all your base are belong to us
So, a little game on the SEGA Genesis / Mega Drive called Vectorman is one of my favorite games. And I'm actually on and off working on a fan game made in Game Maker for it. I was talking with a friend about level design ideas for it, and he wasn't so confident that he could really talk about level design for a game like this (even though he's way better at level design than me). So I think I'll share some of the videos I sent to him to help illistrate points about this game:
This is the ending section of "Day 9" titled Superstructure. This is one of my favorite points in the game. While I didn't really do this perfectly or too fast, this section is really satisfying. Mowing down all of those enemies one after the other. You have a lot of space to be able to take on the next challenge ahead, but it still feels fast paced. So you can combo the hell out of this, and then the end of the level is right there giving this big satisfying release. It's an extremely well-designed point of the game.
Arctic Ridge is overall the best level in the game. I didn't do this perfectly either, but the sheer amount of skillfull jumps and the sliding makes it really fun to master. I think this has a lot of the same characteristics as that last stretch in Superstructure, where it's not too crazily difficult and you can wing it, which is really fun, but that it also is constant action -- You are always killing or juking something and that feels really satisgying. To top that off, this one has some of the best visual directions in the game. With it snowing in some areas and having snowy waterfalls and the ice asethetic and the beams of light, and the very intro of the level clearly having a lot of thought put into it to be super cool with the intro of the music and the beam of light, the music timed perfectly with Vectorman landing.
Clockwork is an interesting boss. His head is not quite level with your jumps and they are quite persistent; if you don't hit him he comes rushing toward you. He can only take damage from the top of his head. This makes timing a very key element of this boss despite fighting it being so simple and shallow on the surface. if you can get the timing down right fighting this boss feels really satisfying and rewarding. Most of the bosses in this game aren't too interesting, but Clockwork was a much better effort to try and make a fun to fight boss (even if it's still not really great). The aesthetic is also pretty interesting. The sounds are distinct and memorable and the whole attitude Clockwork gives off is neat.
Hydroponic Lab is an interesting level. I wouldn't say it's one of the better levels in the game, but there are some very good Jaws jumps in here that feel really satisfying to pull off, if you can actually pull them off. I had to cheat at the end because I really wanted to pull off a trick against this boss and kept fucking it up. I think one thing this level does do that is quite interesting is each section is a repeat of the last with some slight variation, and while that may not sound interesting on paper it makes it feel like a very clear linear ramp up that, if you can do it good, maintains and increases your momentum which feels really good and also really different from a lot of other levels. Once again the visual direction here is also really cool, although doesn't quite look like you're indoors which is what it is suppose to be. It also reuses the track from Arctic Ridge, which isn't uncommon for this game (there's only like 7 unique tracks, almost every one is used twice). The visual direction is still neat, though. There are lights that actually change Vectorman's sprite, there's the big rolling things in the background, the big containers in the back are mysterious, and the pipe areas are strange (in a good way).
The first level, Terraport, is a nice warmup. There's a few neat tricks to do and all of the jumps (the fastest jumps) require some pretty decent timing and precision, but are still pretty forgiving. One of my favorite parts of the level is @ ~34 seconds. That's a pretty easy trick but it's a really fun trick. Terraport's visual design is probably the most consistent in the game and thematically also makes the most sense in the game. The fast-rolling sky in the background, the thin and very futuristic look, and the how you can never quite see the bottom makes you feel like you're really high up. "Port" is also one of the most iconic tracks in the game, second only to "Ocean" and "Arctic Ridge."
Well, that's about everything I wanted to talk about!
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