I hate star ratings, and avoid their use whenever possible, as they tend to generalize and oversimplify an idea. I did the best I could to condense my feelings into a ten point rating system.
Overall I love the comic so far. You've done a great job of using the medium to tell as much story visually as verbally. This page has the most text so far, I think, and I feel the images are just there to show what the sentry is saying. The two devices work well together, but I feel that the exposition is a bit strong and upstages the visuals. My favorite page so far is the fifth because while it does have a fair amount of text, the images tell a story of their own. There was a dichotomous synergy there that I loved (sorry I didn't comment on it at the time, but I was computer-less). That said the artwork does a very good job of illustrating what is being said.
Panel three is probably my favorite example of that. The slanted panel breaks make the image flow beautifully (though It may look smoother without the arrow flanges) and the use of the question block in the third part was both cute and ominous. The images themselves were also very precise and... umm... I'm trying to remain professional here, but I don't know how to critique art. They was pretty pictures.
If I were demanding, I'd ask for a background for panels one and four, even just the gradient black/red you've been using thusfar. I can see why you didn't, as those images sort of exist outside the panels, but that just makes me wonder why they are outside. I think it's only jarring to me because of how much I like the visuals in panels two and three.
The only other thing I can see, which really isn't a big deal, is the arrows in panel two. When reading left/right, show the effect (respawn) before the cause (boiling in lava). You could either switch the direction of the arrows, or possibly use them to sort of outline what the sentry is saying by having the "effect" arrow go underneath and to the right of the speech bubble.
In my initial viewing I noticed none of these things, and it took me more than a few minutes to find anything I thought may need improving. I've been a watcher since the early days of MG, and I've enjoyed not only seeing your comics at their base level, but also how they've improved over time. Keep up the great work.
Okay, I'm a bit new at writing out a formal critique here but as Mario says "Here we go!"
To start things off, I am thrilled that we finally have an explanation of what the Third Law is and the execution for panel two is adorable. I didn't think I'd ever find myself using the word adorable to describe someone falling in lava but there you have it. It's also nice to see the return of stone and metal work walls of the castle in the panel too. I can understand that it would be a pain to try and put it in for every single page but it's a nice detail to reinforce every once and a while. My only minor nitpick here is that I don't think you'd have a reflection in lava and it seems to undermine the danger of it.
Panel three serves the much needed purpose of hammering home Samus's predicament. Looking back through the previous pages I notice we never really got a clear look at how Samus's arms were tied and I'm sad to admit that some of the impact of 'she's tied up tighter!' back in "Check Point" was lost on me. I love the arrows as a means of showing the progression of her peril and the "?" box in the third frame was clever. Is it just there to represent a hypothetical worse scenario or is it foreshadowing more misfortune?
The narrative for the page is what gets that little Impact rating over on the right a full five stars. While it may be serving mostly as exposition, having more information about the world has had my imagination running wild trying to work out more details of this story. The Third Law is designed for player progression but can it work on all inhabitants of the world? If it had to be broken when dealing with Samus does that mean she's a player character too (where Peach would have been a NPC)? If that's the case are Bowser and the Koopa repeatedly referring to her as "Princess" to distract her from this fact? I've been having a lot of fun speculating so far and I'm excited to find out more.
While I like how the page turned out I do have a few minor issues. While I know the level of detail will vary throughout the project, it's a little jarring going from the rougher version of Samus's face in panel one to the more detailed one in panel four. With panel two and three being cutaways to enhance the Koopa's explanation, its implies that one and four are "the real world" and should probably be more consistent.
Second, I wonder if it would be possible to move the word bubbles around to not block the Koopa Troopa. It doesn't bother me as much in panel four but combining the word bubble with panel two cutting into panel one, it took me a minute to realize the Koopa was holding a spear instead of somehow having the large screw from before.
The last issue is that the moss seems to be a bit liberally applied in some places on the cages. This leads to us being able to see where some of the bars end on the outside of the cage and I get the feeling that wasn't intentional.
Most of the negatives however feel like nitpicking details and overall I enjoyed this page a lot. I'm looking forward to seeing how things progress.
(Bondage-to-English Translation: "Oh YEAH?!? Well, where I come from there's always a solution to even the most impossible situation, and it's usually hidden in the floor beneath me...but I've gotta move fast! If I don't do it in time I won't be able to take off my clothes!!")
(Samus is referring to the requirements for the better endings in her series, but that may provide a bit of foreshadowing for this one.... )
So that's the Third Law. Interesting stuff! Third panel is a great visual of the "increasing difficulty" and I like the text added to it. In fact, I like all the text here. It's a reinforcing effect, and for something as important as this, I feel it's appropriate.
Somehow I'd actually want to play this game. It seems like a challenging concept. Infinite lives, but with each death you start with worse stats until you get to the point it's probably more confortable to give up. Not to mention it encourages you treating your lives as a valuable asset.
That said, even if this is the case, Peach also has shown to be able to kick ass in the spinoff games, paper mario/super mario rpg, smash bros and Super Princess Peach (though that last one might be attributed to Freaky Friday physics were suddenly Mario got the "Princess syndrome" to the point Bowser actually felt compelled to kidnap him).
Anyway, this could get interesting. I wonder if she'll eventually break down or keep going, getting to new checkpoints where she at least doesn't get bound again (fat chance) or at least gets other kinds of punishments for not being a nice damsel in distress (higher heels, tighter dress that allows fewer steps at a time, cursed jewelry of some sort, etc) and how/if mushrooms and other items affect her differently (depending if you make your own rules or vaguely stick to the spinoff games or the super mario super show cartoons where peach sometimes could use them and other times she could touch them without anything happening, though IIRC that was always when they were in a pinch and Mario had to be the hero)
Well, you've hit on the core of the rest of this comic really (at least Samus's part of it). How a player's role in a world dramatically alters the way the player interacts with that world. *Droll voice* Secretly a metaphor for transgenderiness. *End Droll voice*.
Story aside, I would LOVE to make a game someday that deals with the princess role as protagonist. I think it gives us a behind the scenes look at the same game world, and is truly an extension of my fascination with how Roles dramatically alter Experience, even in the same world.
I'd love to work on a game like this, but I'm pretty daunted by it too. ^_^; No programming experience over here. But it's a dream I'm pursuing.
It can't be weirder than a stalinist plumber saving a princess from the hands of tyranical(?) fire-breathing turtle with the aid steroid mushrooms and chili-flowers: [link]
Interesting concept though I think it applies to society in general and it's one of the main reasons we play videogames, read books, watch movies, etc. Still, as a videogame concept it IS interesting. There are games that deal with being a RPG shop owner for example or with being the villain but there is none (AFAIK) that deals with being the princess and how the game universe probably screws things against them. Even kickass princesses seem to get screwed over (see Sheik in Zelda OoT... pretty fast in fact, given how little time it takes after she dons the disguise)