Missile Madness by Tobvet

1pt11ds | “Missile Madness” by Tobvet | Beginner-Friendly, Contraption, Boss

This is a great example of level design. There is a nice use of varied tiles, backdrop and asymmetry to make it feel like a lived space. Gems and layout are used to guide the player to the first challenge in such a way that it become quickly apparent what needs to be done. The level has multiple varied challenges, but the use of checkpoints keeps it from becoming overwhelming.

In particular I enjoyed how the missiles have the frenemy relationship with you. You need them to progress through the level, but the wrong angle and they will kill you. I found it to be an enjoyable challenge and something silly about trying to guide this huge missile through a tiny cavern. Really well done, Popdonk recommends!

Trouble In Troll Town by ZiLyfe

7j6rljw | “Trouble In Troll Town” by ZiLyfe | Troll, Traps, Casual

I found this to be a quite enjoyable troll level, which is not my usual thing. As the author says, the checkpoints are quite forgiving. All of the tasks are fairly simple and it feels like a game of Simon Says, where you have to remember a set of specific tasks between you and the next checkpoint. There were also a few points where I laughed, like the part with the four Kromblers.

Ruuuuuuun

My biggest big of advice is I would have loved to see a bit more visual cohesion and use of backdrop. The tile use is a bit chaotic, which makes sense for a troll level, but a few salient landmarks would have helped the overall vibe I think. I look forward to seeing more work from this author.

Episode Switch by Kinix

h507pmq | “Episode Switch” by Kinix @vsxhsh | Beginner-Friendly, Simple

This is a nice casual level. There is a good use of gating with the doors to force more of a linear approach. I enjoyed the hidden areas. I think a casual player would enjoy it although that first jump might be a difficult starting point, I’m not sure. The level made good use of save points.

I have two pieces of advice for the future. First, some more variety in tile use and non-rectangular rooms would really spice it up and make it look more attractive. Second, I would consider make use of jems through out for a couple of reasons. First, it might be a way to add difficult for non-casual players so they still enjoy your level. Secondly, any time you can add enough jems off the main path, it’s possible to have separate high scores for time and total score. This make the level more engaging to a wider audience.

Crush-A: Echo by SchuhBaum

5j6jmlx | “Crush-A: Echo” by SchuhBaum | Music Box, Casual, Waylay

I quite enjoyed this level, The music was good and the tile choices fit a nice theme. I like how the map weaved around so you felt like you were exploring, despite the linear nature of the map.

It was really interesting that the map is casual but had a speedrunning element with the gems. I would have preferred a more staggered approach where each of the groups of 3 gems would disappear one at a time, so even if you aren’t a great speedrunner you could try to get some gems. I probably would cut down on the arrows. After the first few it starts to get a bit repetitive.

I loved how the level gets meta at the end where no only do you see the source of the music, but you also go in and mess it up, like a cat running across a piano. Very clever.

Waylay Brawl Zone by CJ5Boss

k4kwj30 | “Waylay Brawl Zone” by CJ5Boss | Brawler, Waylay

Waylay Brawl zone is a very challenging brawler against the swoopadoops. I enjoyed the fact that the layout was asymmetrical and didn’t depend on boring rectangles. I enjoyed the feeling with the gates that you had these different compartments you had to work your way through.

I would love to see some easier options for multiple saves, and maybe some better spacing of the swoops. I died a lot of times. In fact there was at least one time I was down to one swoop, but died and had to start all over again. Finally I would have loved more room for dunking 🙂

That last little jerk killed me

Jungle Tower Trouble” by BscotchSeth

h9zc5z5 | “Jungle Tower Trouble” by BscotchSeth | Well-Paced, Secrets, Precarious

This is a good example of level design. The creator starts of with a sense of ambiance with the use of rain, house-like structures, a good variety of terrain and ropes. This level very much feels like a place. Why you would live somewhere where Kromblers keep banging on the roof, well that is not for us to ever know.

We see early on in the level a gentle escalation of difficulty. The first battery is highlighted on a pedestal, but that pedestal also protects any new players from the vacrat to the left of it.

Ahh, that’s where I left me aaa’s.

We see this escalation is well with the elevators, which use a variety of mechanisms. The first one using a level is smart because it forces the user to focus on it, it make new players feel smart and it slows down the initial pacing.

Going up!

The second floor is more challenging but still doable. I appreciated the implicit pause point shown below, as well as the use of checkpoints overall.

On the third floor, I feel a bit mixed about the puzzle with the blopfush. It works overall, but I could see someone jumping straight into the fray and then realizing too late they need to do a package jump right after. I very much appreciated the portal at the bottom of the level that brings you back to this floor. I fell down the once and was quite grateful I didn’t have to do things over or force a respawn. This was a very thoughtful touch.

The last floor was quite challenging, but it was short enough that you could brute force it and rely on lucky timing. I appreciated that aspect. Finally, I enjoyed the fact that there were some hidden areas and bonus jems.

Overall a great level and a Popdonk Reccomends!

Flingo On To Whizblade by Yucca

5pcwrz8 | “Flingo On To Whizblade” by Yucca @krkxsl | Beginner-Friendly, Simple

This level follows the design axiom of “More Whizblades equals more better.” This creator does a good job of providing escalating difficulty and variety in challenges. This level almost could use more checkpoints. A spent a bit of time repeating work but never so much that it go frustrating or overwhelming.

I think a smidge more variety in terrain and use of backdrop might have helped out the aesthetic a bit. I also would have loved to see more Jems and optional challenges. I enjoyed the linear focus, but it would have been nice to be able to compete on the score leaderboards, and currently there just aren’t enough jems to do that.

Overall a fun level, infused with some character.

Sproing Climb House! by The Red Brick

sh9g91r | “Sproing Climb House!” by The Red Brick | Simple, Beginner-Friendly, Explore

This level is definitely an improvement over the creator’s previous level. The Flipwips surprised me the first time because I didn’t realize the columns were walkable and therefore I wasn’t on high alert. The creator does a good job of segmenting the level into different sections and providing checkpoints.

I appreciated the bonus jems because it allowed me to pursue the highest score even if I couldn’t get the best time. I think the cloud section provided a good sense of escalating difficulty without being punishing for new players. I’ll be interested to see this creator produce more intricate levels, I see a nice metroidvania style level in their future.

Escape The Secret Temple! by The Red Brick

9hgthtj | “Escape The Secret Temple!” by The Red Brick @xqsnmf | Simple, Beginner-Friendly, Well-Paced

A great first level by The Red Brick. The design is visually coherent, and I like the escalation in difficulty. I also appreciate the gating of content into individual rooms. I appreciate the optional jems, and the consistent checkpoints.

My main piece of advice is I would have loved to see a bit more difficulty, despite being a beginner friendly level. This could be done via more rooms, more difficult jems, hidden areas etc. this allows for a level to cater well to multiple audiences.

Random Adventure: Episode 01 by Reallyzarble

c2wbrs6 | “Random Adventure: Episode 01” by Reallyzarble | Switch-Heavy, Explore

Overall, I enjoyed this level. I liked that each room had a different aesthetic, that was a really nice touch. I enjoyed that the levels got more difficult as you went, and the fact that the last level was much larger and more intricate. I especially enjoyed the music change near the end. It felt a bit like a boss room. I enjoyed the jems taunting the player throughout the level, like a hard mode of some sort.

Final room!

The level creator was generous with the checkpoints, by providing infinite checkpoints in the central area. Still, I might have liked one int he third room since I spent probably 8 minutes alone on that room. Especially frustrating is that I beat that room, but investigated the arrows and the hidden area and got myself killed in short order. It took me probably a dozen tries to beat it again. I really enjoyed the clouds acting as a brief chance to catch your breath while you were falling.

Note to self, never go left

My one other bit of advice is that the second room felt like a missed opportunity with the burny whirlers being static. Turning them into a dynamic movement puzzle could have been a great way to add some variety and to bridge the difficulties between rooms one and three more smoothly.

Overall an enjoyable level, and I look forward to see what else the creator makes.