Finally got around to completing the mod! I ended up starting back on November 1st, but unfortunately my power went out and I kinda just rage quitted and went to bed for the night. Haven't had a chance to finish it until now.
The overall setting and plot for this mod was pretty great. It's definitely nice to see the Seaside map get some love. Outside of personal nostalgia since it's probably the map I've fiddled around with the most, it definitely has some of the most interesting shortcut design out of the vanilla SHAR maps. The extra graphical effects done to the map were something you really didn't have to do, but I appreciate more and more knowing the tight deadline given for the mod. They help the mod feel considerably more refreshing and, echoing Maz's statements, the orange tint helps fit the horrifying fish takeover concept and gives some nice Halloween vibes.
Speaking of the fish takeover aspect, the plot of the mod was pretty great too. I adore how Mission 0 lets the player play from the perspective of an entirely different character and sort of acts as an interactive opening cutscene that kicks the mod off, and the whole concept of Binky declaring war on Springfield. It feels really reminiscent of the Treehouse of Horror segment Night of the Dolphin
(and this mod even uses dialog from that particular short), yet the idea of Binky being the one taking over Springfield feels like a more clever use of pre-existing Simpsons characters. The use of locations on the map to accomplish this (with the Duff Brewery acting as a 'butcher shop') is also well done!
The mission design, which I found hit it's stride with the last two missions (and the optional Trick or Treat Wager Race
replacement) is where the mod truly shines. There are a lot of extremely clever ideas found in each that feel like they'd be something done in an actual Treehouse of Horror segment. The idea of stealing a fish from the Sea Captain to use the fish's corpse as a disguise is absolutely morbid in a hilarious way and manages to be insanely engaging in it's execution by giving the player a stronger vehicle and doing a clever job of using the road blocks to actually make it feel as if you're infiltrating the Duff Brewery after a takeover (I also got a good chuckle out of Homer purposefully leaving Patty behind). It's a feeling I never even quite got with the vanilla Level 6. 'Finale'
is also pretty great with the 'boss battle' against the fish lackey and the use of custom animations (won't quite go into detail for those who haven't had a chance to finish/try out the mod yet). The Trick or Treat
mission is easily the most complex of the three I've mentioned though with it's multiple routes and absolutely adorable custom costume for Homer offering some replay value just to see the many alternative routes. There's a lot of replay value in that one little Wager Race alone that's perfect for the season!...Or, well, was
perfect, but we can pretend it's still Halloween. Right?
While the Story Missions are pretty tricky, it does feel as if the player is given some chance to customize their experience by choosing to abandon the regular Family Sedan in favor of the 70's Sports Car or Car For Homer if they find that some of the timers are a bit too tricky. It's a really neat design choice that I think allows the player to sort of customize how difficult they want the mod to be. I did every story mission with the Family Sedan, but players struggling with 'Finale'
for instance can go grab some of the better cars from Gil and give it another shot. Some of this choice is slightly ineffective as a result of the low mission count (plus 4 Minus 1
requiring a forced car with Otto's Bus and M0 mostly locking you into the Family Sedan/Smithers' Limo), but it's still a really nice choice to even have to begin with and the car choices made are pretty great with how different the stats are for each car.
I will say obtaining 100% completion in the mod can feel slightly overwhelming though, while on the topic of cars. I was successful in getting all 7 tombstones
, but the Dr. Marvin Monroe
one was extremely tricky to get due to the player not having access to the Krustylu/Duff Brewery side of the map while in any of the pre-missions. The missions never really make use of this little shortcut down the hill and it's easy to overlook grabbing this tombstone. I ended up just starting the Trick or Treat Wager Race to grab it since it was the quickest way to have full access the area. The cost of having to enter the Trick of Treat mission, while not hefty, does make it slightly tedious to grab this one. The Ghost Family Sedan vehicle seen in the Phonebooth
I also had no idea how to obtain, unfortunately? During my playthrough I never found another NPC vendor or a Bonus Mission host that could give away this car. I did check to see if the mod is decompilable and it does look as if the NPC meant to host the Bonus Mission for this car is hidden way out of bounds. I assume this mission got cut? It would probably be worth yanking the Ghost Family Sedan from the rewards list as a result or just throw it somewhere in the Level as a Bonus Car akin to the Rocket Car.
I also do feel the mission design in M0 and M1 can also be overwhelming due to the amount of stages and overall difficulty. I found it really easy to lose the barrel in M0 despite their being no real conditions the player could fail, but it felt insanely easy to lose it while taking the route down to the seashore. The laser pickup stage is also slightly awkward in that there's really not a whole lot indicating to the player it's a MustActionTrigger(); area. M1 sort of feels like it's overshadowed by the Bus follow stage feeling like a more drawn out Lab Coat Caper
and doesn't get more interesting until the 'school zone' area. While checkpoints exist, some are placed in slightly odd places (I was rather surprised to see 4 Minus 1
didn't include one after Homer defeats the Sea Captain, as I initially failed trying to escape the Duff Brewery in time while panicking).
Spoiler: Some other minor things that might be worth bugfixing?
- Strangely, getting near the waste dump near Krustylu Studios sends the player towards the C-Spanker area? It feels like the Death Trigger should spit the player out near the Krustylu area instead. I'm not sure if it was done for conveience sake or not but it can be slightly tedious to re-travel back to the other side of the map should the player hit the trigger by mistake (which seems plausible to occur if the player is aiming to grab the Monroe tombstone while not on a mission).
- All of the Tombstone descriptions seem to have a small yellow period in the upper left hand corner. I did check to see if the mod is decompilable and this seems to be a minor issue with how blanking out the card names in the pause menu are handled. You should be able to put two quotation marks with a space in-between to eliminate this issue.
Overall, a really fun experience for the narrative it tells and some really creative prop usage! There's a little bit of nice replay value going for the Tombstones and visiting the Trick or Treat mission to see the alternative routes, which makes a nice short and sweet experience for the contest. Loved the latter half of the mod and it's amazing what you were able to create with the tight deadline as I stated earlier. Sorry it took me so long to write up something for this, but I really wanted to do this for the campaign mods submitted to show I really appreciate the effort everyone put into their entries!