Log In  

Cart #54284 | 2018-07-19 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

Hey! This is my first Pico-8 game, a clone of the DS game Polarium.

It contains 100 levels. You can get a hint for every level if you're stuck.

There's also a level editor, which lets you create your own custom levels. You can even share levels with other people with 30-digit passwords. These passwords are completely compatible with Polarium, so you can also find lots of levels other people have made online for an extra challenge. 20 custom levels can be stored.

P#51985 2018-04-25 04:11 ( Edited 2018-07-19 13:00)

I've already had a few bug reports:

  • Movement doesn't work on mobile. I changed how I detect direction to disallow diagonal movement, which seems to work great on PC and web, but not on mobile for some reason. Any input welcome. The way I do it now is probably dumb. Seems to be fixed, but let me know if there are problems. Movement seems to act differently in the mobile player; for example, moving diagonally on mobile seems to move in a "staircase" movement now, while on PC/web nothing happens.
  • Completing levels that are multiples of 10 does not update the completion status Fixed
  • Completing a stroke that does not flip any tiles (ie. it only covers the gray border) does not correctly reach a win/fail state (must use the pause menu to return to level select) Fixed
P#51991 2018-04-25 06:34 ( Edited 2018-04-25 12:09)

This is pretty cool, I don't really remember the original very well so I can't say how it compares, but it seems well put together, congrats.

P#51995 2018-04-25 08:12 ( Edited 2018-04-25 12:12)

Awesome work!

Took me a second to figure out what I was doing on level 1. Once I got to level 13, it seemed impossible. Up until that point, the levels were all solvable by making the entire board a single color.

I Googled some Polarium gameplay and watched how horizontal lines were cleared instead of the entire board.

Anyways, it may help to have an early easy/small puzzle that cannot be solved by making the board a single color. Something like:


Which can be solved by a single vertical line.

Anyways, looking at the instructions, I see that they're pretty clear on this point :) I just didn't parse it on my first read through.

P#51999 2018-04-25 09:34 ( Edited 2018-04-25 13:35)


  • After completing a level, increment the selected level to the next incomplete one (I kept navigating back to the level I had just completed)
P#52000 2018-04-25 09:37 ( Edited 2018-04-25 13:37)

Thanks for the suggestions!

The game is pretty close to the original, and most of the levels are from that game too. I'm trying to make some levels of my own, but I wanted to upload the game now and making 100 (or some large number) of good levels takes time, hehe. That would probably mean I should invalidate the save though.

I'll at least swap out one of the early easy levels with one that can't be solved with one color!

I'm not sure if automatically moving the cursor to the next incomplete level will be confusing or not, especially if someone has completed many of the inbetween levels, but I'll think about it.

I'll at least add the level number to the playing screen so you know where you are at all times, and also an indicator saying if it's already completed or not. Some cues like that would probably be nice.

P#52002 2018-04-25 10:11 ( Edited 2018-04-25 14:11)

@trevorade Thanks again for the suggestions, I've now implemented all of them in some way. Changelog:

  • Level 4 has been replaced by a checkerboard patterned level
  • The current level number is displayed while playing, as well as whether you have already completed the level
  • After completing a level, you can choose between going back to level select (which does not increment the selected level) and going directly to the next unsolved level. This seemed like a compromise that wouldn't confuse anyone. I just kept it simple: It will only go forward, not backwards. So if you have completed all subsequent levels, it will only let you go back to level select, even if you have an incomplete earlier level. I assume this functionality has introduced new bugs.
P#52084 2018-04-27 17:51 ( Edited 2018-04-27 22:18)

I like the changes!

Have you thought about music and sound effects?

P#52101 2018-04-28 09:33 ( Edited 2018-04-28 13:33)

Yes, but I've never made sound before. If I put music in it'll be the original's weird electronica I think.

P#52107 2018-04-28 13:51 ( Edited 2018-04-28 17:51)

Is level 100 posible?

P#52617 2018-05-11 12:27 ( Edited 2018-05-11 16:27)

@Chodot: Yes. Here's a pretty big hint, this is how the cleared level looks like (what lines should be black and which should be white):

P#52618 2018-05-11 13:04 ( Edited 2018-05-11 17:04)

I love Polarium. I completed the GBA version over 4 months a few years ago. Just an amazing game. The GBA version was in development first, then the developer Mitchell Corp took a break to make the DS version as a launch title for that system, afterwards returning to finish off the GBA version. The extra time spent on the GBA version shows as its a much better and more complete game IMHO. And it can be played one handed whilst commuting!

This is a really nice version. Well done!

I have a few thoughts:

  1. I find it hard to differentiate between the yellow and orange outlines. Maybe they could be more two more contrasting colours?
  2. After completion it should give you a secondary challenge, where you have to solve it "perfectly" using a set number of steps and/or starting and ending on designated tiles.
  3. The menu screen animation would be more useful if it showed the core concept of the gameplay: flipping paths of tiles.
P#52934 2018-05-22 15:51 ( Edited 2018-05-22 20:26)

@matt Thanks! I love Polarium too. I didn't know that piece of Polarium history! I always wondered why the first game came out for DS, and the sequel came out for the earlier GBA. I always thought it was because of the Game Boy Micro. I've actually been making a Polarium demake for Game Boy for a while, since that seemed the logical next step after GBA! This PICO-8 game was kind of a way to mock up stuff quickly for the Game Boy version.

  1. I'll think about that, thanks. The yellow is probably not easy to see on top of white tiles either, now that I've stared at it for a while.
  2. That's a good idea. I'm actually currently implementing a level editor, which is compatible with the original DS game (ie. you can use passwords to play custom levels from the DS game in Picolarium and vice versa), and the original game stores starting and ending tiles in the password (it knows them because you have to solve the level to save it). I was planning on using that information for a hint system like in the DS game, but I guess hints aren't really needed for the small 8x8 levels in this game. I'll finish up the level editor and then see if I can repurpose the start/end hints as a secondary challenge akin to Polarium Advance instead (the DS passwords don't store number of steps). Or, I guess, make Picolarium Advance, haha.
  3. That's true, I really picked it just to emulate Polarium's title screen. And mostly because it looks nifty. And I could use the fizzlefade algorithm. I even used it for the background on the itch page: http://tobiasvl.itch.io/picolarium

Thanks for the feedback!

Edit: Hmm, now that I think about it, I don't have enough cartdata to store whether or not a secondary challenge has been solved unless I shave off the number of custom levels you can save. Currently you can just save 20. That should be fine though, I still have room for 19 (or an even 18 to make the level select pretty).

P#52938 2018-05-22 17:50 ( Edited 2018-05-22 22:10)

Maybe now is the time to optimise level data storage? :)

P#52972 2018-05-23 19:54 ( Edited 2018-05-23 23:54)

Haha, yeah, I have already done that. I had to do it a while ago to save tokens. I now store them in the same representation as the passwords are generated from. I just haven't put up a new version here yet because it's not polished (although it's playable), but it's here: https://github.com/tobiasvl/picolarium/commit/4ade4725518169c42d5f61c3bb44d25b889a5579

Note that the hard coded levels in that commit are just 9 bytes because they don't have starting and ending squares yet, but custom levels in cartdata do have those, so they're 11 bytes plus a checksum byte.

Buuuut I don't need to actually store the checksum of each custom level in the cartdata, I could just calculate it every time it's needed for a password. That way I could store 19 custom levels sequentially, and then split up the 20th level into separate bytes and spread it over the checksum bytes of the other levels. Or store the levels as 11 bytes each sequentially, of course, but then it's a little harder to store and read them.

Thanks for being my rubber duck ;)

P#52978 2018-05-24 02:48 ( Edited 2018-05-24 06:52)


P#52980 2018-05-24 04:43 ( Edited 2018-05-24 08:43)

Big update:

  • Level editor, which lets you create your own levels.
  • Password system, which lets you share your custom levels with others, or import other people's levels. The passwords are compatible with Polarium for DS, so you can probably find lots of cool levels online. (20 custom levels can be stored.)
  • You can now get a hint (start and end positions) for every level in the pause menu. ( @Chodot)

@matt: I decided to use the start and end positions as hints instead of secondary challenges. The levels aren't necessarily made to be solved in more than one (interesting) way anyway. I'll keep it in mind for a possible (GBA-inspired) sequel though!

P#54285 2018-07-19 09:00 ( Edited 2018-07-19 13:00)

great game! hope youre still making a GB version, my flash cart is begging for it!

P#67337 2019-09-06 16:19

I remember this cart. Superb puzzle ! At the time I didn't give it a star. Let me do so now.

Would like to add a key (X) to back up one step in case you make a mistake and add to menu to reset puzzle entirely instead of (X) as it is now.

Maybe add this above LEVEL SELECT ?

P#67338 2019-09-06 16:37

Oh, thanks guys!! As a matter of fact I have an almost-finished update to this cart in the can, I should really finish that one of these days. I'll try to add your suggestion, @dw817.

@Domu: It's been on hiatus a bit since I recently had my second kid, but thanks for the motivation!

P#67340 2019-09-06 19:28

Actually,tobiasvl, it looks like you can back-up over your line with the arrow keys so a DELETE move could be done with (X) after all. It would just intelligently choose the opposite direction the player last moved for that position.

... ???

No, I am mistaken, I thought there was a bug. It just highlights the completed puzzles. I was working on 5 and thought it was 4.

Wanted to add. CAN ANY image be solved ? That is for instance, if I drew something in the 7x7 field, would there always be a possible solution ?

Also, how do the hints help ? I'm seeing two dots on the dinosaur puzzle I'm working on but not sure how that assists ?

P#67341 2019-09-06 20:30 ( Edited 2019-09-07 21:50)

Yeah, it'd be easy to make X go back one step, since I already keep a stack with the path you've drawn so far. The behavior as it is now is basically just copied from Polarium Advance.

And no, there would not always be a possible solution. That's why I make you solve a custom puzzle before saving it, to make sure it can be solved. If you know how the password system works, though, you can create a password that passes the checksum but gives an impossible level. Like this one:


The hints show the starting and ending squares for the solution.

P#67405 2019-09-08 18:47

This has got me curious. I'm thinking of making a puzzle called 7FOLD, already got the logo done.

Similar to this but you can draw anything at all in a 7x7 1-bit pixel field, and it guarantees a solution no matter where the pixels are - but it can be tricky to figure out.

P#67418 2019-09-09 01:11

No worries! I'd sure like to see the update drop (and congrats on the second child - though the GB community is praying for it's speedy development and independance so we can have our ROM noms :) )

P#67430 2019-09-09 15:31

Hello! Having never played the original, I don’t have a hint of how to solve level 4. I see that lines can’t cross, so my idea of flipping a tile twice doesn’t work; the hint doesn’t help me. Maybe figuring this out is part of the game, or having to look online, but I thought I’d say this in case you think you could add more explanation of the rules inside the game.

Edit: solved it by reading the tutorial again! Each horizontal line needs to be one color, not the whole board.

P#71805 2020-01-07 03:59 ( Edited 2020-01-24 15:03)

This is really amazing for your first PICO-8 game! It took me forever to figure out how the game actually worked, but it was awesome once I did!

P#90862 2021-04-20 22:18

Good game. Took me ages to realise that I could go outside the box into the gray (might be good to put that somewhere in the tutorial). Just about to go back in and redo some of the levels I couldn't do before with my newfound knowledge.

P#95486 2021-07-30 16:09

[Please log in to post a comment]