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View Full Version : SA reviews "The Crystal Cave in Autumn"



Shining Aquas
11-29-2009, 11:05 PM
First, it seems that xkappax was recently given the honor of the most recent "Creator Spotlight", in which she has been interviewed regarding her most excellent display of creative ability. So, a big round of applause to xkappax for that achievement.

Secondly, I'd like to give a personal thank you to the team of xkappax and Catiers (whom I found out in the early days are indeed a couple) for allowing me to review so much of their stuff up until now. At this point, "The Crystal Cave in Autumn" will be the 3rd level of theirs that I've reviewed (counting of course the earlier Centrallia: A Ghost's Story (http://www.lbpcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6143) and The Fall of Winter (http://www.lbpcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6144)), and for a brief summary of what I was expecting going into this level, I quote this paragraph from my FoW review:


Looking back at the two levels, I actually find the differences between them staggering to the degree that I might end up drowning in a sea of irony. On one hand you have Centrallia, a level with amazing appearance and fairly good playability, and the other you have FoW, a level with fair appearance and amazing playability. It really makes me wonder what kind of level you'd get if both these creators put their absolute best into a level. We could potentially be looking at the next Azure Palace or H.A.T.E

After playing through Crystal Cave, I stand fully by the bold. I honestly think that this level is the next big thing. Does that mean it's absolutely better than H.A.T.E. or The Azure Palace? Not necessarily, but I feel like it has the potential to be just as well remembered by the community as either of those, and mostly for the same reasons: Excellent atmosphere, great use of music, decent platforming segments, and the ability to say everything you need to say about a setting with the absolute least amount of text. In short, this level has the redeeming quality that makes the other levels so excellent; it has the perfect atmosphere.

I don't plan to give Crystal Cave a walkthrough, the level is easy enough to pick up and play that there really shouldn't be any issues no matter who's playing it. For the most part the level is linear, simple, and easy to beat. There is no truly identifiable challenge for any of this level and I'm almost willing to bet that the entire level could be beaten with one hand through repetitive practice. Enemies? Not really, there's a couple of ghosts that jump out giant holes in the floor to nibble on your footsies, but I put them on my list of platforming obstacles right next to world 1-4's jumping fireballs, except they move even slower. Oh yeah, and there's also a chase scene later where you have a large flaming skull-thing chasing you in an attempt to re-enact "Crazy Rita" from The Wedding levels.

Despite what sounds like a lot of complaining in the previous paragraph, let me be perfectly clear that there is nothing wrong with a level being easy. Yes, I have complained about it before and have even brought down scores on some levels because of it but I did that because of other reasons as well. When you make a level that's easy you need to recognize that lack of difficulty and must have other aspects of the level that will make up for the easiness, and most of those other levels did not. Crystal Cave makes up the fact that it's easy by engaging you with beautiful visuals, fantastic atmosphere, excellent organization of game elements and mechanics, paces itself well, and more than anything it knows what the goal of the level is and does everything it can to achieve that. Crystal Cave was not meant to be a challenging level, in fact quite the opposite; I would have completely understood if the level didn't have any platforming elements at all and stuck to the Centrallia methodology of creating an artistic piece that isn't quite as engaging. Crystal Cave managed to create that artistic feel (and did so gorgeously, I might add) and still found room to incorporate halfway decent gameplay elements which while not being the main focus still perform well enough to be worth mention.

This level's attitude and goals remind me heavily of a rarely known game "Muramasa, the Demon Blade" for the Wii, a game made by Vanillaware (the makers of Odin Sphere for the PS2, one of the BEST GAMES EVER) in that the level strives to perform more on an artistic level than anything else, and while not expected to perform well on a gameplay level still finds a way to create a fun experience.

Right there explains why I won't bring this level down for being easy: IT'S FUN!
Yeah, FUN, remember that? I remember the good ol' days when games weren't as concerned with finding new ways to shoot people or how to play football the same way again, but back when the keystone of games was to be fun and enjoyable. That's why I bought LittleBigPlanet in the first place, to have a simple and fun game that would continue to find new ways of being simple and fun.

Here's my final word. Crystal Cave is good, and I mean REALLY good. When the worst thing I can say about the level is that it feels a little easy, that's probably a good sign. I simply had too much fun either playing the level or zeroing in on the brilliant atmosphere to find any truly relevant flaws with this level. Truly the best thing Catiers and xkappax have created thus far using what each of them is good at (in my opinion, kappa's creativity with Catiers' mechanical expertise), and for what it's worth, I totally called it (back to the bold quote)

Final Score:
10 / 10
Atmosphere is perfect, gameplay is fun, a masterpiece easily rivaling the best levels on the network. 5 stars and hearted.

On a side note, Thanksgiving was awesome.

CCubbage
11-29-2009, 11:27 PM
Perfect review - nailed right on the head! One of my favorites... 'nuff said.

Oh, and you should have Sara show you what happens when REAL water is added to the level when the water feature is released.....
:)

xkappax
11-29-2009, 11:54 PM
Wow, is it Christmas or something? It seems that all sorts of good things have been happening to me. Oh wait, no, maybe I'm dying?! I hope not!!!

In seriousness, thanks for the wonderful review. This was certainly a nice surprise to log onto this evening!!! ^_^

I would write more, but I find myself at a loss for words yet again. Thank you so much. ^_^

Shining Aquas
11-30-2009, 12:48 AM
Wow, is it Christmas or something? It seems that all sorts of good things have been happening to me. Oh wait, no, maybe I'm dying?! I hope not!!!

In seriousness, thanks for the wonderful review. This was certainly a nice surprise to log onto this evening!!! ^_^

I would write more, but I find myself at a loss for words yet again. Thank you so much. ^_^

Just keep doing what you're doing. I look forward to the future.