Guide Boomer in his quest to collect coins, travel the world, and defeat mischievous Ballums! Use your mouse to change the world around you into Phantom Blocks with many uses: some blocks let you go through walls, others let you spring high, and some let you switch gravity! You can change the world; see where it takes you!
He's a Blockly. Blocklies are special little creatures: with a thought, they can transform the world around them, so long as they have the correct badge on hand. This makes Blocklies great builders and craftsman, and pranksters too!
Boomer has always had a dream of going on vacation to the Primrose Isles, so he's been saving up his gold coins under his mattress. One night, he counted them and realized he had finally saved enough to take the trip, so eager to set off on his journey, he tucked himself in to get a good night's sleep - the boat leaves early.
But in the middle of the night, thunk! Boomer woke up to see a group of mischievous Ballums stealing all his gold coins! Tried as he might, he couldn't stop the thieves from getting away. As the sun was rising, Boomer resolved to get his money back, and so he set off on his journey.
Ghost Block: Make the world intangible with the Ghost Block! Pass impenetrable barriers, dig under the ground, and even make enemies fall straight through the world.
Spring Block: Bounce to new heights with the Spring Block! Hit it from higher or at speed to jump really far!
Gum Block: Stick to walls with the Gum Block! Climb tall towers and keep yourself anchored when the environment isn't so friendly.
Speed Block: Dash with the Speed Block! Beat quick-lever timers and outrun your enemies - so long as they're not on the Speed Blocks, too!
Magnet Block: Attract and repel with the Magnet Block! Shift between attraction and repel with Tab, and use it to hover over spikes or cling to ceilings.
Platform Block: Create new footholds with the Platform Block! But be careful: they only last for a short while, and if you're over a bottomless pit..
Rotate Block: Swap gravity with the Rotate Block! Not only can Boomer shift his own gravity, but he can shift the gravity of enemies, too - send them falling through the sky!
Weight Block: Squash enemies with the Weight Block! You can also use it to weight down switches, neutralize spikes, or even go ice skating if the surface is slippery enough!
I think the game is brilliant. The gameplay is magnetic: it pulled me in from the first frame.
It’s a very polished platformer, and the level design is excellent. The music is catchy, and the visuals are bright, vibrant, and overall very aesthetically pleasing.
Really impressive set of mechanics. This is a lot of fun and would certainly scratch anyone's itch to play an old school platformer.
Download the demo today!
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A lot of classic 2D platform games use scrolling levels, but I rarely hear anyone talk about 'why'. Scrolling levels take time to implement, can be easy to pace incorrectly, and don't make a lot of sense from a logical standpoint (Why is the player moving? What crushes the player between the edge of the screen and a tile?). If these downsides were the only things scrolling levels brought to a game, then no experienced developer would use them, and justifiably so.
So why use a scrolling level? For time pressure: the ability to force a player to complete a challenge in a certain amount of time without an explicit timer involved. Lots of games, such as Portal, use time-pressure mechanics to add challenge to their game. Let's take a look at how Phantom Block uses a scrolling level for time pressure. This level is called Flip Every Switch, and the concept behind the level should be immediately obvious.
Boomer has to flip every Colored Lever in the level, or the ending flag will be blocked off. To do that, he is given most of the blocks in the game: Ghost Blocks, Spring Blocks, Gum Blocks, Speed Blocks, Magnet Blocks, and Rotate Blocks.
I wanted to create a level that tested the player on each mechanic individually in a short time span. None of these block applications are particularly difficult; this level serves to reinforce old concepts. The player understands all the blocks if they can clear this level, so the placement of this level would make sense as a choke-point after everything has been introduced in previous levels.
Because the time pressure and basic validation of the player's skills is the point of this level, I tried not to make the blocks interact too much here. Switching blocks can be cumbersome in high stress situations, so I didn't want to frustrate the player too much - this level moves too fast for abstract puzzle-solving thought. To that end, there is only one time when you must switch blocks, and it is to use the Speed and Spring Blocks together to launch the Ballum across the gap, which is a puzzle previously introduced.
To keep the pace of the level going, I placed a lot of Coins around the level off the necessary path. If the player is skilled enough, they can take detours to get all of the coins while waiting for the level to scroll, giving them something to do. Struggling players don't have to deal with the coins, so the level gives them more time to complete objectives.
Hopefully by now you see the value of scrolling levels, after reading from the perspective of a developer. So the next time you see one in a platformer, don't get mad on principle! Try and see why the level is scrolling. It might be for a deeper reason than to frustrate you.
And if you do get frustrated in Phantom Block, well, you could always activate the Scroll Lock cheat.
Thanks for reading, Michael
What Phantom Block is all about, and what it means to me.
How can different block types can come together to create challenging puzzles? An analysis of an early game level, The Magnet Jump.
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