Blankos Block Party Preview
Gamers of all experience levels love to keep busy. We want to get the most out of a game, and that usually means including some extra content alongside the core experience with customization options, collectibles, and other neat little side objectives to appeal to a wider majority. I recently had the opportunity to go hands-on with the upcoming Blankos Block Party which promises to offer up a healthy dose of gaming fun alongside fantastic customization and collection options for those who like to find the newest, rarest thing to own. Blankos looks to offer a variety of familiar gaming pieces, but it is in fact greater than the sum of its parts, offering up a new level of gameplay than you might not expect from the brightly colored, bombastic trailers we’ve seen so far. Blankos Block Party can be broken down into three core parts: Collection, Competition, and Creation.
The adorable Blankos you will be playing during the game come in a wide variety of artistic styles, each created by amazing artists who are credited by name on each character. Blankos are a digital representation of collectible vinyl figures much like the ever-popular Funko POP figures. Not only is there a vast assortment of them to gather, but the truly innovative – and potentially risky – aspect of the game is the idea of true ownership. You’ll need to buy Blankos with real-world money working out to around $10 for each one. Unlike traditional MTX or DLC, what you pay for is actually yours to keep. Through an exclusive system, there are a limited number of each Blanko and the ones you buy are legally your property to do with as you wish.
Give Me All The Figures
Each Blanko comes sealed in plastic and can only be used as a playable character if you decide to open it. Blankos are stamped with a unique number, and new Blankos are available with each season much like a real collectible figure. The community itself will determine the value of a particular Blanko on the market, and the game provides a safe space for in-game trading. If you feel that a Blanko could be particularly valuable later on you can purchase it, leave it sealed up, and give it time to become an increase in value. It’s a fascinating concept, and given the wild market for Funko POP it could become a potent market with the right amount of growth, but it also makes me wonder who the target demographic for the game is.
You’ll also unlock a variety of cosmetics such as masks, shoes, backpacks, and more. Some of them have practical functions like letting you run faster or even fly, but each of these can be earned by completing quests, using in-game currency earned from games, or again, visiting the shop and simply buying them. They look great and there is quite a variety already available in the game with more surely to come, It’s a fun way to make your Blanko stand out even if you have a more common model. I think my favorite cosmetic so far is a classic hockey mask with a not-so-subtle David Bowie style lightning bolt over the eye.
More Than Just a Dream
So we know about getting different Blankos, but what can you do with them? Well, when first dropping into the game we are introduced to a bizarre, unique, vibrant little hub with a ton of spots to explore and a few starting quests to get to know the NPCs we will interact with. It all has a 90’s Saturday morning cartoon kind of vibe: childish yet energetic and “hip.” After running around and checking things out, players get to dive into the meat of the experience: party maps. Whether you want to play online or solo, Blankos Block Party comes with a ton of competitive maps to have fun. You can engage in foot races where you’ll need to sprint from place to place, hit speed pads, jump on trampolines, and platform around a level. There are team deathmatch shooter levels in which players need to pick up a weapon and get as many kills as possible, there are also collectathons in which players need to try and get the most Vibe tokens in the time limit, and finally a good old classic game of tag.
You can choose to join a random game or search through a library of parameters in sort of a “Netflix” style catalogue but honestly each one controls exactly how you hope it would. Shooting a gun (I think they call it a blaster for obvious reasons) feels great. I won my first deathmatch because I found a grenade launcher – who can resist splash damage? I played a collectathon where we all were sliding down a massive stage with obstacles in the way and Vibes to collect which I, sadly, fell off the world and lost, but the many races I competed in I managed to stay in the top three. It’s quite a bit of frantic fun, and jumping on the party bus lets the mini-games just keep rolling as you earn XP and level up your Blanko to unlock new abilities to help you as you play more games.
Create and Play
With all those competitive levels to play in, someone has to actually make them, right? Blankos Block Party provides an incredibly useful tool for building all kinds of stages to play in. You’ll drop into the creator as your Blanko and have the option to go into the create menu, flying around the stage from a balloon as you select various shapes, resize them, and piece everything together to create your environment. Admittedly it was a little overwhelming at first with all the commands on screen, however you are introduced to the very basics of stage manipulation to start and it does become quite noob-friendly. My favorite stage so far was a foot race someone had built running through the planet Geonosis from Star Wars. The race ended when we reached the blocky but easily recognizable X-Wing fighter and it really was just a joy to play.
While the colorful aesthetic and solid gameplay was a blast, I am a little unsure who the target demographic is for the game. Blanko’s will cost around $10 per figure – not to mention various promotional and collector packs – yet the music, dialogue, and general vibes tell me this is a game for kids too old for Roblox or Minecraft. I could definitely see this appealing to high school kids for its gameplay, but the nature of collecting and participating in a community run marketplace to determine individual values of digital collectibles seems more than a little above their interests. On the one hand, there is definitely something here for everyone but I feel like its a niche audience who might be in it for the whole package. If we see frequent sales and a competitive, non-predatory market develop this could be a huge step forward for gaming, and a brave step at that. Only time will tell how well this works out, but I’m cautiously optimistic of its success.
Blankos Block Party has been a creative and colorful dream. The controls are intuitive and feel balanced, the gameplay is incredibly fun and addictive, and there is something to be said for knowing you actually own your customized character. The notion of collecting and owning Blankos is fascinating, but I do worry about whether or not the game hits the right audience to be profitable. Character and level customization is simple and fun, and I truly adore that the collectible energy points to use abilities is simply called “vibes.” This is a game swimming in potential with an opportunity for creative gamers to build truly legendary and memorable content.
Blankos Block Party is currently in private Beta and will be releasing exclusively on PC. For more information, check out the game’s official website.