The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

Sucky Stages: “Poisonous Pipeline” & “Low-G Labyrinth” ( from Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble )

Poisonous Pipeline

View an interactive map courtesy o’ DKC Atlas

Not only is this the worst level in the game, it’s the worst level in the whole trilogy — & the bitterest sting is that this is the final level o’ the main game. While the original DKC gave you some o’ the trickiest platform jumps that game had to offer & DKC2 offered the ultimate challenge for Squawks, ¿what does this game offer? Water that reverses your controls when you’re in it. This is neither interesting, nor challenging, making this a breather level — & the last level is perhaps the worst level to have as a breather level. The hardest part o’ this gimmick is that jumping out o’ water is trickier ’cause you have to adjust what direction you’re holding right after leaving water.

& yes, just to make it e’en easier, they give you Enguarde, as they do for just ’bout every water level, for ⅓ the level if you find the 1st bonus or the Enguarde barrel just after the 1st bonus, allowing you to just plow thru nearly everything. ¿Why is a level with the slightest difference from a world-3 level @ the end o’ the game?

As for the level layout, it’s just a winding maze full o’ the same Kocos & Lurchins you dodged in every water level. The developers didn’t e’en try to add variety to their arrangements: get ready to weave thru Lurchins going up & down in alternating directions & dodge Kocos going right & left ’tween 2 Lurchins ’bove & below 4 or 5 times — but the last time they totally switch things up & add a 2nd Koco. Shit.

The bonus barrels aren’t e’en well-hidden: they’re both just @ the end o’ halls that telegraph you to make a turn & the “puzzle” is to ignore those signs & not turn yet. But if you’re looking for bonuses, obviously you’re going to search every path, ¿so why would you not explore the extent o’ every hall?

The challenges themselves are middleground: you just defeat all the enemies & collect all the ornaments. They’re far from new challenges @ this point o’ the game, but they do require a bit mo’ precision with the reversed controls than the main level.

As for the hero-coin-holding Koin, he’s just to the left o’ a fork just before the end & the way to defeat them is to just bounce the barrel off the wall right next to him.

The only positive things I can say ’bout this level is that it a’least tries to hide how linear it is by making it twist around space like a snake & that I like the color purple. Some people don’t like the gloomy visuals & music, but I don’t know why they single out DKC3 for this, when the original DKC had just-as-barren aesthetics, specially in its last world. I think it fits the mood o’ the end o’ the game fine as well as this game’s nature vs. technology theme; I just wish its gameplay fit as well.

Low-G Labyrinth

View an interactive map courtesy o’ DKC Atlas

After reversing controls underwater, making your character slow & have high jumps is the next lamest gimmick in this game, made e’en mo’ laughable by the way they just ditch the gimmick halfway thru the level so you can have yet ’nother Quawks section where you dodge moving Zinger formations. & slowly grab barrels & try hitting Zingers with them, which is just a worse version o’ being able to just spit nuts @ them with the superior Squawks — not the least o’ which since the Kongs can already throw barrels themselves, making Quawks feel e’en mo’ redundant. You know “Poisonous Pipeline” & Quawks suck when they make me hate purple things. The slightest difference they give to this o’erused mechnaic is that you move mo’ slowly, which is s’posed to be harder, but just feels less fun. You should ne’er create difficulty by handicapping the player; it’s cheap & not fun.

Some parts o’ this level are cheap, too. The vertical sections oft lead to blind hits if you’re playing as Kiddy or not using Dixie’s helicopter twirl ’cause the camera was clearly not programmed with downward movement in mind, oft leaving you @ the bottom o’ the screen with li’l space to see Zingers coming as you slowly drift down vertical shafts.

& getting past the 2 red Zingers after the midway point is ridiculous: the space is so small that your character’s graphics absolutely cannot fit ’tween it; you have to rely on you & the Zingers’ generous hit boxes to just squeeze thru — which means you have to know Squawks & the Zingers’ inner hit box, despite not being able to see them ( ’cause they don’t line up with their graphics ). It’s good game design to make your character & enemies’s hurt hit boxes smaller than their graphics to leave leeway for the player; but that’s s’posed to be leeway; it is a sin — a no-Reeces-ghost ( since Twinkies are gross ) offense — to make players play based on this invisible hit box. The player should always be able to squeeze their whole graphic thru a danger, not just the smaller invisible hit box.

In this level’s defense, it does try to implement meaningful branching in the latter half o’ the level. The bonus positions are somewhat clever, too: 1 challenges you to go back after getting Squawks to go up the suspicious banana trail ’bove the line o’ Zingers, which you couldn’t reach before, while the other is in a fork hidden under a Zinger, rather than just out in the open like in “Poisonous Pipeline”.

Tho the bonus challenges themselves are lame: yet ’nother bonus wherein you destroy a bunch o’ Zingers with Squawks & a bonus where you have to collect ornaments without any impediments — it’s just a rectangular room full o’ ornaments. Yeah, you move mo’ slowly, but you still have plenty o’ time to spare. This is halfway thru the game & yet this feels like the easiest bonus in the game.

On the other hand, there’s a few alcoves that serve li’l purpose, such as an alcove with bananas that are not worth dodging the Zingers to get or the invincibility barrel on the far top-left. You might think the latter sounds useful, but you have to do some rather precise maneuvers — either getting the steel keg o’er the gap with the 2 moving Zingers to throw it @ the line o’ Zingers in your way to the left, & still probably have to jump o’er the last 1, since your character accelerates so slowly that the barrel will despawn before you get to that last Zingers, or just jump o’er the 3 Zingers. & ’cause you move so slowly, the invincibility will run off before you get to the actually challenging part @ the end with the red Zingers clumped together. You’d be better off not bothering.

Posted in Sucky Stages, Video Games

Sucky Stages: “Glimmer’s Galleon” & “Windy Well” ( from Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest )

Glimmer’s Galleon

View an interactive map courtesy o’ DKC Atlas

Today’s 1st lame stage is an easy 1: all I need to say is that this is a water level that’s dark & hard to see, 2 o’ the most widely-reviled video game gimmicks. I could also add that the original version o’ this game made it so that Glimmer, the fish following you & giving you the thin light by which to see, flashes the screen full white for a brief moment every time you turn round, which Nintendo had removed in later releases, presumably out o’ fear for causing people seizures. I could also add that this level is a maze; but I generally like mazes, so long as the controls I’m using to navigate the maze are enjoyable & I can actually see the maze.

Other bad marks ’bout this level:

This level is repetitive & is basically just a long winding path avoiding the same Lockjaws, Flotsams, Shuris you already saw quite ’nough o’ in “Lockjaws Locker” & Puftups, who you’ll see plenty o’ times in “Arctic Abyss” & the Enguarde section o’ “Animal Antics”.

Pictured: this level in a nutshell

You don’t e’en get the respite from Donkey Kong Country swimming controls most water levels offer, Enguarde, thanks to useless Glimmer getting in the way.

For Diddy’s Kong Quest this is a particularly weak level ’cause it’s the only level that takes place entirely underwater. 1 o’ the many decisions the developers o’ Diddy’s Kong Quest made that made that game stand out ’mong all the others as having the best level design is that most o’ what you could call its “water levels” break up the water navigation with on-ground sections, & oft add twists to the water sections that many players still remember. ¿Who doesn’t remember bumping seals to make them spray water into the boiling red water to make it blue & cool ’nough to swim through & then hurrying through it before it turned hot ’gain in “Lava Lagoon” or racing ’head o’ the rising water with a piranha fish that bites you as soon as it can reach you in “Slime Climb”? But I wouldn’t be surprised if many players forgot this level.

Pictured: better levels

Being a maze level, you can imagine that this level’s bonuses are just hidden in certain hard-to-find crevices that would not be hard to find if your vision was good. The 1st bonus is right ’bove the start, which is particularly cliché. The hero coin’s location is just 2 layers o’ hidden areas obscured by unmarked magical move-throughable solid material — the weakest element o’ this game’s level design that is on the same level o’ “puzzle” design as the kind o’ levels 10-year-ol’ I made in Lunar Magic.

This level’s bonuses are both the same: swim through a maze till you find the bonus coin. The only difference is that the 2nd bonus has bananas that mislead you — which is particular pernicious, as the DKC series has always upheld that following banana trails is always the best idea. For this level to break this sacred vow to add the slightest bit o’ challenge to yet ’nother maze is just sad.

The 1 thing ’bout this level that almost made it good is that its ending area being similar to the beginning o’ “Rattle Battle” would make the connection ’tween this & the next level feel seamless… if “Rattle Battle” were the next level. Unfortunately, the developers for some reason put “Krockhead Klamber” ’tween these levels.

Windy Well

View an interactive map courtesy o’ DKC Atlas

The bonus level “Animal Antics” is infamous for its Squawks section’s wind, making the already tricky challenge o’ navigating bramble mazes with Squawks e’en harder. But that wind mechanic was consistent: it pushed the same amount for the same duration before switching, going back & forth.

“Windy Well”, for some reason, ’scapes public ire, despite its windy mechanic being far jankier; & it’s not e’en a bonus level, but a level you must get through to beat the game. Rather than pushing you left or right for a specific duration, this wind slowly pushes you upward, sometimes up & down — but only @ certain points, & the game doesn’t do a good job o’ being clear where exactly these places are. Thus, it’s easy to enter a wind section only to pass just the edge o’ it or to just miss the bottom hitbox o’ it & plummet straight down to your death.

On the other end o’ the spectrum, there is a section near the middle wherein you’re s’posed to glide under Zingers while falling back down from wind up-pour… if you stupidly jump after reaching that platform. Otherwise, you can just run right under them. I’m actually not sure if this was intentional or not; but it’s not clever, since it relies on discovering a quirk to a counterintuitive mechanic rather than applying any logic. ¿Why would the wind only affect you @ all if you jump? It’s not e’en just being in the air: you reach the air a li’l when going up onto the platform in the 1st place & you can throw your partner up into the air all you want & they won’t be affected by the air. ( Note: one may think that the 1-up balloon on this platform may incite players to jump to get it, forcing them to go through the challenge normally; but you can just throw your partner up @ the balloon & still skip the challenge. So there’s truly no reason to do it. )

But truly, for a game that usually knew how to pace its elements, this level is too long & repetitive. It ne’er evolves much past dodging Zingers & Krook hooks, & there’s li’l variation. Sometimes the Zingers move in odd patterns; but you still find yourself dodging stationary Zingers e’en up to the end o’ the level — in fact, floating up through holes in a pattern o’ stationary Zingers is the last challenge o’ the level after the 2nd time you dodge Krook hooks. The level is just a bunch o’ challenges thrown together without any logical organization in terms o’ theme or difficulty evolution.

This repetition leads to ’nother problem with this level: it falls into the Donkey Kong Country 3 gimmick syndrome o’ focusing every element o’ this level on this 1 gimmick without any break to switch it up @ all. That this isn’t e’en a particularly inspired or interesting gimmick in the 1st place makes this baffling. “Gusty Glade”, ( which, don’t get me wrong, is also a shitty level with cheap wind that abruptly changes when you get near a platform’s edge, throwing you right off the edge without warning ) which you play in the preceding world, has wind, too, but it’s far less janky & has far mo’ variations: with Rattly & without, hopping on enemies, blasting up in barrels, & using hooks, none o’ which is used mo’ than 2 setpieces, & these are still broken up with regular platforming. Then ’gain, “Gusty Glade” is also not nearly so long, so it ends before it gets too tiresome. It pisses me off still; but “Windy Well” kind o’ pisses me off & bored me — & boring me is a far greater crime than pissing me off, as a’least the latter inspires some emotion in me. “Animal Antics”’s wind section, which actually is competently-designed & people who complain ’bout it are just bad @ it, has less variation, but is much smaller, & is only a portion o’ a larger level.

Pictured: this level in a nutshell

This obsession with its gimmick leads finding “Windy Well”’s bonuses to be uninspired: the 1st bonus is just falling in a hole that seems like it might make you fall & die, but has wind that keeps you from falling & allows you to float under the platform that continues the level to find a bonus barrel. Then, later, the level does something similar for a hero coin, but e’en mo’ obtuse: you have to jump, but not too high, or you’ll get hit by a Zinger, which is likely. I think you’re s’posed to roll off the edge & then jump, but e’en that will 90% o’ the time either still not give you ’nough speed & distance to clear the Zingers or make you miss the invisible wind hitbox & fall to your death. I was only e’er able to do it without getting hit with Diddy, e’en after many tries with Dixie. In truth, whene’er I did this on the many 102% runs I’ve done, I’d always just tank a hit to get this. Some may say this is me whining ’cause I suck, but I want to remind you that the hitbox is completely invisible, so it’s not strategic aiming; it’s guesswork — guesswork so anal that I’m still not e’en sure if it’s possible with 1 o’ the characters. If they were going to be so vague ’bout how the wind works, they ought to a’least give the player some leeway.

The bonus challenges themselves run into the opposite problem, having li’l to do with the level gimmick & just being generic challenges. The 1st bonus just has you use the wind mechanic to rise up to a hook, which isn’t a challenge, just pointless padding, & then challenges you to hop on a bunch o’ Flitters, which you’ve already done many times. The 2nd bonus is e’en worse: it has nothing to do with the gimmick or the level’s theme & is just a bramble room with Squawks challenging you to grab a bunch o’ stars. Much earlier levels had much mo’ interesting twists on this, such as Bramble Scramble’s bonus challenging you to hit bees in the way o’ stars. Why an end-game level would have a much simpler & easier version o’ a bonus from midgame is a mystery.

The only good thing I can say ’bout this level, other than its music, is the 1st challenge, which has nothing to do with the gimmick, challenging you to hop ’mong 2 short platforms with Click-Clacks on them, a particularly tricky variation o’ a challenge players will have done many times before.

E’en the palette for this level isn’t nearly as nice as “Kannon’s Klaim” & “Squawk’s Shaft”. This level’s black walls with green crystals feels far mo’ generic that you’d expect it to be the 1st palette for the mine-shaft theme, while “Kannon’s Klaim”’s brown walls & purple crystals & ’specially “Squawk’s Shaft”’s red walls & golden crystals are far mo’ colorful & exotic. Usually this game uses the mo’ exotic palettes for later levels, such as the bramble levels saving the autumnal sunset palette with purple sky & brownish gold brambles for the last regular level o’ the game or the swamp levels starting with typical green, but using the far mo’ exotic purple palette for their last level.

Posted in Sucky Stages, Video Games

Sucky Stages: “Donut Plains 2” from Super Mario World

I’ve already bashed this level in the big post I made comparing Super Mario Bros. 3 & Super Mario World 3 years ago & reminded you all how much I hate slow autoscrollers when criticizing Super Mario Bros. 3’s worst level 2 years ago, so this post was inevitable; & replaying through Super Mario World1 to get level ideas to steal2 & the recent “Great Stages” post after a 2-year hiatus was the perfect spur.

But before I write ’bout “Donut Plains 2”, it’ll help if I whet your appetite with the level that comes before it, “Donut Plains 1”. You remember ( since you haven’t lived in a fallout shelter for the past 3 decades & ’course have played Super Mario World ) that this was the iconic level that introduces the cape feather, as well as the cape-wielding Super Koopas you cadge them from, the baseball-throwing Chucks, & fire spewing Lotus Plants. The Baseball Chucks are, in particular, a great way to practice your cape swing by blocking his baseballs, as is the iconic bonus room halfway through the level that allows you to collect ’bout 600 coins flying through them in the air.

It is gainst this iconic level that “Donut Plains 2” truly brings on the letdown.

“Donut Plains 2” may be the slowest autoscroller I’ve e’er played. I swear that half o’ the time is spent with my shoving Yoshi’s face into the right edge o’ the screen in the desperate hope it might get me to the end mo’ quickly.

¿& what does this level do with this mechanic used in already far too many levels? Well, if you’re playing while in a coma you may stupidly let yourself get squished by the slow-moving yellow dirt. The last moving yellow dirt e’en stays on screen so long that if you go onto it after it 1st shows up, it will ’ventually crush you. The puzzle is to wait round in the perfectly safe ground before it till it reaches the top & then falls back down ’gain. This is the climax o’ this level, the best iteration o’ this lame mechanic they could muster.


Actually, that’s not e’en the end o’ the level: the level ends with a pipe & 2 random Spike Tops seen nowhere else in the level. I think the only way they could’ve introduced this enemy in a weaker way would be if they didn’t include the pipe & show this enemy’s main mechanic. They should’ve waited till “Vanilla Dome 1”. Yes, this level is so bad it makes good… well, much better than this level a’least, levels worse.

The most interesting iteration o’ the moving yellow dirt is the 2nd-to-last instance, when it comes in from the top & may, very rarely, block your jumps ’bove the Buzzy Beetles. Too bad, since the screen & dirt are going @ a snail’s pace, you’re forced to wait & pay attention to every detail so that you could see it coming before it came e’en close to getting in your way. This level is the equivalent o’ playing a game in super slomo — it saps e’en the slightest o’ challenge so that it almost feels like cheating & makes it agonizingly boring.

Imagine this level didn’t have autoscrolling3. ¿What would it lose? You wouldn’t have to wait in front o’ a wall slowly moving up & then back down. That would be a heartbreaking loss. ’Stead, you could run through as quickly as you could, weaving ’tween moving dirt. This level, like many autoscrollers, would be better if it weren’t an autoscroller @ all.

This is no surprise; autoscrollers, when useful, have 2 functions: they either force you to hurry & act quickly or they challenge you to dodge hard-to-dodge dangers within constricted space. Obviously this level, as well as just ’bout every autoscroller in just ’bove every Mario game ’cept for that fast airship in Super Mario Bros. 3 ( the only good autoscroller in that game ), fails that criteria, since this level is slow. But it fails the latter, too, since none o’ the dangers in this level are hard to dodge. ’Sides, one must be very creative with the layout o’ the onslaught o’ dangers one preys on the player to avoid monotony — the “elevator level”, e’en mo’ reviled from classic platformers than water levels. I’ve ne’er seen a platformer do slow autoscrollers well; only shmups succeed @ them.

“¿Are you truly going to bash an early-game level in a level made for kids for being easy?”. No, I’m going to bash it for having nothing to do. This isn’t the 1st level — there are a’least 7 levels before it, all o’ which are much mo’ interesting. “Donut Plains 1” is earlier, but it has all kinds o’ things thrown into it. The flying tutorial room is certainly easier, — you literally can’t die, save for time-up — but it feels much freer. “Donut Plains 2” is as easy as having an o’erly-protective mother: while great early-game levels throughout Mario games are easy ’cause they’re free & rarely punish you for just doing whate’er you want, this level is easy ’cause it doesn’t let you do anything but stand round in mother-level-designer’s strong grip.

’Sides, this level isn’t free: it’s just challenging ’nough to force you to pay attention to its tedium, like the platformer equivalent o’ Desert Bus. As I replayed this level multiple times to capture the screenshots you’re seeing, I was surprised by how easy ’twas to die simply ’cause I glazed off or was too far on the right edge & let a bat smack me or e’en maybe the level crush me once.

The 2nd worst part o’ this level is that not only do you have to suffer through it once, you have to suffer through it a 2nd time for the 2nd exit. Luckily, if you have foresight, you can take the secret exit route in the middle both times, which also includes a shortcut to the end. But letting me skip most o’ the level does not make a level better, but is itself a symptom o’ a bad level. I wouldn’t want to skip a fun level.

Furthermo’, the secret exit is as arbitrary & slapdash as the rest o’ this level. It’s just a random pipe in the middle o’ the level ’mong many. I s’pose that adds the challenge o’ testing every pipe before the screen zips by them. Also, you can actually get crushed gainst the pipe if you manage to mess up going into it before the dirt rises too high, which is possible, since Super Mario World has quite janky pipe entrance physics; but this is rare.

The room this pipe leads to has a wide empty space with just a football-kicking Chuck — ’cause caves are always the most fitting place for football players4.

After that irrelevancy, we have a combination o’ 2 o’ the most o’erused puzzles in Super Mario World: an item ( a Koopa shell ) locked ’hind turn blocks you need to be big to break with a spin jump & a turn block you need to throw the shell @ to create a vine. ’Course, if you have a cape or Yoshi, you can just fly or Yoshi jump into the hole with the key & keyhole, anyway.

¿So what is the outright worst part o’ this level? It’s basically just a weaker version o’ ’nother level. “Valley of Bowser 2” — which is tedious, too, mind you — does everything this level does, but better in every way, ’cept maybe that it’s longer & has e’en mo’ padding. & most o’ it isn’t e’en hardly harder than “Donut Plains 2”, so “Donut Plains 2” doesn’t e’en work as a warm-up to “Valley of Bowser 2”. While “Donut Plains 2” is just a bunch o’ virtually-identical towers o’ yellow dirt going up & down, “Valley of Bowser 2” has a moving maze o’ yellow dirt you must maneuver while avoiding being crushed gainst the brown dirt. It sounds much harder; but thanks to the slowness o’ the autoscrolling, it’s easy to avoid if you’re paying a bit o’ attention. It is genuinely easier than a’least 95% o’ the levels in “Donut Plains” & after.

After that maze there are a series o’ short races to get out o’ passageways before the rising yellow dirt crushes you. Howe’er, if you pay close attention, you’ll notice that the edge o’ the yellow dirt in the 1st passageway sticks out past the right edge o’ the brown dirt & that, if you were to wait on it, you’d be able to reach the ceiling o’ the 1st passageway & go ’bove it to the left to reach the key & keyhole. This is a far cleverer secret exit than “Donut Plains 2”’s & is actually relevant to the gimmick.

“Donut Plains 2”’s aesthetics do it no favors: it’s 1 entry in an o’erused & bland theme that does not fit with the world it’s in. Super Mario Bros. 3’s advantage to having mo’ exotic ( for the time ) themes was that its themes generally stuck to their worlds & none felt o’erused. Super Mario World, meanwhile, has world themes so generic that they spill out into other worlds. Thus, we get the absurdity o’ a game with a cave world ( 2, technically, since “Valley of Bowser” is quite cavelike already ) full o’ cave levels, & yet also has cave levels throughout other worlds, as if 2 cave worlds wasn’t ’nough caves for us5. ( “Plains”, which is e’en mo’ generic — the most generic theme possible, in fact, falls into this e’en harder ).

“Donut Plains 2” is a particularly ugly level in a game that, quite frankly, is quite ugly as a whole. 1 o’ the major downsides to implementing moving dirt is that it takes up the main background layer, so that all we get are sparse… shapes that only use 4 colors & don’t look anything like anything that would be on a cave wall but ’stead looks like something the laziest modern artist would make who doesn’t know any better ( & I like modern art, so if you fail to impress me with it, you know it sucks ). The sickly yellow dirt that looks like it may have some radiation poisoning from underground nuclear tests clash particularly with the lifeless gray o’ the rest o’ the dirt. It made me realize how wrong complementary colors that are super desaturated ( ’cause Super Mario World, despite revolving round a fantasy world, is desaturated to hell like it’s a 16-bit Call of Duty ) look.

“Donut Plains 2” is a particular problem in context. Coming just after the release o’ the 1st Sonic the Hedgehog game, Super Mario World was a particular target for the not-entirely-fair stereotype that Mario games are slow & bland6. But “Donut Plains 2” fits this stereotype perfectly: it is slow & bland.

Posted in Sucky Stages, Video Games

Sucky Stages: World 5-9 o’ Super Mario Bros. 3

Since I mentioned my favorite level from Super Mario Bros. 3 yesterday, ¿how ’bout I write ’bout my least favorite level today?

I’m sure I’ve mentioned in the my big “Super Mario Bros. 3 vs. Super Mario World” article how much I hate autoscrollers, or a’least those that don’t let you scroll ’head o’ them. They’re almost ne’er timed so that you don’t have to wait round most o’ the time. General rule: if I have to wait round doing nothing, your level’s not paced well.

Sadly, Super Mario Bros. 3 & Super Mario World have plenty o’ autoscrollers, & I don’t think any o’ them were hardly good or were improved by being autoscrollers. The 1 exception I can think o’ is the airship in World 8 o’ Super Mario Bros. 3, which is the only autoscroller that didn’t scroll @ the speed o’ slugs. That’s the 1 level ’mong both these games that uses autoscrollers how they, presumably, should be used: to force you to keep pace, which is the opposite o’ “wait round doing nothing”. & if ’twere the only level to have it, perhaps “autoscroller” would’ve been a fresh special gimmick rather than a cliché so trite we already have a well-known name for it. You have to admit, this is 1 thing the 1st Donkey Kong Country & almost all o’ Diddy’s Kong Quest ( “Castle Crush” is the only exception ) did better than classic Mario games.

The absolute nadir for Super Mario Bros. 3 autoscrollers is unquestionably World 5-9. ¡Just look @ its map & see for yourself! ¡It’s literally just “Wooden platform, wooden platform, wooden platform, wooden platform, wooden platform — ¡Ooo! ¡Now there’s a Fire Chomp with a janky hitbox!”! That must’ve taken, like, a minute to design. I praised Super Mario Bros. 3 for having mo’ focused levels than Super Mario World, but sometimes it took it too far into the realm o’ monotony.

But the map, which a’least looks short, doesn’t show how unbearably slow it moves. I guess the actually difficulty was s’posed to be surviving the Fire Chomps for a certain amount o’ time. So it’s a diagonal elevator level — ’cause everyone loves those.

In general, World 5 is a bit o’ a weak point o’ Super Mario Bros. 3 — with only World 8 as possibly worse, due to having a full 4 autoscrollers, 2 o’ which are impossible to distinguish ( though the real levels it does have are good ’nough to almost undo that ). A’least the upper sky part o’ World 5’s quite weak. Yeah, the lower part has that Kuribo’s Shoe level; but that level’s only truly good ’cause o’ Kuribo’s Shoe & the slightly funny joke o’ taking a pipe down into the sky o’ ’nother outside area; otherwise, it’s just a bunch o’ pipes & Piranha Plants. I guess that works @ demoing Kuribo’s Shoe & its ability to stomp on Piranha Plants.

To be fair, the upper area has some good levels, like 5-5 & it’s subtly clever brick & donut-block puzzles, & 5-4 makes a decent introduction to those fucking mental 2D fidget spinners, mate; but then you have 5-6, which is just a copypasta swarm o’ Para-Beetles, 5-8, which is just “Here’s Lakitu”, with level design as advanced as that you’d find in the original Super Mario Bros., & the 2nd fortress, which is just a bunch o’ simple jumps with Podoboos & magical ceiling lava that’s e’en less advanced than every castle level in the the original Super Mario Bros. — ¿& what the hell does a red, hot lava fortress have to do with the sky?

Now that I’m looking through World 5’s maps: 5-2 is a good level, but it’s an underground level. ¿What the hell is an underground level doing in sky world? That’s the exact opposite o’ the sky. The 1st part o’ this level, where you can skip the rest o’ the level with careful jumps o’er note blocks, is so memorable; but I thought I remembered it from World 7, where it fucking belongs.

Posted in Sucky Stages, Video Games

World C-3 of Lost Levels is the Worst Level Ever Created Ever

3. It’s a Copy of Another Level

It is understandable that Nintendo had to repeat some levels, considering the technical limitations of the time; but why pick 7-3, which was a horrible level already? Why not pick an actual good level?

2. It Mixes Three Luck-Based Mechanics for Optimal Bullshit

Namely, wind, springs, and Lakitu—the first of which Miyamoto himself agreed was an unfair mechanic. The springs cause your character to leap so high that you can’t see him, meaning you have to predict where he’ll land when he inevitably does. If you don’t magically predict well, expect him to land in the abyss. Sometimes you may land on a Spiny egg Lakitu just-so-happened to throw.

Actually, the best part about this level is that the existence of Lakitu is the only difference between C-3 and 7-3—and yet he barely makes a difference at all, considering you spend most of your time in the air. He’s just a rare, random fuck-you sometimes.

1. Glitches Are Great! (Famicom version only)

Oh yeah, and sometimes a spring won’t spawn, making the level literally impossible.

Posted in Sucky Stages, Video Games