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Mamma Mia!

Better late than never. Here it finally is, this Goliath of a review that kept me busy for a long, long time. Without further ado, let's jump right into it.
Super RMN Bros. 3 is a community project made with Super Mario Bros. X (SMBX) and the infamous follow-up to two earlier Mario games developed by numerous members of RMN. With nine worlds consisting of twelve levels each, this is a really huge game, and with the exception of the secret level at the end I played all of it.
I want to make clear right away that I don't claim to be an expert on Mario games whatsoever. I've played a few of them, but by far not all that exist, and my knowledge of classic Mario design is relatively limited. Still, I do think I can distinguish a level that works and plays well from one that doesn't, and I hope I'll be able to coherently explain my sometimes harsh opinions without treating any of the developers unfairly.
A long story short: This game definitely contains some really enjoyable and intelligently designed stages, but there are also so many mediocre and outright terrible levels to be found that the overall impression of the whole is certainly not too positive. To be perfectly honest, if my intention right from the beginning hadn't been to review this game, I probably would have dropped it fairly quickly. That's not to say the developers who worked on this project deserve no recognition for their hard work and often good ideas, but I still cannot recommend playing SRB 3 with a clear conscience.


A short story long: Here are my comments on every single level. Be warned, it's a lot of words. Let's-a go? Okidoki!


Tutorial:
- Tutorial level:
The concept of rewarding the player with two stars for completing the tutorial sounds good in theory, but I imagine it must be extremely annoying for experienced players who have to go through it even if they already know what the level is supposed to teach them. The level itself was a little long, and the Yoshi Jump part was a bit unwieldly, but other than that it's very well done. Also, I forgot what my Alt Run button was, but the game still allowed me to proceed without ever using it. That probably wasn't intended, but it was nice to see the tutorial was not designed to insist on me doing every single thing correctly.


World 1:
- Wooden World (by jackalotrun):
A simple but mostly solid level, relatively easy as is to be expected this early in the game. Some parts look a little empty, there are a few strangely placed slopes, and a general overabundance of powerups. Also, having a miniboss room in a world 1 level seems a little silly. Some more interesting things could have been done with the moving platforms, but overall there's nothing fundamentally wrong with this level.
- Supra Mairo Bors (by ketnona (probably a subspecies of kentona)):
I'm no expert on the subject of classic Mario levels, but this seemed too familiar to even me. The concept of fusing two old-school level types into one isn't bad in theory, but there should be some original content beyond what was already in the actual Mario games. Also, this level could really have used a checkpoint after the first part. Not a broken level by any means, but uninspired and rather boring.
- Awesome Hills (by ldida1):
Not bad per se, but rather bland and finicky. Random large bullet bills, fish swarms, a homing koopa and bats in an outside level feel a little out of place, but are only minor gripes. I'm not a fan of having to make my way over chasms by jumping from single blocks to single blocks in the first world already, though. This level was just okay.
- Shell Game (by nin8halos):
A series of challenges where you have to hold onto a koopa shell to solve a section. Pretty fun concept, actually, but it loses a lot of its appeal after a while. The level would have been more enjoyable if it were shorter. There are too few powerups considering the player is likely to go through most sections more than once, and those little homing squids in the water section are just nonsense. In fact, it would probably have benefitted the flow of the level to cut or at least shorten that water section and end the level earlier.
- Picky Picky (by halibabica):
An incredibly gimmicky "puzzle" level where you work your way up and down a mountain as Toad, digging up plants in search of the star. I like that this level kind of tells a little story about the Mario crew being on a treasure hunt. The jazzy version of a Mario track is nice, too. The level itself, however, is not that much fun to play. Climbing the mountain is all right, though you can easily get rid of most enemies due to the abundance of ammunition. The actual "trick" of the level consists mostly of digging a lot and guessing what the most likely spot is for a secret to be hidden. Also, if you want to use Shy Guys as NPCs to give the player a hint (which isn't even that helpful), don't use Shy Guys as enemies in the same level as well, and don't put the harmless ones right on the edge of a platform you have to jump onto. That's bad and confusing design. I have to admit the trick to get the secret star, although difficult to pull off, is actually a really nifty idea, nevertheless.
- Mario in the Mines! (by Seiromem):
A Minecraft Mario level. That is not a joke. It's a funny concept, but rather badly executed. As to be expected, graphical consistency is all over the place. Having to figure out which tiles are passable and which aren't makes the first part of the level too confusing, and later on it turns into a death trap if you aren't quick enough, due to loads of monster spawners. There is so little room to manoeuvre that even with the handy pumpkin block you can use to smash enemies, there is almost no escaping their projectiles. And there is neither a checkpointto be found anywhere, nor are there enough accessible powerups. Later on, we see a Toad NPC with pointless dialogue who gets thrown around by a monster, and an even more pointless stone tower that is annoyingly difficult to climb. I'm a fan of Minecraft, but not of this level.
- Vivid Void (by jackalotrun):
A ridiculously short level built on the concept of swimming through floating aquarium-like masses of water. A cool idea, but it suffers from poor execution. Nothing in this level is particularly interesting, and the miniboss feels completely out of place. More void than vividness here.
- Partners in Prime (by Seiromem):
A sort-of escort level where you follow a ninja NPC up a tower-like structure. There are some really unfair platforming sections where you can hardly see or evade incoming enemies because of the looping edges of the screen, and too many annoying jumps on single floating blocks. But more importantly, there are only a few rare occasions where you actually interact with the ninja in any way. Most of the time, it plays just like a regular scrolling level, but instead of running from the edge of the screen you run after an NPC. A lot of unused potential here.
- Supra Mairo Bors: Dessert (by enktona (another close relative of the regular kentona)):
Just another extremely unoriginal imitation of classic Mario levels that borrows way too heavily from its source of inspiration. The point of having an engine to create Mario levels is not to make a game that already exists. Also, the way to get the secret star in this level is probably one of the most annoying things ever created for a Mario game.
- Stop the Clock (by Faenon):
A mess of a level where you have to sprint past hordes of enemies by grabbing stopwatches. There is hardly any strategy or skill involved whatsoever, One mistake or unlucky enemy positioning will most likely kill you. Probably the most uninteresting and chaotic possible way of using those stopwatch items as a level mechanic. Short, but definitely not sweet.
- Great Grasslands (by Tomstar):
Wait, what? This is not a level. There is almost nothing in here. Jump past a few piranha plants and some goombas, and that's it. Writing these few words took me longer than clearing this level. Even the hidden secrets are ridiculously simple. What is the point of a level that has practically no content?
- Bowser's Lava Castle (by DarklordKeinor):
The first time, I did not realise that platform right at the beginning wouldn't come back eventually, so I had to restart the level. The platform really should not have started moving before I touched it for the first time. Other than that, this was a really good level, although the Bowser boss seemed a little too hard for the first real boss fight in the game.



World 2:
- Green Suede Shoes (by Solitayre):
Not bad, although maybe a bit too similar in concept to Shell Game. There were a few really finicky jumps, and the concept of platforming with a green Kuribo shoe could have been explored in more interesting ways, but otherwise it was fine. Very nice consistent use of the colour green, by the way.
- Forest Stroll (by DarklordKeinor):
A forest level where you jump around a bit and evade some enemies in bubbles. Not bad overall, but too short and not very exciting. Some more varied content would have done this level good.
- Epic Elites (by jackalotrun):
A gimmicky level with fast enemies. While the first part has its moments but is mostly boring, the second part with the Bullet Bill cannons is just unfair. These things are dangerous enough already without super speed. That Birdo fight at the end is just unnecessary, but at least its eggs weren't extra fast, too.
- Fairy Boy (by halibabica):
A flying level with Link, Navi and a bunch of other fairies that all look like Link in fairy form. Very cool concept, and I really like that you can just as well finish the level without the special powerups without missing out on anything. The second part however is too long, repetitive and has way too many enemies in it, including ridiculous amounts of homing Goombas. In general, it would be nice if fewer enemies would jump onto me from above where I can't see them appearing. Also, those additional fairies just become too irritating at some point. If this level were toned down a notch, it would be very enjoyable.
- Magma Caverns (by Seiromem):
A climbing level where you flee from rising lava. This level would be awesome if it weren't for a few problems: Right at the beginning, the player has almost no time to get their bearings - a condition that is appropriate for the rest of the level, but frustrating when it happens right at the start. Some of the later wooden platforms that fall down when you touch them do not respawn, putting you in an unwinnable situation. Also, having Thwomps and bats come at you from above where you can't see them in time is just mean, especially that one bat that hangs just next to the last pipe in the lava segment. Cool idea for a secret passage, though.
- Cold Clouds (by Tomstar):
Another absurdly short and overly simplistic level that becomes even more trivial due to the leaf powerup you're given. Something interesting could have been done with those differently shaped clouds, but this is just a whole lot of nothing.
- RMN Super Beach Level! (by mariomanty2):
This level is awful! Loads of pointless powerups at extremely short intervals, interrupted by jumping sections full of one-tile wide pillars and a handful of Koopas and Goombas. Good thing I had a leaf when I entered this level, making it rather trivial, but otherwise this would have been just a nightmare.
- Ruins of Muda (by nin8halos):
A really cool and beautiful exploration-based level where I didn't mind searching for the secret star. The falling blocks mechanic added a lot to both the atmosphere and the gameplay and was used in various creative ways. With less of those really annoying homing squids, this level would have been perfect.
- SMB2 (by Seiromem):
If this was supposed to be some kind of homage/copy level, I didn't recognise it as such, at least. (If it is, I apologise to kentona whose clone levels I've been criticising.) There were a few annoying jumps off of ninjas on single block platforms, and there's a very questionable room in the second part where looping walls combined with a projectile-shooting enemy will make the room utterly intraversable after a short while. Also, the part where you have to use Bob-Ombs to destroy a wall is easy if you have an ice flower, but almost impossible otherwise, because those things start walking again after you've thrown them. Other than that, the level is mostly solid.
- Castle Notsobad (by Isrieri):
The title is misleading. This level is incredibly finicky, frustrating and unfair. It starts you off without a powerup, makes you make a far jump onto a small platform with a Dry Bones on it, lava below and spikes above you, followed by Thwomps and rotating fire rods, also on small platforms. Then, there's a death jump you can only make by ducking in mid-air. Not doing so will result in hitting the ceiling and falling into the lava. I gave up after dying in the following section, where you have to make your way across a spike field using short vines, while aggressive plants jump up at you. At that point I hadn't even encountered a checkpoint yet. This is the first level so far I decided not to even try and finish, because it is pretty much unplayable.
- Boss Blitz Bonanza (by jackalotrun):
A boss rush type of level where all you do is fight a bunch of minibosses successively. To get the hidden star you even have to fight two of them at the same time. Not bad regarding pure playability, but probably as unoriginal and boring as it gets. Five bosses in a row do not automatically make a good Mario level.
- Supra Mairo Bors: Boswer's Castl (by tekonna (a rare variant of the default kentona)):
Possibly another clone of an existing Mario level, but I didn't recognise it. Not so bad most of the time, but then there is this long double jump involving a one tile wide pillar that you can't see from where your jump starts at. So it is likely to get you killed the first time, which wouldn't even be so infuriating if it wasn't right before a checkpoint. There's also a problematic hallway with fire rods that at a certain point become almost impossible to evade.




Sure, whatever...



World 3:
- Tomb of the Toadstool Emperor (by Ratty524):
A pretty well-made level consisting of a desert-themed outside area and a puzzle-like inside area. In order to finish the latter, you have to complete three short challenges. I especially liked the block puzzle one, while the ascension on Spiny-littered floors is either extremely difficult or extremely easy, depending on whether you still have one of the provided fire flowers. Replacing this part with something less annoying would have benefitted the level greatly.
- Oasis Ruins (by Deckiller):
A very good multi-layer level with different environments and many secrets to explore. Challenging, but never unfair, and makes great use of the vertical axis. I do wonder what's up with that one weird spot under water that seems to be transparent, but that's about the only critical thing I have to say about this level. Well done!
- Goomba's Pass (by DarklordKeinor):
A short and relatively empty level that encourages you not to play it. The level itself is rather bland, but not bad apart from a few single block jumps. However, there are no less than three extremely obvious shortcuts that allow you to just skip about 75% of the level, and even reward you for doing so with coins and a green mushroom. This is an absolutely pointless design decision and in no way an improvement for the level.
- Peach's Stroll (by Seiromem):
A Peach level that focuses on climbing and incorporates the princess's floating mechanic very well. It gets much too repetitive and finicky rather quickly, though. The section where you make your way up by means of floating water bubbles is already difficult and potentially frustrating enough, it really doesn't need squids and jumping fish ambushing you in addition.
- Blasted Boos (by jackalotrun):
A ghost house level that could have been a lot better than it is. The first half isn't even bad, although it really didn't need that Dry Bones spawner right next to a looping wall. The secret star path is okay as well, but goes on way too long. Most importantly though, that Boo boss fight really should not have been in there. It takes way too many hits, its attacks are too overwhelming, and if you lose your ice flower, the battle is pretty much unwinnable. An anticlimactic and frustrating ending to a potentially good level.
- Woodcutter Castle (by nin8halos):
A pretty good wood-themed level that often gives you a choice between different paths to advance, and has an appropriately high amount of circular saws in it. Saw-jumping is only required once right before the end, in all other situations it is useful but not mandatory. The level could have done with fewer lumberjack-themed Hammer Bros, as those enemies' random behaviour tends to leave the player at the mercy of luck.
- Brilliant Battle (by Tomstar):
An arena-type level consisting of one small room where you have to defeat single enemies or a special enemy among a group of four. A nice idea for a little gimmick, but not sufficient for a whole level. Most of it is very simple and gets old really quickly.
- Sky Mountain (by Davenport):
A level with very un-Mario-like music and background that is all about high jumps and flying. It's not bad in itself, but some parts of it feel too empty and it goes on for too long. A shorter, more condensed and focused version would make for an engaging level.
- Dr. Toadly (by Seiromem):
An extremely frustrating boss level starring Toad, where you first have to chase after the infamous Dr. Toadly by making a series of jumps on single donut blocks that only spawn when you're close enough to the fleeing boss. If you make one mistake or lose sight of Toadly, that's it. Then, after a decent Metroid-themed platforming section, a fight against Mother Brain from that game awaits you, which is nothing more than a chore. The boss takes a lot of hits to defeat while your own thrown shells do not harm you, making the fight easy but boring. Not a good level.
- Sand Tombs (by apa649):
A more blocky desert level that is not bad in every respect, but contains a few very questionable elements. It seems there's a lot of falling involved, which makes the player feel like they missed out on something when seeing the paths branching off to the side. Also, forcing a cheap hit onto the player by making moving spiked platforms appear out of nowhere upon collecting a red coin, that is really not an acceptable thing to do.
- Supra Mairo Bors 3: Agnry Sun (by ankonte (okay, this is getting old)):
In a world where enemies dress up as blocks, the sun descends from the sky to kill you. This might be another clone level, but if so, I didn't recognise more than the Angry Sun mechanic itself. It's enjoyable, although for some reason the Sun apparently glitched out when I made it move off screen, causing it to disappear and stop chasing me.
- Jackalotrun's Castle (by jackalotrun):
A castle level with airships in it. Loads of bombs and enemies are being dropped on you, but the bombs also nicely clean up the enemies at the same time. It only gets really obnoxious when the later pipes start spawning homing Koopas. Despite the shameless self-insert, the boss fight here is actually somewhat original and neither too easy nor too difficult. Not a great level, but not bad either.



World 4:
- Vanilla Lake (by Link_2112):
A level with puzzle elements that switches between different environments. The first part is somewhat too long, especially when compared to the second, and the first puzzle room is a good example of enemy spawners in small rooms becoming problematic very quickly. The level gets very busy with lots of enemies later on, and the boss fight in the middle of the level is just plainly unnecessary, but it's generally at least manageable, especially with the numerous powerups provided.
- The Cave (by ldida1):
This level starts you off having to float down a large pit and collect 8 red coins on the way, everyone's favourite part of Mario games. It's actually not bad as far as red coin levels go. It allows you to retry if you missed coins, provides you with enough leaves every time, and makes use of a fun little twist where collecting another powerup turns into a disadvantage. However, the flying little fireballs (that are just loose pieces of fire rods) are way too tricky to evade, as you can't immediately trace the points they orbit. Also, at least the ground floor should have been clear of enemies, especially of the notoriously unfair Hammer Bros. The second part consists of mostly alright platforming, again with some borderline unfair flying fireballs. The end is ruined by an obnoxious battle against two identical (and, at this point, totally overused) bosses in one small arena. Removing that and toning the level down a bit in general would have been a very noticeable improvement.
- The Factory (by Seiromem):
Another Metroid-themed level that thematises the production of Mario enemies and drops eggs on you with all kinds of weird things in them. It would have been nice if that had been visually demonstrated once before the player enthusiastically grabs the first egg that comes out of a pipe, expecting a Yoshi or powerup and getting murdered by a Goomba instead. The level starts you off with a duck-or-die jump, and there are some other questionable elements like a ride on lava on one single skull or a mandatory jump over a hole by means of a big Bullet Bill, but these only appear once and are so short that they don't ruin the experience. The first lava section on the other hand is a bit long and monotonous, but all things considered this is a mostly fun level with some flaws.
- Hilly Hyrule (by jackalotrun):
An extremely short and uninteresting Zelda-themed level. Some enemies run at you, you have to get through a short hallway with some obstacles, then swim across a lake with some fish in it. The end. The opposite of exciting.
- Narbacular Drop (by DarklordKeinor, apa649, jackalotrun, Isrieri and Seiromem):
A pretty good collaborative level consisting of multiple areas that allow (but do not require) you to play as different characters. There's a lot of nifty ideas to be found in this level, and most of it is fun to play. Getting the secret star is difficult, but not impossible. I do wonder how Peach is supposed to make it past that pair of Thwomps in the second section, considering she does not have access to a spin jump. The third part uses enemy spawners a bit too excessively, though not to a degree where it becomes unplayable. Also, for the sake of other people's levels, you should not allow the player to keep that blue shoe after the end of the level. These are all minor issues, however - my only real complaint is that the checkpoint should have been placed at the beginning rather than the end of the third section, because having to replay such a huge part of the level if you die before the checkpoint quickly becomes very annoying.
- Shrooms in the Night Sky (by Seiromem):
A solid Luigi level full of big Goombas and Koopas with a focus on measuring jumps. It gets a bit mean with the timing of the Bullet Bills and jumps off of enemies at a few points, but nothing too bad. Nicely done.
- Lakitu Bros. (by halibabica):
A funny gimmick level where, for once, the Lakitus have come to assist Mario. Due to their somewhat random patterns of behaviour, the air support they provide with fire and ice shots (that only damage enemies) is of limited usefulness however. Considering how crowded most parts of the level already are, it also really didn't need those homing Goombas. The last part, where an evil Lakitu finally shows up, comes down more to speed and luck than skill, but all in all the level is mostly fine.
- Ghost House Blues (by Desmo360):
An extremely long ghost house level that takes its own numerous interesting and clever gimmicks just a little too far and couldn't quite decide whether it wanted to be a puzzle or an action level. The timing on the disappearing platforms and the elevator section is very unforgiving, the part where Mario gets transformed into a Boo is just a bit too crowded, and the invisible block climbing takes a lot of time, experimentation and spatial awareness. Also, putting a boss fight, no matter how easy, after such a long puzzle section is just unfair to the player. If this level had been split up into two shorter and more focused levels rather than one giant level, it would have been fantastic.
- Coffee and Donuts (by nin8halos):
An aesthetically and thematically pleasing level that is very difficult, but not unfair. There are a few instances where your reactions really have to be on point if you don't want to end up cooking in lava-coffee, but the level equips you with everything you need to succeed. My only complaint is that it is very difficult to visually distinguish the donut blocks that fall down immediately when touched as opposed to those that can take a little more. Other than that, this is an awesome level.
- Crystal Cave (by jackalotrun):
An ice-themed level that is rather short and, most of the time, very flat. It's relatively easy and doesn't really do anything wrong, but it's also not interesting enough to fill the player with a real sense of accomplishment upon completion.
- Mushroom Valley (by DarklordKeinor):
A quite easy, short and mostly unspectacular level, but solid overall. It uses, but doesn't overuse Hammer Bros and a homing Koopa. Also, the first appearance of the mushroom of death, though whether that's a good thing is debatable. The secret star also isn't too hard to find, but does require paying some extra attention.
- Mairo vs. the Tree Base (by kenonta (=kentona)):
I feel like I'm missing a reference here... Anyway, this is a jungle-themed "castle" level with obese enemies and tricky jumps. It's very challenging without being too unforgiving, although the boss is extremely difficult. Still, this is overall a really good and enjoyable Mario level without any obvious flaws.




I really needed a snack break after all that.



World 5:
- Jellyfish Lake (by DarklordKeinor):
A relatively short underwater level that requires extremely precise swimming to avoid the numerous jellyfish waiting for you and plotting your demise. There is also a lot of Cheep-Cheeps and squids getting in your way, which is why the provided fire flowers are very welcome and almost a necessity to win this level. Pretty much the entire level consists just of evading these aquatic obstacles, which gets old rather quickly. The one instance where it goes a bit too far is the placement of a jellyfish only one space away from a pipe entrance, although to be fair it is absolutely possible to get past that. Not an amazing level, but acceptable.
- Smash, Bro (by Link_2112):
A rather weird level that starts off with a Smash Bros. inspired and rather boring arena fight against groups of enemies, with the added twist that not only the walls on the side, but also the top and bottom loop here for Mario. After that, and before even providing a checkpoint, the level then completely abandons this theme and continues on with a few mostly rather cleverly designed platforming and puzzle sections including some questionable but manageable jumps on spiked single block pillars with a green shoe. To be perfectly honest, this level would have been a lot better off if that first Smash section had just been cut in favour of the rest of the level.
- Mad Metroid (by jackalotrun):
An extraordinarily boring Metroid-themed level where the greatest challenge is discovering that the blue blocks hanging around in the first part of the stage actually function as ?-blocks with coins and powerups in them. The rest of the level consists mainly of just walking and evading a few enemies here and there. Of course, the level ends with the obligatory super long battle against another Mother Brain. The word that describes this level best would be "superfluous."
- Luigi's Mansion (by halibabica):
A pretty good ghost house level for Luigi that has some tricks on its sleeve to make you realise you're not as smart as you think. There are a few instances where the clockwork-like Boos circling around their orbit points are just a little too difficult to evade, and the hallway where ghosts rush at you from the front is just a bit too long. If you don't take the secret entrance, the first ghost Lakitu section is also incredibly hard, and almost impossible to win without a leaf to help you make those far jumps while ghost flames are raining down on you. With a few improvements, this level would be a blast to play.
(In addition, I got hit by a glitch in this level that I imagine to be the engine's fault, which is why I won't blame the level or its creator for it: When I used a saved up mushroom on myself as small Luigi while standing under the one secret switch that is just one block away from the ground, I got stuck inside the floor and could only slide around in it until I made it to the hole that continues the level.)
- Spike Palace (by Seiromem):
An insanely difficult level that is designed around the gimmick of climbing on the safe sides of spikes. Right at the beginning, it forces you to make a few almost impossible jumps on spikes in a very narrow area. Later parts are slightly more forgiving, but that doesn't say a lot because they are still extremely hard. At the end of the level you find a boss fight where a moving pipe at the ceiling occasionally shoots down Spineys, which was so poorly implemented that it makes the fight horribly imbalanced: During my first try, I got blasted with a Spiney the very moment I entered the door. The second time, the boss took two direct hits from the Spiney pipe within a few seconds, allowing me to instantly kill him with one jump on his head. I also had no idea how to get to the secret star, and the level is so lethal I couldn't really be bothered to search around a lot. There are many good ideas here that could have made a great level, but the overemphasis on borderline unfair difficulty as well as the sloppy design ruin its potential.
- Satellite of Love (by nin8halos):
Yet another Metroid-themed level that circles around in a clockwise loop and makes some really good use of its own spatial layout. The player has to hit a switch in every section in order to advance and ultimately return to the starting point with the way to the star open now. There is a bit of back and forth involved within some of the sections that can draw the level out a bit, but it's still fun to explore and succeed. The only real - and still rather minor - design flaw is that the correct direction to go at the beginning should probably have been pointed out more clearly, so that the player doesn't have to struggle past dangers for a while only to realise the path is blocked.
- Supra Mairo Bors 3: Clowds (by nenkota (=kentona)):
A very tricky level whose possible source of inspiration I once again couldn't tell. This stage requires quite some jumping prowess and can be very mean sometimes. The first part is more of a castle or ghost house level that includes difficult jumping sections with orbiting fireballs and Boos as well as a puzzle section. While the idea behind this puzzle is sound, the last step that allows you to proceed is not indicated or hinted at in any way, so that it turns into a mere trial-and-error process. The second half is set outside and consists of more solid platforming without any obvious flaws. My only problem was that I had never seen the lines of small red spheres rotating around a green one before, so it took me a few deaths to find out that unlike fire rods these don't kill you, and you can even walk on them. If these objects are perfectly normal assets in Mario games, then this is just my fault for not knowing them. Otherwise however, not using the colour red for these would spare the player a lot of confusion. In any case, this is a hard but generally good level.
- Mario in a Flash (by UPRC):
A rather pointless maze-like level consisting entirely of slippery ice that makes movement cumbersome. The level is also full of hidden blocks in sometimes strange places, forces you to confront enemies in cramped hallways with extremely low ceilings, and allows you to just skip huge sections depending on which path you choose. And for goodness' sake, do not put a Hammer Bro right in front of the star at the end without anything useful in the proximity to help the player defeat it. That's just unfair.
- Airship G (by Seiromem):
A pretty good airship level whose Goomba crew is clearly not afraid of some collateral damage. The enemies are usually well placed here and form a large part of the platforming challenges. There is one particular spot where enemy spawners are being overused without a level-provided way to control their numbers. And I'm sure there could have been better ways to make the second half on the moving platform more interesting instead of sending homing Goombas after the player again and again. This way, it just feels like filler. The level does put a neat spin on the miniboss formula by freezing him in place, whereas the actual danger comes from a continuous onslaught of Goombas rushing at you. With just a little more care in its design, this level would have been really great.
- Goomba Caves (by apa649):
An enormous cave level full of slopes and inconveniently placed enemies, but very few powerups. It seems like this is a red coin collection level, but I can't say for sure if they are optional or not, because quite frankly I have absolutely no idea what this level wants me to do. There doesn't seem to be any exit or goal point to reach, and I managed to collect about three or four red coins upon having explored all parts of the level I could find. The fact that some of those red coins can only be collected with the help of certain enemies (one of them is in a hole and can only be picked up by jumping off a falling Shy Guy's back) becomes an additional problem since if those enemies die, there's no way to get them any more. Personally, I neither mind exploration in Mario levels nor do I have a big problem with collecting red coins, but this level I just don't know what to do with.
- Desert Dunes (by jackalotrun):
A short and somewhat half-baked desert level that teases the player with some cool mechanics like platforms moving up and down in and out of the death holes, but all these different sections end abruptly before they got past a very simple screen or two. This is a perfect example of a level that has huge potential, but decided to only briefly scratch the surface and not follow through with anything it introduces. The way it is now, this level has practically no substance and is not fun to play.
- Dr. Toadly's Revenge (by Seiromem):
A surprisingly decent follow-up to the first Toadly boss level. Graphically, the Metroid-style level is also working with the concept of mind-controlled Toads taking the place of normal enemies, which is pretty nifty but can also be a little confusing. The section where the player is floating on lava on a small platform and being targeted by Lakitus is actually not very exciting or interesting. The miniboss fight feels unnecessary, and having a pipe that shoots (Toad-like) shells from time to time doesn't make it any fairer. The boss battle however works with some clever ideas, and not everything is what it seems like at first glance. Since you are given red mushrooms every so often, the focus of the fight shifts a little from dodging skill to endurance, but that's not necessarily bad in this case.



World 6:
- Block Sea (by Seiromem):
A difficult but pleasant beach level that proves red coin challenges don't have to be obnoxious by default. The placement of the coins throughout the course is very reasonable and never done in such a way that they become too obscure to find. The level also accounts for its focus on exploration and the long-term dangers that come with it by providing plenty of powerups for the player to stay alive. Even the secret star is neither too easy nor too difficult to obtain. Again, I do want to advise against the careless use of enemy spawners and jumping fish in the way it happens here a few times. But for the largest part, this is a great example of what a good, well-designed red coin level should look like.
- Major Linkage (by Link_2112):
A huge and extremely frustrating Zelda-style level where you play as Link. The level itself has a very different playstyle than normal Mario levels and emphasises combat and puzzle solving over platforming. The solutions to the puzzles often seem arbitrary, however, and since it's not possible to turn back once you have decided to explore one of the multiple paths the level offers, a lot of the gameplay boils down to simple trial and error. This also means that in order to acquire the two secret stars hidden in this course, you either need to be lucky enough to pick the correct path by accident, or keep replaying the level until you've crossed out all the options. Shortly after the checkpoint, there is an insane screen where you have to ride on some red Boo-like creatures that move towards you extremely fast if you look away from them and that will make you get stuck and obliterate you if you don't get it right immediately. In short, this is a very unconventional level that may have looked great in theory, but that in fact is absolutely no fun to play.
- Supra Mairo Bors: Lost Leevls (by anotnek (=kentona)):
Another oldschool jump and run level that doesn't try to do anything fancy, but instead presents just solid Mario gameplay. The underwater section gets a little boring after a while and has too many squids in it, but otherwise there is nothing remarkably bad or remarkably interesting about this level.
- Sky Rush (by apa649):
First of all, why would you make even just entering a level so difficult? Anyway, this is a rather weird airship level where a powerful airstream from left to right skews movement, jumping, and the trajectory of projectiles. It's a difficult mechanic to get used to and will inevitable cause some deaths and frustration, but once you've understood how it works it makes for a fun change of pace. One very annoying issue however is that if you make the item in your reserve slot drop, instead of falling straight down it will immediately start flying to the right and away from you, making it almost impossible to catch.It's a good thing this level is not very long, because this way its dangerous and game-changing gimmick does not outlive its appeal.
- Triad Airship (by Deckiller):
A very busy scrolling airship level that leaves you with almost no room to breathe during its first part. Wrenches and Bullet Bills come flying at you from everywhere, and to add insult to injury the level is also littered with fake spots for wrench-tossing enemies, so you can never be sure at first glance where they are actually going to appear from. It's not a bad level up to that point, but definitely brutal and unforgiving. The second part meanwhile is the ultimate anticlimax, as it consists just of another standard miniboss fight.
- Pipe Works (by Seiromem):
A pretty good level built almost entirely out of pipes. You will not get far here without use of the spin jump, and the provided fire flowers are almost necessary for survival in some areas. The two enemy-spawning pipes in the level are again used too carelessly. But still, the level as a whole provides a well-designed and exciting challenge with some neat twists and without being too long. I was not able to find the secret star, however.
- Rockin' Retro (by jackalotrun):
This level most certainly lives up to its name with its old-school graphics and the Mario rock music accompanying it. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is played at such a high volume that you can hardly hear the sound effects of the game any more. Also, there is not much to the level as it is: It consists of a few short challenges, each in the style of different well-known Mario level types, but it all ends before it even really got started. A lot more could have been done with this level, but right now it hardly deserves to be called one.
- Bob-Omb Cave (by DarklordKeinor):
A sometimes really infuriating level that begins with difficult mandatory jumping off flying Koopas over a hole with a falling platform as your first step, which means it's almost impossible to prepare for the jump ahead of you. (I ultimately just skipped this part by flying across the gap.) Then you enter a cave where moving platforms carry you across gaps and lava while you evade circular saws and enemies. This part of the level is mostly decent, except for the fact that there are Bob-Ombs hidden in some of the ?-blocks, and that there is a Bob-Omb spawner placed right above a pipe you need to enter, which makes it almost impossible not to take a hit here. The rest of the cave is okay again, until the level ends with another, this time more manageable Koopa jump. This level would have been way better with fewer of those tricks that serve to annoy the player rather than provide an interesting challenge.
- Fortress Aflame (by nin8halos):
A fire-themed castle level with a lot of clever ideas, but an absolutely exaggerated difficulty. There are many well-designed platforming ideas and challenges built into this level, and every danger is consistently based on the concept of fire. However, some of the obstacles and enemies are almost impossible to evade. Especially the fast-moving flames that race back and forth over the ground - a great idea in theory - are often placed in such a way that even when you know they are coming, there's practically no way you can get out of their path in time. Even though there are options to get rid of these enemies by using the provided powerups, things like these make the level feel frustrating an unfair to the player, which obviously also discourages searching for the two hidden stars.
- Crimson Slipper (by halibabica):
A very interesting and original Peach level that starts you off with a red shoe and revolves around travelling on and evading lava. While the item allows you to walk on lava, thereby reducing the risk of dying, there are still many dangers around that make the level challenging. What's special about it is that you can perfectly finish the level even if you lose the shoe, as there are moving platforms and different paths that you can still use. The sections around and after the checkpoint are very unforgiving, as hitting just one pixel of the floating blobs of lava with your head or side immediately results in death. This part should have been toned down a little. Also, the different colouring of the blue coins that can be found in the second half of the level is confusing, as it made me think that collecting them all was required to get the secret star, which then didn't actually seem to be the case. Still, all in all it's a cleverly constructed level based on a very cool concept.
- Dangerous Den (by jackalotrun):
A level consisting of a series of short challenges, each in their own little room. It starts out as a fun idea, but the novelty wears off quickly, and towards the end the minilevels become increasingly unimaginative. And since the level ends with a frustrating boss battle, having to replay the second set of challenges after the checkpoint turns into a chore quickly. With some more creative minilevels or puzzles instead of the boss fights, this level would have been much more fun to experience.
- Mario in the Heat (by nin8halos):
An extremely frustrating, insanely difficult level made in the style of another game I don't know, which at first made it hard for me to get which tiles represent what. That's not a real issue as you'll get used to it quickly - the real problem this level has is its punishing difficulty combined with its length. Most of the platforming involves jumping on and off single blocks, some of which later even begin to disappear and reappear at regular intervals. At the beginning, this is not such a huge problem as the level provides you with a leaf, but if you lose that, you're in for a really bad day. There is also one type of Hammer Bros-like enemies that throw fireballs at you and that are sometimes placed in extremely dangerous spots. But what's downright unfair about this level is that sometimes, another type of enemy comes shooting across the floor or out of a pipe with an insane speed, so that it's almost impossible to dodge. And at one point, such an enemy comes racing at you out of the blue without any warning, which is therefore guaranteed to hit you if you aren't already prepared for it. That kind of thing is either the result of an unfixed glitch, or just inexcusable trolling that has no place in any decent Mario game whatsoever.
One more comment: At one point during the level, just before entering the hallway that leads to the boss, the game crashed and showed me an error message mentioning "subscript" or "runtime out of range" or something similar. It only happened once and I haven't actively tried to reproduce the error.



World 7:
- Snow Tomb (by Seiromem):
A literally cool but difficult ice-themed Peach level with a particularly blue hue. In a level with slippery floors and such an emphasis on dangerous and long jumps, choosing the princess as the character to play as was definitely the correct decision. There is a lot of stuff in this level that is out to kill you, but despite its difficulty the level is generally fair and well-designed. My only complaints are that there is one Hammer Bro in this level that is just standing right on the ground and thus very difficult to get past, and placing the star right above a dangerous flower enemy is a bit of a cheap shot. Also, applying the colour swap to the ice flower powerup as well so that it looks like a fire flower is unnecessarily confusing. Overall a very challenging but very enjoyable level, though.
- Poison Valley (by apa649):
A very sickly and dangerous level where the death mushrooms are out to get you. There's quite a number of interesting ideas and twists in this level, making large parts of it fun to play despite the high difficulty. The one thing that really irritated me however were the seemingly random hidden holes in the ground that drop you into another area of the level. None of them are actually death traps, but all they accomplish is to throw the player off without actually adding anything to the quality of the level.
- Chainsaw Massacre (by halibabica):
A very monotonous and uninteresting Metroid-themed level where all you do is move all through a large cave killing every single enemy with a chainsaw item provided to you. It's a funny idea, but actually playing through it just feels like wasted time. The little puzzles you can solve to get to the secret star only slightly alleviate this issue.
- The Stronghold (by DarklordKeinor):
A moderately difficult castle level that is a bit too short for its own good. The first part puts some serious obstacles in your way and makes good use of its materials. The second part, however consists mostly just of another boss battle with some added difficulty, but not much else of interest. What is there in this level is good, it would just have been nice if there had been more.
- Frosty Tower (by nin8halos):
A very intense scrolling level where you have to quickly climb up an ice tower. This level will constantly keep you on the edge of our seat, as it is so difficult it requires unbroken concentration, but not so difficult it feels unfair. Unfortunately, the lack of a checkpoint really hurts this level, making a death close to the end extra frustrating. Still, once you get the hang of it, this is an extremely exciting and enjoyable level.
- Labyrinth (by Isrieri):
A huge, confusing level full of piranha plants and blue pipes that keep sending you back and forth around the level without rhyme or reason. Ultimately, the solution to exit the labyrinth simply consists just of trial and error while backtracking a lot and doing your best not to die. In short, this is an infuriating level that would have been better off without the whole labyrinth gimmick, as it turned a decent stage into an unenjoyable mess.
- Supra Mairo Bors 3: Pippes (by entonka (=kentona)):
A decent pipe-themed level with an additional alternative underwater area beneath it. Some of the mechanics in this level are a little too gimmicky, such as the invisible note blocks, but nothing too bad overall.
- Forest Castle (by outcry312):
A forest-themed indoor level that appropriately involves a lot of climbing on vines. Most of the sections are quite manageable and well-designed, although the boss at the end is somewhat disappointing. Also, hiding Goombas in ?-blocks is not a nice thing to do. But while the level as such isn't that hard, getting the 4 blue coins needed for the secret star is almost impossible, as the challenges you need to overcome to get to them are simply brutal. This kind of difficulty seems excessive even for a secret star this far into the game.
- Speed Spurt (by jackalotrun):
This level is Wooden World again (the first level I played), but this time there is a giant wall of spikes coming after you, forcing you to sprint through the level like a madman. I don't really have an issue with this idea, to be honest, but it also doesn't feel extremely new or exciting to me.
- Watch That First Step (by hedge1):
A very strange level that exemplifies the meaning of the word "exaggeration." The first part consists of falling down a huge pit. And this gimmick doesn't even bother me that much in and of itself, it's the implementation with its incredibly arbitrary design that turns this somewhat funny idea into a nightmare. Even with the trail of coins that indicates where to go, the level often gives you way too little time to prepare for what is coming or move yourself where you want to be. Later on, enemies start dropping down and flying across the screen, and even landing on top of one usually means death, since the others will drop on top of you as a result of breaking your fall. The only way to complete this part is to try it over and over until you've memorised most of it, and then hope for luck. The second part of the level makes you climb back up large parts of the mine again, using an elevator at first and blocks and moving platforms later. Again, a mechanic that could have been good is made unattractive by confusing design and excessive length. And once you've finally made it to the end, a Toad NPC reveals to you that you could have skipped that whole second part by taking a secret entrance. Trolling the player like that is not funny - it's just mean and unprofessional, especially in a level as difficult and random as this.
- Gloom Catacombs (by Davenport):
A quite large pyramid-style level that consists of both puzzle-like sequences to unlock new passages and pretty difficult platforming. The level does some interesting things with the graphics, but consistency is nowhere to be found. This also creates a problem of recognisability: One particular enemy looks like a Boo that moves on the ground, but is actually a different reskinned enemy, which makes the player think you can't jump on this enemy when in fact you can. Also, I found the music inside the pyramid extremely unpleasant. The level would probably have been more fun to play if it were a bit shorter, but at least you are given enough powerups to survive relatively reliably. All things considered, this is a pretty decent level.
- Dr. Toadly's Return (by Seiromem):
Perhaps the most boring Dr. Toadly level in the game so far. All the first part consists of is defending an elevator against the enemies that fall onto it from above (and are extremely easy to defeat), then walk across an incredibly long path and getting past dozens of small enemy groups. The second part is just a boss fight we've already seen before. Not a single trace of variety or innovation is to be found anywhere in this level. Also, if you write a dramatic taunt dialogue for a villain, use your exclamation marks in moderation, and make sure not to accidentally use a 1 instead.



World 8:
- Ghastly Ruins (by Seiromem):
A ghost house level that is mostly pretty decent, except for one section that drags it down. After a short ride over lava, you enter an area with multiple rooms that each contain numerous pipes that can all be entered. But only one in each room will advance you to the next room, which means you have no choice but to try them all until you've found the right way to go. This is boring, time-consuming and irritating. The rest of the level consists mostly of platforming while evading Boos, and problem-solving involving switches. Due to the way the level is structured, you can unfortunately sometimes get hit by fireballs almost randomly, and the trick to getting to the secret star is rather silly. Still, if that pipe section were removed or replaced with something better, this level would be good.
- Splinter Bay (by Davenport):
A pretty good level set first on ships, then in a toxic cave. The name of the level will not only be picked up countless times by NPCs along the way, but also manifest itself in the design as parts of the ships are covered with spikes. There are a few jumps over such spikes that seem almost impossible to make, but fortunately there is no shortage of powerups. The rest of the level is also not too difficult, and especially the saw-jumping section is very manageable if you hold onto the propellor block you are given. I don't understand why anyone would put circular saws in eggs the way they can be found early in the level, but despite a few flaws most if this level is actually manageable and enjoyable.
- Ghost Wall (by kentona):
A very challenging and fast-paced ghost house level where you are being chased down a large hallway by a gargantuan Boo. In order to succeed here you will not only have to run as quickly as you can, your reactions and jumping skills have to be on point as well. There is one instance where, if you have taken a certain path, you are required to drop into a one block wide gap surrounded by spikes, which is a bit much. But in general, this is a pretty great and exciting level, save for one problem: What this level desperately needs is a checkpoint, as it is too long and too difficult to play through it from start to finish in one run without getting frustrated.
- Mushroom Factory (by apa649):
An extremely long and insanely difficult level set in a factory. The first part, which involves working your way up through the main hall of the factory, is already rather large and has a confusing layout, but is still manageable. After the checkpoint, you find a nightmarish jumping section that involves hopping on and off moving spiked platforms with a green shoe while evading spiked obstacles above a pit, which is so unfairly difficult that it almost drove me crazy. Then, you have to get across a pit by jumping on moving single blocks, although this part is made more fair through the competent use of coins as indicators. If the level had ended here, it would still have been somewhat acceptable, but instead at least two more difficult areas await you. When I died in the section where you are transformed into Link and facing off against ranged enemies in small hallways, I decided to quit and not complete this level that I had already restarted about 20 times at this point. The gimmick to get the secret star in this level is quite original and requires some adjustments in playstyle: Do not kill any blue-coloured enemies. I do wonder how that works with the checkpoint, however. Also, even if blue enemies are defeated by an external force, such as a Bob-Omb exploding as part of its normal movement pattern, this counts as a failure, making the player feel like all that effort was wasted. All in all, this level was based on some neat ideas, but their poor implementation, its sheer lenght and sadistic difficulty make it practically unplayable.
- The Night Sky So High (by DarklordKeinor):
A level where both main areas have a ground layer and another sky layer above it. The first area plays like a fairly standard outside level, while in the second one you are assaulted by a Lakitu throwing Spinies at you. In this part you can take a hit almost randomly, and it is almost impossible to survive without a fire flower. At the end of each section, you receive a gadget that allows you to go back to the left via the top layer and access a pipe to the next part, while also enabling you to breeze through your enemies, which can be strangely satisfying. Not a bad level, but it could easily have been made more engaging.
- Cool Clouds (by jackalotrun):
An unnecessarily short scrolling level where you have to overcome a set of obstacles mainly built around moving on unusual surfaces such as donut blocks and conveyor belts. The level starts a little too abruptly, and one of the first obstacles consists of two piranha plants in pipes biting up and down at alternate intervals, which is almost impossible to evade. On the other hand, you get much more powerups than you actually need, which is not the best way to counteract exaggerated difficulty either. With a good amount of expansion, something enjoyable might have come out of it all, but right now it plays more like a quick draft than an actually developed concept. Also, this level probably has the most boring background music of all times.
- Hotel Heights (by Seiromem):
A very difficult, long and sometimes confusing level set mainly in and around multi-storied buildings. There's a lot going on in these, and most of it is lethal. On a technical level, the stage seems to suffer from some kind of glitch which prevents you from jumping if you're small and standing right in front of the triangular edges of a particular type of wooden tile (mainly found on the roofs). There is also a section where you ride a moving platform while enemies sitting on top of other climbing bug enemies fire at you - not a bad idea, but a mechanic like that should be built so that when the platform falls down onto a lower trail, you cannot accidentally land on top of an enemy who moved through the falling platform from below, thereby getting stuck in an unwinnable situation as the platform moves out of your reach. Other than that, the level is hard and rather unforgiving, but still manageable most of the time, although the Bob-Omb throwing part is a little obnoxious. However, there is one exception: Stacking three projectile-shooting enemies on top of each other is one thing and can be accepted at this point in the game. But putting three stacked projectile-shooting enemies close to a door that just took you to a new area, or placing them somewhere the player hasn't had the chance to look yet, or dropping enemies down from above on the player immediately after a difficult climbing section, that's a little too much. The player should at least get a second to catch their breath before the next deadly challenge is unleashed upon them.
- Snow Mountain Castle (by outcry312):
A relatively difficult ice castle level with some puzzle elements and a lot of slippery ground. In the first part, a set of areas have to be completed to open up new passages, but unfortunately the way these sequences are set up means you must repeat some parts multiple times. This becomes annoying rather quickly, especially since dying and having to redo everything is a definite possibility. The second part is shorter, but also a bit unfair: To open up the way to the boss fight, you need to sprint past a large group of Thwomps, then towards a switch while Bullet Bills come flying at you and a coin trails shows you where to jump to evade them. This is actually a nice idea so far, but on the way back, there is no such coin trail to help you, but still Bullets come at you from the front. And since you need the acceleration and can't slow down to evade them, it's practically random whether you get hit if you don't learn their pattern by heart first. Not a bad level overall, but there's a lot of room for fine-tuning.
- Power Plant (by Isrieri):
A factory-themed level with cool music, but whose gameplay has a very mixed quality. Some parts are built around pretty clever and interesting mechanics, such as evading circular saws on moving trails or jumping between vertically moving platforms under a spiked ceiling. Other sections of the level however just showcase terrible design choices. Having to jump across a floor of spikes using only single-tile conveyer belts, for instance. And immediately after the checkpoint, there's even a falling section where touching the walls is lethal, yet there is absolutely nothing that indicates the correct path or position to be in. As a result, getting through this bit comes down to either pure luck or memorisation and some undeserved deaths. The boss battle at the end is somewhat unnecessary, especially since the level is already quite long, but in combination with the powerups you're given throughout the stage there's at least a neat twist to it. The good ideas are definitely there in this level, but only cutting out the unfair parts could make it actually enjoyable.
- Supra Mairo Bors 2: Whale Whale Whale (by onatenk (=kentona)):
A long, quite difficult and honestly rather obnoxious ice level where you jumps off the water fountains of large black whales. A lot of the level consists of evading monsters while sliding on the ice. The only reason why this is such a pain is because while the player has very limited control over their movement due to the slippery ice, the approaching enemies are usually very fast and hard to see or evade. Being allowed to play a character other than Mario (Peach, in my case) can make this level a lot more manageable - but only as long as you haven't made it past the checkpoint, since there is no way to turn back into that other character if you die in the second half of the level. As a whole, it's not terrible or unplayable by any means, but not a lot of fun either.
- Coffee and Donuts 2 (by nin8halos):
The second installment of this very appetising level concept is just as excellent and challenging as the first. Again, you must brave difficult platforming sections on unstable donut blocks over boiling hot coffee lakes. The level starts off relatively easy, but then becomes increasingly dangerous quickly, and requires a lot of good timing and smart reactions to survive. Despite the difficulty, most of the level is designed to be extremely fair, the only exception being a section shortly before the end, where the amount of Bullet - wait no I mean Donut - Bills the player is bombarded with is just a bit too much. Still, for the largest part this is a great level with enjoyable platforming, a secret star that is actually manageable to find, and a boss battle that is quite original for a change. Bon appetit.
- Mr. L (by halibabica):
A very interesting castle level where you play as Mr. L (Evil Luigi). The first part can best be described as an approximation of a bullet hell, as in order to proceed you'll have to make your way through dangerous hallways and narrow drops past loads of projectile-shooting enemies. There are ample powerups available, and the provided propellor blocks allow you to overcome obstacles and pull off stunts that would normally be impossible. In the second part, it's the player that gains access to heavy weaponry, as you proceed to fly in a clown car armed with a bullet cannon and a piranha pipe. After manoeuvring through a set of narrow shafts full of dangers, you face off against your archnemesis Mario in a very atypical boss battle. The large hitbox and somewhat clunky controls of the clown car make this second half a bit frustrating, but overall this is a pretty enjoyable experimental level.




This seems fair. Take into account that all these structures are moving up and down constantly as well.



World 9:
- Molten Valley (by Davenport):
An extremely long level where sometimes substance seems to have been sacrificed in favour of aesthetics. Nevertheless, it presents some interesting gimmicks, such as having to ride across pools of lava on a Birdo egg and making good use of propellor blocks and a red Kuribo shoe. The second half of the level is a confusing mess where you mainly jump around on spikes and circular saws while sitting in a green Kuribo shoe and evading tons of Birdos and saws coming from everywhere. There's some pretty good concepts to be seen here, but in order to work properly they would have needed to be toned down just a bit. I will admit that the boss battle against Birdo at the end is very appropriate for this level, though. Lots of good ideas here, but the execution should have been more focused.
- Cavetastic Voyage (by Link_2112):
A pretty decent level set partially outside, partially inside a large cave. The first part makes use of a few little twists to how items can be used, while the second part consists mostly of solid platforming. It introduces a few unusual aspects such as retracting vines and walkable Bob-Ombs that jump out of pits, but can also be a bit confusing, and some parts are practically impossible without a raccoon tail. Also, there are multiple instances where enemy placement is just unfair, and stacking five Shy Guys on top of each other to create an almost impossible to evade tower that swings back and forth is just mean and not clever design. In order to acquire the secret star, the player has to solve a simple yet nifty and well-designed puzzle that was quite enjoyable to figure out. There's definitely room for improvement in this level, but it's not bad as it is.
- Supra Mairo Wrold: Crush Cavs (by enktano (=kentona)):
A very well-designed Super Mario World-style cave level where the ceilings and floors are out to get you. While the first half is only moderately challenging, the second part requires a lot of concentration and quick jumping skills if you don't want to get smashed or dumped into lava. This level manages to capture the experience of a genuine Mario stage without feeling unoriginal and is just really good in every respect. Great work!
- Funklen Forest (by Seiromem):
Hey, I remember this one from Super RMN World! It wasn't necessarily one of my favourites, though... This forest-themed level could really use some toning down of the difficulty and population density, since dangerous enemies plotting your demise come rushing at you from absolutely everywhere. Apart from that, the platforming sections are perfectly fine and could easily have been expanded to cover more of the level and replace the rather unnecessary boss fight at the end. The location of the secret star however is pretty clever, I'll give you that. Not a great level overall, but far from terrible as well.
- Arctic Adventure (by DarklordKeinor):
An unfortunately rather dull ice-themed level with some puzzle-like aspects. The concept of the ice platforms sliding back and forth introduced at the beginning showed some promise, but it's abondoned in favour of a small and frustrating pipe maze and ?-block puzzle that requires the player to replay certain sections and leaves them at the mercy of murderous Hammer Bros and ice spikes that are hard to see against the background. It's also not really player-friendly or advisable to use the exact same frozen block graphic for both normal platform blocks and for blocks that contain items. And I have no idea why the secret star in this level is so ridiculously easy to find. It's not even hidden in the slightest. All in all not a very enjoyable level.
- Spinning Hazard (by GreatRedSpirit):
A horrifying level that requires you to traverse large pits by repeatedly spin-jumping off circular saws on tracks. Unless you are a champion at saw-jumping, expect to lose a lot of lives here (I needed at least 30 tries). An absolutely vital lesson to learn for this level is that you can actually let go of the spin jump button while bouncing on a saw in order to regulate your jump height and without running the risk of ending your spin jump. There is practically no room for error, as taking a hit from the saws or one of the numerous spiked platforms or fire trails in your way will almost inevitably lead to falling into a hole. And even if you manage to stay on track, surviving for more than a few seconds without the raccoon tail provided at the beginning of each half of the level is nearly impossible. Add to that a number of boos haunting the stage that are placed in positions where you can hardly evade them, and you'll get a good impression of this level's ridiculous difficulty. The good news is that your "transportation saws" always come in pairs of two, which reduces the risk of falling down considerably. The bad news is that this also makes is easy to get crushed between them if they move diagonally. In short, this level, like most saw-jumping levels, might sound awesome in theory, but is awful in practice, and the only way I could imagine to salvage it would be to place more resting platforms between sections of the tracks, thereby cutting each half of the level into smaller, more manageable portions. There is no way I'm going back to search for the secret star, by the way.
- Stratosprint (by Isrieri):
Another one of those levels where you have to run away from a wall chasing and threatening to crush you. Except that this level's first part consists mainly of often small platforms of unstable blocks or note blocks, inhabited by parakoopas, bugs you can't jump on, and Hammer Bros. The second half is even more fun, as it is built out of moving platforms and cloud blocks you can hardly distinguish from the sky in the background. And let's not forget the countless enemies that are just everywhere, and the obligatory Lakitu dropping crabs on you from above. I ultimately just ended up cheating by flying past most of the second half, because after having lost over 40 lives I felt this level had channeled enough unhealthy aggression in me. Even without the chasing wall, this level would have already been difficult. But the way it is now, it's just downright evil. Seriously, why would you do this to your poor players?
- Hammer Hideout (by apa649):
Another ridiculously oversized level where you navigate halls full of strange mazelike structures with falling blocks and blocks in bubbles, while evading Hammer Bros and being chased by angry masks. Fortunately, there are numerous objects to be found that you can use to get rid of the latter, because they can really ruin your day. Due to the overabundance of alternative paths, it's quite hard to find your way through this stage, and getting killed by a random hammer from a deviously placed enemy can be very frustrating. There are also two secret stars to be found that require beating special challanges, namely finishing the level in record time, or killing all of the Hammer Bros. Which seems almost impossible, by the way, considering their large numbers and the huge and confusing layout of the level. In theory, the basic concepts used here are sound, but the amount of material would be enough for two separate levels. A lot of content should have been cut or reused somewhere else in order to make this level more accessible.
- Jungle Cavern (by Seiromem):
A quite original level set in and around a jungle temple where you play as Luigi. At the beginning you find some average outdoor jump'n'run and a small lava crossing section. But the real heart of the level is a long shaft that you have to ascend by climbing up an enormous vine that slowly moves left to right and back. Surviving this climb and avoiding all the dangers on the way requires quick thinking and spatial awareness, making it the most challenging yet enjoyable section of the level. The boss fight at the end on the other hand feels very much like an anticlimax and could easily have been replaced with something more substantial. The only other thing that really bothers me about this level is the odd placement of the checkpoint right before the boss fight, since about 90% of the level have passed at that point, and the boss is trivially easy compared to the rest. It would have made much more sense to place the checkpoint about halfway through the climbing section, so that the player doesn't have to replay everything that came before if they lose during this part. Still a quite enjoyable level, though.
- Lava Lair (by jackalotrun):
A level that consists mostly of lava lakes you have to cross by means of skull rafts, and is much too short. Both the first and the second half are very much on the easy side and show very little innovation, as there is not much else to do but beating the occasional Parakoopa and evading lava monsters and blobs that come jumping out of the lava to get you. Only the section where you can get the secret star requires some real effort. But overall, this level is overly simple in the wrong way and has little substance to it.
- Blood Ocean (by nin8halos):
A quite difficult scrolling water level that forces you to swim through a conspicuously red sea full of skeletal fish. There are many alternative paths available at different heights, each with their own perks and dangers, some even above the water. The carefully planned placement of enemies and obstacles will require you to pay close attention and react quickly, and without the ice flower you get at the beginning, you're in for a nerve-wracking swim. While I personally could have done without the squids chasing you from time to time, the quality of this stage feels very close to an actual Mario level, and it manages to be difficult without being unfair. My only complaint is that I seem to have missed the checkpoint, if the level has one to begin with. If so, it should probably have been made to be unmissable.
- Skyward Sword (by halibabica):
A castle level for Link full of deadly obstacles and inhabited by loads of Dry Bones. After getting past some dangerous floors, you need to collect two keys from different challenge rooms in order to proceed to the second half. The first involves evading numerous Boos while jumping from platform to platform, which is quite difficult at first, but becomes easier once you get the hang of it. The second one is considerably bigger and reminds the player of Link's ability to throw bombs, which becomes important at the end. The puzzle section also plays with Link's unusual ways of interacting with his surroundings, but loses its novelty quickly. After the checkpoint, you climb a very populated trangular tower (where one particular tile seems to suffer from a graphical glitch) and are confronted with a flying section that turns out to be much less difficult than it seems at first. The boss fight at the end it designed quite cleverly and places a strong emphasis on Link's unique abilities, yet goes on for much too long. Not even the boss of the final world's castle should take that many hits. Still a pretty good and appropriately challenging level, all things considered.



The Final Level:
- Eli's Fortress of Doom (by halibabica):
The big finale where every character gets to contribute their share to defeating Eli. The concept of this level is fantastic, just as most of its execution. All of the special powers and mechanics of each character come into play, and the ending allows them all to shine. In fact, I think I like the second half of this final battle more than its equivalent in RMN World. The one big problem that this level has is that none of the progress made before the checkpoint is saved upon death, so that losing somewhere during the first part of the level forces you to replay a huge amount of content. Nevertheless, the amount of innovation this level displays left me with a very positive impression. I wish I could say that all is well that ends well.




There you go. That's all I had to say about the individual levels. Let me emphasise again that among all these, there's quite a few that I really enjoyed playing through for different reasons. But as a whole, Super RMN Bros. 3 has a lot of small and big issues, ranging from the overusage of bosses and the unnecessarily high amount of (originally mandatory) secret stars to the large discrepancies regarding lenght and quality of the levels. Especially in a community project like this, it's totally acceptable to try and deviate from the standard Mario formula from time to time, but there is such a thing as pushing it too far. After having gone through all this, I think I'll have to take a break from playing Mario games for a while...

Bye-bye, Bros, and thank you for reading!

Posts

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Seiromem
I would have more makerscore If I did things.
6135
author=NeverSilent
But for the largest part, this is a great example of what a good, well-designed red coin level should look like.

Woah, that's a first! I think you're one of the few who actually liked the red-coin aspect of Block Sea.

Anyways, thanks for this review! It showed me some problems from my old levels that I have since fixed (enemy spawners galore) and some I'm still working on (pacing problems, better bosses) but it also showed me some good, like innovative ideas (that were sadly poorly used(hello Partners in Prime!)) and the moving vine section.

Also thanks for the slight boost in makerscore.
Ratty524
The 524 is for 524 Stone Crabs
13391
Thanks for this review! It's nice to get an opinion from a non-SMBX savvy person since it offers a completely different perspective on what's considered fair level design. You seriously haven't played Megaman, though? :P

Oh, and the levels that have some kind of auto-scrolling function don't have checkpoints because they either won't work at all (a quip with SMBX), or their existence would compromise the entire concept of the level. In a good level, we'd work around that by making levels short enough to complete, but since this is Super RMN Bros...
kentona
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
21237
I have no ragrets.
halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
13838
There's no defending this game.
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6132
You're welcome, guys. I'm glad you got something out of this review even after all this time.

@Seiromem:
Yes, I saw some of the less positive reactions to that level later, and I know that red coin levels carry a stigma (and looking at some of the other ones in this game, it's easy to see why). But I personally thought that Block Sea was one of the few cases where the mechanic was actually implemented well.
Since I have played RMN World, I already knew you are capable of good level design when I went into this game, so it was comforting to see how much you've improved since then.

@Ratty524:
True, as someone who has never worked with SMBX, I couldn't always distinguish the limits of the engine from consciously made bad design choices by the developers, but I like to think that also made my criticism a bit some neutral. Thanks for explaining that problem, though.
And no, I indeed never played Megaman. In fact, my knowledge of "classic" games is extremely limited: I haven't played any Final Fantasy or any Metroid game either, for instance. I have watched some footage of them, though, but none of them really felt appealing to me. That's my own level of ignorance, I guess

@kentona:
Fair enough. I know you're the kind of person who just enjoys making big chaotic community projects where everyone messes around with the engine as they like. Which is totally okay, by the way. Just don't expect people who play those games afterwards to consider them high-quality.

@halibabica:
I agree the game as a whole isn't great, but there's definitely defending some parts or aspects of it. And if nothing else, it was a good learning experience and preparation for RMN World for many people.
Decky
I'm a dog pirate
19506
I thought I kicked my post-SMB3-stress disorder, but I'm relapsing.
Jesus, how many times does this game seem to come back from it's cold grave, I really wasn't very good at the whole "design a level longer than 2 minutes thing..." back then and this game is an obelisk to that fact, I think my amount of levels was beaten only by the vast amount of Seiromem's levels
Seiromem
I would have more makerscore If I did things.
6135
author=jackalotrun
I think my amount of levels was beaten only by the vast amount of Seiromem's levels


Back then this was an achievement to me!

halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
13838
I should have denied all of both your levels It was a different time and place.
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6132
author=Deckiller
I thought I kicked my post-SMB3-stress disorder, but I'm relapsing.
But... you were the one who requested this review in the first place. Now I feel guilty...
Decky
I'm a dog pirate
19506
Oh, it was this game? Whoops XD Nice review though! I totally didn't even realize it was this game for some reason. If I had thought twice I would've redirected you elsewhere XD
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6132
Heh. Well, I did my best. Feel free to redirect me to anything else you'd like to see reviewed, though.
Thanks for the review! You're actually the first to provide legit criticism (outside of halibabica during the event itself), so it's nice to hear.

So first off the "way back up" was intentionally somewhat trolly. I didn't intend for it to be too challenging, but I did intend for the player to think to themselves "wait, I have to climb out of this thing now?" I'm not a Mario player (and am pretty lousy at most Mario games) so I figured if I could do it, so could you. That was my bad.

The "way down" though really surprises me. Honestly, the "troll toad" wasn't intended to be a troll. Instead I figured that people would like the way down so much that they'd want to play it again, but then not have to worry about the climb out, so I let people know that was an option. Halibabica warned me it was troll, but I told him my reasoning and (perhaps after being beaten down by everyone else arguing against him) he agreed with me.

The one thing I will say is that the coins aren't "tell you where to go." The point is that you try to stay on top of them at all times. I'm really curious if you tried it again with that in mind if you would find it easier.

If you're interested in my other comments and explanations as to what's happening, check the spoiler.

So I'm really surprised that the enemies killed you on the way down. All of the enemies were very precisely placed so that they posed no threat so long as you followed the coin path (with some margin for error). Even more odd is your comment that if you hit one, you're dead, since in many cases you are INTENDED to hit them. Moreover, even if you did get hit by one it's only once since they all continue to fall while you "shrink." It took a lot of time to plan out all of the enemy placements, and I'm sad you found them arbitrary.

That said, one thing I never considered was if people actually attempted to avoid the enemies rather than just follow the coin line. I probably should have put a note at the start to explain that. If I had to guess at this point, I'd assume your difficulties stemmed mostly from not strictly adhering to the coin line and trying to avoid the enemies.

Other things on "the fall" that could have been changed:

- A mushroom at the start screen. I liked the mushroom when you're falling so that you don't have to waste time, but it's important you grab it, so it's not newbie friendly.
- The first time you have to get into a 1-block sized gap on the right side. That was honestly the only part of the fall that ever tripped me up in practice, and (having just played it again for the first time in 3+ years) is still the only part that trips me up.
- The small bullet bills are the only enemies I'm aware of that can get de-synced and hurt you if you follow the coin line. I never managed to fix that problem (I think the hit box is too narrow) but I figured it was rare enough that it was OK. I know now I should have just removed them.
- I probably should have put in more powerups during the fall. The point of the fall was to be hectic and fun, not necessarily challenging, so a hectic barrage of mushrooms would have been appropriate. You will notice a barrage of leafs and 1ups, so I did do this concept, but I should have done it more.

Otherwise I still really like the fall and had a blast playing it again just now. As mentioned previously, I'd be really curious to know if you find it easier now that you know how I play it.

As for the "long way up," I'm less enthusiastic. While in production I knew the Koopa Troopa section of the elevator was iffy (and another section halibabica questioned), there were other aspects I didn't fully realize until my play through today, namely the sections where you get crushed and the end platform section.

When I first encountered the spiked ceiling" I was totally like "wtf." I remember now having issues trying to find a way to warn the player, and I'm really sad I never did.

As for the platforms at the end, not being able to see their path made that part just annoying. I think I could have gotten away with the confusion that was there, but only if I added like 2-3 times as many platforms so that you weren't stuck waiting around so much.

Two more things to say. First, I originally intended there to be multiple check points in the level, both during the fall and during the rise. I think the level would have been drastically improved if that was the case. However, given that such a scenario was not possible, I should have abandoned the scope of the level. That or demand that it was easy enough to beat on the first try.

Second, during production there were a few issues I noticed (among many I did not), and I really should have fully dealt with them rather than got them to a point that was acceptable. It would not have fixed the level, but at least then I could have blamed more of my naïveté on Mario level design and less on my game design. Live and learn, I guess.

Bonus note: this was originally called "The Rise and Fall of Mario." I'm kind of sad I didn't keep that name.

2nd bonus note: I had planned to hide 10 Yoshi coins throughout the level, and if you search for them you'll notice many of them along your journey. The ultimate goal was to convert the level into a mini game of sorts that I'd release separately with all of the little secrets listed for people to find. Have I mentioned before that I really liked my level? Ya, I really liked my level.


Thanks again for the review!
Ratty524
The 524 is for 524 Stone Crabs
13391
Hedge, the overall problem with the level's design and your reasoning is that you are expecting players to play in a very specific playstyle that is neither well-hinted within the level itself, nor conventional in a Mario game.

When players see trails of coins leading to a specific spot, they interpret it as a hint to a path, not something to "stand on top of at all times," because that's the way the Mario series and many other platformers direct their players.

The concept of the level could honestly work if it was a non-hazardous "bonus" type of level where you aren't punished so much for not aiming in the right direction, but in "Watch That First Step!" you are. Enemies are nuisance in the level particularly because it throws off the momentum generated by falling in the level, thereby throwing off your focus and leading to easy missteps. Mario's downward physics in general are way too fast to adequately control, creating a level which relies solely on trial-and-error and not so much the player's skill.

Lastly, remember that you will always have a bias towards your own level and you will carry on your own playstyle when testing it. You have the advantage, you know precisely where and when to move around because you designed the level, but to a player who hasn't seen your level before, it's going to be a lot harder than you make of it.
halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
13838
The game's true final level has this exact problem, except multiplied by 10,000 and completely intentional. Heh.

from myself
There's no defending this game.
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6132
I'm glad you found my criticism justified, hedge. Ratty already wrote a better response to your explanations than I could, so just let me emphasise again that I thought the basic concept behind your level was cool, but the actual implementation was very much not. A well-designed level should allow the player to understand how to play it by itself, and avoid unclear or counterproductive signals, such as using collectibles (coins) that you're not supposed to collect. The fact that you needed so many words to explain your level's workings only proves that point. I don't accuse you of deliberately trying to mess with the player, but the one thing to keep in mind and be aware of when creating a game is that players can't read your mind.
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