I'll be honest--this level needs a lot
of work. It's too long (with an unbalanced midpoint to boot), but its length isn't really justified gameplay-wise--the only reason it seems to have so many sections is to show off tilesets from the original game, but most of the tilesets aren't really distinct enough to merit their own section. Everything after the (lopsided) midpoint is workable, but the first half of the level seems to consist of a combination of relatively flat and uninteresting terrain with enemies marching along followed an rather hastily thrown-together sections which feel either tedious or difficult in an insufficiently tested sort of way. The majority of times I died here, it was due to elements I simple couldn't predict beforehand.
Some specific points:
- The 8-bit graphics and music are fun, but this really needs more 8-bit backgrounds to match! Also, I think some of the graphics (like the Bullet Bill replacements) are improperly scaled...? It looks a touch odd when most elements have 2-pixel-thick outlines, yet certain isolated enemies half 1-pixel wide outlines.
- I find some of the enemies have unexpected behavior from the graphics. The propeller things with the dopey facial expressions look like you should be able to jump on them, but you can't. The horned guy looks like you might not be able to jump on him, but you can. The latter's less of a problem that the former, obviously, but I imagine most players will get hit by the propeller
- That the water is just for show in the early sections is not immediately obvious until you try to take a dive, and end up going for a plunge instead. More confusingly still, water later acts like water. Admittedly, it's a different style of water from the first, but you use nearly -every- style of water (Why? And why not some water tiles from the game itself, or if it doesn't have any, something in its general style), and only certain types are actually swimmable, with no indication of which is safe and which is not.
- I honestly could not make sense of what Skelly Joe was talking about in the first section...Much
later he talks about counting groups of spikes, but by this point it was already too late to realize I was supposed to be keeping track of this. I've got to say this is a bit of an...unusual way to work in the title, and feels double odd as spikes coming out of the ground is, despite Mr. Skellington's claims, fairly normal in video games, and certainly less weird than the robot pig things that make up the majority of spike-like obstacles in the game.
- As noted, the first section is a little flat and uninteresting design wise. It helps to give players a less dangerous place to learn enemy behavior, but it's possible to do this in a more interesting manner. The transition from the first to second are is jarring, as you walk off the right side of the screen and appear on the same side again, heading in the other direction. Similar things happen again in later sections. Why not just use a door here instead of an instant warp?
- This is a bit goofy if you're big.
- Ehh...somehow I don't see your fitness regime meeting great commercial success.
- Throwing Dino Jim into the mix here doesn't really do much besides turn this into Adventures in Waiting Around--especially since he tends to get stuck between the enemies at the bottom, who only very occasionally decide to arrange themselves in such a way where it's just barely possible to slip through (unless you have fire, in which case you can just torch the lot...but that's not something you should absolutely count on, even with the powerups above, as the player could still conceivably call up two mushrooms instead, get hit, etc.)
- Coin trails should lead to safety, not death. This is doubly problematic as pretty much every player's urge will be to jump down there, as trying to climb down the vines with the boo replacements next door is sort of annoying.
- Speaking of annoying, the Roto-disc-pig + falling platform section immediately following this is disproportionately difficult, and this at the point where the player is most exhausted. I usually just ended up tanking this, as trying to dodge multiple Roto-discs on single tile, falling platforms they directly pass through is just too much of a pain to be worth it.
- Sure, there's a coin trail here, but there's no time to react to the unexpected obstacles. If you don't know they're coming ahead of time--and maybe not even then, given how short and narrow the passage is.
- The ceiling in the cave section is not immediately obvious, which can be deadly, especially as you'll be jumping immediately it at several key points, the first time over a very wide pit which you can just barely pass thanks to it--and probably not at all if you don't realize the ceiling's there in the first place.
- I admit, the first time this happens, it's sort of funny (and if you ignore this area entirely and the robot pig thing hits it instead for the first time it's probably absolutely hilarious
), but I think there are probably better ways to actually stop the playing from heading up this way, no? Do leave one in for the boo pig to hit, though--that's good stuff.
- I also laughed at the fact that the level ends with Beardo transformed into some sort of ape who throws peanuts at you.
On the whole, I'd suggest scrapping everything before the midpoint and making one or two new sections for the first half which togehter are about equal in length to the cave section. The cave, as noted, is much more viable though it could still stand to be cleaned up a bit, and have the ceiling be more clearly indicated. Try to have a clear central concept--not just æsthetically, but in terms of gameplay--for each half of the level, and build your design around that. And once you've explored the concept enough, don't try to stretch it any further.
Don't be discouraged by the above--it's all meant as advice for improving things. Your level has a fun concept at its core, but the execution needs some refining, especially in the first half. It looks like you took on a lot of levels for this project, and it can be easy to lose focus that way, but it's important to remember that quality is more important than quantity. This is true for both individual levels as well as one's output as a whole.