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Xenon Pack - Discussion

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This is the official discussion thread for CCLP4 voting's Xenon Pack. Feel free to share your thoughts, opinions, and comments on the levels here!

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I guess I'll be the first to comment on this pack. Full disclosure: this was easily one of the most frustrating ones I've played yet, primarily because such a large chunk of levels were devoted to tedious block-pushing, and there were at least two very long, rigid levels where I accidentally pushed one block into a corner. That being said, there were still some highlights here.


#3 (Meteorites): I'm ashamed to say I was stuck on this for nearly two hours. Let's talk about what worked here: I really enjoy when designers eschew popular design tropes for something out of the ordinary, and this level's seemingly random blue wall, block, and toggle door placement immediately tells you that you're in for something unusual. The trouble comes, though, when you start to notice that not all is as it seems: no, those fireballs are not completely useless, you don't have enough blocks to cover all the trap buttons (at least as far as I can tell), you have to be careful about what blocks and pop-up walls you use before the toggle walls are switched, and the list goes on and on and on. At times, I like being surprised when playing a level, but this one had far too many of these moments. On top of that, by the time I did figure out what kind of arrangement could allow a fireball to travel around the trap buttons without going into the trap line itself, time was running short. I ended up completing this with a whopping 8 seconds left on the clock.


#4 (Water Bottle): I feel like some players may be quick to dismiss this level because it looks a lot like Same Game. However, it's quite a bit different - the block pushing is nowhere near as complex, the level is shorter overall, and you have more freedom to create paths for other blocks. It's a neat challenge all in all, and I really enjoy how each room requires a slightly different approach.


#10 (Puzzle Box): This level is on my "disappointed about not performing well in CCLP1 voting" list. It's cleverly designed and manages to place the focus more on key management than on the actual block-pushing, which is refreshing. The central structure with the exit and thin walls is also a neat sight too!


#17 (Two-by-Two): I absolutely adore this concept, but I wish you didn't have to push that many blocks along the ball-bouncing stretch. It's nerve-wracking and tedious, which isn't a great combination.


#23 (They're Not Called Blocks for Nothing): If we're going to have levels that involve pushing blocks in CCLP4, this is a great example of how to take a repetitive task and turn it into something that makes you feel like you're actually accomplishing something. Compare this to levels like #31 and #32 in this pack, which feature a tricky puzzle at the start, only for it to become mindless tedium for the remainder of the level once the solution is deduced. I really enjoy the difficulty "arc" in this one, which starts you off on some simple blocking challenges before giving you a blocking and ​redirection challenge toward the end. This looks tricky at first, but it's much simpler than it appears, which is always refreshing. The room 1 / room 2 connection at the very end is also a neat touch as well.


#28 (Jigsaw): Just going to throw this out there: I really love how the packs are randomly generated, but this is one instance where it would've been neat to see this level and its predecessor evaluated together as one entry. We've barely seen level duos like this in voting before, and certainly nothing that leverages an idea quite like these two levels do. Fantastic and very clever all around.


#38 (Ruby in the Rough): This was a nifty little challenge, but directing the teeth precisely into the bomb at the end was a tad on the rigid side. Fortunately, it's short and sweet, and still a lot of fun.


#39 (The Incredibly Safe Maze): I'm always on the lookout for levels that use invisible - completely invisible, that is - walls in a way that doesn't foist a bunch of trial and error on the player. CC1's STRIPES? did this fairly well, though there was still an element of "push everything to see how can you break through" to it. This level takes monsters and invisible walls and blends them together in a concoction that is simple but very satisfying to play. This is another level I wouldn't mind seeing in a "relief" position in the final set.


#45 (Spelunking): I'll give this one high marks for aesthetics, but it's got at least two rather mean tricks up its sleeve that fall into the "...really?" category.

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#29 Chip Be Steady: This level is busted: two consecutive green button presses will not let out the teeth monsters with the correct step setting (which is easy in MS and extremely difficult in Lynx), so all chips can be obtained without picking up any key. This can be fixed for instance by having force floors under the teeth monsters. As usual, my votes assume that stuff like this is fixed.

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Time for my feedback on this pack. I do agree this one has far too many block focused levels in it, so my feedback might be a little harsh.


1. Sparks of Megiddo


This was quite a puzzle I must admit but aside from that, it quickly became tedious, especially after screwing up the end just for pushing a block the wrong direction through the teleport. The puzzle itself was brilliantly designed though and those pop-up wall placements in the force floor room were a neat touch.


3. Meteorites


I loved this level to bits when I first played it in the testing phase and because I still do, I gave it a higher rating compared to the popular opinion. The seemingly random layout and design of this completely threw me off at first but once I realized what was needed, everything mostly fell into place to solve it, which I did with 211 seconds left on the clock. While this isn't a level I particularly want to see in CCLP4, I really do admire how the designer created this.


15. Games Played Once Too Often


Levels like this that take exact pieces from other levels are always fun but I'm not sure with this one. I can't help but feel this was more of a showoff to include bits from other levels instead of focusing on some type of gameplay. Plus, the tank clone corridor was pretty mean as well.


17. Two-by-Two


A nice, unique level concept where an unnecessary amount of block pushing completely ruins the fun of it. The blue wall section also felt like it was filler, just to take up the rest of the map. I would love to see this concept done in CC2, with the vast amount of possibilities with the tiles from that game.


25. Then She Dropped the Bomb


I personally love the feeling of this level, it's like you're playing something from CC1. However, there's nothing of interest here that screams for attention so my rating isn't that high.


34. Sewerway


I was stumped on this level for hours. Then I figured out what I was doing wrong and I felt stupid for overlooking the trick. Props for that and you get a high rating for it.


37. Block Town


A nice level but it suffers from a few design flaws, despite being nicely designed as a whole. First and foremost, it's linear, which isn't a good choice for a block themed level like this, especially if you mess up far into the level. There's also way too many bumper blocks parts to this, and combining that with being so linear only makes it more likely for you to redo everything which doesn't make it that much fun sadly. Perhaps if this level were redesigned to not be so linear and not have so many bumping sections, it would be better. But as it stands now, I'm not exactly a fan.


42. Hypercomplex Maze


Not related to my vote for this but I would absolutely love to see a video solution of this level to see exactly how this works. Not to much else to say about it, other than well... it's overly complex.


47. Circular


While I loved Spiral and this level was pretty fun, I don't think we need another one like it in an official set, even if it is contained. And I definitely don't think we need more levels that are primarily set in a corner of the map like this either.


50. Bombs Are a Beautiful Thing


Hate to say it, but this is  one of my favorite levels in this voting pack even though it is my own level. Some thoughts that went into the designing process with this one is I wanted a series of puzzles that weren't overwhelming but well crafted. Yes that four block section at the start is from Nuts and Bolts but everything else was original. I'm pretty happy and proud of this level and I hope this makes it in CCLP4. :)


Favorite level: Water Bottle (4) / Bombs Are a Beautiful Thing (50)

Least favorite level: Pet Hate (22) + a lot of the uninteresting tedious block pushing levels.

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