I wanna find a Needle in a Haystack 2

Creator: Kale

Average Rating
6.0 / 10
Average Difficulty
84.5 / 100
     Download Game


Needle (8) Gimmick (4) Crimson (1) Trigger (3) x_Floor (1) CrimsonNeedle-Like (1)


  • by Cutie
  • by Cutie
  • by Cutie

Creator's Comments:

ActualKale [Creator]
I made this game so not gonna rate it. Forgot the password for my "Kale" account so can't review it as the maker either. Lately I've felt like talking a bit about the thought process behind some of my games so maybe this will be a series of reviews for a number of my games.

I'm starting with Haystack 2 which is one of my absolute favorite games among the ones I've made. The game has been sparsely played since release and has been the target of lots of meaningless and empty criticism along with some that was probably more warranted or better supported. This naturally puts me in a position where I wanna defend my game, especially since so much of the criticism comes from people who haven't played it.

The Haystack "series" are buffed versions of Crimson Needle which is the first game I've made. Crimson Needle is already a tough and really long game (100 floors) so it's no wonder people are gonna find the thought of a harder version to be a turn-off. Haystack 2 was preceded by Haystack 1 which was a somewhat lazy rework of the first 24 floors of Crimson Needle. The level design in Haystack 1 consists mostly of fairly unique and clever jumps and I don't find it uncomfortable to play for the most part, but the game still feels like Crimson Needle with more spikes tacked on. It's just not particularly exciting despite having decent design (a problem most needle games suffer from nowadays now that we have "seen it all") and the difficulty balance between rooms is not doing the game nay favors.

There is also a hard version of Haystack 1 which is made as a joke but ended up taking much more effort than it deserved. The hard version also has what I'd consider interesting design but I'll be the first to admit that I prioritized difficulty ahead of other considerations such as "comfort", "smoothness" and "difficulty balance" for a lot of the game.

Seeing how "Haystack 1" and "Haystack 1 hard version" are what they are it might not be so surprising that the series garnered a pretty bad reputation prior to the release of Haystack 2. I will now go into why I think a lot of the criticism directed at the first two Haystack games doesn't really apply to Haystack 2 while simultaneously talk about what I actually set out to do which is to describe the process of making the game.

First off, if you criticized Haystack 1 for its difficulty then it would be entirely consistent to criticize Haystack 2 for the same thing, seeing how it is probably even slightly harder than its predecessor on the whole. This is fucking lame criticism though and it's tiresome to still see this nonsense argument thrown around. If there is such a thing as "quality" that a game can possess then that is surely completely detached from how hard the game is. I was fully aware of how hard these games were when I made them, it's not some gamemaking error and it was not ignorant of me to assume that hard games can be enjoyable. It's niche but what is bad about that? My loss if anything, since less people will play it. Besides the Crimson Needle games, almost none of the stuff I've made is extraordinarily hard, and I've made a lot of fucking games. The Haystack series is an anomaly in my catalogue and the biggest reason I was interested in making games like this in the first place was to do something different and challenge myself in making something that is challenging but in a pleasant way.

Secondly, this game is not half-assed in any sense of the word which is something you might to some extent accuse Haystack 1 of. This was a 2-3 month project, making a 25 floor game where the screens are this dense and varied takes a long time to begin with. This however took an exceptionally long time because I set as a goal to make each screen distinct. I always started with an original screen from CN that I was gonna buff and then I tried to come up with a "quirk" that would drastically change how it's played while still maintaining it as recognizable enough for someone familiar with the old version. The alterations I made would often include changing the room layouts/path and that combined with wanting to use up most of the available space means that the buffs ended up taking much longer to make than it takes to make a new screen from scratch. The gimmicks and their applications would also prove quite hard to come up with at times.

To be honest I think I succeeded very well. The variety in this game is a feat. Of course unique or creative design doesn't in itself amount to enjoyable gameplay but when the wiki is flooded with nearly identical needle games every day it has to count for something when something fresh arrives. It's also interesting to note how much quicker people will be to shit on something like this than on your everyday snooze-needle. Bland games are simply inoffensive, no one really likes them but no one really cares either. I think it would be the nicest if no one trashed anything that has effort behind it but it has become clear to me that this is not a sentiment shared by the majority in our community.

This game's merit is not solely that it has some creative ideas, if that was the case I wouldn't hold it so high. I'm even more happy with how I managed to weave the gimmicks into my usual style of design (usual since circa CN2, a lot of my design is very different from game to game) to make segments that just flow well and almost never feel awkward to play (for me at least). There is also, like mentioned, a lot of variety. There is variety in the room layouts, how big changes I made from the original and in the gameplay the gimmicks bring. If you're going in blind the game will surprise you and I think there is some excitement to just seeing what each new room will bring which is hardly something many needle games can brag with.

The style of design is just not comparable to Haystack 1 in many respects other than the general difficulty. For one thing there are very few buffs in this game that are simply added spikes to increase preciseness. This game only leans more towards long saves with medium-difficulty jumps as opposed to short saves that feel more like a luck-grind. I might also add that this game was more carefully tested so there's not as many bad align saves and the difficulty curve is more even.

Naturally this ended up pretty long. I hope the undertone in this "review" managed to convey how immensely frustrating it is to invest a lot of time and effort into something just to have people dismiss it as "bad" or "cancer" on the basis of their preconceived notions about what the series is like or from watching it on stream or whatever. Maybe it also gave a little insight into how I think about making games.

Read More

[24] Likes
Rating: N/A       Difficulty: 90 90
Mar 1, 2017

22 Reviews:

when you see the title you wanna put your into that man's KappaPride

Read More

Tagged as: Needle
[5] Likes
Rating: N/A       Difficulty: N/A
Jan 3, 2017
Half of a game by Kale.
Rooms start at 25 and end at 51. The tilesets are the same of crimson needle. There is no music whatsoever.

Several rooms look weird and they are really funny to play in my opinion.

Everything is possible, but I had to decompile the game because I really had no idea what to do in room 28 (a block on the second save is actually a platform) and room 50 (figure this one out yourself, it's not hard).

Play it if you like Kale's platforming or you want to be amused by how weird some of the rooms look.

Read More

Tagged as: Needle Trigger
[4] Likes
Rating: 4.7 47       Difficulty: 88 88
Jan 2, 2017
Genius game, nothing but respect

Read More

[2] Likes
Rating: 8.9 89       Difficulty: 80 80
Apr 29, 2021
Misundetstood game. One of my all-time favorite needle experiences, and a huge inspiration for what I want to make. There is nothing else quite like it.

Read More

Tagged as: Needle Gimmick
[2] Likes
Rating: 9.2 92       Difficulty: 90 90
Apr 20, 2021
in general, its fun, but there are some questionable design decisions and unfun segments. would still recommend

Read More

[1] Like
Rating: 6.0 60       Difficulty: 85 85
Dec 24, 2019