Universe City V

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Universe City V

Make a Good Mega Man Level 3 Judge Application Levels

UniverseCityV.png
No escape. No escape. No escape.
"It is just as they foretold. The Volt Men...have returned."

Universe City V, sometimes unofficially referred to as Universe City V(olt), is the sixth level in the MaGMML3 Judge Application Levels. It was designed by Loyana, a real-life friend of ACESpark's, with programming assistance from ACE. As such, it is one of the few MaGMML3 Judge Application Levels that was a legitimate attempt to make a good level. While the level initially appears to be rather empty, the player quickly encounters a Volt Man midboss that dies in one hit. After said midboss, the true nature of the level reveals itself - nearly every enemy in it is a copy of Volt Man, using some variant of his original boss pattern as their only attack.

Strategy[edit]

  • The Volt Men have various attack patterns, but there is no way to immediately distinguish which does what. Keep your distance before properly engaging them.
  • Be wary of the Sparkman Platforms, as they can and will crush you against the ceiling without warning.

Judge Comments[edit]

Judge Applicants' Comments
Pachy Pachy Pachy : 64 / 100
Oh, pfffffft. I certainly didn't expect the level to take an amusing twist like this!

The stage starts out rather bland, with soothing yet ominous music playing, as there are only New Shotmen, Spark Man platforms and rather annoying spike blocks puzzles, which require extremely precise timing to get through undamaged.

And then Volt Man happened. And laughters happened. Music's ramping up as you see there are multiple Volt Men, each has their own actions assigned, essentially making them like regular enemies. That is a super creative idea! And super amusing which I can't stop giggling as I went through the stage. It really succeeded at breaking players' expectation with the clever use of the dull beginning.

Nevertheless, there are issues. Since each Volt Man's appearances are identical, it's hard to differentiate which Volt Man would do which at first glance. One room in particular where there are 3 shielding Volt Men in a line, all of them keep their shields in place except the middle one, with barely any indication that he's going to do that.

Another problem with the shielding Volt Men is that they keep their shields up indefinitely, effectively being immune to your normal buster shots, this isn't a big deal early on as they mostly stand or jump on one spot, it's in the last few sessions where they'll chase you constantly, making them unfun to deal with. (Also sometimes their shields can get stuck behind if you kill them with weapons)

Also one checkpoint in particular is rather poorly placed, as it forces you to wait for the spike platforms to be in a certain state to safely pass through, creating unnecessary wait time every time you retry, and it just so happens to be where the shielded Volt Men who chase you down located after, argh!

Finally, there's Giga Volt Man, and he's just as amusing as the rest of the stage, if not for the fact he can be beaten by doing absolutely nothing when you have the Jewel Satellite up. Thankfully though, he's still simple enough to deal with using the buster only. My only issue with him is I feel that his sprite should be placed higher up? Since he's only half emerged from the ground the entire time.

Overall, very humorous yet creative level, although at the cost of some design points. A little bit faulty on the coding but a good amount of creative endeavor was definitely shown here!

Samario Samario Samario : 84 / 100
Volt Man? Volt Man. So this is the Level of the Volt Men, and it works surprisingly well!

The tileset is good, there is a small yet consistent enemy set that integrates nicely into the stage, collision-wise there's a gimmick with the rotating spike blocks and rising platforms, and the boss fight at the end is mostly brilliant. There are a few problems that drag it down though. The Volt Men enemies, while consistent in their patterns, sometimes lack visual differentiation to indicate what they're going to do (shield jumper? shield firer?), and additionally you can get Kaizo trapped by the boss if you Super Arrow into the Energy Element, as you will fall into the pit and die after picking it up. And, finally, synthwave isn't really a Mega Man-esque song, and didn't fit the beginning of the stage that well, despite it being a good song taken on its own merits.

M-Jacq M-Jacq M-Jacq : 43 / 100
I really struggled to grade this level. Should I give it high marks for the hilarious decision to make every enemy in the level a Volt Man… or should I penalize it for using the same graphic for five different enemy types? I leaned towards the latter: not only did the joke wear thin on repeat playthroughs, but it actively got in the way of level comprehension. (Hence the really low aesthetics score.) There were many screens where you’d have several Volt Men on screen with different attack patterns, complicating my attempts to grok what was going on. If you tweaked their sprites a little (maybe change the insignia on their chests to match their attack patterns?) you’d have a much better level.

Volt Man aside, some of the individual segments in this level were neat. I think you got some good utility out of the Spark Man platforms and the spike blocks, with the second checkpoint room being a particular standout. And there’s a fun boss which ends the level on a high note, which is nice. There’s the beginnings of a good comedy level here, but I think you were a bit too willing to coast on one joke.

PK PK PK : 71 / 100
Ok ill admit it, you got me there. I don’t really see how the spiked blocks and the rising platforms play into the volt man theme, but they didn’t really click right for me. The timing to get past them felt awkward and too precise at times. Its also not too nice that the rising platforms start crushing you if you stand on them for too long after the fakeout volt man. Yes the ceiling gives away that you might get crushed, but you still instinctively try to stand on them to evaluate the situations better. The volt man enemies are an interesting idea, but some of them feel kind of badly placed at times

The boss battle against Giant Robo Volt Man is really fun. All of the attacks have unique tells and they all come out at reasonable speeds. Everything can be dodged without expecting some super danmaku skills from the player. I also appreciate how the spawned Volt Man in the boss fight dies in 1 hit as that doesn’t break the flow of the fight at all, and allows for good combos from the spawned enemy to the boss if you use a charged shot.

Flashman85 Flashman85 Flashman85 : 82 / 100
It took me a while to warm up to this one, but once I did, it brought a smile to my face. Initially, I was a little bored with the stage. Lots of empty space, music that’s nice but far too sleepy for a Mega Man stage, and pretty basic challenges (except the one with the fork blocks, which is good but too exacting to be an introduction to the gimmick). Then there’s a joke boss (which gave me a chuckle) and the stage is over. OK, fine. Except...it’s not over. It’s only just begun.

I love that the first part of the stage simultaneously sets player expectations for one type of stage while subtly exposing the player to the normal enemies and gimmicks they’ll face once the main gimmick kicks in. When the music ramps up and you start seeing Volt Men everywhere, there’s this wonderful revelation that you’ve been fooled, and the stage can jump right into more complex challenges because all the basic elements have already been introduced. But I think the intro section could have been tighter and more efficient while accomplishing the same goal, leaving me saying “Oh, that was really clever” instead of “Oh, so that’s why the first part was kinda dull.”

The Volt Men challenges are totally worth it, though. I’m a big fan of seeing Robot Masters repurposed as stage enemies, and you got some terrific mileage out of this one—both in terms of gameplay and the fact that the “Volt Man is overused” joke could inspire an entire stage. The challenges are interesting, varied, and continually humorous, and the many flavors of Volt Man mix well with the other enemies and gimmicks in use. I might’ve liked some sort of subtle visual distinction between the different Volt Man types, or at least a shorter timer before the shield-launching ones decide to attack; I frequently sustained damage after (incorrectly) determining that the Volt Man in front of me was just going to hold his shield forever. A little caution is fine, but the stage requires a bit too much idle waiting if you truly want to play it safe.

The challenge progression is solid, with a smart blend of timing and speed as the core focus. Probably my favorite part is the screen where you’re riding Spark platforms past fork blocks while a Volt Man keeps shooting at you. Great stuff. That being said, a few spots could benefit from a bit of finessing; for example, I was a smidge disappointed by how easy it was to use Super Arrow to bypass every challenge in that long hallway toward the end.

I was thrilled to find that Sakugarne can bounce off the boss projectiles, and I laughed at the unexpected deterrent to using Slash Claw on the stationary, shielded Volt Men. The boss fight is a superb culmination to the stage, offering another good chuckle as well as a challenge that’s well in line with everything preceding it. I experienced a little wonkiness during the boss fight when using Flash Stopper, but otherwise the programming seemed pretty solid.

This is a stage that could be improved in places, but it doesn’t need to be. A fun premise coupled with good design instincts makes for a charming addition to the contest, and I’m very happy to have played this.


Trivia[edit]

  • This is the only MaGMML3 Judge Application Level to not be made by either Mick Galbani or ACESpark, although the latter still provided coding assistance for both the level and boss.


Make a Good Mega Man Level 3 - Judge Application Levels
Stages
Midnight ManCoptar ManX FactorySpace CrusadeGate 303Universe City VMagnum Man
List of Bosses
DreadnoughtPlant ManGemini ManVolt ManVolt BossMagnum Man