I'll beam you out after I finish my soap opera.
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X Factory is the third place level in the Make a Good 24 Hour Mega Man Level contest. It is a difficult level where one must manipulate X Platforms while resisting the pull of Magnet Machines to proceed. It was later inserted into the MaGMML3 Judge Application Levels, also as the third level; at the time, ACE did so for the sake of having another level in the collection, but it proved to be a good test of prospective judges' responses to genuinely difficult levels (As opposed to, say, Coptar Man, which features artificial difficulty).
| Judge Comments
| ParmaJon : 94 / 100
| Wow, what a great level. This level really understood how to use its box gimmicks and how to enchance them by using either gimmicks. Especially the vertical section with the conveyer, I loved that. The whole level sounds great, feels great, and I never had any real issue with the functionality.
Yea, the levels a bit punishing but its a good concise level and a shining example of how to use the boxes objects really well.
| MiniMacro : 79 / 100
| This level kind of dragged. The checkpoints were placed too far apart for the amount of spikes that were here. The autoscroller section was really good, as was the vertical drop section, but the rest of the level was kind of there, to be honest. There wasn't much interesting or fun to play about the level, unfortunately. There were a few spots I'd consider unfair, such as the magnet and X platform near the beginning over spikes where there is no room for error at all. Another problem I have with that bit is that I wasn't really sure when the magnet would stop pulling, so I was really stressed about when to stop holding left. Another issue I have with this level is how busy the background is. It often is really detailed, more so than the foreground, and so the player can miss what they can jump on relatively easily. All in all, this level is just "decent".
| CreshMan : 76 / 100
| No super arm blocks. For shame :(
This level had some really good use of the Mr. X platforms. None of the puzzles ever felt like they took too long, and they were all creative. However, in the beginning of the autoscroll screen, it's very easy to get killed by sliding under the first X platform and having the screen scroll too far to stand on it so you can move the other platform. There is kind of a similar problem with the earlier screen with the fire shooter and the purple X platform, where you can blind drop into spikes, however the way the level is designed encoursges the player to stay on the platform so its less of an issue. Checkpoint placement is kind of unforgiving due to the focus on instant death obstacles. The spring enemies are not used too well, they are just kind of annoying and not too interesting. The weapons (aside from SUPER ARM >:( ) were useful, so that is always nice.
Also, the color choices on the tiles are.....interesting.....
Judge Applicants' Reviews
| Judge Applicants' Comments
| Pachy : 78 / 100
| Initially, the tileset chosen and the cannon blending into the ground put it off for me, but the stage being built centering around the seesaw platforms gimmick and being creative with it makes the stage stands out for me!
What makes the stage fascinating is the combination with the platforms and magnets, able to creatively utilize the interactions between the different gimmicks to create new challenges. That is an admirable attribute when it comes to designing a level.
I like the use of the yellow background tiles to define the platforms end point, so the challenges didn't feel unfair. The part where it's only one descending block is also an unique spin on the gimmick without being too different to the point it can confuse players (although the single conveyor tile used there is a bit off-putting, since the player was never introduced to that gimmick beforehand).
The final session with the scrolling is also very manageable, albeit a bit too sudden. It gives a good feeling of "final rush" combined with the energetic music, while still keeping the difficulty reasonable and consistent to the rest of the stage.
Of course, it isn't without flaws.
The first few screens introduce the lineup of enemies quite decently, although I still have doubts about the cannons being the same color as the ground, it can catch players who are paying attention to other elements to the room and that's not always a good thing. The background can also get distracting sometimes with the details it has, like the purple walls standing out over the blue floor.
The stage introduces the seesaw platforms properly in a safe environment, but for the magnets and firetraps, they are introduced on somewhat hectic screens with enemies and other hazards, it's better to have the player more familiar with your gimmicks first before putting them into tricky rooms right away.
There's also multiple instances where you are not entirely require to rise a platform all the way up to go through, like the majority of the scrolling session. I feel that entire session could easily be replaced with more puzzle-oriented rooms not unlike the earlier parts of the level.
In summary, although the execution isn't perfect, the concept of taking an existing gimmick and applying new twist to it sold it for me. With practices, I'm certain you'll be able to create very fun and well-design stages! I'm very excited to see more levels being built in a similar mindset!
| Samario : 88 / 100
| So this level is actually really good! The music and tileset fit together really well (albeit, the decorum could do with some slight tweaking due to the purple background objects looking a bit too much like foreground objects).
Gimmick-wise, it introduces its main features - the eye platforms that move in pairs, and the dragging magnets - and sticks with them throughout the entire stage, slowly increasing the threat level of the environment around them as the stage progresses, although with the checkpoint placement it gets a little *too* death heavy near the end.
New obstacles, like the Fire Man jets, aren't suddenly thrown in without a chance to react; they instead are introduced where you can stand safely and watch the pattern.
The enemies in the stage are placed fairly, albeit there are some minor pallete issues with the cannons that cause them to blend in (purple on purple isn't a good combination).
As well, the collision is implemented properly, leaving you unable to jump over the stage. This is proper collision!
| M-Jacq : 82 / 100
| Nice! Here’s a level that takes a stock puzzle platformer object (the Mr. X Stage 3 platforms) and uses it in several novel ways. It’s challenging, but without relying on enemy spam or excessive spikes or “gotcha” moments. The difficulty curve is perfect. Having an autoscroll section in lieu of a boss was brilliant (although, given that it takes the place of a boss fight, you really should have had a checkpoint before it). I certainly enjoyed playing it. But there were two problems here that really hurt.|
First, while you did a great job using the Mr. X platforms, the other gimmicks in this level left something to be desired. The magnets are fine, for the most part, but I miscalculated several jumps because I wasn’t sure how far out their attraction stretched. But you also include four fire bars a single conveyor belt, which is rather odd. Why are these here if they’re going to show up on all of two screens?
But my largest problem here was the aesthetics. This stage is a visual overload: you have a very complicated tileset, married to an outright garish color palette. Blue and grey platforms over a background of pink and green stripes? That’s not just yucky looking, it’s distracting. There were several screens where it took me a few seconds to figure out what was foreground and what was background, which I should not have to do in a stage built around tricky platforming.
On the plus side, if my largest complaints are the color palette and a pointless conveyor belt, this should give you an idea how highly I thought of this level.
| PK : 81 / 100
| Oh wow, you took 2 gimmicks that weren’t used a lot, combined them, and made it work really nicely! It’s also a great showcase of not needing original assets to pull off a clever and original level. Introduction of those gimmicks was also well handeled. Now im not a fan of the use of gaboyalls, but at least they were in spots where it was always reasonable to dodge them by jumping. You even pulled off the autoscroller rather well, as I never felt like I had to wait around needlessly, or had too little time to do what I had to do. It served as a nice final challenge.
| Flashman85 : 87 / 100
| Good, good, good. This is a level that reflects both an understanding of good game design principles and the skill to do them justice. Although this level doesn’t elicit the same “Whoa, cool” reaction that I’ve had to other levels in this contest, I respect the heck out of the craftsmanship here.
From start to finish, there is a clear learning curve and steady difficulty progression, introducing new elements in relatively safe environments and gradually combining them for more and more interesting and challenging scenarios. There’s a perfect balance of focus and variety, with each enemy and gimmick having a chance to shine without overstaying its welcome. Challenges require a combination of observation, planning, and straight-up platforming skill to overcome, giving the level a bit of a puzzle slant that I appreciate. It took me a few tries to reach the end, but every death was entirely my fault—a mark of truly fair difficulty.
Aesthetically, the level is a unique combination of colorful and serious, and the energetic music compliments the visuals well. Highly detailed graphics like these always run the risk of being distractingly detailed and clashing with the simpler 8-bit Mega Man sprites, but for the most part, everything meshes well. The enemy and obstacle selection and coloration go a long way in creating a cohesive look. A couple screens are right on the edge of looking too busy, though; I had some trouble distinguishing between foreground and background on the screen with a Springer in the top and bottom half, for instance. Also, the architecture in one or two places makes the challenge at hand appear a little confusing at first; for example, there’s one screen with four X platforms leading you across spikes to an exit on the right, but the bottom-left corner of the screen has an irrelevant cavern of spikes that appears to be part of the challenge somehow.
The autoscrolling section at the end is a nice culmination to the level, yet not quite as satisfying as it could be. It’s tricky to nail the pacing of an autoscrolling section, and this one errs just a smidge too much on the slow side for my taste. I suspect most players will find it fine, but I got antsy a few times while standing around idly for the next challenge to appear. It’s mostly the very end that’s a bit disappointing—it’s extremely easy to wipe out that whole row of B Bitters before they become a problem, which makes it that much more anticlimactic to discover the Energy Element sitting around unguarded on the next screen. Swapping out one of the B Bitters for a Crystal Joe might’ve been sufficient to spice up the final challenge (and as a side note, the Crystal Joes don’t entirely function like they do in MM5, but they serve the challenges just fine). Adding even a simple gimmick challenge to the Energy Element screen would have been enough to remove that feeling of “Oh, it’s over already.”
These are relatively minor issues, however. This is a thoroughly solid level with very deliberate and well-thought-out design decisions, and I would love to see more levels like this one.
- Alongside City War, this level is one of only two levels to appear in two different MaGMML games.
- This is the only level to appear in two games, and be judged differently and get a different score in both games.