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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review: Blocker (iPad)

Blocker iPad ReviewA good board game is deceptively educational. In focusing on lateral thinking, mastering a well made board game takes persistence, experience, and an understanding of mechanics that typically have a basis in some form of mathematics.

Blocker is a good board game. It’s an incredibly simple game than can be learned in just four tutorial videos, each lasting not longer than a minute. Being good at the game, on the other hand, takes a lot of skill.

The game works on three basic ideas. Firstly, players (it’s a two-player game) slide blocks onto a playing field with the intention of creating an unbroken row of blocks from one corner of the field to the other. Corners of the field are colour coded for convenience. Secondly, the playing field has regions where, if they’re filled with blocks, will wipe out all the blocks in the area. This can be used both offensively (to stop the opponent from creating an unbroken line of blocks), or defensively (to clear up some leg room to work in). Thirdly, each block has a coloured ball in its centre. Two blocks with the same colour ball cannot be removed in the way described above.

So there’s some strategy involved in building a line of blocks while protecting yourself, and removing your opponents blocks. Though this is a multiplayer focused game, there is an AI opponent to practice against. It ranges from stupidly easy to almost impossible to defeat.

Blocker iPhone Review
My main concern with the game is finding multiplayer matches. The online infrastructure uses Facebook for match finding, but you’re going to need to be proactive to get friends to buy into the game. There’s no Game Center, which would have been the logical move for my mind, and the menu system is a little bit clunky to navigate through.

Thankfully there’s a local multiplayer mode too, which works nicely. While Blocker is a more simple game than many of the local multiplayer board games already on the iOS app store, there’s a simple challenge to it that should inspire some rivalry, and games are over very quickly, so it’s not one you’ll get bogged down with.

In terms of presentation, Blocker is clean without being spectacular. There’s a nice minimalist use of colour, but there could have been more style in the application. There’s little to no music to mention, and the menus are rather plain.

Blocker is a minimalist and simple board game. That makes it a tough sell, but its ability to engage the same parts of the brain that have people puzzling over Chess boards for hours and days at a time should help it find a dedicated following.

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Review: Blocker (iPad)
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