RecommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
23 Sep 2021, 22:54
For: Peoples Chimp pt 2
Level rating: 8.0
Rating
8.0

These two levels are decent fun. No fancy scripts or custom tilesets, but who needs that when you can rely on some oldschool running and gunning? The level design here is mostly ‘classic’ in style, with the twist of the levels being sort of open and non-linear, involving a good amount of back-tracking. That’s always tricky to do, and it’s easy to make a player feel lost when a level isn’t strictly a dash from the far left to the far right side of the map. Admirably, these levels mostly avoid that, somehow always nudging me in the right direction, though I will admit having to double-check every corner a few times. There are also a couple of bugs that can prevent progress, notably a rock falling in the wrong direction in the first level and a falling spring crate missing the ledge it supposedly was meant to land on in the second.

Apart from these issues, the levels are fun though not especially challenging; while the first level occasionally keeps you on your toes with its enemy placement, by the second level you’ll have stocked up on fast-fires and you can mostly just breeze through the enemies. At the end of the levels waits Bubba, who is never a particularly challenging boss. But despite not being a great challenge, the two levels on offer here are quite fun to play, and they’re worth checking out if only as rare succesful examples of levels that aren’t completely linear.

RecommendedQuick Review by Stijn

Posted:
6 Jun 2020, 02:43
For: Faded story -part 1
Level rating: 7.6
Rating
7.5

This is great and I love that it exists. There are flaws, to be sure, and Violet’s review does a good job of pointing them out. But there is a lot in here that is really creative, there is a solid story (by JJ2 standards), the levels are atmospheric, and overall it is challenging (for me) but fun to play. I’m really looking forward to episode 2.

Review by Stijn

Posted:
4 Jun 2020, 16:26
For: JJ2 Missing Tilesets Scanner
Level rating: 7.0
Rating
7.0

The tool, in a nutshell, does what it promises to do, and what it promises to do is useful. So it’s a good tool, and if you would like to ensure the integrity/completeness of your JJ2 folder, this can help you do so.

I think it could go a bit further in offering extra help and doing so would elevate this from ‘it does what it promises’ to ‘this is a really nice tool’. For example:

- Also scan the Cache folder by default, or include it as ‘Additional Folder’ automatically if available in the selected folder, since JJ2 uses that folder as well and in many cases the tileset may be in there even if it is not in the main folder.
- Allow sorting the results by tileset filename
- Perhaps add a link per missing tileset to (for example) Jazz2Online’s search so you can download the missing tileset easily
- Look in the registry to automatically fill in the Jazz Jackrabbit folder as the default setting
- When scanning multiple folders, cross-reference results, so I can see if (for example) a tileset is missing in my 1.23 folder but available in my TSF folder
- Add a button with which one can then move tilesets around so they are available in all folders that need them

Right now the tool offers the base functionality to do what I listed above manually. This is useful, but the tool could also do it for you, and that would make it even better.

Not recommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
26 May 2020, 12:55
For: Brinko Test
Level rating: 6.1
Rating
4.0

Perhaps Dominator was referring to the tileset not being included in the download, because it isn’t. You should include tilesets that don’t come with the game in the zip file you submit to Jazz2Online.

This test is very generic, with the big hits – airboard maze, precise jumps, wallclimbing, RF climbing, you know the drill. It also doesn’t make much of an effort to look nice, and while it is commendable to not use a variation on Top Secret 3 yet again, this level uses Hotel Dream as if it were Top Secret 3, simply using tiles as blocks without any consideration to whether they were meant to be placed together or not. It does, curiously, seem to have a story (here it is in full: “Your Grandmother needs a medicine Go get it to her”) which is a cool twist. Unfortunately not much is done with that, though along the way you will visit a ‘hospital’ to pick up the medicine.

The description says ‘I saw everyone made a test then I said to do one too’ which is not necessarily a bad idea but to a large extent what happened is that the same test that everyone else already made was made again. There’s nothing new here (except for that minimal attempt at a ‘story’) and unless you have made it your life goal to complete every test under the sun there is no reason to play this.

Not recommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
26 May 2020, 12:42
For: Test
Level rating: 2.0
Rating
2.0

Another generic test. Nothing distinguishes it from the gazillion other top secret 3-ish tests and this one’s pretty short to boot with only five tests, all of them seen previously in various incarnations in many many many other test levels. It also makes references to a command (!showwarps) that is presumably implemented with a server mutator, since no level script is included. The utility of uploading this to Jazz2Online is then questionable since apparently it is made to be played with a specific mutator that is not included or even mentioned by name.

Please don’t upload low-effort levels like this to Jazz2Online.

RecommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
17 May 2020, 12:29 (edited 17 May 20, 15:26)
For: Mighty Switch Test! 2!
Level rating: 8.5
Rating
8.5

Very well done, and a breath of fresh air among the myriads of top3-based tests out there (as was the original Mighty Switch Test). This looks cool, and is original, well-made and well-explained, though it is extremely difficult, and I will readily admit I didn’t manage to get that far in it. However, the level includes a way to go to a challenge (or ‘incident’) of your choice, so even if some are too difficult you can still look around to see if others are more to your liking, which is great.

There is one thing I wish would be changed – besides the difficulty, but I assume there is a group of players for whom this test’s difficulty is merely challenging rather than frustrating. This is the animation that plays when you fail a test and need to start over. Even if it’s only a second or two, it adds up and gets a little annoying when you’re trying to get past a hard test and failing often. This is the one thing I like better in traditional tests, where you simply warp back to your starting position. Since this level is already configurable to an extent, making this another toggle would be a great QoL improvement. Apart from that though, this is a polished, clever, impressive test that you should definitely check out.

RecommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
6 May 2020, 01:59
For: Moonrise
Level rating: 9.1
Rating
8.5

It’s a very pretty level, and plays well. The one ‘gimmick’ (if you can call it that) is the big clock tower at the centre of the level: there’s some ammo behind it and you can ‘hide’ in it. This is a little unintuitive to me, somehow it seems to make more sense for it to be solid as it usually it is in other levels. But that’s a bit of a nitpick, and easy enough to get used to. I like how there’s a lot of ammo and a few powerups too, which should enable fast-paced games in a level this small, though there are also three carrots which could be quite powerful/annoying in the hands of a defensive player. Then again, there’s not really anywhere to hide in a level of this size.

It’s funny how much of a difference the music makes – I initially played this with music off and thought it had a very nice tranquil nighttime kind of athmosphere. Then I enabled music and that went completely out of the window as the funky guitar kicked in. It’s still a nice track though, and fits the graphics too, in a different way.

All in all, a good-looking and well-made level!

Not recommendedReview by Stijn

Posted:
3 May 2020, 01:40
For: Test by me! :)
Level rating: 4.6
Rating
3.5

This is a test alright. It ticks all the boxes: Top Secret 3, ill-fitting music, test where you have to rocket climb, test where you have to jump just the right height, invisible maze, et cetera. You know, the hits. It’s not particularly offensive, but it’s also nothing we’ve not seen a thousand times, which raises the question: why would we want to see it a thousand and one times?

If you really must make another test, at least try to be a bit original: don’t just re-make the same test that everyone else has already made, but come up with something new, a new kind of puzzle or challenge. This level has none of that.

RecommendedQuick Review by Stijn

Posted:
19 Apr 2020, 04:38
For: Standard Weapon Interface
Level rating: 10.0
Rating
10.0

This is an invaluable library for scripters and the demo weapons are well-made too; they are easy and fun to play with, and now also easy to add to your own levels.

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.

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