SXSW 2019: Blankos Block Party hands-on impressions

Blankos Block Party, the debut from a team featuring former Activision Blizzard devs, blends a creative platform with collectible vinyl culture and we got to try it.

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Recent years have seen collectibles intersect with gaming in intriguing ways. Skylanders, Disney Infinity, and Nintendo’s Amiibo bring collectible figurines to life or add special functions to in-game characters. Blankos Block Party, the new game from Mythical Games revealed at SXSW 2019, is bringing the collectible vinyl figurine experience to life in a different way. The title features a creative platform similar to Little Big Planet, but with a collectible series of digital, playable figures that are numbered and limited like real-life collectibles. For example, there’s one Golden Ticket Blanko skin in the game and only one person will ever have it.

Mythical Games, the development team behind Blankos Block Party, was established in 2018 but includes team members formerly of Activision Blizzard, having worked on titles like Guitar Hero, DJ Hero, and World of Warcraft expansions. Blankos is the team’s first game and is shaping up to be an ambitious free-to-play debut. The two main aspects of the game are the collectible skins and the creative platform. I didn’t get to see or use the platform just yet, but I got to see one of the Block Parties that can be made with it.

The section I played through was a simple platformer experience I had to race around to gather as many tokens (called vibes) as I could within a time limit. The setting was put together in celebration of SXSW 2019, where the game is being shown for the first time, and was essentially a neon music festival. There was a DJ, a dance floor (if I busted a move on it, more of the tokens appeared), massive boomboxes with speakers that would propel me forward, and even a few food trucks.

This is a very early build of the game, but the controls and collision detection were smooth and sound. The visuals are spot on, definitely making me feel like I was playing around with a vinyl figurine out of my own collection, and the neon theme for this Block Party was vibrant. There are a few elements that lend to the creative platform's potential, like the speakers that can send me flying, an updraft machine that had me floating in midair, and the trampoline that had the bouncy properties that you'd expect, sending me further and further up based on the momentum I came down with. These things are only the start and already I can imagine players getting pretty creative with them.

Blankos Block Party SXSW 2019 trailer screenshot image hands on preview impressions

Blankos Block Party is being built upon an interesting foundation. It's the type of title that could naturally attract collectors, especially with the risky decision to feature limited assets and skins. That will intrigue some of those that may be attracted to the gameplay and creative platform as well, but that platform will likely have to carry the weight of the project.

Giving players a huge sandbox with a toolset that’s simple to understand with the ability to create impressive experiences can take Blankos a long way. The creative expression of the vinyl-style figures, the allure of having pieces of a limited collection, and serving as a home for artists could all collective boost the game to an even higher level. How the team decides to layout monetization plans for the free-to-play game will be key as well. We’ll have to wait to learn more down the line. Stay tuned to Shacknews for more SXSW 2019 coverage, including takeaways from an interview with one of the developers behind Blankos Block Party.

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Charles Singletary Jr keeps the updates flowing as the News Editor, breaking stories while investigating the biggest topics in gaming and technology. He's pretty active on Twitter, so feel free to reach out to him @The_CSJR. Got a hot tip? Email him at Charles.Singletary@Shacknews.com.

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