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Major Bro-age

  • Sauce
  • 02/05/2012 11:53 AM
  • 3995 views
For me, an important element in reviewing any work is understanding fundamentally what the project aims to accomplish. Metrics used to measure one genre could be of little or no relevance to another. For example, it would be unintuitive to even address the story of a Tetris game. Or a Mario game. Similarly, it’s important to understand what type of project it is that you’re dealing with.

RMN Bros is a community project. The goal is to encourage and facilitate participation by members of the community in a fun little project. To my knowledge, any submission was acceptable so long as it met some logistical requirements.

While I’m writing a review of the resulting game, the spirit of the collaboration greatly influences my interpretation and experience.

~Gameplay~

The gameplay is fantastic. I hadn’t played a Mario platformer since 64, but it was just as entertaining as I remember. While that’s more a function of the program than the level designers, a number of those levels were ridiculously fun. Others were not.

If I played this game without knowing that it was made by so many individuals, I’d wonder why the levels were so different. Some of them sucked, some of them were awesome, some were much too easy, others were nigh impossible. Under normal circumstances, that’s a serious game design flaw.

However, being cognizant of the fact that these levels were created and submitted independent of each other, I could experience each level as if it were its own little world.

Is the inconsistency noticeable from level to level? Absolutely. But I wouldn’t question consistency from one exhibit to the next at an art museum.

I will say that some of the levels were quite challenging, but there were a few mitigating factors that prevented frustration during my gaming experience.

The first was my option to simply move on to the next level. If I was struggling too much with a level or just plain didn’t like it, I could easily try another one. I wasn’t forced to complete the levels in any particular order.

The other factor was the lack of consequences. You can fail as many times as you need to, really without any setbacks. Now this obviously is not specific to RMN bros, but anything that improves the gaming experience is plus. And considering how often you’re likely to die in this game (well… I died a lot, anyway), this is actually fairly significant.

A caveat that I must include is that I did not beat the game, so this review will not consider any game breaking obstacles or bugs that I have yet to encounter. At some point, if I want to beat the game, I’d have to complete some of those levels I skipped over, which would cause some frustration.

~Presentation~

Okay, I just got done explaining why the story is totally irrelevant to this type of game, which is odd, because I’m about to trash the story.



If I robbed a bank and told the police that Bowser forced me to do it, I’d seem more coherent than whoever wrote that.


The truth is that it’s not the story that falls flat. It’s the presentation. For a project that seems to have a lot of work put into it by a great number of people, some of it seems incredibly half-assed.

Did it impact my experience as a platformer? Hell, no. I completely forgot about how lame the beginning was the moment I started flying around the stages. However, from a fellow developer’s perspective, the lack of effort in some areas is head scratching.

I’m not familiar with Super Mario Bros X or what resources are generally used with it. I can only comment on what I see. The mix and match across generations of Super Mario and otherwise does not look good. Also, while the music was pleasantly nostalgic, there were a few outlier tracks that just didn’t fit. Again, most of this was beneath my notice when I was playing and didn’t stop me from having fun.

~Conclusion~

Super RMN Bros 2 is not a fantastic game. But I thought it was an entertaining game. I was expecting to wander around aimlessly in a Super Mario setting, gleefully trying out everyone’s level submissions. That’s exactly what I got. On fun factor alone, I’d give it 9/10. Unfortunately, the flaws in production are there, so I really can’t give it a higher score.

Posts

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Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18257
I'm not entirely sure the text of this review matches the score, but I'm willing to take your word that you enjoyed the game.

I, personally, would like to hear which levels in particular you liked, why you liked them, which ones you didn't like, and any ideas you had on how you would improve the ones you didn't like. I'd love for us to get a dialogue going about this, especially with RMNBros 3 starting.

Thanks for the review!
halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
14878
Yeah, I'm curious to know which levels had you too frustrated to continue (and whether I made them or not :x). Since we are in the middle of making the sequel, I'll take any advice you care to offer.
author=Solitayre
I'm not entirely sure the text of this review matches the score, but I'm willing to take your word that you enjoyed the game.


Could you explain to me what part of the text doesn't match the score?

I'm basically describing my experience playing the game, which I thought was fun.

Almost everything that was wrong with the game had relatively low impact on my gaming experience, for some of the reasons that I stated.

As a reviewer, I couldn't overlook the issues. But since those issues didn't terribly hurt my experience as a gamer, I didn't take off too many stars for them.

I, personally, would like to hear which levels in particular you liked, why you liked them, which ones you didn't like, and any ideas you had on how you would improve the ones you didn't like.


Reply to this instead.
author=Link_2112
Reply to this instead.

Getting there bro, chill. I have to go back and look at the level names, which I didn't keep track of.
kentona
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
20836
Makerscore! Makerscore for everybody!

Thanks for the review, and I am glad that you had fun with the game.
As far as the stages go, there's nothing wrong with more gimmicky or puzzle type levels. To be honest, they're more memorable.

For some suggestions, I'd say...

1.) For levels that are too helter skelter, I'd suggest increasing the number of mushrooms available, as opposed to just making the level easier to pass through. I'm pretty sure this is what Nintendo did for the real games on those crazy fast pace levels.

2.) For puzzle levels, reduce or eliminate enemies around the main puzzle(s). It can be chaotic from puzzle to puzzle, but it's frustrating getting killed in the middle of solving a puzzle. This is sort of a philosophy carried over from RPGs. Nobody likes random encounters while they're running around pulling levels and pushing boxes. It tends to take away from the puzzle more than it adds difficulty.

Crystal Cave did a good job of this. The pattern was... a set of enemies - uninterrupted puzzle - another set of enemies - uninterrupted puzzle - check point. The problem was, after the checkpoint, I had no idea how to work the little gadget. What that level needed was...

3) More tips at the beginning of levels. I'm willing to bet that a number of gamers had no idea how to even attempt some of these levels. Switch Madness 2 was one. I knew what I was doing, but it certainly would help some people if a toad explained to them how the switches worked. Same goes for any of the gimmicks.

Skull Lake was an example of an underwater level with great flow and rhythm, but then I got to some wall obstacle and had no idea how to proceed.

4) On normal levels, try to limit scenarios that slow you down in a bad way. For example, requiring the gamer to jump max height onto a single block to proceed. It breaks up the flow of the level.

Having to stop and time your jumps through an intricate weave of enemies is an example of slowing you down in a good way.

That's a start. I'll post more later.
halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
14878
from kentona
Makerscore! Makerscore for everybody!

...mine didn't go up at all. :<

Izzat a bug?
kentona
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
20836
author=halibabica
from kentona
Makerscore! Makerscore for everybody!
...mine didn't go up at all. :<

Izzat a bug?
Did you wait for the overnight cron job?
halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
14878
I did not! All's well now, of course.
Sauce
1.) For levels that are too helter skelter, I'd suggest increasing the number of mushrooms available, as opposed to just making the level easier to pass through. I'm pretty sure this is what Nintendo did for the real games on those crazy fast pace levels.


They also changed the way you become weaker when taking damage. In SMW a hit only drops you one level (small -> big -> power up, yoshi addition at any stage and is recoverable) while SMBX follows the NES Marios where any hit except with Yoshi/Goomba Shoe will knock you down straight to small Mario. This causes two hits to be enough to kill the player 99% of the time instead of three which does make a big difference.

There's other changes (level design and duration) but that's a big one that stick in my mind when making levels at least. And there's no way to change it. SMBX is like working with an unholy matrimony of RPG Maker 95 and 2000.
author=GreatRedSpirit
They also changed the way you become weaker when taking damage. In SMW a hit only drops you one level (small -> big -> power up, yoshi addition at any stage and is recoverable) while SMBX follows the NES Marios where any hit except with Yoshi/Goomba Shoe will knock you down straight to small Mario. This causes two hits to be enough to kill the player 99% of the time instead of three which does make a big difference.


I did notice that. I'm not familiar with the editor, though. I dunno what suggestions are feasible.

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