Space Crusade

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Space Crusade

Make a Good Mega Man Level 3 Judge Application Levels

By the Emperor!
"The Ultramarines have bunkered down, we better move it soldier! We must stop the alien scum!"
―Blood Angel Marine

Space Crusade is the fourth of the MaGMML3 Judge Application Levels. It is themed around the Warhammer 40K series, and has, by creator ACESpark's own admission, a "billion" gimmicks.

Judge Comments[edit]

Judge Applicants' Comments
Pachy Pachy Pachy : 48 / 100
I don't know anything about the Warhammer series, so all the references are going to be going over my head. Going go.

I find the reskinned Joes to be quite cute, but that and the boss seems to be the extend of the reskinning. I think there should've been more redrawn enemies to help resemble the franchise you're crossing over with.

Aesthetics aside, this is where the level start to fall apart, sadly. The first screen with enemies, immediately one of the ladder guys scroll itself off-screen, which is a strange placement by itself. But the catch is on the next screen where there's an annoyingly-placed Lyric that requires you to jump across the gap right as you enter or else you take damage, and if you try to reset the room by climbing down, you'll get hit by the climbing enemy.

The Up-and-Downs were introduced in a way that you're gonna get hit without any indications that they're there, it's not instant-death but still a rather rude introductory, especially after considering the next instance you see them, you're not gonna bump into them accidentally.

Despite the general poor placements of enemies, I do like the rooms that have the timebombs along with a Cannon Joe and a Fan Fiend. They feel more puzzle-oriented and not as unfair as the other rooms in the level.

Gimmicks aren't introduced very well either, as in one of the earlier rooms, there were 3 different platforms all introduced at once! (Over deadly spiky goodness even, and there's one entirely new non-devkit platform.) Right after that, it drops the player into a "think-fast" situation with the donut block that wasn't introduced beforehand either, so they are likely to die the first time around. (Also the inclusion of the Joes there are a bit overkill, don't you think?)

You need to make sure to introduce new elements to the player in a safe environment, getting them familiar with the gimmicks before putting them into action right away. Later on, the blue "horseshoe" platforms are used as deflecting surfaces for your shots, a property that wasn't clearly conveyed due to the poor introduction.

There's nothing much to say about the boss as it's just the walker enemy with more attacks added in. The spread shot could be a bit annoying to dodge but it's still manageable. I'd also suggest to tone down the laser damage a bit too perhaps?

All in all, it's a cute little crossover stage that's unfortunately filled with poor design decisions. I suggest to look more into other people's stage designs or even the official levels, investigate how the difficulty curve for each stages go.

Samario Samario Samario : 73 / 100
So, first off, this is clearly trying to make a reference to something, but... God knows what it is. It's also somewhat irrelevant really, as it wouldn't affect the stage quality.

The stage itself has functional aesthetics, that do look good in some places. The edits to Star Man's tileset do seem to mostly fit with the tileset itself. The stage's boss, while somewhat just an edit of a Dachone, has enough attacks added to it, in combination with the unique arena, that it is actually fun, and definitely more balanced than the rest of the stage. Which seems to have a strange fascination with instant death spikes, as almost half of the rooms have instant death spikes in them. The gimmick of the stage, with the falling, reflective platforms, is sound in theory, but is introduced in a dangerous situation, giving little time for the player to react.

M-Jacq M-Jacq M-Jacq : 43 / 100
The Warhammer theming is cute, but it can’t disguise how this level repeatedly flaunts one the key principles of good level design: don’t introduce two new things at once. The second screen has two new enemies; the third screen has two new enemies AND a new platforming gimmick; the fourth screen has a new enemy type and THREE new platforming gimmicks... et cetera. And even worse, they’re introduced in high-risk situations where pausing to see what this new platform does will most likely kill you.

But not all hope is lost. There were two screens in the level where you had to dodge projectiles/Up-n-Downs while sliding, which I thought were both novel and fun. They felt more like a shmup than regular run-and-gunning, which was apropos giving the spaceship setting. And the boss is cool too: great job making the Star Man miniboss kind of threatening. I just wish you’d spent less time reskinning the level assets and more time using them well.

PK PK PK : 37 / 100
Putting enemies into spots where you cant kill them isn’t fun…

But lets start from the beginning. One of the first enemies in the level just straight up goes up the ladder and despawns. Why even have it there? Next up we see the Splash Woman blocks…which appear again at the very end of the stage. Could have used them throughout the stage at least. Also, sliding under spikes on a moving platform seems like a harsh spike in difficulty for a gimmick you only used once before. Next up, you throw 4 new gimmicks into my face, with the danger of spikes right below my feet. And wow, those Up n Downs are placed in the most jerkish of positions. Then, you start putting enemies into spots where you either cant hit them for a long part of the screen, or not at all. Now the idea of that isn’t that bad on paper, but you just didn’t pull it off well. Lastly, we have a boss fight. Im not a fan of the enemy the boss is based off, as I always have had trouble dodging the lasers. Combine that with Centaur Mans bullets, these floor crawling enemies from MM5, and a missle that may as well not exist, and I had quite a bit of trouble at first. Especially because the lasers felt like they did too much damage.

Flashman85 Flashman85 Flashman85 : 80 / 100
This was fun! I'm a sucker for outer space, and the stage lives up to its name. Between the groovy music, the eye-catching blend of space-themed tilesets, the reskinned enemies, and the story element provided by the NPCs, everything works together to create the atmosphere of an exciting space crusade. I could tell that the stage was referencing...something...(I looked it up afterward; it's Warhammer 40K) but the whole experience is crafted in such a way that you don't need to get the reference to appreciate the stage.

I like variety in a stage, and this one has plenty of it—too much for its own good, in fact. On the plus side, most enemies and obstacles are used at least twice, in situations where they have at least a partial opportunity to shine. There's a lot of creativity in the challenges, and nothing feels completely wasted. I love the screen where you're sliding into time bombs with the cannon firing at you, and the screen where you've got to slide under spikes on a Splash platform...and the screen where you're sliding past those dreaded Up'n'Downs is surprisingly not awful, further demonstrating that you have the chops to turn the familiar into something pleasantly different. The boss is a clever synthesis of different bosses and minibosses, and a satisfying end to the stage.

On the minus side, the “sampler platter” approach means that none of these challenges have the chance to be fully developed, which is a right shame. Cutting a handful of foes and hazards would allow more room to explore the potential of the remaining ones, bringing more focus to the level without sacrificing the feeling of variety. In particular, the reskinned falling platforms add nothing to the stage; you’ve already got Shadow platforms and indestructible blocks that could serve the exact same purpose.

Unfortunately, many of the rooms are fairly cramped. This isn’t inherently problematic, as claustrophobia-inducing architecture can allow for some tricky challenges and can add to the character of a stage. In this case, however, some rooms feel tight because the entrance and exit aren’t ideally positioned—take the room before the checkpoint, for example, where all the action is jammed into the top left corner of the screen. Moreover, it’s not uncommon to have a few too many objects on the screen at once, or a complex challenge concentrated into a very small space.

The learning curve on these challenges is fast, but standing perfectly still at the entrance to a screen will usually give enough time to figure out what’s going on. The few exceptions are brutal, however. The introduction to the reskinned falling platforms seems specifically designed as a beginner’s trap, with only the most agile players making it out alive on their first try. The following screen with the reskinned Sniper Joes and Shadow platforms over spikes demands even faster reflexes, and the screen after that surprises you with Up’n’Downs in a place where they’re totally unexpected and impossible to dodge if you’re caught off guard. Part of the problem is making every screen a self-contained challenge; occasional use of camera scrolling would go a long way in giving the player and these challenges enough space to breathe.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed this level. The shortcomings aren’t deal-breakers for me, and almost all of the challenges are individually satisfying, even if there are ways to improve them and the level as a whole. I was promised a space crusade, and by the Emperor, I did not leave disappointed.

Make a Good Mega Man Level 3 - Judge Application Levels
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List of Bosses
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