I must admit upfront that I’ve never particularly much liked sliding block puzzles games, such as Bejeweled, for they usually seem to be far more about the luck of how the board arranges itself than skill. Despite all of that, I have to say that I found Nexus Game Studio’s recent release of Blitz Block Robo (out now, $1.99) to be a rather enjoyable entry into the field of sliding block games. That said, I do hope that future updates refine the controls a bit more beyond their currently touchy state, as the game is so far a bit too prone to sometimes taking unintended actions.
In Blitz Block Robo you are presented with a playing field containing blocks – robotic ones, no less – of various colors, the difference between it and other similar ilk is that this game’s playing field is not entirely filled to the brim. This in turn leads to the chief gameplay mechanic where – once grabbed – a block can be slid in any of the four cardinal directions, after which it will always move the maximum distance possible before stopping. Double tapping a block – on the other hand – will remove it and all same colored neighbors from the field, at least so long as there are three or more of them currently touching.
On each stage you will be going against an always eroding away timer, with a Game Over resulting if the player doesn’t remove a certain number of blocks from the field before the timer expires. Thankfully more seconds can be added back to the clock if the player should successfully remove a patch of blocks from the field, with the amount of time restored increasing exponentially in regards to the quantity of cubes purged. During all of this cubes will be warping in at random to ensure that the player always has material to work with, and sometimes just to get in the way of whatever the player was attempting to set up.
Of course – so as to make things more interesting – Blitz Block Robo also has a full cadre of less than standard blocks to toss at the player, of which I shall now set about to explaining in detail. While most sliding block games tend to have a wildcard piece that can used as part of any color combo, and in this regard Blitz Block Robo is no different, what’s special here is the second version present. While the arrowed multi-color blocks work exactly the same as the normal variant, these special ones have a pointer on them – which can be rotated via tapping – that sends out an all destroying shockwave whenever the cube gets removed.
Far less helpful are the bomb blocks that quickly begin counting down from five, and are absolutely guaranteed to explode if the player doesn’t hold down on them long enough to disarm the explosive. This detonation will cause all directly touching cubes to immediately be converted into broken grey robot blocks, which can neither be moved about or used as part of color combos. The only things that can be done with these deceased quadrilaterals is to either work around them, or pulverize them into to robot dust by rapidly tapping them until they finally go away.
Far more helpful are the powerful static filled Glitch Blocks, which – even if such a name would suggest otherwise – function precisely the same as a similarly hued normal robot cube. When any of these are used – specifically: as part of a removal combo – they cause the entire board to be reshuffled, utterly sans the presence of any bomb and/or broken blocks that might currently be present. Slightly less helpful – but still certainly useful – are the multiplier blocks, which increase the scoring potential of any combo removal sequence that they happen to be a part of.
Between each level is a hyper time sensitive challenge round known as The Blitz, wherein players are asked to successfully remove every block from a playing field – with an assurance that no new blocks will be spawning in – all for the reward of a permanent multiplier increase. These stages are generally easy to fail since a lack of carefully thought out planning will quickly lead to a scenario where only one block is remaining, thus making it impossible to finish. While Blitz Block Robo does not end at the failure of a bonus round, the valuable multipliers they offer ensure that the leader board scores of casual and hardcore players will be very different affairs.
The biggest downside right now is that the game can often become confused as to which block you were trying to grab when completing actions, something that can be downright lethal during the extremely time tight later levels. I do sincerely hope the developers release a future update that remedies this issue, for – as it currently stands – the game’s imprecision can’t keep up with the reaction speed demanded by later stages. That said, this particular problem – seeing as how I tested Blitz Block Robo on an iPod Touch 4 – might potentially not be present when the app is played on the larger screened iPad.
iFanzine Verdict: Nexus Game Studio’s Blitz Block Robo is definitely a much needed cure for those positively fed up with how standard generic sliding block puzzles games tend to normally play. The only thing holding this back right now is the fact that the game can easily become confused about the action you wished to take, something that rapidly becomes fatal on later stages. However, this problem – which primarily seems to be in regard to which block you were trying to touch – might only be affecting those playing the app on a smaller screened iDevice.