How Blocks Work Together: The Magnet Jump
One of the unique things about Phantom Block is that it lets you combine different types of blocks to solve puzzles and overcome obstacles. Although some interactions between blocks can be trivially easy to discover - such as using Spring Blocks to bounce up and stick to a wall of Gum Blocks - there are lots of more subtle intricacies that work to make levels more intellectually engaging.
Consider one of the earlier levels, The Magnet Jump.
The Magnet Jump principally focuses on the interaction between two blocks: Magnet Blocks and Speed Blocks. The magnets can either repel or attract; the player must first realize that setting the magnets in attract mode for this level won't get them anywhere, so they have to set it to repel. The strength of the Magnet Block depends on how far away Boomer is from it; if Boomer is farther away, then the Magnet Block will have less of an effect on him. If he is closer, it will have more of an effect.
Magnet Blocks principally repel in the y direction (up and down) and to a lesser extent in the x direction. This makes it difficult for Boomer to walk up to a Magnet Block and receive a huge boost upwards with it; he is pushed away harder when he tries to get closer. The Speed Block lets Boomer overcome that problem and get a huge boost upwards: the height of the jump plus the added speed of the Speed Block lets Boomer clear huge gaps. Hence, the "Magnet Jump".
I give the player a safe area in the beginning to test out these concepts, and then iterate on it throughout the level. After the player learns they can clear huge gaps by getting very close to a Magnet Block, I use the Gum Block, which holds players in place on walls, to reinforce the concept. Then, I give the player the ability to make their own Speed Blocks so they can use what they've learned to the fullest extent.
Because the player is now an "expert" at performing the Magnet Block, I add some time pressure by adding a segment with Exploding Boxes. The player must carry a Blast Bomb to that area before it explodes on Boomer's head, ending the run. A tricky throwing shot later, and they're in the clear.
Finally, to test the player's ability to switch blocks and aim on the fly, I added in a segment with Ether Blocks, which can only be seen and changed if the player is close to them. I reintroduced the concept as part of the floor to refresh the player's memory, and then demarcated an airborne section of them with coins to give a subtle cue to their existence. Because it may be difficult for the player to get this on their own, I added a checkpoint right before this section in case they fail. After this puzzle, the level ends.
Teaching the player to use blocks together is an important tool for the harder later levels, when these concepts can show up again with less teaching tools. And of course, the ability to use something the game taught you to pass obstactles in clever ways always feels good, which is why I left this little trick in:
So download the demo of Phantom Block and tell me your favorite ways blocks can interact in this game. Don't forget to try out the "All Block Mode" cheat to see how you can get through levels in unintended ways!