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Heyo! After my Dark Ages rant, I decided to give my first impressions on Big Wave Beach. Before the level's release, I became very exicited for Big Wave Beach. The place was refreshing, and a lot of the material seemed interesting. But the real question remains: how does it hold up?
Well....... it.... uh... sort of works. I mean, this level should be great, but.... uh.....
Let me put it this way: I think all the ideas and mechanics are almost perfect. The tidal system is brilliant. Popcap could have just gone "Here's a pool lane, Aquatic plants go here.", but they didn't. The changing tides is a great idea, not only for the Lily Pad incorporation, but in how it affects the gameplay. Snorkel Zombies and Surfers interact differently depending on the water level, and the player is forced to think about how to counter them. The Tangle Kelp has also changed, and possibly for the better. Since it can only live in the water, it went from "instant for the pool lane" into an instant that has its useage change with the map. Don't get me wrong, it was fine in the first one, but here its even better.
The new plants and zombies are brillant, too. Granted, we only have one zombie and two plants that are truly new: Surfer Zombie, Bowling Bulb, and Ghost Pepper. But I gotta admit, their mechanics are astounding. Surfer zombie could have been a cheap ripoff of Dolphin Rider Zombie, but they gave him his own unique mechanic, and I think it works. The new plants are also a lot of fun. Bowling Bulb is nice way to re-implement the Wall-Nut bowling, but I think the real shiner is the Ghost Pepper. It's something we haven't seen before, it create some great new strategies, and most importantly, I had a lot of fun using it. (Also, I hear it can counter Wizard Zombie. Big brownie points for that!)
So, if I think everything is so well done, why aren't I giving outright praise? Well... because..... the implementation is TERRIBLE!
*Sigh* Let's start with the biggest complaint I have. In a lot of the levels, the zombies come out too quickly. That may not seem like a big deal, but dealing with too many zombies at the beggining impedes Sun production, which can throw the whole level off. In most levels, the first zombie is a single Basic Zombie, but the the next zombies to show up are a pair of zombies. Why? And yes, we had quick zombies in the last level. But that was a night level, where we were supposed to be forced into Puff-Shroom. In daytime levels, Puff-Shroom should never be forced.
The other reason the level doesn't work is the Imp ambush. Before we delve into this level, think about what all the other ambush levels (yes, even Dark Ages) had in common. That's right- there was opportunity to counter the ambush. Sandstorm could be killed or slowed, Raiding mostly kept to the non-plank lanes, Bot Swarms had a small delay after landing (AND E.M.Peach), and Grave Busters (mostly) could deal with Necromancy. What does Low Tide have? Nothing. Nada. Zip, zero, zilch. Prepare to lose your back defense. This wouldn't be ..super bad, except...... isn't that why you threw in Surfer Zombie? To penetrate deeply into the defenses and get the leftmost plants?
All in all, I'm more disappointed than anything else. Not because Big Wave Beach had bad ideas, but becuase it had so many good ideas that can't shine through. And I'm not a hater, mind you..... it's just..... I need to lie down.....
P.S.- I have only done one level with Surfer Zombie at the time of this post. But as far as I can tell, his idea is good, just bad implementation.