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haha I recently hit all 8 buttons but only managed to pick up four crystals. There weren't any gold crystals in my path and that was the best I could do given the time limit. I felt REALLY stupid carefully rolling back down knowing I'd just failed to make a profit despite completing a satisfying challenge.

I think I still approach all challenge rooms as like a carnival game. They're a place to test my skills and maybe lose money. The springs being free is surprising, but I dunno, maybe I'll use a warp and just dive into a spring map and play that until I die a few times. But the format of "pay 5 crystals to probably lose 5 crystals and that's the full risk" is what I *expect*, since both camp and a carnival-esque game both tell me "this place is safe."

I feel like a jerk hammering this. Maybe it's because these mini-games are fun and I feel bad getting salty about them. Like yes they're high-level, advanced challenges, but I can't practice them if I feel super discouraged. Like I can either focus on going up the mountain OR do challenge rooms at camp and take damage (making that run less likely to succeed), but not both.

Fellow alpha testers, how do you feel about challenge rooms?

Same feeling. Right now, it doesn't signal as advanced play, it signals as a break activity. When half/all of the activity in a safe space is dangerous, that feels not so safe.

What if you had to do something else to unlock the dangerous version. Or if the free safe things had a decent upgrade (you get one shot then it locks), but secret strats, like bringing in extra crystals, unlock the dangerous but oh-so-good results? (People will figure out every secret.)

I have basically not engaged with any holes because I'm just trying to reach zone 3 before I even dream of more advanced strats. It feels like I still have so much space to improve my thorn/crystal/heart balancing, the last thing I want to do is hurt myself or spend crystals on things with unclear value.

This is how I play as well.

Once I've passed the game once I'll consider the challenge rooms.

Really helpful to hear these thoughts! This is exactly the sort of stuff we're hoping to find out from the alpha :)

"Like I can either focus on going up the mountain OR do challenge rooms at camp and take damage (making that run less likely to succeed), but not both."

This is how I feel, exactly. I don't know if I'll ever want to "practice" these because the time invested to get there is substantial enough and the risk is very high.

Maybe if there was an upgrade structure to the side-games? Like, if at first the games are way less risk, but the reward is proportionally low as well. Then, upon completing "Level 1" of said challenge, the next time you get back it's at Level 2. That would definitely be more appealing to me and I would be less inclined to ignore these before I'm an expert.