Developer: Samurai Punk
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

In just a few short years, endless runners have become so widespread on mobile that trailers for new ones, like Hazumino, openly mock how widespread they are. However, that’s also causing developers to try new and experimental things with the genre in order to stand out. Hazumino‘s skillful combination of old-school endless running and even older-school block stacking successfully creates something fresh and new.

hazumino 2As in all endless runners, each round of Hazumino starts with a character automatically moving across the stage. However, players soon discover that the road itself abruptly stops. In order to keep their runner from plunging into the abyss, players must actively construct the path themselves by swiping puzzle blocks into each other. The blocks are the exact same ones used in Tetris, and effectively stacking them takes a very similar skill set. Z pieces are still a nightmare while straight pieces are a godsend. Flat paths are the safest, but more ambitious builders can try making stairs and ramps to reach far off collectibles. In order to give players a fair amount of time to construct, the runners themselves move slower than usual. However, players still need to build as fast as they can while still making sure the pieces align. Runners die if they hit a wall, and even with the jump ability, trying to build and platform over obstacles at the same time is brain-splittingly difficult.

hazumino 4It’s a really creative spin on both genres, and mastering it takes lots of replays. Luckily, as players run further they unlock new characters and environments. The first level’s generically colorful, blocky, Minecraft-esque visuals aren’t great. But later worlds, like a sepia-toned Western world without helpful guidelines, look and sound more interesting. Meanwhile, it’s hard not to be amused by the little boxy characters with names like “Richard Bronson” and “Lady Elizabeth Duchart.”

Hazumino feels like an official Tetris spin-off, and since Tetris is one of the few perfect video games, that’s a good thing. Instead of letting the game procedurally generate levels, players get to have fun trying to do it themselves.

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