Falling Plus for Xbox Manual/FAQ

Buy and download the game here: https://www.xbox.com/en-us/games/store/falling-plus/9n5qppzrc9p8?rtc=1

Version History

2.21.2 - Released 4/18/2022.
- Now, when you buy the game using in-app purchase, you get prompted to restart the game for the change to take effect, and a pop-up menu offers to restart it for you.

2.21.1 - Released 4/12/2022.
- Attempted to fix the issue with in-app purchase, where the game doesn't recognize that you purchased it, and therefore does not switch from trial mode to full mode. The effort was unsuccessful.

2.21 - Released 4/10/2022.
- Initial release.

Default Controls

Gameplay controls can be changed in Options.
movement = D-Pad/Left Stick
Jump = A
Lift/Throw = X
Kick = B
Make menu selections = A
Exit menu = B

Quick FAQ/Known Issues

Q: What's this about a free trial?
A: The Microsoft Store allows this, so I decided for this release to honor the legacy of XBLIG and let you try the game for free! You get to play the first few rounds; once things start to ramp up, you'll need to buy the game to proceed further. Also, the bonus modes are not available. But unlike XBLIG, there is no time limit on the free trial.

Q: Um...I bought the game from within the free trial, but it's acting like I didn't buy it.
A: Restart the game for your purchase to take effect; a pop-up menu will offer to do this for you.

Q: Hey, wait a second! My high scores and option settings aren't saving! What gives?
A: I have literally been trying on and off for years to get the sign-in/loading process to work correctly, and to date I still haven't gotten it to work; on my latest attempt, the game was freezing completely when it tried to access the file, especially when one did not exist (first run). I didn't want to release the game in this state, but my account would have been disabled if I didn't, so...here it is. I am hoping to address this with an update in the future.
For now: you can still keep track of most high scores using the Leaderboards, which the original XBLIG version did not have =)

Q: Are any further updates planned?
A: Apart from the above issues: this version is pretty complete, so further updates will likely only fix problems.

Q: Is Falling Plus a Play Anywhere title?
A: No, it isn't. It only plays on Xbox. I apologize if you would have taken advantage of this, but as Falling Plus is already available on PC, and the player base is very small, I did not want to split the audience between Steam and Microsoft clients, nor did I want to have to maintain two different PC versions. Also, I was not able to figure out how to do certain things within the UWP architecture, such as control whether the game launched in fullscreen mode, or what resolution it used in windowed mode. I would rather not offer two versions of the same game when one of them is inferior to the other.

Q: What is the difference between Normal and Hard difficulty?
A: There are no differences, except for one: on Hard, you are actually playing every other round, beginning with Round 2. So, the game's difficulty will ramp up much more quickly.

Q: I don't understand the Bonus option. What do the numbers mean?
A: These numbers represent the score you need to earn an extra life. The default setting is 10k/40k/60k. This means that you earn the first extra life at 10,000 points, the second at 40,000 points, and then, another at every 60,000 points thereafter (100k, 160k, 220k, and so on). Settings that only contain two numbers (such as 20k/60k) only award two extra lives per game. Settings that contain only one number (20k only) only award one extra life per game. And finally, there is the "no bonus" setting that does not offer you any additional lives at all.

Q: I changed the options and it says "Leaderboards disabled." What's going on?
A: Leaderboards are only available for the following game settings, plus the Survival Challenge and Burning Igloo Challenge bonus modes:

  • All default settings (Normal difficulty, 3 lives, 10k/40k/60k bonus)
  • Normal difficulty, 3 lives, no bonus
  • Hard difficulty, all other settings default
  • Hard difficulty, 3 lives, no bonus

If you change the game settings to anything else, the "Leaderboards disabled" message will be displayed in the Game Options menu, to let you know that your score will not be submitted. Changing the game settings back to defaults, or one of the other combinations listed, will re-enable Leaderboard submissions.

Q: I found a bug. What do I do?
A: Use the contact form on yyrGames.com, or e-mail me at yyr@yyrgames.com, and let me know about it. Thanks!

What is this?

Falling Plus is an enhanced port of yyrGames' 2010 XBLIG release Falling, an homage to arcade action/puzzle games of the early to mid-1980s. You take the role of Peppy the Penguin, whose igloo is under siege. Wally the Walrus is trying to get in, and is making a big mess in the process! Throw or kick same-colored blocks into each other to clear them. Get rid of all blocks and enemies to clear the round. But do so quickly, or things will really get out of hand!

Here are the biggest changes made in Falling Plus, compared to the original XBLIG version:

- Now on modern Xbox: Falling returns for the first time since its delisting in late 2017!
- Sharper graphics: Blur has been significantly reduced. You get the most-advanced least-advanced graphics, ever!
- Bug fixes: Some of the original game's obscure bugs were fixed, giving you a more satisfying experience!
- Better gameplay balance: Gameplay exploits were fixed, for tighter score competition!
- Bonus modes added: Test your skills under tough conditions!
- Configurable controls: Buttons can be reassigned!
- Leaderboards: Enjoy not having to type a code into a Web site to post your scores!

How do I play?

Goal: Clear each round by eliminating all blocks and enemies.

Press LEFT or RIGHT to move in either direction.
Press JUMP to jump. You can jump the height of one block, and can move sideways freely while jumping.

You can push up to 2 blocks by moving against them and continuing to move. Pushing 2 blocks is slower than pushing 1.

Pressing LIFT/THROW when standing next to a block will lift it over your head (unless something is above you).
While holding a block, you can move, but cannot jump.

Pressing LIFT/THROW while holding a block and standing still will drop it in front of you.
Pressing LIFT/THROW while holding a block and moving will throw it forward.
Pressing UP or DOWN while holding a block and standing still will drop it where you currently stand, and climb on top of it. You can't do this if the space above you is blocked.

Pressing KICK while next to a block will kick it forward. Kicking blocks will move them further than throwing them; this is the easiest way to get them to move. You are able to kick one block while holding another, or while jumping.

To eliminate blocks, throw or kick one block into another block of the same color. This will get rid of both blocks, and score points. (You must throw or kick them; pushing is not enough.) Points scored depend on the color of the blocks: white blocks are worth 50 each, red are worth 100, blue are worth 200, and green are worth 400 points.
You can also use the UP/DOWN "drop and climb" move to eliminate a pair of blocks, if you drop a block onto a matching color block, and the block you drop does not also touch a second block.
As a last resort, it is also possible to eliminate a single block by repeatedly kicking it against a non-matching block or the outer wall. You will score zero points for doing this. (There may be situations where you'd want to do this, however, such as in the event that normal elimination would take a very long time, or if the blocks are all the way against the outer wall and can't be eliminated the usual way.)

Wally the Walrus will occasionally appear. He will only walk back and forth at first, but as the game progresses, he will gain the ability to jump, push, and finally, kick. Wally is strong and can push 6 blocks at once!

To eliminate Wally, use blocks to crush him. This can be done either from above, or by pushing/throwing/kicking from the side to crush him against another block or the outer wall. You will score 1000 points each time you eliminate Wally.

To boost your score, try for a "combo," by crushing Wally between a pair of blocks as you eliminate them. This will double the points you score for both Wally and the blocks!

When all blocks and enemies are gone, you clear the round and score any remaining points on the bonus timer.

If all blocks are cleared, but enemies remain, four white blocks will immediately drop, so that it's possible to defeat the last enemies.

If the bonus timer reaches 0 before the round is cleared, fire will begin to drop from the ceiling. Fire is too big to jump over and must be avoided. Fire will also eliminate both blocks and enemies. You are able to put out fire if you place a block on top of it. If you manage to clear all blocks, enemies, and fire, you will still clear the round. You will score 200 points for each fire that is eliminated.

Bonus lives are awarded at certain score targets. By default, it's at 10,000, 40,000, and every 60,000 points afterwards.

You lose 1 life if Peppy touches Wally, is crushed, or touches fire. Game is over when lives are gone.

Specifically, what has changed between Falling and Falling Plus?

Want more in-depth detail on exactly what else changed? Well, you know I like to ramble, so here it all is.

- Bug fix: Previously, you would lose a life if a block was kicked into Peppy's face. He will now be pushed backward, as was originally intended.
- Bug fix: On the rare occasion that no blocks were present, enemies had been falling through the floor.
- Bug fix: Using the drop/climb move to clear the last block had previously allowed Peppy to fall through the floor.
- Bug fix: The "Combo!" text never appeared during a 2-player game. Now, it will.
- Bug fix: Exiting the Pause menu using the same button as "jump" will no longer jump.
- Bug fix (Arcade Mode): inserting a coin with Free Play enabled was displaying bonus info.
- A main menu has been added; you can start the game directly from there (and watch a cute animation).
- The previous emulator-style behavior is now named "Arcade Mode" and lives in the "Extras" menu.
- The Kick function was given its own button. Previously, you would Kick by pressing Down+Action.
- Pressing Up/Down while moving now stops Peppy from moving.
- Pressing Up or Down while holding a block now drops/climbs. Previously, this was done with Up+Action.
- The Action button was renamed Lift/Throw, because those are now the only functions controlled by this button.
- Points scored when smashing blocks are now displayed.
- "How To Play" demo from Attract Mode now plays when you start a game (can be skipped).
- Vastly changed what happens when the bonus timer runs out (see section below).
- If you somehow get above the top of the playfield, the block you're standing on will automatically break, to get you back inside (0 points will be scored).
- Default zoom level changed from 90% to 100%.
- Leaderboards replace the old Internet Ranking feature.

What "gameplay exploits" were fixed in Falling Plus?

Really, it's just one big one.

When I first designed Falling I implemented a bonus timer, something commonly found in many classic arcade games. But in most of those, the timer reaching 0 usually meant instant death. I didn't want to go that route; I wanted to put the player at a big disadvantage, but at least give them a chance to survive.

So when time runs out, fire begins dropping from the ceiling. If fire touches a block, both the fire and block are eliminated. But if you place a block on top of fire, the fire is put out and the block remains.

What I didn't realize is that you can simply put out fires indefinitely for 1000 points each. And, the round clear condition of "blocks and enemies are gone" still persisted. So you could just hold the last remaining block above you, use it to put out fires, and if fire fell on top of you, the block was smashed, clearing the stage! No risk, all reward. And the time between fire drops was the same as the rest of the round's drops, so if you did this on round 1, you got a fat 8 seconds in between drops. This gave you plenty of time to take care of one batch of fire before the next one arrived.

For years, there was a single score over 1 million points on Internet Ranking and I never knew how it got there. Now, I know. It's a bit embarrassing that I claim to know what I'm doing as a game designer, and yet, this somehow made it into a game I released. Oh, well.

For Falling Plus, I've finally brought the "zero time" gameplay phase in line with my original vision: if time runs out, it is still possible to survive, but it's not going to be easy. And, it's probably no longer worthwhile to try to milk this phase for points. The following changes have been made:

- Round clear condition changed: all blocks, enemies AND flames must be eliminated.
- if only flames remain, four white blocks will immediately drop (just as if only Wally remains)
- Flames will no longer fall in columns where flames already exist (this would create "doubled-up" flames).
- After two flame drops, the time between flame drops will decrease, then will continue to decrease, down to a minimum of 2 seconds.
- Point value of flames reduced from 1000 to 200 points.

What are the bonus modes?

Both of these give you one life, unlimited time, and challenge you to last as long as possible under the following conditions:

Survival Challenge: It's as if you're playing Round 16, which is where the difficulty reaches its maximum. Except, it goes on forever.
Burning Igloo Challenge: A little bit easier, except that one of the objects in each drop is a flame!

Your high score will be tracked for each. Leaderboards are also available.

Any tips?

Everything in this post still applies!