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Review Information
Game Reviewed Super Mario Prism, by Hello
Review Author SRGPaladin
Created Jun 16 2019, 7:59 AM

General Commentary and Game Overview
NOTE: I played on version 1.0.3.4. This is one to two versions ahead of most of these negative interviews. As of the time of writing, this version is currently available for download here on MFGG, as well as Hello's website.

So...Hello did a 3D. That about sums it up. Nearly everything you like and hate about the Hello-Engine-based games, from the solid usage of Nintendo assets all around, to the slightly kloogey collision checking, to the mediocre/nonexistent boss fights, to the formulaic missions across the various maps, to the epic collectathon quests (for better or worse), to the occasional satisfying secret area, etc.

Except slopes. Good god, the slope checking here is awful, at least his 2D slopes were passable. Though, he doesn't use them much, so they don't detract much from the game.
 
Pros +3D Mario fangame, light on the cringe
+Surprisingly responsive gamepad controls
+Solid long-jumping, wall-hopping action
 
Cons -Slippery ledges
-Mediocre camera
-Mediocre non-gamepad controls
-Lacking control customization
-Lacking animation polish
-Lighting occasionally distracts
-Level geometry contrast hit or miss
-No progress indicators in coin missions
-Level design leaves much to be desired
-Few enemies
-And of course: Hello can't boss fight
 
Impressions
Gameplay
6 / 10
Controls:

Use a gamepad, or your life will be hell. Even if you use a gamepad, your life won't be perfect, as there are some problems:

1. The only way to customize controls is through the ever-awful Unity Launcher tool. You literally can't remove bindings without EDITING YOUR REGISTRY!

2. You can't set joystick inversion nor deadzones. The latter gets really noticeable when you swear you were just moving Mario left and right, but you moved him too close to the camera and fell to your death.

3. Floaty physics: This isn't a problem, it's a valid gameplay design, if you're fine with a slower pace than SM64. If anyone tells you otherwise, screw 'em.

4. Slippery edges: This IS a problem, specifically because you don't have ledge-grabbing. Some of the jumps are ridiculous, even with the walljump + air control, because if you don't land well past the edge, you'll slide off; if you can't walljump, a la the VERY FIRST MISSION, you have to land your backflips perfectly, or you're out of luck. The single-block pillars and Goombas are also frustrating to land on thanks to this; been rekt way too many times by a Goomba just because I didn't land square on his noggin.

5. Slopes: There are no static slopes and hills here. Everything is more or less literally square in the sense Minecraft (or many parts of Mario 3D Land). However, there are a few rotating objects, and when you step on an object that isn't TOTALLY flat, you slide right off. Really need to look at your friction functions.

6. When pressing against a wall after jumping off a trampoline, you can't un-press yourself, so you're stuck against the wall unless you do a wall jump. Minor bug, but very annoying in some parts.

The above being said, you can actually move around and jump fairly easily, as long as you can see where you're going, which brings us to...


Camera:

Oh dear. It's...actually, for what it is, it's not diabolical, but to be useful in a 3D platformer, there are specific problems that need to be addressed:

1. YOU CAN'T ZOOM, you can only rotate. No first-person view, no zooming out to see the environment around you, none of it. This is only mitigated by having the default camera distance be really decent. Kudos to that. Rotating up and down manually is kinda nice, but being able to zoom in and out is more important. If you incorporate both, perhaps have zooming be default, but a hotkey to change camera style to rotating, you'd be a real hero.

2. Camera distance changes every time ANYTHING comes between Mario and the camera. This is passable for level geometry, but it also occurs for friggin' goombas and firebars!

3. The camera doesn't rotate with Mario when he's on a rotating platform. This wouldn't be as much of a problem if the camera didn't move every time pillar around which the platform rotates passes in front of Mario.

4. Centering the camera is instantaneous, abruptly not only changing the direction, but the distance to Mario. It's so disorienting it's almost useless in a pinch; it's only good for seeing what direction Mario's facing.


Level Design:

Solid in the sense that Hello's level design is usually solid, if not always original. There's occasionally areas and items you can see from one area that you couldn't see earlier, so you're rewarded for examining your environment. Hello does a good job of requiring the player to exploit their basic abilities to acquire stars (longjump, backflip, etc.), although the N64-style side-flip and the ground-pound turn out to be of limited practical use.

There are a few issues, however:

1. Quest Schema: Is exactly the same across all levels except the last (gruelingly long) level: (areas 1-3, secret, red/purple coins).

2. The levels are, except for the last, invariably laid out with one area near the middle, and three disjoint areas accessible through the middle. While this works thematically for the level "Tall Topped Towers", it feels contrived for the other levels. In addition, for the stars located in these disjoint areas, it quickly becomes obvious that everything you need to get the star is in those areas, so it feels artificially confined, in contrast to SM64 (you have a carry a freakin' penguin across the entire level?! Epic quest!).

3. Quest Selection: It serves no purpose, with the current level design. The only thing that can change is whether purple coins spawn, if you do the purple coin mission.

4. Coin Quests: The red and purple coin missions are almost redundant. The red coin mission focuses on finding (usually 5) red coins in somewhat hard to reach or hidden places near the center of the map, and the purple coin mission focuses on finding 100(!) purple coins all over the map...also, sometimes in hard to reach or hidden places, just like the red coins. Nearly all of the other purple coins are just going through areas you've already gone through in the other missions and thus aren't particularly fun, so unless you really need the stars or are a completionist, they're basically a waste of time.

The above issues are largely irrelevant for the final level, which has no stars; you simply need to reach the end. The final level has some good challenges, actually...some a bit too artificially challenging, in light of the lousy camera. (I'm looking at you, platform around the corner after the 4 firebars). Coincidentally, the one section that gave me grief, I was able to cheese by lava-hopping. There are 3 real problems with the final level:

1. No boss. I mean come on, not even a Hammer Bro?

2. That P-switch next to the firebar takes FOREVER to do its job; plz speed.

3. When you fall into the lava, you're often screwed. You just want to die and respawn. But you have to wait almost 15 seconds for the stuff to finish running down your health. Consider why lava can't be instakill here, when falling into it basically requires you to die anyway.

Aside from that, the only other note is the square-ness of the level design, which follows the Super Mario Land style, although I'd love to see Hello go beyond this!


Misc:

1. Enemies: Goombas, firebars. That's literally it. I've seen Hello do better, I know he can do better.

2. Bosses: There aren't any. Not surprised, but sorely disappointed.

3. Trees/crystals: You can't climb trees...I'm heartbroken. But you can land on them. But only if you land PERFECTLY, or you just slide off. Same with large crystals.

4. Coin progress: Certain missions require collection coins of a certain color. There is no indicator of how many you've collected, until you collect the very last one, when the star appears.

5. HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY: Just stop. Have a button to interact with NPCs so they stop making noise and their textboxes stop clogging up our screen.

6. Boxes. When they fall off cliffs or into lava, they don't respawn. Seeing how they're NECESSARY to solve certain puzzles, the only way to solve them after losing them is to kill yourself so they respawn. It is unclear whether Goombas have this issue. Falling blocks do NOT have this issue; they respawn just fine.

7. Regular coins: Why are we even collecting these things? There's no lives in this game, and the yellow ones don't give us stars.

8. Quality of Life: Refer to the AAA Nintendo games for interface things, like seeing the name of the current level and the stars you've collected at the pause screen, and being able to cancel out of a level at star select.


Takeaway: The gameplay COULD be fantastic, but it's currently suffering a death by 1000 cuts.
 
Graphics
7 / 10
Overall, good usage of 3D Mario assets. Generally not clashy, and level geometry is generally distinguishable from other interactive objects.


Visual Clarity:

Usually good, aside from camera issues, but there were some instances where parts of the level geometry didn't stand out against the geometry behind it, due to the lighting combined with the textures, for example:

1. "Grassy Green Grounds" Wood texture: The edges of this texture cause the planks not to stand out against each other, making it difficult to see where it ends unless you have just the right camera angle.

2. "Tall Topped Towers" Tower brick texture: In the outer towers, especially in the "Tower of Mean Jumps", the dim lighting often requires adjusting the camera just to see where the edges of the next platform are. It's not so much of a problem on the center tower, since you can maneuver the camera more easily, and there's more light.


Animations:

Good all around, but lacking polish:

1. Double/triple jump: IMO needs to be more distinct, instead of just having different sounds. This is a VIDEO game, and not everyone has speakers, so a visual indicator that you're double or triple jumping is warranted.

2. Ground pound: if you fall a long distance during a ground pound, the animation loops and looks kinda weird.

3. Landing animation reset: consider it. When you do multiple backflips in quick succession, if you land and jump before the first animation completes, the second won't start. This may be related to:

4. Sluggish landing animation response: Mario takes almost a solid second to get out of his jump animation after hitting the ground. It's not gradual either; he kinda just slides a bit, then abruptly transitions to his standing/walking animation.

5. Rippling paintings: Not necessary, but would be totally wicked.


Lighting:

Good presentation-wise, but there are some mechanical issues:

1. Shadows: Unless you have a mechanical alternative, PUT SHADOWS DIRECTLY BELOW THE PLAYER AND INTERACTIVE OBJECTS. Regardless of where the light source is, the industry standard in 3D platforming is to use the player's "shadow" and the "shadow" of interactive objects as a reference so the player knows where they are on the XY plane. EVEN IF you have level geometry cast shadows based on the actual position of the sun or other light source for cinematic effect, etc., DON'T have the player or any non-geometry objects they interact with cast shadows any direction but straight down, unless you provide an alternative interface to allow players to easily pinpoint their position on the XY axis for any camera angle they might normally use.

2. Brightness: In "Chromatic Crystal Caverns", in the darker areas, it's quite hard to see interactive objects (can see level geometry pretty well). It's possible to have a level be dark thematically without actually having it be hard to see, a la SM64 "Bowser In The Dark World". To actually allow your crystal light sources to do something, you could, for example, use slightly emissive materials on interactive objects to make them stand out.


Takeaway: Shadow issue's kind of a bummer, but otherwise, the graphics just need some polishing.
 
Sound
8 / 10
HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY

That is literally my only complaint, and I wouldn't mind it if I didn't hear it every time I walked by an NPC. Could be resolved by having NPCs interactable with a button, rather than proximity.

Otherwise, the sound and music choice, if not particularly original or memorable, is nonetheless well-selected overall.
 
Replay
3 / 10
Heh, gotta show that cheese in the final level to my friends.

But nah, seriously once you do these levels, you do them. Getting all the purple coins for the sake of being a completionist ain't worth the time.

On the other hand, the core ENGINE itself, seems promising, and I'd very much like to see what it's capable of, after the recommended changes are made.
 
Final Words
6 / 10
Meh design, promising engine; should have beta tested both before posting it here as a "Full Game".

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