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Joshua Bone

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Everything posted by Joshua Bone

  1. Call for CC2LP1* Level Pack Submissions

    I submit all levels in Walls of Chip's Challenge 1.4.0 except for MULTICHIP, which is busted. I also submit EXTRACTION and OPTIMAZE from JBoneMisfits 1.0.0.
  2. Please use this thread to provide feedback on level playability, fun, difficulty, busts, etc. from any of my levels. I'm particularly interested in hearing about my 28-level CC2 custom set based on the first 28 levels of CC1. http://cczone.invisionzone.com/index.php?/files/file/466-jbonewocc/ Here's the designer notes: 01 HOARDER (based on LESSON ONE) The concept is somewhat annoying at first, but makes an excellent lesson in inventory management. Getting the bonus just means planning ahead. Extra 1K bonus flag in bottom left corner. 02 PUSH AND PULL (based on LESSON TWO) Again, the concept is annoying at first, but (as with FLEA MARKET) you start to get the hang of the hook after a bit. 03 ONE LESS'N BEFORE (based on LESSON THREE) The trick here is a little tougher to duplicate than I'd like. The bonus is obtainable only by 'unfair' information. 04 THOUGHTFUL (based on LESSON FOUR) I like the `set yourself up for success' theme here. I have NOT verified the bonus is obtainable on this one. 05 POOL OF THE ACCURSED (based on LESSON FIVE) Keeping the blue teeth out of trouble on this one was so difficult that I had to give the player more options. The `surprise' in the lower room is unfair, but I like the concept. 06 SPIRIT PORTAL (based on LESSON SIX) I'm really proud of this one. A tight little puzzle that fits perfectly into the walls of the original level. Very instructive on the ghost/yellow teleport interaction. Secret out-of-sight bonus available. 07 IF WALLS COULD SPEAK (based on LESSON SEVEN) Neat concept made possible by the new thin walls. 08 SHE'S GOT A TICKET (based on LESSON EIGHT) Simple RR level, more filler than anything, all trap routes should be visible in advance. 09 OL' STUNT BANDS (based on NUTS AND BOLTS) Name is an anagram of course. Collection of unrelated concepts. I'm pretty happy with the whole northwest corner, particularly the creative one-way bouncing ball room (using a series of 12 x+20n repeaters) and the red teleport puzzle. Bonus puzzle looks more complex than it is. 10 PROBING ACTUALITY (based on BRUSHFIRE) Easy and satisfying concept level in my opinion. 11 AROUND THE CORNER (based on TRINITY) Another puzzle I'm really proud of. Spent several hours working on iterations of this. The walls of TRINITY make the upper right tank impossible to extract using the intended mechanism, hence the 2-chip requirement instead of 3-chip. However, you can get sneaky by quickly moving the yellow teleport while the tank is in the RR room and extract it that way for the full bonus. 12 HASHTAGS (based on HUNT) Mostly a filler level. Not all bonus flags are currently achievable. Maybe someday I'll fix that portion. 13 GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY (based on SOUTHPOLE) My personal favorite level of the set. All fire routes are marked, and thus the only threat to a careful player is the clock. But training (pardon the pun) my brain to think in these terms definitely took a while. 14 TELEBLAST (based on TELEBLOCK) My second favorite level, and probably the hardest of the set. Thinking in terms of three yellow teleports is pretty challenging, plus the whole bomb placement thing. I got the complete player experience here by constructing a level and figuring it out without knowing in advance it was even possible. One secret bonus flag exists. 15 FORCE ANXIETY (based on ELEMENTARY) Pretty straightforward concept level. I have noticed a game bug while playing that lets you re-enter a pop-up wall with the no-green-key sign, that might allow a minor bust. 16 CAREENING (based on CELLBLOCKED) I think this one is easy and quite fun. Bonus is obtainable, but note that the hook can't pull a sliding block perpendicuarly away from a wall. My method is to push the block into the wall instead, that seems to stop it in place and then you can pull it. 17 DEADLY SMILE (based on NICE DAY) Concept level based on rapid toggling. Basically requires you to collect some of the chips while travelling in 3-step, and others while traveling in 9-step. The hint explains which toggle walls are in sync with which green chips. 18 DUNGEON QUEST (based on CASTLE MOAT) Untimed level with plenty of extra bowling balls. Playable to the patient player, but also extremely unforgiving. I *think* it's fun, but it can also be incredibly frustrating. I haven't verified the bonus on this but it should be obtainable. 19 ROVER SWAPPER (based on DIGDIRT) Speed boots for both player and rover makes the experience much more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise. I think it's the most fun level in the set, and pretty easy. I think all the bonuses are obtainable but I haven't verified. 20 MISBEHAVIOR (based on TOSSED SALAD) I was going to turn TOSSED SALAD into the ultimate yellow teleport level, but then the starting puzzle turned out to be so difficult that I cordoned off the area and decided I'd ask no more of the player. The rest of the level contains bonus flags and is accessible by the same secret mechanism as I put in TELEBLAST and SPIRIT PORTAL. 21 INTERNET FREEZE (based on ICEBERG) Pretty straightforward maze using wired blue teleports. It's impossible to get stuck but there are two `one way' sections which could be confusing. Secret bonus flags exist. 22 EVER PASSING MOMENT (based on FORCED ENTRY) Whew! This one took forever both to design and to record. I originally had double the number of monsters but it was too difficult for my taste. I have not verified the bonuses on this level. Getting them will interrupt the monster pattern and require the player to make it back alive across a room full of chaos. 23 REDEMPTION LEVEL (based on BLOBNET) Purely a bonus level, although the mechanism by which you automatically win the level is pretty cool. I covered it with canopies in-game, but it relies on a possible bug that allows the game to clone semi-functional copies of the player. You can't switch to them, and in this level you'd never know they existed, but when that timer hits zero it releases one right into the exit. 24 AUTOMATIC MINING MACHINE (based on OORTO GELD) The mechanism on this level is really fun. A single yellow teleport shoots bowling balls in whichever direction the player is facing, and must be moved around the level to collect all the chips. The level might feel slightly long but I think the concept is worth it. 25 CONSTANT COMPANION (based on BLINK) Pretty easy filler concept level. Working with the doppelganger to get the bonus is pretty fun, as you get to push and pull a dirt block down tight passageways and around corners. It's practically impossible to get stuck or die except by running out of time. 26 PROCESS IMPROVEMENT (based on CHCHCHIPS) Three concept puzzles, one involving bowling balls on railroad and two involving electricity. Not too difficult and I think the concepts are pretty cool. 27 DETECTIVE STORY (based on GO WITH THE FLOW) I really want to hear your feedback on this level. Is it fair or unfair? Easy or difficult? Fun or frustrating? I'm having a hard time gauging what the experience would feel like to the casual player. 28 FACES IN THE MIRROR (based on PING PONG) The yellow tank mirrors your every move! This was a tough one to construct because the player can desync the yellow tank by pressing on a wall and then moving away. So, I made all the walls deadly.
  3. Joshua Bone's level design feedback thread thingy

    Thanks for the feedback, I'll definitely update the time limit on The Golden Key.
  4. new tile ideas

    And then I had to go and design DUNGEON QUEST I agree with this point, but also think there are plenty of creative and non-violent ideas for tools that can destroy/remove monsters. I agree I wouldn't want Chip to have a sword or a gun or anything like that, but I think TNT and bowling balls are awesome, and it might be nice to have standard cherry bombs that were droppable. Lasers turrets would be awesome too. Or a 'freeze' gun.
  5. Ask a dumb question, get a dumb answer

    False--nothing is worth waiting a year and a half for. What really happens inside a transmogrifier?
  6. The Walls of CCLP2

  7. Joshua Bone's level design feedback thread thingy

    I reorganized the level order in 1.4.0 to be loosely based on increasing difficulty rather than original level order, so that's intended :). Thanks for the feedback too, very helpful as always. The walkers areas on SALMON RUN were designed to require basically no dodging skill to solve, coming as late in the level as they do. I actually was just looking to fill space at that point after a really complicated level. I played through the level again recently just to make sure and I still feel like they are fairly placed. My rule of thumb (usually, but not always followed) is that 'gratuitous' late-game dodging and puzzles on long levels should be solvable close to 100% of the time on the first try by an average player. In this case it should be obvious what needs to be done in both rooms, and it should be almost trivial to execute. If that's not the experience I'd love to hear what makes them difficult. ONE LESS'N BEFORE is nothing glitchy, just standard CC mechanics plus a single well-known CC2 ability. FF behavior in the Steam engine makes it a little tricky to execute, but I can pull it off almost every try. I think altering player position and editor peeks in general fall into the same category. Ultimately it's up to the player how they want to experience the game. Some levels could be absolutely ruined by this; in others, it's a harmless way to get past a single difficult section. I don't mind it. On MY MOTHER SAYS the rest of the level after the opening puzzle was honestly pretty much just filler. Glad to know it's enjoyable filler :). The opening puzzle is surprisingly hard, and was one of those 'I wonder if this is possible' designs that turned into a puzzle that seems to fit the space perfectly.
  8. Some Useful CC2 Logic Inventions

    No prob! It'll be nice if the community can build up a library of useful things like this that can then be used for interesting level designs, so it's not a matter of trying to figure everything out from scratch.
  9. Some Useful CC2 Logic Inventions

    SET/RESET: The outer four buttons can be 'set' independently, and the middle button resets them all. SEPARATE ON/OFF: A simpler version of SET/RESET. Basically like a toggle switch except the on and off functions are separated. MULTI-TOGGLE: You can add more branches as needed. Each press of the button moves the toggle to the next state. EDGE TRIGGERS: The STEP ON trigger fires a 1-tick pulse on tick t+1 after the button is pressed. The STEP OFF trigger fires a 1-tick pulse on tick t+3 after the button is released. The ROCKER fires either a 1-tick or 2-tick pulse on tick t+1 after the button is pressed, and another 1-tick or 2-tick pulse on tick t+1 after the button is released (the pulse will be 1-tick wide for a short press of the button, and 2-ticks wide for a long press).
  10. I personally don't believe that creativity lessens with age; however I do believe that it lessens when I'm not prioritizing it. Like anything else, the longer you go without using it, the less of it you have. Look at the lives of many great artists, composers, and poets, and you see that many of them complete their masterpieces late in life. I highly recommend the book "The Artists' Way" by Julia Cameron if you're feeling blocked, it has a lot of creative exercises which both my wife and I have found especially useful over the years.
  11. Joshua Bone's level design feedback thread thingy

    Thanks, guys! _H_: I am hearing you on the time limits. You've given this feedback on quite a few levels and I will try to reevaluate each level individually for the next version. I agree CONQUEST is a prime candidate for an untimed level. The noise on MY MOTHER SAYS is just one example of one of the big weaknesses of CC2 -- the horrible SFX. I play with the sound turned way down. I've already decided not to alter my design process based on worrying about annoying sounds. Didn't realize there was guesswork on THE AMAZING VORTEX, I will take another look. A MAN OF MANY LAYERS is my least favorite of the new levels; I was stuck on ideas for those walls for a while. Maze levels in general have been the big holdups for this set. If I think of another idea I'll change it in a heartbeat. Thanks for the feedback on the rest mobius: I try to keep the levels that use glitches and unexpected behavior small. I think they're definitely fair game for bonuses, but agree they can spoil a level if abused. Other than MULTICHIP, I'd be interested to hear if you think there are other obvious examples. I guess I'd say that THIN BLUE LINE and SPIRIT PORTAL might be borderline as well. On PART AND PARCEL, would you agree with _H_ that the left side would be better without the invisible walls? RULE OF TINCTURE was just a result of my usual indecision on what to name a variety level. I think I started with the word 'grail' and did some googling/wikipedia searching to look for other medieval sounding names. I think I like the result. Glad you liked the others! I also was pleasantly surprised by I MOVE YOU MOVE. I didn't want the level to lose its character from SLO MO but also felt like ditching the toggle walls wouldn't leave anything recognizable. It's not the highlight of the set or anything but it felt playable at least. I've been feeling ambivalent about SLIMEYARD, but am glad you enjoyed it!
  12. Joshua Bone's level design feedback thread thingy

    Thanks! CONQUEST is what it is, I think it might be possible to expand the starting areas a little bit, but I think it's legit to have a couple of campaign levels in the set. I'm definitely switching my focus to easy levels now. On OBFUSCATED, I intended it to be a 'misdirection' level, where if you do the one 'obvious' option all the way through you end up stuck, sort of like on DETECTIVE STORY but with more noise. The fact that it felt linear with one option at each point makes me feel like it might be busted. Dunno, I haven't really looked at it in a year or so.
  13. Count to 1,000

    (to 4 decimal places anyway )
  14. Joshua Bone's level design feedback thread thingy

    Thanks for the feedback (9 months later). I would be very interested to know what your solution was for OBFUSCATED AND INTERRED. If you ever feel like recording a video I'd love to see if it is busted
  15. Walls Of Chip's Challenge 1.4.0

    Version 1.4.0


    The remodeling of the Clubhouse is halfway complete! -Contains 76 levels all based on the layout of classic Chip's Challenge puzzles. -New since version 1.3.0: Reordered levels to create an approximate difficulty curve (still a work in progress... I need to make more easy levels!) Recorded and saved replays of all levels Added 10 levels: MARKTKANAAL (replaces CENTRAAL STATION), CONQUEST, MY MOTHER SAYS, DISINTEGRATOR INTEGRATOR, HOOPLA, SALMON RUN, THE AMAZING VORTEX, A MAN OF MANY LAYERS, NURSERY GAMES, GREENLIGHT Updated TELEBLAST to prevent cooking the level by pushing a block over the exit or by moving the teleports out of reverse reading order. Renamed FIGHTING FIRE WITH ICE to FIREFIGHTER and moved placement of buttons to fix an annoying bug. Made STACKS much easier by replacing chips with bonus flags along the edges of the bug room. Replaced beginning puzzle of SLIDESHOW SIDESHOW with a much harder and more interesting puzzle. Added two blue doors to make the endgame of TANTALIZING BARRIERS easier; the original solution is still possible and scores bonuses. Made FOOTRACE THROUGH FIRE SWAMP much easier, put more emphasis on the `footrace' and less on the other puzzles. Renamed ERRBODY GOT PROBLEMS to TWELVE BAR BLUES. Added speed boots to FAVORABLE DISTRIBUTION. Removed most of the icy corridors from DOWNTOWN HESITATION to make walkers much less deadly. If you try nothing else, at least check out: The opening puzzle on MY MOTHER SAYS. DISINTEGRATOR INTEGRATOR (basically IN & OUT 3) MARKTKANAAL Feedback is most appreciated!
  16. Mobi's Challenge

  17. gm5

  18. Nanamin's Challenge

  19. My New Project

    I'll sign up for some beta testing!
  20. CC2 Worlds

    CC2 Worlds 1.0.0 is released! It's a 20-level experimental pack designed for casual play. All levels take place on the same 99x99 map and use a 'simulated checkpoint' strategy to provide continuity. Please try it out and leave feedback here! http://cczone.invisionzone.com/index.php?/files/file/611-cc2-worlds/ View the level map: http://i.imgur.com/gmMto2G.png
  21. CC2 Custom Set Review - "Rising" (v1.0)

    I took a break today from my ongoing Let's Play of the very enjoyable but lengthy 'Flareon1', and decided to take a peek at the latest file from H2O, posted yesterday. The levelset is called 'Rising' and features 8 levels. Playing through the set took me about an hour and 20 minutes. The video of my playthrough can be found here: 01 RISING The set begins with this massive untimed 99x99 bonus level which is unique in that it contains all of the other levels in the set. I call it a bonus level because the solution is trivial - just walk in a westerly direction and find the unguarded exit. However, there are bonuses everywhere and I'm sure finding an optimal route would be a challenge. I really like the pixel art (the trees and the path) at lower right, and it is interesting to be able to get a preview of the levels to come. However, I think it would be more interesting if there was at least a little bit of challenge in the level, and it was also pretty confusing on first play because I didn't know that all these rooms were previews of coming levels. I didn't 'get' it at first, but once I figured it out later it was a cool moment. 02 RED INK A nice little puzzle, fun to solve, feels like it's over too quickly though! 03 HOT WATER Also a cool concept, dodging the yellow tanks is easy but interesting. Again, the level is over so quickly! I could see combining this + RED INK + maybe a compressed version of GREEN THUMB all into one level. (I guess after my review of Explorer's Delight I must sound like Goldilocks-- "These levels are too long... these levels are too short..." Sorry.) 04 GREEN THUMB The central puzzle is awesome, and very fun to figure out. I'm less of a fan of the level's layout, but it works. 05 OFF THE TRACK I enjoyed this one. Short enough it's not terribly frustrating, pleasing to the eye, and a unique gameplay concept. 06 CUT TEETH Wonderful level with an unique, engaging theme. The length is perfect, just enough to be quite challenging, but not so much that it's a chore to restart the level after a mistake. Felt very satisfying to solve. 07 CUT THE ICE My favorite of the set. I like the use of the one-way teleport mechanism to create three separate, similarly themed teamwork puzzles. The top left puzzle did feel somewhat trivial compared to the other two (which were excellent!). I might consider starting Chip and Melinda off within sight of each other to emphasize that this is a teamwork level. The teleport mechanism plays pretty well! There are ways to drastically simplify the circuitry, but since it's not visible during play maybe it's irrelevant. 08 DIRT FILE A lengthy maze level using blue tanks, green toggles, and... a three-way toggle mechanism! This was actually the most frustrating level in the set for me, mostly because I didn't quite understand that each of the pink buttons was actually controlling the state of all the pink walls, i.e. I thought that each pink button was only responsible for the pink walls in the immediate vicinity, and so it would confuse me to find a door open where I thought I'd left it closed, and vice versa. A hint might help. But overall it's a quality level and satisfying to solve.
  22. So after almost a year of relative absence from the game, I'm back! I'm between jobs right now, and the Seattle weather is nothing but rainy, so what better opportunity could I expect to dedicate some time to Chip's Challenge 2? I spent the last week or so dedicating myself to a complete Let's Play and levelset review of "Nanamin's Challenge 1.0" which was released by Nanamin on February 25th this year. I picked a brand new set by a designer I know nothing about for a couple reasons. First, the CC2 community has been somewhat dormant for some time (due in part I think to a poor editor and the ongoing CCLP4 voting), so I would like to do what I can to generate interest in the game. Second, I've never created a Let's Play video series before, and I wanted to try it out on a truly blind experience -- I've never seen any of these levels before. The videos are available on my Youtube channel at the following links: Part 1: (Levels 1-20)Part 2: (Levels 21-26)Part 3: (Levels 27-35)Part 4: (Levels 36-42)Part 5: (Levels 43-48)Part 6: (Levels 48-55)Part 7: (Levels 55-60) Summary: Nanamin's Challenge 1.0 is a wonderfully designed 60-level set with a medium difficulty curve. There are several themes I've noticed that run through the set: 1) The most common and most enjoyable levels are small, compact puzzles that always manage to bring together a variety of elements in some very creative ways. 2) There are a fair number of cooperative levels where you switch between Chip and Melinda. 3) There are 6 GRID MAZE and 3 CHAOS levels that are interspersed throughout the set and even act as a weak story line. GRID MAZE levels take place on typically on repeating patterns of decorational walls, while CHAOS levels involve picking your way gingerly through unintelligible jumbles of tiles (think NONSENSE or SCRAMBLED EGGS form the original CC2 set). 4) There are bonus flags everywhere! I'm not an optimizer but this set would either be a dream or a nightmare. Curated Levels: If you don't have time to play through the whole set, I'd recommend the following subset of 10: 15 STRATEGIC DETONATION 23 THE WRONG FOOT 25 THE DUEL 26 GOLDILOCKS 30 THE SECRET OF THE BLUE SCARAB 33 THE ICE KINGDOM ADVANCES 39 OBSTACLE MACHINE 42 EXPULSION CUBE 48 COMPANION CUBES 50 CONTROLLED RELEASE And if you can only check out one level, please check out the masterpiece that is 48 COMPANION CUBES. Recommendations to the designer: 1) make more levels! these were great! 2) add a secret eye tool to 55 FLOODGATES. Remove or redesign the guesswork in levels 05 OUTBREAK and 29 GRID MAZE 3. Redesign 58 WATERFALLS to not depend on monster order. Redesign 19 DESICCATED SWAMP to add more depth to the gameplay. Individual level reviews: 01 MIRROR CUBE (Part 1, 0:50 - 10:24) Concept: (3/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (3/5) The highlight of this level was the interesting opening puzzle with the swivels, doppelganger, yellow teleport, and toggle doors. The enormous blue wall bonus maze and the lower room with all the arrows felt somewhat haphazard. On the plus side, it added a sense of exploration to the level, but it also felt confusing and space-inefficient. Using the TNT to pick up the last chip or blast through the walls to the exit felt loose. I thought it was a bug and demonstrated it in the beginning of my LP video part 2, but a viewer pointed out that the exclamation points suggest placing the TNT there. But with the final chip merely one room over it seems like it only saves a second or so. Overall a playable and decent level, but it feels like an amateur-ish introduction to what turns out to be an excellent set. 02 GRAVITY CURTAIN (Part 1, 10:24 - 11:48) Concept: (3/5) Design: (2/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (3/5) Another level that felt very loose and like it was thrown together fairly quickly. It is short and easy. I think the design falls short compared to some of the work that clearly went into later levels in the set. I think there is potential to turn the Melinda/gravel/force floor maze into something a little more creative. 03 WAIT (Part 1, 11:48 - 16:20) Concept: (3/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (5/5) After a slow start to the set this is the first real puzzle level that shows, in my opinion, what the set is all about. It's one of many small to medium sized levels that use diverse elements to create compact puzzles of surprising depth. The glider/bear-trap puzzle is nicely connected to the block/flame-jet puzzle. The interplay between the pink button wired to the flame jet and the orange button is instructional. The tank and button do feel somewhat underutilized however. I like the way the recessed wall section works to bridge the two halves of the level together. 04 FLOODMARSH (Part 1, 16:20 - 27:01) Concept: (4/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (4/5) I've always loved the 'maze within a maze' idea of levels such as SHORT CIRCUIT in the original CC1 game, or TRIPLE MAZE in CCLP3, for example. FLOODMARSH is a fun and easy entry into that category. You initially navigate the maze as Chip (with flippers), and can use the water and floor paths. Once you gather all the chips, you transmogrify into Melinda and lose the flippers, taking the floor and chip socket route back to the exit. I appreciate the restraint in level size and the tight-but-not-terrible time limit. A nice concept executed well. 05 OUTBREAK (Part 1, 27:01 - 36:22) Concept: (4/5) Design: (2/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (2/5) I have mixed feelings about OUTBREAK. I think the concept is thoroughly unique (finding a route through a 'minefield' of block cloners and area buttons); however, the only thing that makes this implementation *barely* playable is the small size of the level. Upon further thought, I think one major factor bringing this level down is that the direction of each clone machine is not visible, so the gameplay is in fact a guessing game. I would suggest to the designer that an arrow marking on the floor next to each machine would help to make the level fair. 06 SHOVEL TEAM (Part 1, 36:22 - 39:39) Concept: (4/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (5/5) This is a simple, unique concept that ends up being an extremely fun and loose level to play. A great early level in a set. Fun to figure out what's going on underneath all the ice blocks, and then easy to execute. 07 DOUBLECROSS (Part 1, 39:39 - 41:15) Concept: (2/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (3/5) Average level, fun and quick to play. Not sure I 'get' it, but it works for an early level, especially for a player still learning the elements. 08 POOL PARTY WITH ANTS (Part 1, 41:15 - 46:27) Concept: (2/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (3/5) Fun: (4/5) This is very much a gimmick level, but it works wonderfully as such. The wing boots are an underutilized design element. The level did a nice job of putting me into such a rush that I didn't see the 'twist' until I was just beginning to get frustrated. 09 ANTI SWAMP ZONE (Part 1, 46:27 - 50:34) Concept: (2/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (4/5) Another decent early-game level. The block pushing is both interesting and forgiving. The teeth, bowling ball, and perimeter of slime all contribute to the aesthetics. Great design rescues what might otherwise have been a somewhat boring concept. 10 BLOCK COURIER (Part 1, 50:34 - 56:31) Concept: (2/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (3/5) I don't generally like levels that require 'block-sliding' (hitting a moving block sideways off an ice or force floor), however this level is at least mercifully short enough to make the challenge fair, similar perhaps to ANNOYING WALL in CCLP3. (One nice bonus would be adding the helmet to protect the player). This level is also technically busted (see the beginning of the second Let's Play video), but the bust is creative and fun enough that it might be worth leaving in. 11 ANT NEST (Part 1, 56:31 - 1:01:24) Concept: (4/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (3/5) Fun: (5/5) I loved this level. I liked the way that opening more doors in the level added to the number of ants milling about. I liked how the green door/yellow door balance ensured that Chip and Melinda both had roles and had to help each other out. The gravel squares in the center of each room ensured that the dodging wasn't too bad. Finishing the level off with a TNT blast was fun. 12 FORKPATHS (Part 1, 1:01:24 - 1:11:30) Concept: (4/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (5/5) A great concept with really great execution as well. I've struggled as a designer with using area buttons and force floors well, but this is a great use of the theme. At initial glance it seemed very intimidating, but it was fun to explore the paths, and it seemed like it was always pretty obvious which button to press next. It would certainly have been easy to make this level more unforgiving! A fun level to figure out. 13 GRID MAZE 1 (Part 1, 1:11:30 - 1:16:03) Concept: (2/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (2/5) The first of 6 levels bearing the name GRID MAZE. It's alright to play. The confusion of colors between the custom walls, floors, bombs, and bonus flags adds to the difficulty. Decent filler level. 14 DUAL CORE (Part 1, 1:16:03 - 1:19:35) Concept: (4/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (5/5) A great little block puzzle, fairly easy, and well-placed in the set. I love the use of both the green and purple toggle walls to add interest to the sokoban concept. 15 STRATEGIC DETONATION (Part 1, 1:19:35 - 1:25:52) Concept: (4/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (5/5) Another great little puzzle. Fun, short, and satisfying. Instructive on blue teleports. The order of doing things is non-obvious. 16 STAMPEDE (Part 1, 1:25:52 - 1:28:04) Concept: (3/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (1/5) Action Difficulty: (3/5) Fun: (4/5) Out and back monster-dodging. Memorable and fun. 17 SNOW PLOUGHER (Part 1, 1:28:04 - 1:33:28) Concept: (3/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (4/5) A deserving puzzle level. Possibly a minor bust since the ice block cloners change direction when blocked. Aesthetically pleasing due to diagonal symmetry. 18 FLIPPER (Part 1, 1:33:28 - 1:34:40) Concept: (3/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (5/5) A great and easy introductory puzzle level that requires planning ahead. 19 DESICCATED SWAMP (Part 1, 1:34:40 - 1:38:53) Concept: (3/5) Design: (1/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (2/5) A weak entry in the set in my opinion. The level is aesthetically pleasing and the concept has a lot of potential, but it feels thrown together and poorly designed. This level would work great as a 'maze within a maze' similar to FLOODMARSH, where Melinda goes through the whole maze to get the dirt boots, then collects the chips, then loses the dirt boots but can open chip sockets, etc. Instead, she gets the dirt boots halfway through the level, which opens pretty much everything up. There's a blue key and two red keys which don't make much sense, and then a key thief by the exit that seems to serve no purpose at all. 20 CHAOS ENCROACHES (Part 1, 1:39:04 - END) Concept: (4/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (4/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (5/5) The first of 3 'Chaos' levels (at the 20, 40, and 60 level numbers) is also my favorite of the series. It plays more like a puzzle (reminiscent of NONSENSE in the CC2 official set) than the other two which feel more like mazes. 21 GRID MAZE 2 (Part 2, 4:07 - 15:28) Concept: (2/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (2/5) I'm not a huge fan of the Grid Maze series in this set, although I do think they (for the most part) make good, short, filler levels, and serve to provide a sense of interconnectivity between earlier and later levels. This one for some reason really stumped me during my LP since I kept seeing a camo floor as a wall, but that was my fault. A decent maze level. 22 HOMEOSTASIS (Part 2, 15:28 - 19:01) Concept: (4/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (4/5) Fun to figure out, not terribly challenging but definitely some wrong paths to go down. Good puzzle with great aesthetics. 23 THE WRONG FOOT (Part 2, 19:01 - 26:42) Concept: (5/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (4/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (5/5) Love, love, love this bowling ball puzzle! We don't see enough of these... 24 LATTICE PALACE (Part 2, 26:42 - 28:52) Concept: (2/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (3/5) Nothing remarkable here, but it's a simple and fun level. 25 THE DUEL (Part 2, 28:52 - 35:25) Concept: (5/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (3/5) Fun: (5/5) One of the few action levels in the set. Great use of bowling balls, going head to head with monsters. It's a tough concept to do well but this succeeds. The high point of the level is definitely the shootout with the four fireballs in the lower right corner. Very fun. 26 GOLDILOCKS (Part 2, 35:25 - 48:26) Concept: (5/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (4/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (5/5) Masterful puzzle, very compact, one of my favorites in the set! Nice take on the directional block/railroad track concept. The flame jet portion works beautifully. 27 PALACE DUNGEON (Part 3, 0:00 - 7:36) Concept: (3/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (4/5) Definitely a fun puzzle. I loved the bear trap/ant combo to allow pushing blocks around the level. The itemswapping at the end felt a little less inspired but it's a solid level. 28 DRAIN CLOGGER (Part 3, 7:36 - 10:54) Concept: (3/5) Design: (2/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (2/5) I like the idea of filling up the force floor to gain access to the other side of the level, but the block puzzle just wasn't very interesting. I'd like to see it reworked into a slightly less trivial sokoban. 29 GRID MAZE 3 (Part 3, 10:54 - 13:56) Concept: (3/5) Design: (1/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (1/5) Unless I'm missing something with the hints, this is purely a guesswork level. The hint tiles certainly do lie! At least the level is mercifully short. I would recommend removing this level entirely. Worst of the Grid Maze series, unless there's a puzzle with the hints that I didn't understand. 30 THE SECRET OF THE BLUE SCARAB (Part 3, 13:56 - 29:36) Concept: (5/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (4/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (5/5) Another excellent variety puzzle. I love the way the rooms connect, and how you make your way around the level and return to the start. 31 CONTAINMENT CHAMBER (Part 3, 29:36 - 32:30) Concept: (2/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (1/5) Action Difficulty: (3/5) Fun: (3/5) Decent level, I admire the attempt to use rovers. The fire squares make the dodging easy at least, although the monsters feel almost as random as blobs. 32 TANK! (Part 3, 32:20 - 36:24) Concept: (4/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (4/5) A solid design. Fairly easy level but it manages to feel very fresh. A lot of fun to play! 33 THE ICE KINGDOM ADVANCES (36:24 - 38:34) Concept: (5/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (1/5) Action Difficulty: (3/5) Fun: (5/5) Well done! I experimented with this concept a bit during the original CC2 design phase (see GLACIER and GLACIER 2 in the CC2 Rejects set) but they were pretty awful. This design does a much better job of giving the player choices without the solution being obvious. Great level! 34 PUSH'N'SWIVEL (Part 3, 38:35 - 48:03) Concept: (4/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (4/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (4/5) This level as well as EXPULSION CUBE do a great job exploring the 'sokoban with swivel doors' concept. Both are great puzzles and very satisfying to solve. 35 FLAMOSPHERES (Part 3, 48:03 - END) Concept: (5/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (5/5) Great concept, great use of the 'hide logic' feature. I think the level is just the right length for this idea. I like that taking the wrong path doesn't kill you immediately (similar in that respect to SPOOKS from CC1). Very unique level. 36 CORE (Part 4, 0:00 - 8:18) Concept: (3/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (3/5) I like the idea of getting all the blocks across to positions on the opposite side. The symmetric design is top-notch. Gameplay isn't going to be particularly interesting on a level like this but it works and doesn't take too long. I don't know if it was intended, but you can get away with some tricks by pushing blocks onto the force floors and then pushing them off on the other side of the level. I rescued my 1st attempt on the Let's Play this way. 37 GRID MAZE 4 (Part 4, 8:18 - 19:26) Concept: (3/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (3/5) Decent level, my favorite in the GRID MAZE series since it's more of a puzzle than a maze. It's hard to keep track of the different areas and what needs to be done, but in the end it comes together after a couple tries. 38 WASHOUT (Part 4, 19:26 - 26:08) Concept: (4/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (4/5) Really fun and unique design, satisfying to solve. I like the symmetry of the central puzzle while retaining the variety between the right and left 'wings'. 39 OBSTACLE MACHINE (Part 4, 26:08 - 40:58) Concept: (4/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (4/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (5/5) Another phenomenal 'variety' puzzle in a set that's already full of them. One of the best levels in the set. Great use of a lot of different elements. 40 SURROUNDED BY CHAOS (Part 4, 40:58 - 54:13) Concept: (4/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (4/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (3/5) The second entry in the CHAOS series is an awesome design! I don't even know how I'd go about designing a maze that works on this level. The level map even looks like a work of art. The gameplay is really frustrating at first but turns out to be quite playable. 41 COUNTDOWNER (Part 4, 54:13 - 58:07) Concept: (5/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (5/5) I really loved this puzzle. It makes a great tutorial on counter gates, yet without feeling like a tutorial. 42 EXPULSION CUBE (Part 4, 58:07 - END) Concept: (5/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (5/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (5/5) The ONLY things that might drag this level down are the two blocks that have pop-up walls underneath them. For this reason I'd recommend giving the player the secret eye tool. But even as it is, you discover those secrets fairly early on your first playthrough. The rest of the level is a top-notch, straightforward, and quite difficult puzzle involving blocks and swivel doors, and is one of the best puzzles in the set. 43 PARADIGM SHIFTER (Part 5, 0:00 - 10:08) Concept: (5/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (5/5) Another wonderful variety puzzle. Excellent use of the key and item thieves, as well as the connection between rooms. 44 OFF RAIL (Part 5, 10:08 - 15:10) Concept: (3/5) Design: (2/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (2/5) It has potential but didn't feel like it played very well. The long railroad tracks with recessed walls at either end felt somewhat reminiscent of CAMPGROUNDS (although not quite as evil). It seemed that to play the level 'right' you'd need to make a map. Fortunately it's short enough that I was able to take a random route and beat the level on my second try. 45 GRID MAZE 5 (Part 5, 15:10 - 19:25) Concept: (4/5) Design: (2/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (2/5) I've always loved the idea of the toggle wall maze that 'switches' half-way through to create a brand new maze. This level plays with that idea, but ultimately doesn't execute very well. The biggest drawback are the invisible walls that block off many of the exits, an unfair move that feels off-putting after you've essentially solved the maze. 46 GHOST TO GHOST (Part 5, 19:25 - 23:50) Concept: (2/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (3/5) A decent entry in the set, although the design didn't make a whole lot of sense to me for such a simple concept. It works though, and is pretty easy. 47 SPRING CLEANING: WITH ICE! (Part 5, 23:50 - 26:05) Concept: (2/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (3/5) Good filler level. 48 COMPANION CUBES (Part 5, 26:05 - End, plus Part 6, 0:00 - 24:45) Concept: (5/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (5/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (5/5) This level is simply a masterpiece!! Best level in the set, and one of the best custom levels I've played. It's not often you spend an entire hour solving a CC puzzle and feel like you wouldn't mind restarting and playing it again just to appreciate what just happened. The two thieves in the ice block room caused me so much grief, but that only added to the pleasure of circumventing them! 49 FOUR LINES (Part 6, 24:45 - 27:36) Concept: (3/5) Design: (2/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (3/5) A teeth level that works okay, but I'm not thrilled with the design. I love the idea of Chip clearing a path through the dirt for Melinda, and I love the idea of teeth that only follow the active player, but neither concept was really explored in much depth here. My solution was pretty much to just run for it, and since that worked it didn't feel like it had much depth. 50 CONTROLLED RELEASE (Part 6, 27:36 - 35:21) Concept: (5/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (4/5) Fun: (5/5) Winning concept, and great process of discovery to figure out what is needed. Great blend of action and puzzle elements. One of the best of set. 51 PINPOINT (Part 6, 35:21 - 48:22) Concept: (4/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (4/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (4/5) This puzzle really wouldn't be that difficult if it was visible all at once, but being as spread out as it is, ends up being a very satisfying challenge. 52 MONOPATTERN (Part 6, 48:22 - 1:04:56) Concept: (3/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (2/5) Didn't care for this level much. The idea of using repeating patterns on the map reminds me a little of COLOR COORDINATION by J. B. Lewis, but isn't really put to good use here in my opinion. The problem is the patterns don't really serve much of a purpose or present a challenge in most of the rooms. The mazes are too simple, the turtles and recessed walls room can be solved in pretty much any way you feel like, the puzzles feel trivial. (Although I do like the final room with the ice blocks and fire.) I'd like to see the concept revisited with a little more care. 53 GRID MAZE 6 'FINALE' (Part 6, 1:04:56 - 1:11:44) Concept: (3/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (3/5) One of the better GRID MAZEs. The teleports are nicely confusing, and it's just the right amount of frustrating at first, but you learn the level after a bit. The time limit is short but fair (I beat it with 20 seconds left on my first try). 54 DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING (Part 6, 1:11:44 - 1:16:03) Concept: (3/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (2/5) Cool concept with two ways to win: either collect all the chips but no green key, or else collect both red keys without collecting all the chips. I will point out that the hint is incorrect, and the level is poorly named, because you may push blocks and collect green keys to your heart's desire, and still exit as long as you get both red keys and only 3/4 chips. Either way it's a very easy level, but feels looser than intended. 55 FLOODGATES (Part 6, 1:16:03 - END, Part 7, 0:00 - 12:19) Concept: (4/5) Design: (1/5... but 4/5 if the secret eye is added) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (1/5... but 3/5 if the secret eye is added) So... the hint says 'Think before you push' and 'Beware the outside', but as the level is designed you might as well 'pray before you push' and 'beware the inside'. The puzzle is actually quite a nice one in theory, but it plays horribly because about half the ice blocks have recessed walls underneath them, so just when you think you're clearing the path to the exit, suddenly there's a wall there and you've busted the level. Over, and over, and over. I eventually made a pen and paper map and recorded all the blocks that have recessed walls underneath, and then beat the level fairly easily and enjoyably, which proves that's it's actually a good puzzle. But it's unplayable as is. The good news is that simply adding a 'secret eye' tool should make it fair. 56 COCCOON (Part 7, 12:19 - 16:23) Concept: (2/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (3/5) It's playable, not one I'll remember. 57 BEHIND CLOSED DOORS (Part 7, 16:23 - 24:46) Concept: (4/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (4/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (5/5) A solid teamwork puzzle with a lot of nice variety. Very enjoyable. 58 WATERFALLS (Part 7, 24:46 - 39:27) This is the only level in the set I didn't beat. Initially it looked provably impossible. It turns out to be possible due to different behaviors from blocks on force floors depending on whether they are before or after the player in the monster order, but I personally consider that to be invalid as a puzzle concept. If there's a way around the monster order part, the level looks like an interesting puzzle, and I'd like to see it reworked so that it doesn't depend on that. 59 MANDALA (Part 7, 39:27 - 59:56) Concept: (4/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (4/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (5/5) A sprawling teamwork level, reminiscent of MELINDA 911, that stitches together portions of earlier levels, and manages to stay 100% fresh. I think my solution busted the level somewhat since I didn't need the force boots, but I kind of like that it's busted since there are several creative ways to win. 60 AND OUT OF THE CHAOS (Part 7, 59:57 - END) Concept: (3/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (4/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (3/5) The final level in the set, and the third CHAOS level. My least favorite to play, but still fun. Frustrating to pick your way through the maze, as I never felt like I could remember my past routes, felt more like feeling blindly the whole way. I really did not like the blue tank next to the red teleport, as it is too easy to accidentally die when exploring the teleports. I don't understand the cryptic hints, but would like to believe that there's an Easter egg there to discover. Also, does "Nanamin" equal "Alice Cox"?
  23. Today's levelset review is of the custom CC2 levelset "Centennium II" (v 0.1.0) by J. B. Lewis. The set contains 10 levels, and was released about a year and a half prior to this review. I gather this is a back burner project, but I do hope it someday contains 100 levels as its predecessor does. The levels vary widely in theme and concept, however they are all clearly "CC2" levels in that they all appear to be heavily inspired by the possibilities opened up by the new elements. As with previous reviews, I recorded a Let's Play video series. This was less of a blind play than previous series, since I have seen these levels before, but it was still a blast and I learned a lot about the levels and the game in the process. The videos are available on my Youtube channel at the following links: Part 1: (Levels 1-6)Part 2: (Level 7)Part 3: (Levels 8-9)Part 4: (Level 10) Summary: Centennium II (v0.1.0) is an early and unpolished attempt by a master level designer to begin exploring the potential of Chip's Challenge 2. The concepts in the 10-level set are wildly creative and diverse, although the quality of the execution varies somewhat (as should be expected given the experimental nature of this offering). Recommendations to the designer: 1) Fix major busts on SOKOBOMB and AXIS. 2) Raise the time limit on PANDEMIC to at least 800 to allow for a more methodical playing style. 3) Tweak TRAIN OF THOUGHT to give the player more reaction time. 4) Shorten NOW YOU SWITCH IT to be more forgiving (either a 20x20 design or else 20-30 more extra chips). 5) Raise the base difficulty on MANIFEST DESTINY by turning some of the bonus flags into chips. 6) Add 90 more levels . Seriously, these are great! Individual Level Reviews: 01 WARM UP Concept: (3/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (4/5) A nice intro to the set. Good use of the colored floors to give each room a different feel, and good reminder of how the elements work. The force floor room seemed surprisingly challenging to navigate, not sure how a relatively new player would fare. The recessed walls under the blocks felt like an unfair surprise, but I wonder if the hint tile was supposed to warn me? For some reason no hint text was displayed. Although I just realized that one of the chips wasn't required, so I probably didn't even have to restart (a nice touch btw). Loved the room with the tank and trap, the room with the ant cloner, the water/thief room, the teleport room, and the bonus mechanism. 02 CHRISTMAS TREE Concept: (3/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (3/5) What a remarkably original level! It makes me happy that this even exists . Overall the gameplay isn't anything particularly special, but it's a nice use of the toggle chips and green wall elements, and ends up as a loose and casual addition to the set. 5/5 aesthetics. The 'presents' are hilarious. Thanks for the bowling balls, Santa! And the 1K flag in the center of the dirt blocks made me laugh. 03 ROUND TRIP Concept: (3/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (3/5) Fun: (4/5) Nice reversal of the CCLP3 concept of luring teeth through a thin wall maze, in this case chasing them! Using opposite-color teeth is one of those rarely used CC2 concepts along with rovers and stopwatches, so I'm glad for the attempt. The short time limit and gender tiles make for a fun challenge that is unlikely to be solved on the first try, but probable on the 2nd or 3rd. A solid 10x10 entry. 04 SPLITSVILLE Concept: (4/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (3/5) I really want to like this puzzle more than I do! It's a really cool concept, but my solution felt less like I had actually 'figured something out' and more like I had spammed buttons until all the doors were open. I'd like to go back and figure out what the actual pattern is to the switches. Definitely another 5/5 aesthetics level and a nice easy bonus. 05 PANDEMIC Concept: (4/5) Design: (4/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (4/5) Fun: (3/5) This level is actually close to amazing. Blobs and slime is another CC2 concept that sounds great in theory but is surprisingly difficult to use well. This level comes really close to doing the trick. I think the size is great, and it's so cool to see how fast the slime spreads. You really get a feeling of shock and almost panic seeing the level changing so fast around you. The chip and block layout is pretty great. Honestly, I think the biggest thing I would change would be to triple or quadruple the short time limit. The spreading slime already provides a sense of urgency. The way I want to play this level is to have all the time in the world to gather blocks together and 'bulldoze' my way around the level in corridors that are 4 or 5 tiles wide, perhaps even strategically corralling some of the blobs into a corner. I think there's a rare strategic and sandbox-y quality hinted at by this level that would be fun to explore with some more time (and even possibly more blocks). 06 SOKOBOMB Concept: (5/5) Design: (5/5) (assuming bust is fixed) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (5/5) Another amazingly creative concept: push blocks together into groups to destroy them with well-placed TNT. Seriously, I don't think I ever would have thought of something like that. Unfortunately the level is seriously busted, but can be fixed I think by replacing all the green walls with toggle walls. It's very easy with 4 bombs, but would make a great early level. I would almost consider removing the 4th bomb to make it more challenging, but it works great as is. Love this level! 07 TRAIN OF THOUGHT Concept: (5/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (5/5) Fun: (3/5) The idea is wonderful - implement the addictive minigame from Lumosity in CC2, and guide all the monsters to their appropriate locations using railroad switches! Alas, this level is so close to being wonderful! Unfortunately, I think the monsters either come too fast, or the switches are placed too far apart, for this to work well. For this concept to be fully successful, it should be playable for a new order of monsters each time. My solution unfortunately was dependent on literally writing down the exact order of monsters and sticking the list to my computer screen, and even then it took me 3 or 4 tries. The last 6 monsters come SO fast that near perfect play is required even with the order memorized. I don't think there's really time to pay attention or react to what the next monster is if playing the intended way. So, I'd like to see this level tweaked a little to allow reasonable reaction time. But that being said, I did have a blast playing it 'my way', and it definitely holds its place on my list of memorable CC2 levels. 08 AXIS Concept: (5/5) Design: (5/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (2/5) Action Difficulty: (3/5) Fun: (5/5) I previously reviewed this level in a blog post (http://cczone.invisionzone.com/index.php?/blog/18/entry-79-axis-review-centennium-2-j-b-lewis/), and my opinion stands. This is a great level, and is both my favorite in the set, and also one of my top 10 custom CC2 levels. This time I did uncover a major (but very fixable) bust: Collect all 4 chips, and then open any socket with the bowling ball. As shown in my video, the tank will be destroyed and you can just exit. 09 NOW YOU SWITCH IT Concept: (3/5) Design: (2/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (5/5) Action Difficulty: (1/5) Fun: (1/5) This level just doesn't work for me as is. I spent over an hour on it, but didn't solve it. The concept is worth exploring, but the 32x32 level is just too long (I was hurting for time even with 999 seconds), and the traps too subtle, to make this playable. I would say either 1) make the level 20x20, or 2) make 30-40 of the chips extra. On my nearest attempt I was down to 18 chips left and 150 seconds left, which put me into a serious time crunch, which is just a disaster waiting to happen in a minefield like this. The concept is solid however, and so I definitely think it's worth having a more forgiving version of this level in the set. 10 MANIFEST DESTINY Concept: (5/5) Design: (3/5) Puzzle Difficulty: (3/5) Action Difficulty: (2/5) Fun: (4/5) An awesome concept with decent execution. I absolutely love the idea of having one time limit to essentially build the level as Chip, and then another time limit to play through the level as Melinda! So amazingly creative! Nice use of the logic circuit to shut the door after 2 minutes. In practice, I thought the execution of the concept felt way too easy and loose, although maybe that was intended. I had more than enough time to clear most of the dirt out of the upper level before switching to Melinda, and then felt like I could have either used the yellow tank or (with a little more careful preparation) the fireball to activate the toggle button. Since that was the only real puzzle that was required, it felt significantly anticlimactic. The bonus puzzles could definitely add some interest, but honestly I think the level would be better if most of them were required. The lower third of the level felt very out of place with the rest of the design, as if a completely separate level had been added for no obvious reason. The puzzles were fun and easy to play, although the slime puzzle was rendered trivial because I still had the hook tool. The yellow teleports at the end certainly opened up some fascinating possibilities for the bonuses. For example, you can swap them (along with the flippers and hook) for the dirt boots from one of the rovers. Or you can use them to free the rovers into the dirt room and hope they go where you need them to. Or you can bring all 3 ice blocks into the dirt room and clear dirt that way. So, overall I loved the concept and appreciated the open sandbox feel with multiple solutions, but thought the bar for beating the level felt like it was placed almost absurdly low, and felt like the bottom 1/3 didn't really belong. Still enjoyed it a lot, which is what counts last I checked .
  24. Today's levelset review is of the custom CC2 levelset "Explorer's Delight 1.2" by H2O. The set contains 6 levels. As the name suggests, the levelset features very large, sprawling levels where exploration is as much a part of the gameplay as the puzzle solving. The full video of my playthrough can be found at the following link: Summary: Overall, I have mixed feelings about this levelset. 1) I absolutely love the idea of focusing on exploration. When I think about what it was like as a kid to play the MS version, I remember more than anything the excitement of discovering new rooms and exploring new passageways. That's one area where I think the official CC2 levelset could have used a lot of improvement, with its focus on small puzzles (often 20x20 or smaller). This levelset does a good job in general of capturing that feel. 2) The puzzle design is top quality. The author consistently puts together puzzles that are interesting, fun, and challenging. 3) The epic reach of the levelset is in some ways its own undoing. Levels 3, 5, and 6 all stand out in my memory as being incredibly frustrating. The problem (of course) is that whenever a level is very long, any late mistake results in the player having to replay the entire level. The challenge for the designer is to find a way to mitigate that. Difficulty by itself is okay, and campaign-length levels by themselves are okay, but when you factor both together you run the risk of player frustration. In my case it took me over 4 hours to beat 6 levels, with the majority of that time spent on the last 2. Granted, I'm not the best CC player, and my dumb mistakes may have contributed to that, but the fact is if this hadn't been a Let's Play, I would have given up. Now, I really do appreciate the attempt to create an exploration-themed set, and I did enjoy my playthrough, although I felt it involved a lot of unnecessary frustration. I personally really liked the first two levels. They both did a great job with the exploration element, and they each had ONE central puzzle. My feeling is that this levelset could be a great success if each level centers around 1, 2, or maybe 3 puzzles at maximum. So, to the author, thank you for uploading! I hope you continue exploring (pun intended) this concept. My personal feel is that large levels should be mostly casual play experiences, and therefore I'd like to see the difficulty dialed down a notch or two. Individual Reviews: 01 ABANDONED MINESHAFT As described, a great intro to the set, love the deco walls/gravel combo. The 'mineshaft' feel was evident with all the broken railroad sections. I loved all the inaccessible areas with extra chips and all the random monsters. The central puzzle with the three blocks was interesting, I didn't know the first time I played it that you could push a dirt block with a directional block. But I liked how there was really nothing else to try. The maze at upper left added a lot to the feel as well. 02 FIERY CAVES A beautiful exploration level with a straightforward concept. My favorite exploration experience of the set. Again, some really cool areas along the sides of the map that you can't quite reach, but they look so cool! 03 SUBTERRANEAN ADVENTURE The first level where the problems inherent with large levels begin to show up. All of the individual puzzles are lovely. I particularly love the opening with the ghost and the great hint. Together, though, the combination just begins to cross the line of frustration. I do like how each puzzle is fully visible before committing, but still, I think the average player will have trouble thinking ahead through the recessed wall and railroad switch portions, and it's a lot of level to replay when you cook it. 04 POWDER MONKEY If FIERY CAVES was my favorite exploration experience, then this is my favorite puzzle experience of the set. All three block puzzles were ingenious and very fun to solve. The difficulty overall was about medium, which is just perfect in my book. I may have busted the west room, since I never opened the red door in the corner. My only critique is that this didn't feel much like an exploration level, and therefore felt out of place in this set. Excellent level however. 05 SCATTERED I think I may have made my peace with this level, despite the frustration exhibited on the Let's Play. One issue that's debatable is: My personal feel is that certain gameplay mechanics are 'bonus' behavior and shouldn't be relied on to solve a level unless help is given either in the form of a hint or else careful level design. Obviously these are up for discussion, but things like monster order, ultra-precise monster timing, block-slapping, or covering up wires are examples of things that are somewhat 'unfair' in my opinion and should be used with caution. This level absolutely tested the limits of my patience, but in retrospect I do think it was kind of cool. It would make a good level towards the end of a difficulty curve, especially if the set containing it already has examples of the previously mentioned gameplay mechanic. The beginning was delightful. The 'exploration' aspect significantly added to the difficulty, as the inaccessible areas with extra keys made it more confusing. But once explored, it was absolutely a memorable puzzle, with quite a lot of 'how is this even possible' moments and a great, if slightly unfair 'crux'. 06 SMALL OBSTACLES This level, coming after SCATTERED, gave me the most grief of all. Like SUBTERRANEAN ADVENTURE, it's definitely got the exploration theme going for it. And like that level, it has a collection of individually wonderful puzzles which together are just... frustrating. It's a great feeling to solve another section, but when you cook it instead and have to replay everything, it gets old really fast. Additionally, a couple extra factors made this not so fun to play: Also, the later puzzles are HARD. I'm not a particularly good CC player, but I'm pretty sure almost anyone who plays this will mess up the yellow teleport section multiple times and have to replay pretty much the entire level on each go. This adds a lot to the frustration, and makes it more likely the player will make stupid mistakes earlier in the level (a few of which you don't realize until much later). Finally, the last puzzle on bottom left relies on a gameplay mechanic that most people probably haven't tested. In a short level this wouldn't be a deal-breaker, but coming at the end of what was for me a 2+ hour ordeal, it felt pretty unfair to try out something new that might require yet another replay. So, I didn't like this level at all, despite it consisting of some great puzzles. I'd recommend splitting it up into either 2 hard puzzles or, even better, 3 medium puzzles.
  25. CC2 Custom Set Review - Explorer's Delight 1.2

    Hey, glad it was useful! I really like the Let's Play format even though I don't have much to talk about. I think I may do all of my testing and reviews this way. It's clearly useful to the level designers, but it's also quite useful to me, as I have more reason to really engage with a level. On SMALL OBSTACLES, I'd really like to hear some feedback from anyone else who may have tested it. While I certainly had my trouble with it, it might not be that bad compared to some of the crazy levels in CCLP3, for example. I've never even tried certain levels like 'You Can't Teach An Old Frog New Tricks' or 'Avalanche', but from the videos of other people's solutions it might be that this level of difficulty is actually fair game. I don't know. And I'm sure we all tend to have a much higher tolerance for difficulty in our own levels as well... Half the time when I do these reviews I feel like a hypocrite because of some of the challenges in my Walls of CC1 pack. So anyways my review is just one perspective, and I'd love to hear someone else chime in with theirs.