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!

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.

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.

Big Vacrat Theft, Episode 1 by TalkGibberish

h5lw5fm | “Big Vacrat Theft, Episode 1” by TalkGibberish | Beginner-Friendly, Chase, Explore

This is a fantastic, well-built level. It makes good use of the new tilesets and creates the feel of a lived little town. Why exactly we have invaded it and are killing all the local vacrats is a little unclear. It has checkpoints throughout and make re-use of the space multiple times.

My favorite part is the fact that it tells a narrative. I enjoyed the little sound effects when you find a hidden gem or the large vacrat steals his.

This level unabashedly earns the Popdonk Recommends badge!

Mission Destroy Flipwip! by Jornker

3gtvw4g | “Mission Destroy Flipwip!” by Jornker | Beginner-Friendly, Powerups, Well-Paced

This was a fun little level. The hardest part was honestly getting in to the darn castle, and then the rest was pretty manageable. Despite being such a pain, it really felt like I was breaking in to the castle. I enjoyed the variety in power ups, and was especially appreciative of the infinite checkpoints.

I feel like there is some room for improvement, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think there are some ways to make the level feel more cohesive. Maybe having a larger central section, or not relying on rifts to get to the challenges. Another possibility would be to use more decorative blocks to add variety. As it stands the different sections feel a smidge disconnected which is a shame because I love the theme of breaking into a castle. Overall, a good level.

Through The Giant Mound by Sephy

60m94tv | “Through The Giant Mound” by Sephy | Beginner-Friendly, Powerups, Well-Paced

This level is just plain amazing. It takes a specific theme and blends it throughout the whole level. Each section was somewhat challenging but approachable. I really liked that most of them were simple but required some minor rethinking of one’s approach.

I must have died at least a dozen times on the spikes section, but thanks to checkpoints and having made it through most of the level, I kept at it.

This level earns the Popdonk Recommends badge for fitting a theme so well.

That Slick Plunge by Psyche

7zhb6dm | “That Slick Plunge” by Psyche | Beginner-Friendly, Quick, Traps

This is a great first level. It uses a nice variety of terrain, and neatly is broken into 3 sections based on checkpoints. In each section the vibe of the level changes, which I like. I also enjoy the fact that the difficulty gently escalates with each section.

I enjoyed the visible spikes early on signaling danger. I enjoyed trying to follow the yellow arrow, getting stuck by brittle rock and then coming back later with the package.

I have two small recommendations for improvement. First, a number of the areas are easy to skip for speedrunning. This is perfectly fine, but I would consider having some hidden areas, especially with larger jems, so that people exploring or going after the highest score can still beat people who get points from speedrunning.

The other recommendation would be to use some backdrop to help tie the level together. The layout is great and some backdrop would help reduce the feeling of so many free-floating objects.

Overall a fantastic first level!

Jem Bam 2 by GKar

phfq0n3 | “Jem Bam 2” by GKar | Beginner-Friendly, Puzzling, Quick

This level is an interesting take on the pacman theme. I like the idea quit a bit and getting the lectroshields are a lot of fun. It definitely nails the whole vibe of playing pacman inside of levelhead.

I do have to wonder if it would have been better with 2×2 pathways instead of the 1×1, just because it’s so difficult to kill the bad guys when you can’t maneuver. Or at the very least maybe a checkpoint or two, so I would be more inclined to push through it. Overall, it’s nice to see people pushing the envelope like this in Levelhead.