actual treasure hunts. Secrets are cool, but this one is a bit too big.

It’s things like that – the imbalanced secret, the somewhat-too-avant-garde eyecandy – that don’t really endear me to the level. It’s not bad by any means and will make for good games – and it has that spectacular portal – but there are better levels out there, and in this contest.

RecommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
5 Jan 2015, 02:15 (edited 5 Jan 15, 02:16)
For: Overgrown
Level rating: 9.3
Rating
9.0

Great level, probably my favourite out of all contest entries.

There’s very little to criticize. The level is small and contains a good amount of gems and quite a bit of ammo too, which makes for action-packed games. There’s a clear division between the upper and lower half of the level, with the lower half seeing most of the action when I played it – this of course in part because it’s hard to dodge shots in water, and also because there’s a good amount of gems and ammo to be found.

The top of the level is easy to navigate and contains several pinball paddles which makes it possible to jump huge distances and be very mobile in general. If you’ve got about 6 players (as recommended by the author) games in this level become chaotic, full of action and a lot of fun.

The level looks great, too. Especially the upper half is well-decorated, with the eyecandy never going overboard but still making everything look great. The music fits the tileset and feel of the level really well and is a good choice here. My only criticism on this part would be that the bottom (underwater) area looks comparatively dull. This creates a good contrast between the upper and lower half, but some more decoration would perhaps have been nice.

Overall this is an excellent level that’s among the best Treasure levels out there and I’d certainly recommend hosting it whenever you’re running the game mode on your server.

Not recommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
5 Jan 2015, 02:09 (edited 5 Jan 15, 02:35)
For: Treasure Jail
Level rating: 6.6
Rating
5.5

AngelScript! Woo!

This level is huge, open, and without much of a flow – that is, there’s no obvious paths to take. You kind of just run around and jump from platform to platform (which is hell if you aren’t Spaz, by the way) and hope you bump into gems or other players. Complicating things is the pit at the bottom of the level, which luckily has a big gem-saving script attached to it (I wonder why you didn’t just use warps) so you don’t lose your gems upon dying.

Gems that fall down or towards the level’s side edges because people get shot will still be lost however, which is a major problem as the game goes on and may eventually make the game unwinnable. This is a serious problem that really should’ve been fixed.

Another scripted feature of the level is your blaster, which has only 25 bullets and needs reloading when these are depleted. Reloading requires standing still and waiting while your ammo count slowly increases. This is a nice idea that could work really well in treasure hunt (where you really don’t want to stand still). However 25 bullets is perhaps a bit too few and the short range of the blaster means that it becomes really hard to actually hit other people before you run out of bullets. It’s also impossible to reload while your ammo count is above zero. This often makes it smarter to just jump in the pit and get free bullets rather than waiting for the reload to finish.

Overall an okay-ish level with some innovative ideas, but it really could’ve used some more testing and thinking about the gameplay impact of the scripted features. A shame they weren’t implemented better, or this could’ve been a really interesting level.

RecommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
5 Jan 2015, 02:02
For: Vault of Ceramicus
Level rating: 7.7
Rating
7.7

I played this online today. It’s a nice level, but it’s so big! You’d need a lot of players to make this play well, as we were with about 6 people and I often went for minutes at a time without really interacting with other players.

The level looks really nice, though it’s a bit “bumpy” in its design – you don’t necessarily get stuck, but you’ll be jumping rather than running most of the time. This is of course in part due to the level’s vertical layout. On the one hand the many obstacles and the vertical gameplay make it hard to get away from others, on the other hand they also make it hard to actually shoot someone. The inclusion of TNT is a nice touch that has the opportunity to mitigate this.

As for the gems, I think the amount is just about right for the gem limit of 150 or more we played with. Things tended to get a bit eventless in the later stages of the game as most gems were gone from the level and people were hard to find due to the level’s size, but that might be different with larger numbers of players.

All in all a good level, but it’s kind of stuck in the “big JDC event levels” niche. Taking on a level of this size is commendable, but for casual treasure servers a smaller level would probably work better.

Not recommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
4 Jan 2015, 16:53
For: Labrat Planet
Level rating: 5.5
Rating
5.5

A large pack usually calls for a large review, but there isn’t anything especially interesting to say of this pack unfortunately. It’s not that it’s bad – it isn’t – but it’s jut a bit …generic. All levels are more or less the same: large, sparse eyecandy, LOTS of enemies, little challenge beyond avoiding the enemies.

Which isn’t especially hard either with Spaz’s karate kick, but many enemies respawn quickly and there are some parts where you have to avoid warps or time your jumps well. As such it happens that you’ve just cleared a platform and are then hurt or killed by an army of baddies spawning right on top of you. Not exactly ideal, but on the other hand they’re mostly placed on flat platforms with lots of space above them so in many cases the best solution is to simply jump over them.

As said, there’s nothing wrong with these levels – they’re just not very interesting to play. Some more variety would’ve done wonders – different tilesets, more puzzles, enemies placed in such a way that they’re harder to avoid. And maybe don’t set the “next level” setting of each level to “Data.j2d” ;)

Not recommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
4 Jan 2015, 16:35 (edited 4 Jan 15, 16:36)
For: Diamondus Boss
Level rating: 4.9
Rating
4.0

Well, I’ve seen worse first levels, but this still isn’t all that interesting. The idea of making a boss arena isn’t a bad one, and as part of a larger level pack it would’ve been fine, but standalone this isn’t really worth downloading.

The problem with JJ2’s bosses is that they’re all fairly easy (except for Bilsy perhaps). Their AI isn’t good and easy to fool, especially in large areas where the player (who is way faster) can easily jump around and outrun the fumbling bosses. This level is fairly large, and gives the player several powerups. Coupled with Devan’s tedency to get stuck on slopes this makes it easy to pick his first form off from a distance, and simply jump around his immobile second form killing him with potshots here and there.

There is some added difficulty from a respawning bee in the lower right corner of the level, but it’s easy to avoid and therefore not much of a factor. More bees or a smaller areas would’ve made the boss fight a lot harder (though not necessarily more interesting).

The eyecandy is fairly basic, there are no tile bugs and the textured background works, but there’s not much more to see than this bare minimum. If the level is as small as this one, ceretainly it isn’t too difficult to add some more prettiness to it?

All in all not bad for a first level, but at the same time not worth downloading or playing. Keep it up, though! Such a start does hold some promise for what’s to come.

Not recommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
4 Jan 2015, 16:24
For: Halloween Adventure
Level rating: 2.2
Rating
2.0

To be honest, this looks like a typical “my first level” that shouldn’t really have been uploaded here. Everyone starts out like this – trying out various way to build platforms and buildings with tilesets, maybe adding a few enemies to see how they work, no textured background because you don’t know how that works yet.

My first single player level probably looked similar. I’m glad I never uploaded it to this site, because it really wasn’t good, and maybe that should’ve happened to this one too: let it stay on your hard drive, learn from it, play some other highly-rated single player levels, take inspiration from those, and create your next level that is actually fun to play and looks good. Maybe ask a few friends to play the level and tell you what they think, so you can change it based on their feedback and make it better before putting it out there for others to download and review. I’m sure your next levels will be a lot better if you do it like that!

As it is, this one is really not playworthy, though.

RecommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
4 Jan 2015, 16:19
For: Stone Abyss
Level rating: 9.3
Rating
8.0

I like this pack a lot. It’s just three levels with the default tilesets, but they’re big, fun to play and challenging.

The first level is fairly standard, much in the style of the official Castle levels. The tileset edit is nice enough, maybe the contrast is slightly too high but it looks good and adds a slight twist to the level. This goes for all three levels: large, with a nice palette edit and fun to play even though they don’t do anything spectacularly innovative.

All levels are full of secrets and diverging paths, which is great but sometimes a bit confusing: through the pack I got lost a few times looking for an exit in a dead-end area that didn’t actually have one. There’s almost always a way out that is fairly obvious once you finally find it, though.

I don’t really know what else to say; there’s nothing specific that stands out in these levels, but they do make for a good time playing them and finishing them feels rewarding due to the size and amount of secrets Bloody_Body put in them. I definitely recommend downloading this to all single player fans out there.

Review by Stijn

Posted:
4 Jan 2015, 15:41
For: Urdung Levels Castle Chapter
Level rating: 7.2
Rating
7.0

Well, that’s a flashback. The first level of this pack (that contains only text in Hungarian, so if there’s any story I’m afraid I didn’t quite get it) is an actual tutorial, much like the original game’s ‘Rabbit in Training’ level and, I’m afraid to say, equally dull. You can assume that anyone downloading levels from this site knows how the game plays, making tutorial levels fairly superficial.

Anyway, on to the actual levels. The first two are perfectly okay and do reach the goal of a making a “remake” of the original episode: they’re very reminiscent of Epic’s style, but a little bit bigger. The difficulty is also slightly higher and the levels are less linear than the original – that is, they are linear, but you’re getting warped all over the place so it’s hard to get an idea of where you are in the level.

The third level starts with a puzzle area that I didn’t care much for. There’s a lot of “okay, where am I supposed to go now?” which isn’t necessarily bad but since there are respawning enemies in the area you can’t easily jump around trying to find the hidden tunnel or trigger zone, but need to be on your toes not to bump in the same enemy all the time, which makes the whole process fairly tedious. There’s also an area later in the level where you get warped to random places by warps you can’t possible see before running into them, giving the whole puzzle a really random feel which gets annoying fast. The boss fight that follows isn’t much different from the original castle boss fight and as such not very interesting.

Overall a decent episode, but with parts that got annoying/tedious due to overzealous use of respawning enemies and warps. Always make the player feel like they’re the one in control!

Download recommended if you’d like a more challenging interpretation of the original Epic style levels.

Review by Stijn

Posted:
4 Jan 2015, 14:57 (edited 4 Jan 15, 14:57)
For: Flappy Rabbit v2
Level rating: 6.5
Rating
6.5

The title of these levels suggests that the gameplay is inspired by the Flappy Bird games. And indeed the first 10 seconds or so involve the player manoeuvring between pipes like in that game, but fortunately the gameplay similarities end there and the rest of this pack is more of a standard Jazz Jackrabbit 2 single player experience, albeit in levels made with tilesets inspired by Flappy Bird’s graphics.

When I say “standard” I mean to say that the levels play out much like the official Jazz Jackrabbit 2 levels: lots of easily-killed enemies, coin warps, some jumping and trigger puzzles, useless pickups (what have diamonds ever done for me?) and lots of blocks to destroy. It’s good enough in what it does; things never get challenging and level design could’ve been a bit more creative but the levels are perfectly functional as a short casual diversion. The final boss even changes things up a bit by hiding a Schwarzenguard in a giant Flappy Bird which you then have to kill with electroblasters only. It’s things like that that make a level interesting and I’d have liked to have seen a bit more of that kind of creativity.

Sadly there’s not much else of that and coupled with the rather dull tilesets (Flappy Bird doesn’t have much in the way of graphics to steal of course, but that’s not much of an excuse) this pack is fairly forgettable. Not bad by any means, just not very interesting either. But I think with a bit of added creativity Ande300 could certainly make some interesting things in the future.

All in all this is not brilliant, but not bad either. Download if you want to have a bit of casual single player fun, but there are better levels out there.

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