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A challenging revisit with some great design

I've never played an SMBX game before this one, but there's been plenty of community activity around the engine so I figured now was a good time to see what's been brewing. This either makes me well-suited to review because my fresh outlook or completely unfit because I won't know features from default settings. Either way, here goes.

Mario vs. Moon Base

Toad: Mario! Bowser has taken the princess away in a spaceship. You got this, right?

I am unsurprised. Certainly not a knock against the game. This is classic Mario and it's what I came for so let's jump on stuff.

Level Flow: 4.5 out of 5
Did I know where to go? Can I get there?

The layout in Mario vs. Moon Base was effective. Each level flows generally from left to right as we've come to expect from a Mario game. At no point did the structure (unintentionally) hinder me to the point of annoyance, but rather was generally pleasant to navigate. Water, quicksand, trampolines, and ice--all elements that change the pace of the game--were used in moderation and in appropriate context.

In some cases, I'd even say the layout was exciting. The use of the wrapping left and right sides in Boo's Play Time plus directional elements (the one-way saw, hiding Boos) was mind-bending and fun.

That saw is actually right behind you. Whoa.

Coins are used as a guiding tool to point the way (sometimes hinting in the direction of a shortcut or secret). Definitely appreciated that.

The flow was easy to understand without being boring and I had a great time running around this game. Level flow gets a score of 4.5 out of 5.

Level Design: 5 out of 5
Are the levels aesthetically pleasing? Are there elements that keep the action from going stale?

It probably helped that this was a team effort, but every level seemed to bring some new element to the table, and did so without sacrificing gameplay. Some good examples:

In Lifeline, you're suspended in a moving band of water in the middle of space, navigating hazards without falling to your doom. In Avalance, it's a literal race to the bottom to avoid being swallowed from above (although this is tad glitchy, that small negative is reflected in the flow score). In Spacewalk, you're floating through space in a moving level with ice flower powerups, turning what you thought was a Mario game into a space shooter.

Paradise Lagoon, below, was my favorite level (rocking the Mario 64 underwater theme no less):

Yes, that's a sunken ship. Awesome.

This game goes way beyond what you ever would've seen in Super Mario World. Never short on design novelty, which is why I can give it a solid 5 out of 5.

Difficulty: 4 out of 5
Is the game well paced? Is the difficulty peak reasonable?

The difficulty ramped up slowly, which was good. The first few levels were simple and became more complex as I advanced. Stronger powerups were available to meet those challenges and I generally had a fun time despite a few repeated deaths.

I'm not averse to dying in Mario. It's a shame to lose all of my powerups, but restarting is never too devastating. When it happens dozens of times, however, it wears on me. There were some moments that a Super Mario-era me would've thrown down the controller in contempt.

One such moment was the realization of what I had to do to get this key into the lock in the next area.

So close. And yet, so far.

I must've died at least 15 times. Short bomb fuses, unexpected falls, and one God-forsaken parakeet made me work for this bonus. But then, it was just a bonus. My own completionist nature had me trying and trying again, so I can't really complain. However, one level stood in my way of beating the game and was all sorts of painful. I'm looking at you, Lunar Eclipse.


The gimmick of this level is an intriguing one. Everything is just a black silhouette, so you cannot distinguish the ground from an incoming fireball. Though this is a challenge all its own, it wasn't the most difficult one. What bothered me the most about this level is that it required the player to jump, but not too high.

If you held down the jump key for too long, you would hit your head and a.) Get sent into the lava b.) Careen into spikes c.) Get squashed by a Thwomp d.) Any combination of the above. But this is on top of a level that would've been pretty challenging anyway. I did beat it once I realized there was a shortcut through the 2nd half. My suggestion for other players: find a hammer suit.

I like challenging games and Mario vs. Moon Base has plenty of challenges. I'd prefer if the more difficult challenges were saved for the bonus paths. I'd give this a 4 out of 5, still a very good score.

Overall: 4.5 out of 5

As I said at the outset, I've never played an SMBX game before, but this was a great one to get my feet wet. It's clear that a lot of thought and testing went into these levels. It's a very cohesive project despite having four designers and I salute you guys for a job well done. Maybe I'll try making some of my own levels, now that I know what the engine is capable of.


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find a hammer suit.

There's one of those in Lunar Eclipse too!

Right after the checkpoint even!

Thanks for the review :)
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
I had almost forgotten you could play as Luigi in this game. The two characters have very different physics. I admit I only play-tested my levels as Mario, I wonder if this might have accounted for your difficulty in getting that key in the mines?

Glad you liked the game, though! Thanks for the review!
Well I just finished this game, and gotta say, I enjoyed it alot. Definitely agree with the review score. Good work fellas!
4 1/2 stars? Sounds a little inflated to me. Bowser's Moon Base ALONE is enough to take it below 4 1/2 for me (cut down on the Bullet Bills in the beginning! Geez), and one level in World 5 (the slide level) below 4 stars. It is still a very good game, though!
4 1/2 stars? Sounds a little inflated to me. Bowser's Moon Base ALONE is enough to take it below 4 1/2 for me (cut down on the Bullet Bills in the beginning! Geez), and one level in World 5 (the slide level) below 4 stars. It is still a very good game, though!
Ouch! Good thing there were only 2 levels you didn't like, and not 10, otherwise this game would be 0 stars.
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