For people who love designing video game levels but don’t have or desire coding knowledge, BQM -BlockQuest Maker- is something you need in your life. BQM takes gameplay mechanics from old Legend of Zelda games – bombs, arrows, fire rods, keys, pushing blocks, etc.—and gives you the tools to make your own levels out of these elements. The result is a simple yet robust game maker that allows you to make countless thrilling challenges. And it very well might be the closest we get to receiving a “Legend of Zelda Maker” on the Switch.
Fun and functional dungeon-crafting
The interface of BQM clearly takes a lot of inspiration from Super Mario Maker. Menus are laid out in similar fashion, including the online level select screen and also the level creator screen. The only major difference between the two is that this game has a poor localization, resulting in occasional confusion about how things work. Also, the music gets pretty repetitive fast.
Still, the level creator becomes pretty intuitive after an hour or two, and touch controls work quite well for building levels. (Building levels in docked mode is fine too, but it’s more cumbersome.) The levels you make are limited to voxel-based grids ranging from 10×10 to 32×32, but surprisingly, that is enough to make fiendishly clever dungeons. You can make action levels with lots of spike traps, falling platforms, and powerful enemies in confined spaces. Or you can make puzzle levels that require you to push blocks, ignite bombs with fire, slide across ice, and put out candles with arrows. Or you can make levels that do both! It’s so much fun just experimenting with the breadth of things that can be accomplished with the tools offered.
You can even insert NPCs and dialogue if you want, to make it feel truly like an RPG. Yet considering the limited scope of every level, adding dialogue seemed like a waste of time to me. However, I noticed Japanese players seemed to love inserting dialogue. Curious!
Fight monsters, get money
To help you get started in creating, BQM comes with tutorial levels and also 120 Challenge levels. But the real meat of the game comes from people sharing their own levels online. In my time playing, there were only a few dozen English levels – made by other reviewers like me, inevitably – but there are over 2,000 Japanese levels already. You just have to adjust your settings if you want to be able to view them alongside the English levels.
Simply playing and sharing levels isn’t the end of it though. You can also charge a small amount of coins for people who want to play your level, and you make money based on how well or poorly they play. How this payout works is not always totally clear, but it’s exciting to go to the in-game bank and discover you have new money waiting for you.
All money earned can be spent on new objects and monsters for level creation, or it can be spent on new cosmetic skins to apply to your hero. Additionally, in any level you play, pieces of meat will randomly spawn on the map. Collecting meat will unlock better weapons and armor for your character that carry over across levels.
Your strength is not solely tied to your love of meat though. In every dungeon you tackle, you start at level 1, but your character can level up by killing enemies. A well-designed dungeon will likely start you off with easy enemies and build up to the really gruesome brutes. [Check out the Nintendo Enthusiast-branded level, “Dungeon of Doom“!]
BQM is a winner
Ultimately, BQM -BlockQuest Maker- is an incredibly enjoyable game maker for its budget price. One level at a time, it allows you to create tense action or intricate puzzles (or both!) using simple tools. For people who loved Super Mario Maker and wondered why a “Legend of Zelda Maker” never followed, BQM might scratch an itch for them.
A review code was provided by the publisher.