Muka Kingdoms: Breakout (World 1) [Jr727holst]

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From the creative brilliance that brought you (in this iteration of Atmosphir anyways) Death’s Demise and Misty Caverns comes the oft underrated Jr727holst, a designer who likes to make you weep with intermediate challenges bordering on advanced to expert insanity. Cleverly hidden items and environmental puzzles, well-crafted environments and detailed verandas, and heinously hideous and insidious puzzles and hazardous-to-your-health gameplay are all staples in Jr727’s daily Atmosphir diet. Be sure to check out other levels reviewed here, but for now let’s get this one underway.

First things first, I played Muka Kingdoms: Breakout (World 1) quite awhile ago and beat it despite the often clever confusion and intermediate combat and puzzle challenges that it presents players, quite diabolically with. I did not however play it again to beat it after the leaderboards were reworked to show completion of levels, so forgive me for that. I did replay it earlier to look at a few finer points of the gameplay for my review, but not really for any sense of completion or to better that score at all. The scenery in the level actually feels like what I imagine some slightly off the beaten path derelict muka fortress prison thingimajig would feel like- complete with devilish spikes, platforming scenarios, and a plethora of inmates and corrupt bureaucratic guards wandering about. All of which will kill you of course, yet somehow doesn’t become incredibly frustrating despite adding to both the intensity of the level itself and the environment.

I always enjoy Jr’s use of the rotation tools in designs and Muka Kingdoms is no exception. Tiles and blocks are littered around about as realistically as can be in a cartoonish game such as Atmosphir, and the atmosphere itself is tense and realistic, reminiscent of what I imagine a hostile alien prison world/tower thing would be. I’ve always enjoyed this sense of randomness in these levels, and I think the duality in the clever use and reuse of design and objects as well as the backtracking already required throughout the level when triggering platforms or solving specific puzzles is a wonderful addition to that.

The combat in Atmosphir has always been more hit and miss than most elements, as it’s largely always been a “pay to win” sort of scenario in that the better weapons and tools will ultimately always prove whether you win and triumph or whether you’re poorly equipped and die a sloppy death a multitude of times. So if you’re going to play this level, you should know that while enemies are realistically powered in terms of health, you’ll want to be fairly well equipped with strong or rapidly slashing melee weapons with good radial damage (such as the ban hammer or the Anubis sword) due to the fact that small enemies will swarm and larger ones deal out heavier damage totals. Aside from the obvious frustrations there, the combat is never the most difficult part in this level, except nearer towards the end of your escape for reasons that become obvious should you play the level in its entirety. However, also in regards to that factor, players start the level with twenty lives and although there are plenty of traps and platforming segments throughout, even players who aren’t entirely confident in their own abilities should only lose at most fifty percent of those.

The gameplay itself resides solely within a massive tower with good use of long distance fog, meaning you can’t spot specific items from halfway across the map but then you also can see a good ways up to get a hint at what’s coming next or where to go. There are a few design curveballs along the way such as the expected use of muka platforms and boxes throughout, which can sometimes be a bore or a chore in levels requiring you to ledgehang onto them. This is mostly mitigated by stone ledges placed along the outsides of the platforms but there are other instances where you will still make an otherwise easy leap and fall halfway down the level thanks to the muka platform sucking or being glitchy as well. This isn’t a design flaw so much as it is a game flaw in itself, so it detracts only a little bit from the overall experience.

I enjoyed the challenges presented within this level and while it isn’t a small or large level, but resides somewhere in the happy medium between the two, the tower prison leaves me eager to return to similar worlds in the future. The gameplay featured a few simple to intermediate puzzles and a plethora of intermediate to advanced hazards and challenges. There are plenty of enemies but not all of which you have to defeat, skipping over the monotony that is combat in Atmosphir. There are some hidden treasures added for leaderboard potential and plenty of lives to differentiate who the good and the great players around are. You have about thirty minutes to complete the level but don’t think that it’ll take you any less than ten to fifteen of those, even if you know exactly what you’re doing. There is plenty of backtracking to do and I’m sure even if you make no mistakes whatsoever you’ll have to cautiously check your surroundings for treasure and enemies as you go. All in all, Muka Kingdoms: Breakout (World 1) is an entertaining and memorable experience, even with slight frustrations.

Pros: Environmental Design, Hazards, Backtracking

Cons: Ledgehanging Unreliability, Extended Periods of Combat

Play Browser Score: 4 Stars, Intermediate

Official Rating: 8.75/10.0

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