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.

Welcome 2 Ping Bump, Friend! by Egomouse

kss6p3c | “Welcome 2 Ping Bump, Friend!” by Egomouse | Casual, Blasters, Contraption

This level is pure chaos. You have a certain degree of control but you also have a ton of bumpers and blasters, in a level littered with jems. But what do you expect when you are trying to take the crown from KING PING BUMP.

Drawing by egomouse

This definitely feels a lot more like old style pinball games where you have some control, but you totally could get hosed as well. And just like a pinball game you have a limited set of lives. It’s really cool how the creator implemented this. And when you get too close to losing a life at the bottom, you hear explosions that add tension to the game.

It definitely fits the theme well and makes great use of sound effects and music boxes.

I only have two minor recommendations, if you can even call them that. First, it might have been nice to have a couple of player controlled blasters, to give the player a moment to catch their breathe, and a slightly expanded sense of control and agency. But honestly, that’s mostly personal preference.

Secondly, it can be a little bit difficult to see what’s going initially because the level is so littered in jems. I wonder if hiding the jems until the player leaves the starting room might have made it easier to get one’s bearings. Again, more a matter of personal preference.

This level gets the Popdonk Recommends badge for sheer effort.

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.

Balloog Toward Victory” by Spekio

0n286p1 | “Balloog Toward Victory” by Spekio | Precarious, Simple, Quick

Balloog toward victory is a fun little level that takes and idea and runs with it. I found it challenging, but not frustratingly so. The checkpoints are well spaced and the platforms give you just enough space to get a bit of a run. Jems are spread throughout to add some challenge. I thought the last section where the spikes are moving in the opposite direction was really neat. Overall a good level.

“Cross The Spike Gulch” by TalkGibberish

003lh4l | “Cross The Spike Gulch” by TalkGibberish | Casual, Well-Paced

This is a great level. Good use of checkpoints and camera anchors to segment the levels. Good use of escalating difficulty in teaching the player how to beat the level. This was the first time I had run into the timed switches and I was able to figure it out.

No suggested changes, so this gets the Popdonk Recommends badge!

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!

Throw Block & Sproing Puzzle by Mrichston

lq2959l | “Throw Block & Sproing Puzzle” by Mrichston | Puzzling, Clever, Quick

This single screen puzzle level looks deceptively simple, but it will have you scratching your head for quite some time. I don’t know if I would have been able to solve it without a hint from the creator. Let’s just say you are going to have bust out of your preconceptions to beat this one. Great level and earns the Popdonk Recommends badge for cleverness.

Rumble Ridge, Cross Country? by minichibisart

h2v7z75 | “Rumble Ridge, Cross Country?” by minichibisart | Well-Paced, Zipper, Secrets

This is a good example of an autoscroller level. The level felt cohesive and had a good variety in the layout and terrain. The level was challenging without being overwhelming. I think it may have benefited from one extra checkpoint earlier on, since I nearly gave up at one point. I really appreciated the hidden area with the jems.

Something else that was interesting for an autoscroller is having different speeds for different parts. It might have been nice if the scrolling was player activated, so people could get their bearings a bit. Good level overall.

The Short Package Level. by redstonepro23

55185wdw | “The Short Package Level.” by redstonepro23 | Simple, Quick, Casual

This is a nice short level. It’s got a good variety of terrain and obstacles. I particularly enjoyed the timing challenge with the blopfush and the burny whirler because it was hard to guess the exact time to jump. The music change for the second half is perfect, I really love it. Overall a well designed level with 3 recommended changes.

First, I would probably change the player cam to a package cam, to prevent people going to wrong way and then locking themselves out. It might have been by design, but when you lock yourself out a level so easily, it can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. Ideally if you do lock out a player, they should know what they are doing and feel like it was their fault. A perfect example of this is The Steel Forest Factory by BmiClock.

Second, I would probably add a checkpoint right before the giant flapjack just to make things easier for newer players.

Lastly, there are a number of cloud blocks, but there are just a few jems at the top in a difficult to reach spot. If you are going to add a space like that, reward the player with Jems for exploring and make them feel smart in the process.

For a second level, this is really great, and I think with a tiny bit of refining, the creator could be making some amazing levels.

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.