Welcome to a contest that we wanted to host and judge for a while: a Vanilla contest using the PAL build, which can be downloaded here.
The new build of SMBX2 has brought hundreds of new playthings to design your levels around, and with the MaGLX3 judging taking place right now, we wanted to be able to focus on the new stuff specifically.
The gimmick of this contest will, as you may have already noticed, be Vanilla Design.
We aren't THAT mean, as we will allow custom music, but you are not allowed to have any custom graphics, NPC configs or use LunaLua!
How to submit:
Post a zip file of your level and music in the submissions thread. I will collect and distribute them among the judges
Vanilla means no custom graphics, npcs, etc. In other words, you will only submit a .lvlx file + music. Otherwise, you will be refused.
Use either the SMBX 1.3/188.8.131.52 build or preferably SMBX2 PAL, a preview build of Beta 4. The levels will be judged in the latter. Submissions made in the Beta 3 or MaGLX3 build will be accepted, but compatibility issues might arise. Levels made in SMBX38A (aka 1.4.4/1.4.5) won't be accepted.
Try to avoid using .wav files for the custom music and try to use .mp3 .ogg or .spc
Submit a text file if notes regarding the level are deemed necessary. (including how many stars your level has)
Joke/troll/kaizo levels are allowed but may not be judged highly, depending on their design.
Your level must end in an SMB3 star exit. At maximum, you are allowed 3 stars in total.
You may not use lua at all
Teams up to 2 people are allowed
You may not use global switches: These are the switches that have card symbols on them
Levels will be judged out of 100 Points,
Design: 50 points - How well you have designed the level and how fun the gameplay is.
Creativity: 30 Points - How creative your level design is.
Aesthetics: 20 Points - How the level looks/feels and how its setting synergizes with the level design
Deadline for submission: December 29th, 6 PM EST (midnight in London-Lisbon time)
After the submission period, the levels will be judged in an indeterminate time period, followed by the results being revealed.
25. crossover challenge by Shadow40
Final Score: 1.0/100.00
Review: This level has clearly never been tested, half of the things in it are broken, even after it has been patched with a fix for judging.
The checkpoints, which are supposedly to make the level playable, don't work, which in a level with 18000 blocks, is kind of a big deal.
The level also doesn't have any powerups in it (besides the checkpoints, which are only powerups for the first run through).
Also, for some more minor problems, the door to the last section is always active, meaning you can enter it without getting the key, without also knowing that you need a key for it.
I can't find anything good in this level, I'm sorry.
Review: Please test your levels in the future whether they are fun… Or more like, whether they are properly playable at all because it’s quite clear you didn’t test your creation.
24. The Mushroom Archives by Thehelmetguy52
Final Score: 1.0/100.00
Review: The level name's cool.
you get 1 point for it.
23. A Level in The Sky by FieryPaperMario
Final Score: 28.5/100.00
Review: I'm not entirely sure I can grasp what this level is trying to pull off, there's a lot of fast moving layer shenanigans and a lot of projectile shooters but I just don't know what to say about them.
Everything feels randomly placed and there's a complete lack of coherence which makes it even harder to write anything about the level.
The best thing you could do is expand on the enemies inside the level geometry idea that's consistently present throughout the level, or the projectiles. As it is, I can hardly call this a level.
Salvaging this level would be a lot of work, so if you want to improve your level design skills, I'd recommend taking one of the ideas at play here (enemies in the geometry, projectile generators, moving layers) and trying to work each of them separately into new levels.
Review: This level was odd. It was enjoyable to a degree, but also felt somewhat messy. For instance, I don’t get why that airship was so fast, it felt like it was given turbo fuel. Also the warp leading to one of the dragon coins was misplaced. The general problem I’ve had with the level though is the lack of cohesion. The obstacles are not interconnected at all and some of them are straight up trivial, meanwhile a handful of them are unfair, such as the Panser placed in a spot that makes it a blindjump. Not a bad level at all though especially considering it’s half-done.
22. IAmAGhostBoo by IcyBrd
Final Score: 29.0/100.00
Review: The neat cutscene effects are pretty much all that I like here, the level is really short and what there is mostly just the same reznor setup, the secret exit is really cryptic too.
Honestly the weirdest decision in this level is the elevator fixing itself, the level would've been better off if it just, like, didn't. The part of the level accessible from the "secret" area is shorter and you can't die in it (which I guess is fine? I'd personally prefer if there was SOMETHING here), yet it is filled with annoying platforming.
Even weirder is checkpoint placement, the checkpoint is only accessible from the secret area, why would you do this? This is an unnecessarily complicated way to get a checkpoint for the boss, I recommend just making the checkpoint section before the boss fight.
Speaking of the boss, it's really bad. Big boo is very challenging to make interesting in pure vanilla, he's really slow, can't hurt you unless you're not looking at him and easy to hurt at range. The first phase is nothing special and showcases the problems of the big boo, the second phase is really annoying and the boo circles often hurt the player in ways which seem unfair, and the third phases is just like the first phase again pretty much.
With that said, this level has a lot of issues and I hope you fix them in your next levels
Review: This was far from a terrible level but there are a handful of flaws. Firstly, the elevator route has no checkpoints which can make navigating between the Reznor’s fireballs quite a chore. (said section can also overstay its welcome) Also in the other route, if you miss the P-switch door, you are p. much stuck and have no choice but to jump into the pit. The first phase of the boss is actually sort of interesting, albeit it’s very easy to avoid getting hit. The second phase however is very tedious, especially if the ice brick refuses to respawn for some reason. Boo circles also make navigation very time-consuming as it’s not too difficult, just tedious. The last phase is quite difficult if you do it legitimately but cheesing it is not that hard. (basically make the big boo come down and then do spinjumps until Toad gives you a Toothy) The 2nd star was hidden in a very cryptic spot… Like, who would’ve guessed that you have to carry a P-switch through the door (that’s not the hard part) and then you have to spinjump across a massive pit with an eerie or a gas bubble for over half a minute) I also thought I was going to die in the Boohemoth section as it was so close to me… Overall, not a terrible level but there is room for improvement and I do see potential.
21. Think Unsexy Thoughts by Aristo
Final Score: 33.0/100.00
Review: It feels like the level barely begins and then it's over, honestly heartbreaking.
What IS there is pretty cool, a bit jank, but still pretty cool. I'd love to see more than just like 5 setups which barely last a minute combined.
It's a nice framework for a level, but I can't say that there's much "level" here.
Review: I honestly don’t know what to say about this level. It certainly has effort put into it but it’s the shortest level in the contest by far. The idea of using SMB2 enemies to get further is actually neat but you only had like 3 obstacles to go through, and the final one was quite tedious to say the least. I do think you have potential and it’s sad that your level had to be rushed. However, the level name and the music you used gave me joke vibes at first… I do know that this isn’t a joke level though for reasons said above but I can’t give it a high rating.
20. 3 Autumn Leaves by StageLeft
Final Score: 35.5/100.00
Review: This level suffers from a bit of an identity crisis, every section feels really separate from the previous one and that hurts the overall continuity of the level. There's nothing which makes the sections really stick together and feel like one big level, instead having it feel like an unplanned mess.
This, in turn, causes the level to feel shallow and uninteresting. There's a lot of ideas here, but all of them get introduced and then sidelined immediately in favor of the next one.
This isn't helped by the constantly switching aesthetic either. It frantically changes over the course of the entire level without a purpose. This could work though, if you had just turned it into a progression of aesthetics instead of a strange alternating pattern (i.e Hills->Forest->Ghost House instead of Hills->Forest->Hills->Forest->Ghost House->Forest).
Moving on from continuity - The checkpointing in this level is strange, there are 2 checkpoints and the spacing between them is extremely lopsided, not to mention the second one being on the tail end of a split path, making said choice objectively the better one. The first checkpoint is also quite a ways deep into the level, a while past the halfway point even.
Considering the first checkpoint is on the transition between the ghost house part and the forest part, if we brought back my aesthetical progression idea, you could've placed a checkpoint on each of the aesthetical transitions and that would've lead to a more balanced positioning of the checkpoints, and would've helped the level's problems with flow a bit as well.
Other than that a few other things to note: The ghost house sections don't really look that great, the reznor fight's a bit jank but nothing too bad and the end of the level came pretty abruptly.
So overall, the level's clearly ambitious, but is being held back by a lack of consistency.
Review: This level is packed with artificial difficulty. The checkpoints are way too far from each other and the fact that there is a quasi-autoscroll segment between the last checkpoint and the Reznors doesn’t help either. The player, in case of dying has to either go through trivial parts of the level or beat annoying sections again. Albeit the obstacles themselves aren’t super difficult, the scarcity of checkpoints hurt the experience a lot. Speaking of checkpoints, if you go to the right in the mansion, why isn’t there one like in the left path? You could’ve also informed the player in a way the split paths lead to the same place. (albeit I’m glad I didn’t have to collect two stars) Generally, the level does have its ideas but it’s very unfocused and disorganized. The level wasn’t exactly terrible but generally I just didn’t enjoy playing it. If the level was a bit more organized and there were twice as many checkpoints, it would have been a level slightly below average.
19. Ridge Temple by IcaruMachadu
Final Score: 37.5/100.00
Review: You seem to have forgotten to place any checkpoints, and this level REALLY needs them.
Having no checkpoints in here is honestly the one big problem which makes this level unfun, the design is not terrible and there's clearly effort put into this level.
The first section was especially good, I liked that one a lot, but after the gondola everything else kinda didn't feel as well thought out.
The weird boss rush nature of what I'll call the second half is quite a departure from the first, and not in a good way. It gives off a vibe like you rushed the second half when it wasn't even necessary in the first place.
The second half also looks significantly more cluttered and less pretty than the first, too many tilesets combining in ways which don't look great and some weird choices for blocks.
Basically, this level needs checkpoints first of all, everything else comes second.
Review: If I had to sum this level up in 2 words: overly ambitious. Which in itself wouldn’t be that big of a problem if you used checkpoints, which was the most blatantly obvious flaw of the level. Had you placed down 2 or more checkpoints, this level would’ve been a somewhat creative yet average one. The first section started out somewhat rompy but I did like the fuzzy setups. The chairlift section was a neat idea but it got stale after a handful of retries due to how slow it moves when there’s no action. (At least it gives some breathing room for the player, but I still think it’s way too long) The temple section afterwards was the part when I realized that without powerups I have no chance as they make the section noticeably less difficult. The Ludwig boss fight was rather obnoxious in my opinion. Speaking of which, having a mini boss rush inside a level without any checkpoints is not something I personally advise. The chasing spike wall section was actually fun though, but if I had died there, that would’ve been really frustrating… Anyways, I do think you have the potential to improve. First and foremost: use checkpoints!
18. Temple of The Dinosaur by TheTrueMarioMaster
Final Score: 38.0/100.00
Review: In concept, this is pretty funny, but the design of the level doesn't really do it justice.
There's honestly not much to say about this level, it starts off really simple and slowly descends into unfair. The skull raft section in particular is unfortunate, as the blaargs get covered up by the skulls, making it impossible to see them before the kill you.
The weird birdo boss in the middle and also strewn about the whole level are not really much of an interesting challenge, even with the blaargs.
The level's pretty humorous, I'll give it that.
Review: This level was quite chaotic… The NPCs were placed so close to each other and there were so many of them It was not a big feat to get a streak of 2-ups In some cases. The NPC spam also caused the level to have an artificially high difficulty which was even more apparent when you had to collect the 5 dragon coins without dying after the checkpoint at all… The distance between the checkpoints was also longer than it should have been. The first birdo fight was also quite obnoxious, plus it was buggy. (Blarggs just don’t work well on generators) The dragon coins were also placed in very frustrating spots which normally had enemies that could barely be dodged as there wasn’t enough time given to the player and even then there was little room to avoid the foes. The alternate star route was also quite problematic. The elevator section increased the enemy spam tenfold but at least there were mushroom blocks helping the player. The Pink Yoshi section was legit decent though but if you lost the Yoshi, you were essentially dead or required to tank through the level with a mushroom or a flower, both of which are unfun. Anyways, I do think you have potential to improve, as most of the problems revolved around making the level difficult in the wrong way: lack of checkpoints and enemy spam.
17. Generic Deforestation Message by SimmondsSuperSponge
Final Score: 44.0/100.00
Review: I think the level's trying to tell me something.
Honestly, this level embodies a lot of the problems with most of the levels in this contest, to name a few:
It seems pretty rushed, the level ends before it really has the chance to get into any interesting gameplay;
Weird cryptic secrets which are pretty unnecessary and don't yield any sort of reward;
Completely unnecessary secret star which adds nothing to the level;
Disjointed level design with no real focus.
The level isn't terrible, but it doesn't make much of an effort to stand out (apart from the entire concept being a "deforestation message")
Speaking of the concept, it's probably the most interesting aspect of the level, the idea behind it is really cool, but it doesn't get to be explored within a level this short.
The level has a ton of issues, but first and foremost, extending it to be a bit longer would be a good way to make it more memorable in a positive light.
Review: Environmentalism and self-appreciation are important things indeed. But I don’t really think an SMBX contest is the best way to convey that message. The level was also a tad bit short for my taste, no wonder why a checkpoint wasn’t necessary, This was a rather average entry otherwise, but it’s good to see people who express their concerns about modern problems.
16. Tall Trees Breaching Into the Skies by Cedur
Final Score: 49.0/100.00
Review: This level does not know when to stop, it's long and keeps switching "topics" so to say, it's like a long, rambling conversation in level form.
It's decently fun to play and doesn't look terrible but it has the vibe of "this is the first time I've ever opened SMBX so let's place everything I see into my level", the result of which is disjointed and way longer than necessary.
There are a few things which do stay consistent throughout the whole level, but it's generally just a repetition of previously seen setups without much interesting added. With that being said, there are also things which show up out of nowhere and then are never incorporated into design again (Talking mostly about the Chuck Fortress here).
This level isn't bad, but it doesn't use any of the ideas it has going for it in an interesting way, instead opting to fill the level up with random assortments of filler in order to fill time which didn't need to be filled.
Review: A forest level transitioning into a sky level. It felt like some kind of mini-adventure, I can’t describe it accurately. As such, the level was quite long but there were sufficient checkpoints and the areas weren’t repetitive, so it didn’t have a negative impact on the experience. Some jumps were quite tight in the level though. I could handle them but if somebody doesn’t know how to utilize ducking in the air, they might run into some issues. The level’s difficulty was also quite inconsistent. Most of the areas were a bit easier than average meanwhile a few sections of the level were quite difficult even if not to an aggravating degree. The way I think the level could be improved Is to balance it out a little bit and have less tight jumps. Also, I hate chasing Ais. Anyways, it was a level I mostly enjoyed but there was nothing mind-blowing.
15. Castle of Darkness by NyanMc
Final Score: 51.0/100.00
Review: There's a lot of stuff going on here, a bit too much for the amount of actual level there is.
This level tries out a lot of different things, half of which are very short-lived. The section with the mutant vine and the section with the vertical autoscroll were the most interesting while the other two felt like filler, and that's pretty bad considering this level is extremely short as it is.
The mutant vine section is pretty fun, but you could've introduced a few new obstacles and made it last a bit longer. Having only 2 bullet bill blasters which you can easily offscreen isn't very threatening.
The fire boot and timer platform sections are barely worth talking about, because the fire boot has maybe 2 obstacles and the timer platforms have possibly even less.
The autoscroll section is interesting, and pretty fun, but it's hurt by the fact that you had to make the entire layer scroll just to make the illusion of vertical autoscroll. This is a problem because it makes the player physics feel off, but it is a pretty good solution to the ghost being non-threatening otherwise.
My suggestion for that section is to have the donut blocks rise (well, if that's even possible, I haven't tested it) and litter a few more boos around to make it more threatening, as they wouldn't move along with the platform in this scenario.
All in all, You could take multiple paths when improving this: Expand all of the ideas to be on equal ground, or develop more on the main two.
Review: So you seem to have had a variety of ideas and you made a level with them. They were fun concepts but the execution was a bit of a mixed bag. The first part where you had to climb a mutant vine was done well, I don’t particularly have problems with that part. (albeit the fact that the Star Coin is literally just “drop down and do this again yay” wasn’t a good idea) The first lava section though heavily relies on enemy spam. You could’ve achieved the same difficulty with half the boos, or even the third of the amount you’ve placed down. The carrot platforms were also somewhat sudden and less skilled players might be caught off-guard when entering the section. The part where the tower begins to sink and you have to dodge a boo on donut platforms was neat, but the empty space to the left of the top was a bit misleading, as it felt like there was a potential secret there. And regarding the 3rd Star Coin: how was the player supposed to know they have to make a big jump while keeping the clear pipe cannon’s momentum? Which at first made me wonder: “why is there so much empty space?” The level was just bland in general and looked unappealing. To sum this up, a remotely enjoyable level but with some easily noticeable flaws.
14. the biggest regret in my life by DeMuz
Final Score: 51.5/100.00
Review: There aren't any massive flaws here which span the entire level, most of the level is fine as it is, but it is plagued by a lot of small issues which keep it from being enjoyable.
I'll try going in order: The Checkpoint placement is very lopsided in several places; The powerup placement is also very lopsided; A few of the jumps in this level are uncomfortably tight (that first jump in the ice area comes to mind); All of the hardest jumps are usually when checkpoints are visible (Really disheartening to the player, I personally think this should be avoided); The boom boom in the cave can unexpectedly switch directions because of the uneven ceiling; The fairy section is boring and slow and the bowser boss is also really annoying.
Now, one thing that really stood out to me in this level was the second boom boom boss, that one was very fun.
If you started making this earlier, you could've had a pretty good level here, but sadly there's just too many small things holding this level back
Review: This level started out as a romp slightly above average. It was fun even if nothing special, albeit I do have a feeling you were partially inspired by Mario Forever’s 5-2 in the first section. Then, the distance between the first and the second checkpoint was a little bit too long but still bearable. I liked how the lava was going up and down, albeit I’ve found the firebar placements a bit annoying and stressful to navigate through. Then after the double SMB1 Bowser fight, the section with the squishing ceiling was quite tedious, which got worse due to there not being a checkpoint when you enter the cave. The fact that you can easily die after the 1st Boom Boom due to a low ceiling combined with slippery ground didn’t help either… The 2nd Boom Boom fight was interesting, albeit a bit too chaotic. The lava section was quite stressful to go through but thankfully it was short and I did enjoy it to a tiny degree. (also why was there no music) The SMB3 Bowser fight was problematic though for a handful of reasons: 1) it was easy to get stuck in a pit near the end of the fight 2) the fight dragged on for too long 3) it was quite uninteresting due to nothing making it challenging besides the unbreakable blocks. Overall, the level is about average but It could’ve been better if it didn’t drag on for too long and there were more frequent checkpoints.
13. Frozentrepid by Ness-Wednesday
Final Score: 53.0/100.00
This here is the definition of too much.
I don't know where to start, it's really cluttered with just random nonsense everywhere. The first section has no relation to the rest of the level (thematically this makes sense, but it doesn't make for good level design), The rest of the sections are relatively consistent in their ideas though.
But the ideas present are... Very, very, tiring, at least how you used it. There's so much waiting, weird random generators that make the level feel very thrown together and cluttered tilesets that make the level hard to look at.
Also, Did you not, like, notice the lag? This level is probably the laggiest level in the contest, I don't understand how you wouldn't notice it.
Around the second checkpoint is where the level starts getting really annoying, and at that point I expected the level to end soon, but it dragged on for such a long time afterwards with weird exploration of the gimmick which doesn't add much to the gimmick and instead just makes it more annoying.
Also the secret exit in that section is completely unnecessary, why is it even there?
The one thing I really liked is the boss fight, it's really creative and really fun to fight.
Another thing I thought was kinda cool was the little cutscenes in the level, they were nice to look at.
If this review didn't seem very structured, it's because I honestly don't know how to structure what I have to say about this level.
Review: Weirdness with a high exponent. The level was far from the worst, and it had its ideas. The issue was, the sheer amount of projectiles was way too high and the level was just noisy and busy in general. The overuse of iceballs and fireballs made the level lag on my end. Some parts were also tedious or somewhat luck-based, like the part where you had to run across Sparkies that are temporarily frozen. The level in general was messy and the only thing that made it beatable was the ice flower generators and ice flower powerup blocks… I appreciate the secret star not being obnoxiously hidden (albeit It’s not exactly an ideal spot either) and the boss’ health bar was neat. Speaking of the boss though.. that thing was way too beefy and chaotic… Some of the attacks made the game lag just like a few parts of the level. Overall, it’s clear that you put effort into this and you did have your own ideas, but make sure to remember that you shouldn’t overwhelm the player with a quintillion objects on the screen at once.
12. pokeys by haHAA
Final Score: 53.0/100.00
Review: This is incredibly creative, there's a ton of cool setups here, too bad that just a few of them are needlessly frustrating.
Everything in this level is really cool, but a few of the setups are just way too precise and long.
The conveyor setup is infuriatingly long and getting onto the pokey from the previous screen (which you can't see it from) is not much more than dumb luck, the switch setup literally right after it is then needlessly precise, not to mention that these are effectively right next to the checkpoint, which makes the backtracking you have to do to get back to them very obnoxious.
Mainly in the first half, a lot of the setups have length problems, they are too long and slow to deal with which makes dying on the last few feel even worse.
The second half is much better, it keeps all of the creativity, but the one really annoying setup that's needlessly precise is right at the beginning, meaning that you can retry it a lot of times without the annoyance of having to make it back to it just for another go.
Also, like all of the assets in this level are old deprecated ones, which makes me think you didn't make this level specifically for the contest
Review: I’m not the type of person who’s fond of Kaizo, especially in SMBX. However, the level was cleverly designed, had creative ideas with the Pokeys and overall might serve as a good entry to Kaizo for some. I didn’t like the parts with the switch blocks, except for the one with the yellow blocks. (however that part could be cheesed as you can trap the Shy Guy between Two pokey heads, thus making the player able to hit the yellow switch In a way that wasn’t intended. Overall, the level is mildly enjoyable to those who don’t appreciate Kaizo, like myself, but if this had to be rated as a Kaizo level I’d have probably given it a higher score. Overall, I think you have the potential to make fun kaizo levels and I think that SMBX2 would help you with that as you can place multiple checkpoints thus have shorter but harder gauntlets for instance.
11. Trapped In A Paradoxical Phantasmagoria by cato
Final Score: 55.0/100.00
Review: This sure is a level.
Like, it starts out really confusing, but after a while it kinda clears itself up?
It is not nearly as complex as it first seems, but it does a pretty bad job of explaining what's going to happen when changing the time period. Either way, the time period changing mechanic barely makes a difference for most of the level, which is quite a waste.
While the time period mechanic is only used for star coins, that may be a blessing in disguise, as all it ends up being is a LOT of walking back and forth, which makes the level really tedious.
The design itself is nonexistant, none of the enemies feel like they're placed with a purpose, everything feels very thoughtless when it comes to that aspect of the design.
The boss fight you get for getting all the star coins is the coolest part of the level, but most phases suffer from being able to be cheesed.
My advice would be to remake this level from scratch, the ideas present are really cool, but the design is extremely lacking.
Review: Wow, a story-driven level…. How interesting. The aesthetics would normally be considered clashy and full of cutoffs but in this specific level it served a purpose, even if it doesn’t fully excuse it. The time travelling gimmick was quite cool to say the least but you incorporated it somewhat problematically. Beating the shorter route of the level wasn’t that big of a nuisance, but getting the secret star and the true star weren’t that smooth. The 4th star coin was too hidden, but the other 4 were cleverly placed and utilized the level’s gimmick to their advantage. The boss fight was challenging, even if a tiny bit too chaotic for my taste, and there were also some ways to cheese some patterns. (like the one with the Sonic starbots) Also the sections of different timelines weren’t all that balanced, the NSMB version of the sky area was way too tedious. The enemy placement was also a bit annoying in places, especially the Magikoopas in the castle. Most of the level is also quite bland, there are lots of 10-20 seconds long strolls to take. I also think that there could be more checkpoints as even though the level isn’t difficult, it is possible to die in. Getting all the Star Coins in one go is also quite troublesome, to say the least. Overall though, a creative level with a cool boss that clearly clear effort put into it, but had problematic design. Nice JoJo and Touhou references though…
10. Visual Interference by Radiance
Final Score: 57.5/100.00
Review: You should make this level twice as long. It's good and does cool things, but it ends before it can properly start.
This level does a great job of explaining everything it needs to through its design, and the way it combines concepts is also pretty cool, but the second half almost completely ignores one of its core gimmicks and instead focuses on going fast, which could make for a nice contrast between the halves, but it completely disregards one of the original gimmicks.
The "Visual Interference" itself doesn't appear in most of the level, which is the true issue here, because it makes for some really neat setups when combined with other ideas.
Cool level, but feels rushed and underdeveloped, add more to it.
Review: A fun castle level which uses Thwomps and Vision blocking cards. I like how you used Mad Thwomps in pairs and also that you used vision blockers in a fair way as you did still leave some indicators for the player to see if a Thwomp is behind the curtain, even if it looked a bit ugly. I also found it clever when you made the vision blockers move attached to an engine block. The Dragon Coin below the hidden maverick thwomp was obnoxious though as even if you try to drop down and then jump up, it’s really hard to dodge the maverick thwomp. The chase section had a few problems as well: the first time the player encounters it, they may be caught off-guard and start half a screen behind. Another problem is that if you are Super Mario or have a powerup, you can actually skip a portion of the chase by tanking a hit. If the lava was 10% slower and it was harder to utilize tanking as a way to get further, that section would’ve been better. I also generally found the level too short. It ended before it started.
9. Infarreal by 8luestorm && MECHDRAGON777
Final Score: 63.5/100.00
Review: This level suffers from a problem that most of the levels of this type suffer from.
All of the rooms have wildly varying difficulty and quality of design.
Some of the rooms are have very interesting gimmicks which get infuriating after a while (i. e. Fire Flower Room in the first set)
Some of the rooms are just, infuriatingly difficult (i. e. rightmost door in the second set)
The goomba room is hilariously easy compared to everything else also.
A lot of the rooms were pretty cool though, I liked the tanooki room and the fire flower room in the beginning.
The aesthetics in the hub rooms are also pretty neat, although I wish that'd carry over a bit more to the main gameplay rooms themselves, as those were usually pretty bland.
All in all, I admire the level for trying to pull off something different, but it didn't work all that well.
Review: I love the fact that you can kind of choose the path you go on in this level. It’s something that adds a lot to the replay value and essentially you get 4 levels in one. All the sections were fun and distinct, as I went through all routes. There is one problem I do have though: the Leaf section, the Phanto-key and the Ptooie sky section were significantly harder than the other routes and were also somewhat frustrating, but still fun enough thanks to none of the sections being too long. Overall, this level was really good and something that can be picked up any time if you want a rather difficult level to play through.
8. Trouble in the Flooded Pipeline by chipps
Final Score: 65.0/100.00
Review: Kinda feels like you took a level out of your episode and just submitted it to the contest, but that doesn't really matter too much.
The level's pretty good, doesn't do anything outstanding, but it does have some present some cool interactions with leaving water from the side.
What I would like to see more of here is some evolution on the gimmick present, maybe some moving waterfalls, or some getting turned off and the on again so that you would have to time your platforming accordingly, or so that you'd have to run while they're off in order to be fast enough to do a jump etc.
As it is, it would make for a good level in an episode, it's decently fun to play, it just doesn't really *fit* in a contest setting.
I'd play an episode by you if it had levels of this quality.
Review: This was a fun little level. It feels like something that’d rather fit an episode than be a standalone level. It’s nothing special besides the swimmable waterfalls. Which well, I tend to not like but in this level they were used for the better so it’s not really an issue. I also rather liked your Star Coin placement. They were cleverly hidden but weren’t too cryptic. It was also a rather relaxing yet not easy level as it didn’t try to go overkill with anything at least. But even though I enjoyed the level, it’s a rather forgettable experience. Try experimenting a bit more in the future.
7. Big Boo's sPoOkY Mansion by hennyburgr
Final Score: 65.5/100.00
Review: There's some very fun evolution here on a lot of ghost house concepts, though the gimmicks aren't too expanded upon they generally lead to a fun ghost-house style subversion of the player's expectations, which is pretty neat.
The gimmicks presented are also all pretty basic, but executed very cleanly.
The secrets are okay but nothing that special, the first one is neat but a bit tedious and the second one is a neat callback to the NSMB series, but other than that there's not much to say.
Pretty alright level, I liked the ghost tricks but other than that it doesn't have too much going for it, could do with being a liiiittle longer.
Review: Most certainly something I enjoyed. I love how It started out as a generic ghost house but then one of the sections consisted of switching the water on and off meanwhile the second half of the level was based around those Cloud Drop enemies being attached to platforms. The level was rather easy but that didn’t take away from the enjoyability. However I do feel more could have been done with these setups (and no not just attaching instakill instead of hurtful blocks, that’d have been cheap) and that the level could’ve used another sequence of obstacles. I’ve also found the second secret star to be hidden in a spot that many would never even try to look at. Secrets shouldn’t be cryptic, albeit they should also not be giveaways. The first star however was hidden cleverly and involved a fun last task to complete before getting it. And even though the level was easy, I think that the distance between the start and the checkpoint could’ve been shortened a bit. Lastly, the dialogue before the exit star was a nice touch in a pretty good level.
6. The Fuzzy In My Forest by Airship
Final Score: 68.0/100.00
Review: Cool line-guide level, nice evolution on the ideas present, everything here is pretty good overall.
It also does a good job of setting an atmosphere, the level feels very relaxing to play through and everything about it meshes well with the vibe it gives off. The difficulty is relatively low and relaxing, the aesthetics complement it very well also.
The titular fuzzies in the forest make for some varied setups which are all pretty good. Nothing ever feels repetitive which is also pretty good.
There's nothing that's outright bad here, but, while the setups are all good, there's nothing that sticks out to me personally.
This is a very good level, but probably more fitting for an episode than a contest
Review: A fun level which felt like a warming-up to a special world. Nothing super-hard, but still challenging enough to require the player’s focus. I liked the platforming and the fuzzy chains, even if I got a tad bit frustrated by some of the jumps. I’ve also liked the way you’ve incorporated the fragile turn blocks and the part where you had to bounce on them to time landing on a platform. The pacing of the level was good too, and the parts were varied. However, even though the level was a nice one, it’s nothing spectacular and not too memorable. (still p. good)
5. Mouser's Mansion by Stipkip
Final Score: 72.5/100.00
Review: Honestly, just a really fun level. It doesn't delve too deep into the mechanics it uses, but it manages to pull off variety in a way which feels coherent and natural. (It also managed to use switch blocks in a way which isn't god-awful)
Usually levels which have separate rooms with separate gimmicks feel disjointed and not very well thought-out, but this level manages to stop that from happening by having a second half which combines a majority of them with a snake block.
Then, afterwards, the familiar gimmicks are left alone and the boss fight, which is also one of the coolest mouser fights I've seen, is centered on snake blocks fully.
It's a very interesting approach to level design and honestly I'm quite fond of it.
The boss could use a bit of rebalancing, as it's much harder than the rest of the level, but the level itself is really fun.
Review: A nice little level with a clever boss fight. The first hallway does a good job at introducing the Stretches and the Hot Feet. Then there was a “switch barrier” (not a barrier but the player was still required to activate 3 switch blocks) which did annoy me but the rooms were distinct enough to keep the experience fun. Then the player dodges boo circles, rides a snake block, etc. But well, I’ve experienced a certain problem with the level though and not just at one point… The checkpoints are not in the most ideal spots and are too scarce. I’d have placed checkpoints before the keyhole door, at the start of the boo circle section, then one after the snake block and then one right next to Mouser’s door… But you placed them differently which might cause problems to those who die in the Boo Circle section or those who die to the second phase of the boss. Speaking of which, I do find it clever that the 2nd phase was made harder via one simple change which I won’t spoil for those who wanna play the level later. Overall, nice level you’ve got there.
4. Futuristic Sand Station by Shinbison
Final Score: 72.5/100.00
Review: While this level has perfect focus on what it wants to do, its problems are of a different variety.
This level is really boring to play for one reason, almost every obstacle in this level is solved by waiting, making it feel very repetitive and dull.
The vertical section also doesn't intend you to care your platforms all the way to the top, making for some slight breaks in the level in case you do, which just feels a bit lazy.
Going back to the focus of the level, this level may be a little bit too focused, it completely sacrifices any sort of variety for the sake of having a clear gimmick, which just makes the problem of all the obstacles being very samey worse.
There is potential here, but nothing feels developed on, it just ends up being the same setups over and over again.
Review: This level is definitely above average. Style mixing was done in a pretty pleasant way and the setups utilized the saws very well. My primary problem with the level was that it didn’t feel all that fleshed out. It just feels like as if there were more possibilities, but it doesn’t impact the level to such a high degree that it would make the experience unfun. The other problem was that if the player was a bit too fast, the SMB1 platforms might mess up the level a little bit, but break it. Overall, this level is not my top favorite but I consider it to have the best visuals among all entries as it’s a pretty good level which I’ve gone through more than the vast majority of submissions.
3. Break The Illusion by Uzendayo - Sancles’ Favorite
Final Score: 75.5/100.00
Review: Beautiful level which really pushes the limits of the engine in terms of aesthetic ideas, very creative use of layers and events, unconventional tilesets, music resets and such.
Sadly the design of the level is kept very basic and really doesn't do anything interesting except for the second secret star (which actually develops on a barely-present gimmick of the section it's in, in a way which is only doable by a secret collectible).
The ending feels a bit strange, like the story-arc wasn't over, and the segments of the level themselves are also pretty short, which makes the level go by faster than it should and doesn't help with the lack of development for any of the design ideas present.
My suggestion for the pacing of the level would be to make the beginning area with the paddle wheels longer and more oriented around them, and then making the area after the checkpoint also longer and more oriented on the clearpipe switching stunts (though they do feel pretty weird to play with so maybe keep that dedicated to the secret star).
The two parts of the levels do have a distinct personality, so you wanted to go a different route for the design, you could just make a third area which combined the clearpipe stunts with the paddlewheels.
This level's aesthetics are unparalleled by any other in the contest, and the ways it makes use of obscure features of the engine are incredibly cool, but it lacks any sort of structure in it's design.
Review: So, this wouldn’t be a bad level… And it isn’t. I like how it had a story of sorts and the gameplay was fun too. I like the way you hid the Mouser star and the main route was well designed too. I like how you used the trees to hide enemies partially but not to an unfair degree. I wish you gave the main route bosses some twists too like the mouser fight but they weren’t really the factors that primarily caused issues. When I first played the level, I noticed some ungodly lag. I checked the editor, and there was some immature offscreen stuff, so I decided to delete those. The level still lagged… I go on. And then I find out that one of the sections was a clearpipe maze. Speaking of which, getting the secret star in that section is very obnoxious as the time limit is very-very strict and you also cannot turn back once you enter. Surely it’s not a mandatory part of a level but still, that’s just unfun, especially the fact that you may end up in a situation which you cannot escape. Overall, the level is good as the other aspects were noticeably better than that clearpipe section which is nothing but pure sadism. Without that secret star, the level would’ve gotten like 7-9 more points from me.
2. Dimension Windows by litchh
Final Score: 82.0/100.00
Review: In this here level, we can observe a great level of care and detail.
It's frequently checkpointed, nice-looking, interesting gameplay-wise and just overall well designed. The pacing in this level is incredibly well-done and brings in new concepts at a rate which doesn't make the level feel like it drags, nor like it ends too early.
Some setups near the end get a little frustratingly difficult, those are generally near the ends of the segments, but as the segments alone aren't that long and there's a checkpoint at the beginning of each one, it's not a big problem.
The level also looks very nice and the windows themselves stand out, all of the aesthetic choices feel like they're there with a purpose and signify specific aspects of the design in a way which makes it clear what does what.
Very good level, the design at play here is astounding, one of the best levels in the contest.
Review: Nice core concept and a fairly good execution. In spite of it being impossible to die, you found a clever way to ensure the player falls back a little in case of making a mistake. (also nice way of foreshadowing with the message box) The setups were fun and challenging, albeit could become a bit too frustrating at times but not so much it’d feel unfair. I do feel that the second-to-last section was harder than it should have been. (when you had to descend on a SMW platform) It was also problematic when you had to go through an easy but slow part again before getting to the part where you “died”. I’m also digging the level’s aesthetics, it uses the vanilla toolset in a creative way. There could have possibly been more things to do with this idea but each section was a different experience and the level was long enough anyway, so it did feel like a full experience anyway. All in all though, this was a more than decent level with an idea that was explored thoroughly but still has some extra potential.
1. Flurry Frenzy by MrCaves - ShadowStarX’s Favorite
Final Score: 92.5/100.00
Review: Incredibly clever, a lot of setup variety, all of the setups are satisfying and unique, the level's just long enough, pretty much everything works together perfectly here.
The level also looks really good in general. This level is incredibly well-made and I can't think of much to criticize.
For the sake of the review, a nitpick about the end of the level: The final bomb generator is honestly a bit too fast to be comfortably dodged.
I don't know what else, this level's incredible.
Review: This… level… was… amazing. The core idea was simple yet so much could be and was done with it. Checkpoints were spaced out perfectly, albeit an additional one might’ve been good right before the boss, but it’s not a big nuisance. The difficulty curve of the level was ideal. The level was challenging in a good way as none of the obstacles served as a way to make the level artificially difficult. The level also feels like something Nintendo could have made as basegame for Mario Maker 2. The waterfalls were a tad bit weird-looking though and I also feel the decoration and the layout were a bit crowded, but thankfully the gameplay makes up for the minor problems with the aesthetics. Overall, this was a really fun ride and should serve as a prime example that customization isn’t a necessity in SMBX. (note to Sancles and the creator: please put this in SLAM if possible)
Since I got some free time on my hand irl, I may enter this Autumn Vanilla Level Contest. BUT does the level submission need to be fall theme?
I believe this has Autumn in the name because in the Northern Hemisphere the season just went from Summer to Autumn (and the deadline goes until when Winter starts there again, which is December 21st.)
Here it's Spring, though *rolls eyes*
On topic now, yeah, I should be able to make a decent vanilla level no problem.