Irish developers Open Emotion are a lovely bunch of chaps, full of zest for their PSP minis release of Mad Blocker Alpha, a remake of their already released Flash (and iPhone) game, which is due for release onto the PlayStation Store on the 10th of February after a slight stumble in the schedule.
Essentially an entry into the ‘match-four’ genre, this portable puzzler’s unique charm is in its graphics, a slightly kooky, bizarre mix of hand-drawn smileys and oddly warped backgrounds that break the mould of the obvious inspirations like the classics Columns, and, mechanically more so, Panel de Pon.
I’ll be honest, and I’ve said this to the guys already, the graphics style is a little bit too out-there for my particular tastes, but that’s a subjective opinion and yours might differ completely – it’s certainly original at least, with the distinctive blocks offering up all manner of grins and grimaces depending on their colour.
The gameplay, however, is solid. It’ll be familiar to anyone that’s played titles like Puyo Pop – you just need to connect up four blocks together to pop them and then, if you’re smart, the laws of gravity will work in your favour to help you rack up some combos and if you score well you’ll get a handy power-up which can help turn the game in your favour.
Like the aforementioned games, the rows of blocks in Mad Blocker Alpha can only be switched around horizontally, you can’t rotate them. It’s less about fitting blocks into each other as it is about creating big chains by carefully lining up future sets of blocks, and this takes considerable skill and planning.
The main mode is labeled ‘Story’ and takes place over a good chunk of levels based around a map, but the package is bolstered by Endless and Tower modes, the latter in particular switches things around a little and thus offers a bit more for your money, although at this stage we don’t actually know how much Mad Blocker will cost.
It’s well worth keeping an eye out for – minis come and go without so much as a whistle these days and it’s easy to forget about the best ones as they get lost amongst the weekly Store updates. We’ll get a full review of Mad Blocker Alpha once we get PSP codes: although it scales up to the PS3 screen it’s clearly meant to be played on the portable.
Until then, check out these brand new screenshots.
Open Emotion have asked us to point out that the chaps will be in the PSP minis PlayStation Home space on the 10th, so if anyone wants to ask them any questions about the game’s development (or otherwise) they’re more than welcome to!