An indie game currently in development, “Phantom Block,” is changing up videogaming conventions: the level editor is also the actual game.
“Phantom Block” is a 2D side-scroll game, like classic Mario games, where you have to not only progress through the level, but edit the level in order as you progress before the screen catches up with you. The game is aesthetically retro, and the music pays homage to the classic 8- and 64-bit tunes.
You play as the character Boomer, and guide him in his quest to “collect coins, travel the world, and defeat mischievous Ballums,” enemies that resemble gelatinous blobs. You take advantage of the “mysterious Phantom Blocks” that can be used to travel through walls, bounce extra high, or stick to walls.
There are already more than 30 levels in game, but you can also create your own and play ones that others have created, like a level-building inception. There are also hidden levels to unlock depending on how you do in the level.
Level-building aspects of games have been around for a while, but rarely as a center point of a game. Level-building gained tremendous spotlight with the release of “Mario Maker” in 2015, which critics and fans, young and old, loved. “Mario Maker” allows you to create your own levels, unlocking new features as you go along, and play not only the levels created by you and your friends, but with players all over the world.
In the first month “Mario Maker” sold 500,000 copies in America, getting to 1 million copies sold by January. Eight months after the release, players all over the world had made 7 million courses, and the game had been played more than 600 million times. The levels showcase fans’ humor, ingenuity, and creativity. Countless YouTubers and Let’s-Players had a field day with “Mario Maker,” playing everything from entertaining levels to ones that seem actually impossible (with success rates of 0.01 percent for some levels).
Alhough “Phantom Block” is currently in development, you can download the demo of the game on their website. Some gamers are very excited about the concept: “Nice spin on the Mario-style platformer! I love the different ways you can move in the game!” commented user Finneshim.
Steam user Jesala added, “At first, I just thought ‘meh, just another platformer.’ The graphics and style are just so understated. But as the trailer continued I became more and more interested. The gameplay is sharp and inventive. I can’t wait.”
This game is another demonstration of how developers are always seeking to make games fresh and new by expanding the boundaries of possibility in our fast-changing world. Though many games never make it past development into completion, especially indie games, it has sparked gamers’ interest and hopefully will influence other game designers.
In regards to the game, its designer says: “It’s in your power to change the world; see where it takes you!”