This level can take a while to reach because it’s on one of the deeper floors, but it’s worth it! Switch Bonanza is, unsurprisingly, all about hitting switches. Specifically, this level is broken up into five smaller ‘levels’ and a not at all serious tutorial, all of which make use of switches in different ways. The first part is a platforming race to the finish before the gate closes, the second is a short trip across a gap using dragon statue projectiles (this one in particularly is ridiculously difficult if you don’t have Mitsu’s later abilities unlocked), the third is divided between a platforming challenge and a very tightly timed switch race, the fourth is mostly a puzzle, and the fifth demands accurate kunai throwing and some quick thinking. The amount of variety on display here is impressive enough on its own, but I am even more impressed by the lack of a single bad or even mediocre challenge between them; I think the second challenge feels somewhat out of place due to just how much more difficult it is compared to the rest of the level, but even that is only a minor complaint. By expertly blending puzzles, platforming, and precision, this level excels at taking full advantage of the flexibility offered by Below Kryll‘s engine.
Tag Archive: user generated content
NOTE: There’s no video this time around as several large portions of this level contain copyrighted material.
Banishment is focused almost entirely on its story and atmosphere with a small amount of platforming near the start. The setup of Juni being accused of murder and banished after a villager dies in a mining accident is definitely on the dark side of things and allows for two particularly strong points for this level. First, the villagers have a nicely varied set of reactions when Juni approaches them as some believe she is a killer, others believe she is innocent, and others are neutral or don’t seem to know who Juni is, making for a world which doesn’t seem to revolve entirely around its protagonist. Secondly, the village itself is big and has many entirely optional places to go to, such as the mine and the farm; there’s no physical reward for exploration, but it helps to enhance the setting by making the village feel like a real place. The weakest part of the level by far is when Juni has to arbitrarily platform her way through a cave with some water hazards to get a key which will allow her to leave the village. The platforming challenges aren’t bad and are easy enough, though there’s no checkpointing, but it does feel like an unnecessary step which somewhat spoils the atmosphere. The second half of the game involves Juni’s journey across desolate lands as ancient ruins and dark caves intertwine with Juni’s own fears. The game uses sounds and visuals during this portion to great effect to convey the sense of fear and isolation that comes from banishment without relying on words. The ending is a little cheesy and the level could really do without the cave portion, but Banishment otherwise makes for a compellingly atmospheric short story.
Glider Master isn’t the first level focused on grind rails which I’ve covered, but it presents a different kind of challenge compared to Cartless Mine Cart Ride. The goal here is to become a ‘Glide Master’ by using the grind rails to reach the five shurikens scattered all over the level. Spikes are close to several of the shurikens, but there is otherwise no danger. The general lack of danger doesn’t mean this is an easy level though as many of the rail paths are demanding, requiring quick reflexes and precise jumping with the upper-right shuriken being particularly difficult to reach. Paths also intersect each other in several places, adding in a puzzle element as you try to figure out just which rails lead where. While each shuriken has an ‘intended’ path leading to it, there are also plenty of other ways to reach the shurikens, giving this level a fair amount of replayability. The only downside here is that this level is actually pretty hard to reach in the first place with only one entrance which in turn can only be reached by going halfway through a difficult level to the right of it. Otherwise, Glider Master is a whole lot of fun and is the best grind rail level which I’ve encountered as of this time.
To be entirely honest, this level is here almost entirely for the sake of my personal nostalgia as it’s one of the first Knytt Stories levels I ever played, the earliest one I can remember playing in fact though I’m sure it wasn’t actually the first one I tried. Without The Tower, I very well may not have ended up writing these articles on Knytt Stories levels so it would be a shame to ignore it. That said, there are some serious design issues here. The very first real area of the game is a dark cave underneath the tower filled with foreground and background elements which deliberately blend in with the actual platforms and hidden spikes are everywhere. Things don’t get any better after that as the very next area is a massive maze which poses little danger beyond a few pools of water and goes on for a ridiculously long amount of time. Most of the other segments of the tower are likewise filled with surprise spikes on nearly every surface, there are far too many pixel-perfect jumps, you can reach ‘void’ screens from certain places, and checkpoints are scattered around haphazardly, sometimes appearing immediately after each other and other times being far too far apart.
With all that in mind, this level does have its positive aspects. For a start, the drawings on the story screens have an unusually large amount of effort put into them, immediately making the level seem full of appealing potential. The tower also does give off the impression of being legitimately massive and imposing; from the multi-screen drop off of your landing platform at the start to the slow ascent up and across the tower, there is no denying that this location has a grand sense of scale. While the tower is split up into largely linear regions, there is still a sense of exploration to the level as it is up to players to figure out just where they can actually go to make progress with their current abilities. Speaking of abilities, the game also does a great job of making each ability feel like a well-deserved reward and every new region is filled with challenges which push the newest ability’s benefits to their limits.The level design can sometimes feel overly malicious and at other times just not very well thought out, but I still love the sense of scale and adventure here and anyone looking for a challenge may very well want to seek this level out.
This is a very short level which slightly shows its age through how easily some of the platforming challenges can by bypassed with the air dash, but it’s worth check out because of its awesome concept. Color-coded respawns are commonly used in levels to prevent players from being forced in start over from the beginning if they kill a crucial enemy or misplace an object, but here they are used to add in an element of surprise. There’s a running joke throughout the level of it being completely empty because enemy and object spawns are tired to various respawn points, which you must make extensive use of in order to rewind time. From a swarm of bees to a crushing statue to a one-way moving platform, each respawn point presents a new challenge which makes use of the gimmick in a different way. Overall, the level is a bit too short and the individual challenges are a bit too simple, making this level with a decently entertaining, though not spectacular, execution which doesn’t quite measure up to the great concept.