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Review

Review: Groovin' Blocks

Matchin' to tha beat.

PlayStation Network is awash with puzzle games these days, and it’s getting harder and harder for us puzzle fans to find versions of our favourite block-sliding games that stand out and offer something different.

Groovin’ Blocks has a very simple gameplay mechanic that would become quickly boring if it wasn’t for one unique twist: to get the big scores, you have to play in time with the music.

The premise is a doddle: groups of coloured blocks drop from the top of the classic bucket layout, and making rows of three of the same colour makes them disappear. There are three difficulty levels: in casual the falling blocks are always vertical columns of 3; in normal they can be vertical columns of 3 or squares of 4, and expert is the same as normal only faster. So, hardly original then. The interesting part comes from the fact that a Virtual DJ-style rhythm bar which flows in time with the music is scrolling along the centre of the screen, and dropping blocks on the beats increases your multiplier. There are also key beats which double your multiplier for a short while.

There are a few power-ups, you can drop these whenever you like but to activate them, the row of 3 you make with the same colour of the power-up must be completed on a beat.

That’s basically it. There are online leaderboards but no online play; there is however local split screen. Online play is a bit of a core omission from this I feel, and the leaderboards unfortunately can’t be filtered to show only your friends, as much of the motivation to play comes from beating the high scores.

The music is a mixture of old-school electro, techno and psytrance with songs such as I Love My C64 and Black Solition. If you’re looking for dance and trance you’ll be disappointed, but nevertheless the songs are quite head-bopping if you like electronica in general, and the levels end when the song is completed (or you fill the bucket and fail as in Tetris).

I’ve made the game sound quite dull, but actually it’s rather entertaining. Best played as a quick diversion in short bursts, I strained my neck at least twice bopping my head trying to keep my controller movements in time with the music; timing is everything in this game, and striving for the highest multiplier can be quite addictive.

Pros:

  • Simple, accessible gameplay – not too taxing on the brain
  • Timing mechanic is excellent and well-executed
  • Electronica fans who like puzzle games will love it

Cons:

  • No online play
  • Gets quickly repetitive – best played in short sessions
  • A bit on the expensive side

Groovin’ Blocks has 17 music tracks for the sum of $9.99. If you prefer, you can instead grab yourself the iPhone version of which the PSN release is a (good) port. For the money, there are plenty of games on the store with a longer shelf life; $5.99 or $6.99 would have perhaps been a more appropriate price point. The game has basically one trick up its sleeve, but a trick that it executes very smoothly. If you like Tetris, Bejeweled or Lumines Supernova – the latter of which most resembles Groovin’ Blocks but has far more features for the same price – and you are a fan of electronica, you’ll likely enjoy this.

Score: 6/10

Visit www.totalmusicgaming.com for SingStar, Lips, Rock Band, Guitar Hero, DJ Hero and Karaoke Revolution social networking and contests. Thanks to TSA for their support! – Katy

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