Level Review: The Return of Captain Cameron (ElectroYoshi)

I was slightly skeptical about this particular level mainly because of its looks and overall screenshot. It is very hard to have a good screenshot representative of your level, and many designers struggle with plays mainly because of that factor. However, I decided to give Electro the benefit of the doubt and took the “job” so to speak of reviewing the level for feedback. I hope what follows is as helpful as the previous review proved to be and also does the level justice in what it does accomplish and expounds upon what could be worked on a little bit more. When the level starts, you can see pretty much every area (island) from the get-go, which is always neat because it really emphasizes the feeling of progress throughout the level, especially when you can look back and say, “I started all the way over there.”

Immediately upon starting you will also notice that you have little to no jumping capabilities, similar to the previously reviewed level, and that you have a whopping thirty minutes with which to complete the game as well. Allow me to say this, you’ll most likely need at least two-thirds of that time the first time you play through, so although it might seem like plenty, keep track of your time as you progress. Your goal is to find the five diamonds on each island, totaling for a hefty 3000 points worth of treasure, and then to secondarily make your way to the finish flag. What I liked the most about each individual island was that they each had their own theme, hazards, platforming styles, and secret areas or general secrets. I’d expected them to be different, but the degree to which Electro went to distinguish each area surprised me- which is good. However, although each individual area was aesthetically different, few of them where aesthetically pleasing to the eye- they weren’t terribly crafted or anything, they just came off as incredibly blocky and not very island-like. In the grand scheme of things however, this matters little at most. Probably the one object that threw me off the most and just clashed with the rest of the environment was the sandstorm hazard, since it pokes out a lot and crops weirdly with other blocks.

My favorite thing about the first island, the sand-themed one was the hazards by far. With the exception of the sandstorm block, there were only spike boxes used which doubled as hazards and methods of platforming to the next blocks. Whether it was the simplicity or the final room that did it for me, I enjoyed their usage here particularly. As for the second island area, I think it was my favorite overall merely because of looks alone. The fog went well with the brimstone colored blocks and the plant-life on the granite as well. I’d definitely play a level using entirely that set-up with some nice little puzzles as well, wink wink. What did turn me off of this particular section however was the massive spike balls falling down as never once did any of them hit me, and I really wasn’t paying any mind to them anyway. If they were just for show, that’s fine I guess, but as I assume they were placed in there for sport and challenge, you’ll want to be more aware of where the best places to locate devious trickery and traps are. Otherwise, you’ve done well thus far- I enjoyed this level more than I enjoyed the first Captain Cameron by a long shot, even if this one was ridiculously easy in comparison.

The third area probably has the best atmosphere out of all the island areas- dark and mysterious, which was pulled off without a hitch. However, it is easily the weakest area in the entire level as it has nothing else holding it together. The traps are much more easily dodged in this area than any other, the area itself is smaller than the rest, and the diamonds are all shoved into such close proximity as to not require much thinking of the player. Otherwise, it wasn’t overtly bad or even terrible- just weaker than the other segments. What I did however also like about the third area was the final little jump puzzle, intentional or not. It was neat that you had to wait for the spike box rather than just jump and immediately move onto the next area. It was good to see some more thought put into the area instead of it being bland and lifeless completely, and having no distinctive puzzle element of its own like the previous two had.

The fourth area is definitely the most different and distinctive of all of the islands because it is essentially a giant leafy sprout surrounded by a few clouds and fallen pieces floating about. Your goal is still to retrieve five diamonds, but it is more fun here than the other places because there is finally more of a vertical platforming element than before where there was really only a slight vertical ascent and major horizontal shifts. Getting to the teleporter this time was more fun than the others and made me continue to like the level even after section three’s relatively poorer showing. However, this segment isn’t without its problems either- although this time they aren’t so much the designer’s fault but the game elements’ themselves. Some of the blocks being shifted the way they are really hinders the progress of your timed sticky powerups and the comet powerups are virtually useless in several cases, making it harder than it has to be to get to certain areas without giving up and looking for an easier exploit. Something that was refreshing, especially for this particular area and also in some of the others I suppose, was the intended or unintended freedoms allowed in using various powerups in other ways to get the diamonds- whether going off the beaten path or on one of the many routes built into the level intentionally. I enjoyed the non-linear thinking that was encouraged.

The fifth area definitely looked the most professionally designed and traditional, and the spinning cogs of platforms a la a wheel were pretty interestingly designed even if their motions and animations couldn’t keep up, however this area still wasn’t quite my favorite. This was yet another one like the third where a player of virtually any skill level could easily speed through it with reckless abandon, losing a few lives- which is of no consequence as you have unlimited, and continue on their merry way. I mean, the two diamonds at the very end weren’t even really strategically placed or put far apart- they may as well have been adjacent for all it mattered! While that sort of screams laziness, I won’t complain too much about it as the other three in this area were well and evenly spaced apart- one in the cogs, one behind a lava filled pillar area, and the other behind the main platform.

And then comes the final area of the level, holding the last 500 points of treasure, five diamonds in total. As simple and barren as this area looks, it actually masks a decent array of gravity and jump powerup related puzzlement. While most of these I am sure can be easily cheated and mixed and matched, the intentions and thoughts behind the spacing were all well and good, so kudos to Electro for that. Now, I’m going to say this, very well knowing that I’ll probably be the only one in the room saying it but oh well- I would actually have recommended adding a set amount of lives to the level, as that would make it even more of a challenge that simply time alone, as good of a factor as it is. As easy as the level is, it is mainly so because you can simply drop off and grab diamonds without fear of doing poorly on the leaderboards, making it easier to progress without any caution whatsoever. I say, why not make it more difficult and a time-consuming task? If people want to progress and do well, they have to be better players about it. But those are just my two cents.

Okay, now talking overall, allow me to point out some of the more noticeable pros and cons I found with the level:

Pros: Simplicity of Design, Fun, Innovative Use and Re-Use of Items.

Cons: Tons of Exploits, Some Virtually Useless Blocks and Items or Hazards, Bland Looks.

Play Browser Score: 4 Stars, Beginner Challenge.

Official Rating: 6.5/10.0

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