So our first week of our prizeless Sound Shapes level design contest has come to a close and it’s been rather interesting. In a lot of ways what we are seeing playing random levels in-game is very similar to the early days of LittleBigPlanet with a bunch of garbage, “tests” and people who just don’t understand basic gameplay elements. That is one reason I wanted to start this contest, to give people who have an inkling of what they are doing a forum to show it off to the world. And by “the world” I mean “the couple hundred people who stop by here everyday.”
So what did we find? Good stuff, actually. Everything submitted was at the very least playable – which puts it about 10 bars higher than the rest of the Sound Shapes community currently. Also, Camus and I didn’t have a chance to talk all weekend long but when we caught up we had the same two levels picked – so it’s safe to say the choices were unanimous. What wasn’t was what category they should go in. Both are strong in music and gameplay and could be flipped if you wanted.
But before we get to the winners lets discuss what set them apart. The biggest problem that we ran across in the majority of these levels was an EXTREME lack of checkpoints. There is nothing more deflating than making it across a few tricky sections and then dying over something stupid only to learn you are back 5 screens and have to do it all over again. Likewise a good number of the levels had sections that just sucked the life out of the experience. There were levels that with some polish could be absolute classics, but I would get to certain spots and die 20 times in a row. I replayed these levels several times thinking maybe I was coming at these sections the wrong way – and who knows, maybe I was – but I never figured them out. It just took a bit of dumb luck to get through and that was that.
So lets just drop the pretense of one of these levels being better at music and one being better at level design and just call them co winners. That’s easier, right? The winners are:
Man-is-Obsolete with The Fall and Rise
Madriiax with Fever Dream
The Fall and Rise is a Super Bros. heavy level that is a rather mellow voyage. It’s not afraid to use sparse rooms or rely on atmosphere to usher you through the 4 to 8 minute voyage. But as soon as you start to feel comfortable Man-is-Obsolete is not afraid to create insane contraptions that want to murder you over and over. I don’t mind dying a lot if I feel like there is a fair way to beat the challenge and The Fall and Rise does this without feeling cheap. Overall this is a wonderful journey and you can tell that Man-is-Obsolete put a lot of time and effort into this.
Fever Dream is a more abstract level as the name would indicate. The name setting the tone is important as a lesser level may not be able to get away with having such strange zones right next to each other but for whatever reason it works here. There are a few parts to test your skills but there is never a checkpoint too far behind. And both Man-is-Obsolete and Madriiax may have noticed that I had the slowest time on their leaderboards and the reason for that is I would just sit in certain sections and listen to the music. Madriiax in particular had some crazy beats while Man had some chilling atmospherics. Both were brilliant.
So that’s it for this week one. Congrats, fellas. Everyone else post your levels down below for week two, Camus and I will be judging you.