iPhone Life magazine

Review: Blocks Hurt! by Luca Giusti

I often find myself in a position where I get a game to review, and then I just don’t get to it for a long time, but when I finally do I think to myself “boy do I wish I would have played this sooner”.  Yep, Blocks Hurt is one of those games… at least that’s how I felt when I first started playing it.  A few levels into the game I couldn’t decide if I still wanted to embrace it or if I was ready to chuck my iPod Touch out the window.  Fortunately I’m not in a position to go the latter route.  As it happens Blocks Hurt is one of the most creative matching / combat games I’ve run into on my iDevices, so I’ll tough it out for now.

Just Plain Freaky
 

In Blocks Hurt you don’t make matches to eliminate the enemy.  Rather, you actually use the blocks to dispose of your foes.  Turns out if you drop a few on a creature’s head, they really do hurt!  At the top of the screen is a constantly scrolling chain containing a variety of blocks that you simply tap to make fall.  If one falls on a creature’s head it will do some damage, and enough of them will get rid of the monster, with the added bonus of the last block staying on the ground.  If you get four blocks of the same color on the ground they will disappear, but they have to be lined up just right for that to happen.

The creatures are trying to get to the left side of the screen, and when one does the level is over.  In the mean time, if there are blocks in the monsters’ way they will destroy them.  Each level has one of three objectives.  Survival is simply that – last until the timer runs out.  In this mode the matching characteristic of blocks can be detrimental, because a once formidable wall might suddenly disappear because it’s all the same color.  When you’re playing “Collect Blocks”, however, you want to make those matches, so you have to keep the critters at bay long enough to get successful stacks of 4.  Finally, “Build the Wall” gives you an outline for the blocks that you must fill, again keeping the bad guys away until you’re done.  You’ll even get to take on a boss from time to time.

Put That Back
 

To drop a block you just tap it.  You can also tap a block that’s on the ground a couple of times to remove it.  Some blocks give you special powers which are either activated by tapping on a “special power” button in the lower right corner of the screen or by tapping directly on the creatures.  There are occasions where it seems unresponsive to my tapping (mainly when it comes to the blocks on the chain), but usually the controls behave well.  You can earn up to 5 stars per level, but there is no indication of what you need to move from one star ranking to the next.  Worse yet, the levels get insanely difficult before long.  I don’t mind a challenge, but when you have to start skipping levels half way through the first world, there’s something wrong with the overall difficulty balance.

The graphics are great.  The characters are colorful (as much so as evil characters can be) and well animated.  The backgrounds are decent as well, though the screen will usually be too cluttered with blocks and critters to notice.  The sound effects are pretty good as well, though the constant drone of the chain can get kind of old.  I like the voiceover that says things like “outstanding” and “you’ve failed”.  From the little bits I’ve heard of the music it sounds good, but it tends to get shadowed over by everything else.

A Cannon?  No Fair!
 

The more I play this game, the more I think the main problem is either a lack of balancing on the levels or simply the fact that they come in the wrong order.  I’ll make several attempts at beating a level before finally tapping “skip”, only to complete the next level on the first try.  The presentation is pretty slick, and I doubt you’ll find another match 3 game that plays quite like it on the App Store, so if you can handle the lopsided difficulty settings you’ll definitely want to give Blocks Hurt a try.

Overall Score: 8/10
App Store Link

This game was reviewed on an iPod Touch 4G running iOS 5.1.1.

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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.