148Apps Network Post
Developer: Halfbot
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.01
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4G

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

(Note: See updated review notes at bottom) Few games leave me feeling as conflicted as I do when I play The Blocks Cometh. The game is an ascension platformer where blocks fall from the sky, and you must constantly keep climbing up the stacks of blocks as they pile up, all while not falling off the screen or getting crushed by a falling block. The premise is somewhat similar to The Incident, except more structured, as all the blocks are rectangular and stack up neatly. You can destroy blocks with your character’s attack, though you have to be careful not to get crushed by a block that would fall, as getting crushed or falling off the screen means it’s game over, and you have to start again all the way from the bottom.

If you love games with a retro aesthetic, you’ll absolutely love The Blocks Cometh. There’s something addictive about the gameplay, while it’s very challenging, there’s something about its setup that makes it very replayable, as you know if you just were able to not screw up that one jump, you’d be able to set a new high score. The game has vibrant graphics, that really shine on the Retina Display, especially with the detailed backgrounds. The game also has a fantastic headphones-worthy soundtrack from Hyperduck Soundworks. The game has OpenFeint and Game Center support for leaderboards and achievements. As well, there are 4 additional characters to unlock with their own attributes and features, including 2 characters from the similarly retro-inspired League of Evil.

But oh, the controls. They’re very problematic, as they’re so loose that they frequently cause you to move too far in one direction, or to accidentally double jump when you meant to just jump once. The latter issue is the real problem – it is way too easy to accidentally double jump right after your first jump. While you can use tilt controls as well, the problem is that they’re just not accurate enough for a game where you can die from crushing by hanging just a bit too far over the edge while a block comes down and crushes you. The controls often make playing the game effectively so challenging to a point where it really does effect your enjoyment of the game because you feel sometimes like you should be doing a lot better, but because of the faulty controls, you do a lot worse than you should. The developer promises in the app description that a fix for the controls is coming soon; I will update the review when and if the update comes out. Edit: See update below on the control fixes.

This is a game that leaves me conflicted. It is brilliant and beautiful, but the control issues put a real damper on my enjoyment of the game. I say that you should look past the control issues to enjoy this brilliant little game that has so much going for it otherwise, and, it’s absolutely worth the “risk” of $0.99. However, I can only hope that the controls get improved at some point, as this game really needs it.

Update: Since the original review, the game has gotten a control fix for the aforementioned double jump issue. There was a glitch where the button was too sensitive if there was a little bit of finger movement to cause your character to jump again. This has been fixed in the 1.01 update, released on February 25th. The score of the review has been changed to reflect the fixed controls. As well, the developer mentioned in an interview coming up on The Portable Podcast Episode 74 that a landscape mode is in the works, along with other feature updates at some point in the future. The game’s price has also been raised to $1.99.

Update 2: The Blocks Cometh has gotten a massive update, adding a boatload of new features. First, a new landscape mode has been added; by rotating the device, the scaled view with landscape controls activate. The view is smaller, but is definitely more comfortable. New Casual and Arcade modes have been added, offering multiple lives to try and survive the coming blocks. Arcade mode is about on line with Classic’s difficulty, whereas Casual offers more stacks of blocks to stand on. A fourth mode, Gamebot mode, which uses grayscale graphics and a lo-fi remix of the game’s theme song, is available through in-app purchase for $0.99. Four new characters have been added, and they can be unlocked by playing the new modes, though a $0.99 purchase will unlock them all instantly. After the control fixes, this was a game I found myself returning to time and time again, and the new update should prove to increase its longevity. Some screens of the update have been added below.

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