Match-four meets crazy arcade action in this slick and addicting indie game!
Some of you might recall that I spoke highly of Superblox after it’s developer, Michel Mailhot, put the game in my hands at a random party during GDC. Pat and I were both extremely impressed with the smooth and responsive touch controls, along with the unique “arcade match four” concept that drives the game. Let me set the record straight:
This is NOT a puzzle game.
As with most successful pickup-and-play games, the concept in Superblox is simple: tilt the device to move your single multicolored block to attach to various colored blocks that are scattered around you. If you attach to, say, a green “frankenblock”, your super block turns green as well, and you have to find two more to complete a 4 block square. Once you collect 3 blocks, the full square disappears and you’re off finding the next match with your main block. It’s more intense than it sounds, trust me.
As you progress through the Instant Death and Beat the Clock modes, enemies appear more and more frequently. Some of them track you down, others proximity explode, and others just hang around, hoping you slip up. As expected, in Instant Death, you only have one life then the game is over. You can take your time, because there’s no clock counting down, but things get hairy really quickly. In Beat the Clock, you have to collect time icons to add seconds to a constantly ticking down timer. Because there are also enemies appearing all over the place, this game mode is by far the most intense of the three, and the most frantic! The final game mode, Beat the Clock, doesn’t have any enemies or power-ups, and creating 4-square matches freezes the clock from counting down for a second or two. This is probably the most strategic of the three, since it’s all about positioning yourself to maximize the score multiplier power-ups while constantly making matches.
The power-ups are wonderfully animated and add a lot to this game. There’s a powerup that freezes all enemies and blocks in ice, one that turns you into a rampaging fireball of doom, and one that turns you into sweet black hole that sucks up all the blocks, enemies, and score multipliers in the level. There are other power ups as well, and many will really save your butt! This is especially true in Beat the Clock, where getting certain power-ups actually stops the clock altogether.
To me, a game that requires this much precision at such a frantic pace sounds like a terrible idea for a tilt-controlled game. I’ve formed a bit of a pet peeve for games that force you to use the accelerometer to play, and didn’t expect much from this title. When I first played this game at a bar during GDC, I was blown away with how smooth the tilt handling was. It was… dare I say it, accurate. That said, the developer has been polishing this game for the past 3 months since, and it absolutely shows. Superblox has some of the best and most accurate tilt controls of any game I’ve played on the iPhone.
The commitment to polish and releasing a finished product shows in almost every aspect of Superblox. The graphics and animations are colorful and smooth. The background music and sound effects are high quality and fit the moods of each game type. The 3 game modes provide a good variety of gameplay, all of which can be done in short time frames. There is even an excellent autosave that picks you up right where you left off if you get a call or quit to the home screen, and the ability to instantly calibrate the accelerometer at any time with the press of a button. But the most important aspect of Superblox is that it’s fun. My only complaint would be the lack of any sort of level-based mode or different areas (game maps) to play in. Adding new abilities and enemies, and maybe even bosses, as you progressed through a loose “story” would have been welcome. Still, there are OpenFeint leaderboards and achievements to keep you playing, and the game is perfectly fine with the current gameplay offerings. This will definitely be a title that hangs around on your device for a while, and is definitely worth a look!