Mega Man Maker – Destroy That Stronghold by Art (172760)

Now this is what a thematically strong level looks like! Destroy That Stronghold is of about average length and doesn’t try anything overly fancy, but it uses its mechanics well. You’re introduced to orange rotating platforms, conveyor belts, and spines (the little invincible things that look like hockey pucks) early on and these are the three tools the level focuses on throughout.

Simplicity and efficiency are the keys here. The only weapon at your disposal this time around is the Mega Buster. Aside from the spines, the only enemies used are cannons, the big jumping enemies known as power musclers, and lyrics, flying robots which slowly home in on Mega Man. For the most part, enemies exist for the sake of knocking you into pits or spikes. Though you only have one weapon, the level is designed around it as the Mega Buster is effective both for stunning the spines and destroying the lyrics when they fly in at odd angles. Checkpoints are spread out far enough to make every stretch of the level feel challenging, though they’re still close enough together that death isn’t frustrating. The only point where this level feels like it could use more complexity is the boss fight with Stone Man; the ceiling is uneven, which can affect Stone Man’s high jump, though the fight is otherwise completely straightforward.

There are two common ways in which Destroy That Stronghold uses its primary mechanics. First, it likes to pair up spines with sets of conveyor belts. This creates a neat gimmick where you need to deliberately lure the spines towards you when they’re on conveyor belts facing the opposite way and then jump out of the way quickly when they dash at you after sliding off the conveyor belts, which turns the encounters into miniature timing puzzles. Another common danger is sets of rotating platforms paired up with spikes, pits, and possibly lyrics. As the platforms can fly in a straight line at any angle, you need to try to figure out which way each platform will move ahead of time and be ready to react quickly if they move in an unexpected direction. The level plays with these platforms quite a bit and each formation poses its own challenge. Overall, this level excels at using a small number of tools to create a nice variety of mechanically consistent challenges.

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