Mt. Magnet

Mt. Magnet introduces the Magnet Block to players. It is one of the first levels of World 2. Since World 1 introduced the player to the Ghost, Spring, and Gum Blocks, World 2 will continue adding to the player’s repertoire by adding the Speed, Magnet, and Platform Blocks. World 3 will finally introduce the Gravity and Box Blocks, while World 4 will routinely use all of them for the final challenges before the end of the game.

In order to focus on the player learning the ins and outs of switching magnet polarity, I opted to not put any enemies whatsoever in the level, allowing them to focus on the tasks at hand.

The final challenge – the spiked platform near the end of the level – has two separate ways to cross it; the way shown in the video (repelling over it), or, to get the coins underneath, the player can carry the box from earlier with them and use it as a shield against the spikes as they attract up from beneath.

Spookum Woods

Spookum Woods is a level designed primarily to reinforce Spring Block concepts and introduce the Spookum, a ghostly version of the Ballums that have been our enemies up to this point.

Spookums work like any other spawn-from-the-side-of-the-screen enemy. They despawn once they get far enough from the edge of the camera’s view. While they were originally envisioned just as simple enemies, I added in the functionality of them carrying boxes to make puzzles more interesting.

Options and Cheats

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Here we have a screenshot of the options screen for Phantom Block, along with all the unlockable cheats. Up at the top you can change the controls, as well as the volume of the music and sound effects. You can also change from Windowed to Fullscreen mode. In the future, there will also be a button to change from my soundtrack to Ryuno’s arranged soundtrack and vice versa.

The cheats at the bottom are rewards for completing game achievements. Such achievements might be to beat a level in a certain amount of time, beat a level using only one type of block, collecting all the coins in the game, etc. Except for B/W Boomer and Show Times, both of which are cosmetic, activating cheats locks you out of Steam Leaderboards and doesn’t let you make progress in the game.

Here’s a list of what the cheats do:

  • All Block Mode: Gives Boomer access to all block types at the start of a level.
  • Limitless Mode: Blocks which have inherit limits on how many there are (Platform Block, Gravity Block, Weight Block) no longer have these limits.
  • Shiftable Iron: Normally unchangeable iron blocks are now changeable.
  • Moon Bounce: Reduces Boomer’s gravity, so he can jump higher and fall slower.
  • Sticky Shoes: Cling to all walls as if they were Gum Block walls.
  • Speed Shoes: Always move as if you were under the effect of a Speed Block.
  • VVVVVV Mode: Inspired by indie title VVVVVV, jumping is replaced with a gravity switch function.
  • Slow Motion: Halves the game’s speed.
  • Invulnerable: Boomer won’t be defeated by enemy contact.
  • Pitfall Wings: Boomer will spring up from falling into bottomless pits.
  • Drag n’ Drop: The player can use the mouse to drag and drop Boomer wherever they want.
  • Deadly Mouse: The mouse becomes deadly to enemies, whom are destroyed on contact.
  • Mega Spring: Springs always bounce Boomer as high as he can go.
  • Mega Speed: Speed Blocks (and Speed Shoes) are more effective.
  • Mega Magnet: Magnet Blocks attract and repel at double power.
  • Theme Wizard: Press T to change the theme of a level.
  • Ka-Boomer: Press B in a level to make Boomer create an explosion behind him, defeating enemies. Also renders Boomer immune to explosions.
  • Scroll Lock: Auto-scrolling levels no longer auto-scroll.
  • Weak Stomp: Boomer won’t defeat enemies by stomping on them, but he can still bounce higher.
  • Spike Shield: Boomer can bounce on spiked enemies as if they were not spiked.
  • Fast Walker: Boomer walks faster than usual. Combine with Speed Shoes and Mega Speed for a super fast run!
  • Slow Walker: Boomer walks slower than usual. Combine with Slow Motion and make the game a snail’s pace!
  • B/W Boomer: Makes Boomer black and white. Unlocked after beating the game. Cosmetic, and does not affect gameplay or leaderboard eligibility.
  • Show Times: Shows how long the player’s spent on the level in the top left corner. Unlocked from the start. Cosmetic, and does not affect leaderboard eligibility.

Collapsing Castle

Collapsing Castle is the intended 6th level of Phantom Block (though because of the map system, players can access it as early as their third level). It’s a bit experimental; I’ve tried a different fare from my usual sidescroller zones.

Because the Gum Block’s utility is limited in areas with little height, I’ve decided that levels including it will be a bit more freeform. This has great level design potential when combined with other blocks such as the Weight or Magnet Blocks; I can imagine creating a Castlevania-esque huge level where the main challenge is getting more powers and using them to traverse the zone.

Here, that idea is represented in getting the Spring Block. The player can’t progress unless the crate is on the green switch, but since players can’t grab crates with the Use key unless they’re on the ground, there’s no way to pick up the box and move it. The Spring Block bounces the crate into the air so the player can catch it, but serves relatively little use afterwards – it can be used to bounce the player onto the blocks right above the checkpoint, but it has no other real use.

The main focus of the zone is teaching the player about the Collapsing Blocks and Para-Ballums (in this video, with the simple Ballum sprite because the Para-Ballum sprite isn’t completed yet), the main challenges in the area. I tried to give the player plenty of opportunities to learn them individually in safe and unsafe contexts before they’re combined for the final challenge.

For more clever players, there’s a way to skip the second half of the level – but I’ll leave that up to you to find.

-Michael