At this point Hunters was still planned as being released as one single file, so each stage was planned to either start or end with a special area in order to break up the pace of the game. So while starting stage 2 with the snow jet ski area was fine when it was a transition area, it probably wasn't the best way to introduce the game to players who may have not played stage 1. This area was going to be a lot shorter originally, but Polly made a lot of suggestions like having enemies with lasers and grenades. This led to a pretty major change in the rest of the game as many more attacks became themed to the enemies themselves, rather than just generic bullets.
The difficulty in this area had to be nerfed several times from where it started, changes made over time included making Carina jump higher, having enemies shoot up when you were in the air, and increasing amount of enemies who could drop health.
This area was also made long before the cutscene just before it, which shows several spaceships chasing after Carina, something that does end up happening much later at the end of stage 4. So that's why there are no spaceships in this chase, it wasn't something I had even thought of until literally years later, and didn't want to go retweaking the entire area again.
The map for the first area had a lot of pre-planning done for it, as it was the first one to focus a lot on backtracking. It went through a few variations before deciding on this one, as the forwards and backwards layout had to be planned together, as well as certain key things like dead ends. When you look at the map like this, it really doesn't seem as huge as the level actually is. This is also where I first started using 15 (though in this case, 14) as the average number of rooms apart to place checkpoints.
More detailed map, though with a lot of individual rooms I just winged it on how to place platforms when I reached them. To be honest this area didn't really turn out the way I planned, I imagined it as three central columns of ice, and narrow passages leading between them. But in the end the columns which have a slightly darker background don't really stand out enough, and the passages aren't narrow at all!
The outside area. I think this is when I realized this game may be getting a bit large and really lacking in moderation.
The temple area. Although the game had always been linear, drawing this and the narrowness of the area made it feel even more so.
Full graphical map. By the way, the rest of these will contain all of the secret rooms, so don't look too closely if you don't want to be spoiled.
This was originally a quick and simple enemy made in order to have something in the sky for the jet ski area. Later on I needed something similar in stage 3, and brought them back. In the end they now appear in every stage except 1 and 5.
Preliminary stage 2 enemy sketches. Only a few made it in like the hopper and floating slug thing. Above the hopper is a stage 4 enemy, and the snake enemy above that turned into a full boss.
More unused enemy art that is pretty awful. With animal enemies I just had to throw out as many ideas as possible to see what stuck.
Two enemies were added into stage 2 very late in development, as I felt the stage stood out as being overly long and repetitive, and wanted to mix things up a tiny bit. The first enemy added added was the turtle in the ice caverns. Even though a few show up early in the stage, they were really designed for the downward route, when you have the rocket launcher. Since the rockets will kill anything in one hit, they were added in to balance it out a bit by having an enemy that wouldn't die no matter what.
Since they were one of the last enemies added, they benefitted a bit from extra tricks I had learned along the way. They switch properties and animation clips when you shoot them, giving them a few more animation states than regular enemies.
The second enemy added late in stage 2 was the bird. Since there are very few enemies that shoot directly at you, they were designed to fill that underused role. Originally I was only going to have them hover in place, but an accidental typo where I typed X instead of Y led to them flying across the screen randomly. The movement reminded me a lot of the jet ski enemies from stage 6, who were very momentum based in their movement. Since I had never really found a good way to utilize those enemies, I lifted the code and applied it to the birds as well.
Unlike the turtles who could be dropped into any pre-existing room without much issue, the birds were completely different. As they shoot directly at you, they become the most dangerous enemy in a room, so the other enemies need to be re-arranged into a supporting role. This is why there aren't a ton of the birds, I didn't want to completely redo the area to include them.
The spikes in the temple area were tricky. Rather than just have them actually move up and down behind the scenery, they are animated using masks to disappear, and have a simple on/off hitbox. Similarly, the pounders are only placed in areas with open ceilings, rather than have them behind any scenery, like the flame pillars in stage 3. Had I had a little more experience when I made this area, it would've turned out slightly different.
The Golden Butterflies here are a reference to the novel Umineko no Naku Koro ni, since I happened to be reading it at the time, and already had a butterfly enemy in the game.
The flower enemies were originally designed to be exclusively used in this area, but I didn't really like the way they looked, so they were relegated to hard mode only, where no one would see them.
The snake boss is a throwback to previous snake bosses in the MikeMan games. Like the spider mech in stage 1, this boss was added since it had been a while without a boss.
As bosses continued to get more complicated, I started having to really plan things out ahead of time, instead of just writing out a vague idea in a text file. Stage 2 Mizar was the first boss to get a detailed plan made. Even though I like this fight, I regret having Mizar just fly around with just a jet pack. She's supposed to be a more "hands off, let my machines do it" type of character, so having her fight you so directly this early doesn't fit her. If I could do it again, I would have her appear in some sort of Dr. Wily-esq pod that shot rockets at you.
The Walker Boss was the first step in making the full side-scrolling area seen in the last stage of the game. Having walls moving was something new, and the code involving them had to be modified to make it work, even though in this area it still doesn't work 100% correctly, sometimes you can clip off the corners.
This guy was a gigantic pain in the ass. It may sound weird compared to other flash games, but he lagged the hell out of the game because of how many lines he contains. This was the first time I converted something from flash to an image file in order to reduce lag, but it certainly wasn't the last.
My initial idea for his second form was to have his arms block your shots, but there wasn't enough space to do that properly. The next revision let you ride on his arms longer, but that made the fight far too easy, so he tosses you off fairly quickly now.
This is one of my favorite scenes. It's the one scene that really feels like a direct sequel to the original movie from way back when.