Well after the glistening review BitField got last time with my review of Blockado Mountain, they were kind enough to pass on the first two instalments in their series of block-pushing puzzle solving games for iOS. There is a fourth title in the pipeline, due for release at the end of the month, so consider this to be part two of the highly anticipated “Jon <3’s Blocks” Trilogy. This set of reviews may seem a little skewed in order: starting with game three, working back to game one, then game two, and sometime in the future game number four. It’d be like watching the Star Wars movies in the order dictated to you by a die or tombola.
For those of you reading this review and thinking “I’ve read half of this before, Jon, what are you playing at?” please remember that I am now reviewing retrospectively, and some of you may not have read the Blockado Mountain review from last week. I suggest you do read it afterwards because, come on, why not?
Jungle is the first destination on this whistle-stop tour of Blockado Land, not to be confused with Lego Land, or Stickle-Brick Village, or indeed the widely unknown K-Nex Hamlet. And being a jungle there are plenty of brilliant backing sounds to accompany the gameplay, such as toucans and vines swinging and some other assorted noises. It’s surprisingly convincing and realistic, and more than once I found myself drifting off while playing, I would be snapped back to focus by the call of a passing tropical bird. Graphics-wise it is much the same as what I experienced in Mountain, if not a little brighter and more vibrant in places, to tie in with the whole jungle theme.
The problem I have with Jungle is that it is almost too easy. Having played through the significantly harder Mountain, harder because most of the puzzle elements and traps had been firmly established, I only had a couple of tutorial levels to become accustomed to the style of play, before being thrown in at the deep end with some utterly gruelling levels to solve. Jungle introduces you to each puzzle element piece by piece, and I actually learned some different tactics from these basic levels that I have since been able to incorporate in the few unsolved puzzles I still had in Mountain. I managed to clear through all of Adventure mode in Jungle - some 40 levels - including the hard puzzle paths all in one sitting. I even got a nifty achievement for not using the Solve function to help me through.
So having blitzed through Jungle I delved into the palette of browns that was Blockado Desert. Some of the more difficult puzzle elements were introduced in this set of puzzles, such as everyone’s staple puzzling favourite: the ice block, as well as the snake blocks, which really adds an extra sheen of difficulty and strategy to this selection of levels. I would say that I had more fun with the Desert set of levels, probably because it felt a lot more challenging than Jungle, but I still haven’t felt as challenged as I did when I played through Mountain. On more than one occasion I was forced to write out puzzles on scraps of paper to solve when my iPhone was not to hand. This is the level of challenge I hope to return to the time the next game comes out.
This time around I played a lot more with the Puzzle Scanner, which adds puzzles to your collection by way of those funky QR codes you see on everything these days. Some of these had a bit more of a devilish feel to them, and I thoroughly enjoyed being completely and utterly beaten into submission from one of the downloaded puzzles, which even now I have been unable to solve for some reason. So with the Puzzle Scanner, the Bonus Puzzles and the Adventure mode, for both Jungle and Desert, you are looking at a minimum of 150 puzzles to solve, and plenty of opportunities to go back and get three-star ratings on some of the earlier puzzles.
So playing the games in order is the most logical thing to do, which should keep you nice and busy until the fourth instalment, Blockado Deep Sea, is released at the end of this month. You’ll feel much better playing through them properly and in sequence, because the way I went through them was like entering the world’s weirdest triathlon… I can only compare it to kicking things off with a twenty-mile hike over hot coals, before treating yourself to a ten minutes in a sauna and then a mildly difficult Sudoku.
Scoring the games as separate entities, and in terms of their challenge and gameplay aspects, proved to be difficult. Do I compare them to the first game I played, a game that had learnt and developed somewhat from the initial outings? Or do I try and score them as if I had not played Blockado Mountain? Well both Jungle and Desert still feature that frustrating camera moving icon, which I have been told is being looked at ahead of Blockado Deep Sea, so that’s a point off each unfortunately. In the end though, it has to come down to the experience as a whole. An experience that isn’t far from being perfected. Watch this space!
MLG Rating: 8/10 (Blockado Jungle) 8/10 (Blockado Desert)
Platform: iOS Release Date: 15/08/2011 (Blockado Desert) 17/08/2011 (Blockado Jungle)
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided digital copies of Blockado Desert and Blockado Jungle for review purposes by the promoter. The titles were reviewed over the course of one week on an iPhone. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.