IGN Review of Groovin' Blocks
Download portals like WiiWare are great places for smaller puzzle games, and Groovin' Blocks is a fun little twist on Lumines. As blocks fall from the top of the screen, players arrange them to create sets of three of the same color down below. You get bonus points for dropping blocks in time with the music, which is a pretty catchy selection of electronica. Groovin' Blocks is just different enough to standout and it is a welcome addition to WiiWare.
The game doesn't bring a lot of flash, but it sports a clean interface that is easy on the eyes. There are three difficulty settings, each divided into tiers of songs. Levels unfold over the entirety of a song, unless you let the blocks stack up to the ceiling and the party is ended prematurely. You earn stars for hitting point quotas, and when you've gathered enough you may proceed to the next tier of songs. All difficulties are available from the beginning so gamers of all skill levels should be able to jump right in.
While it isn't necessary to make your moves in time with the music, you won't be able to achieve the highest scores without getting into the groove. Each successive drop that stays in tempo adds to your combo, which leads to score multipliers. Having a natural sense of rhythm will help, but there are also visual cues like pulsating blocks and a sliding metronome. The game rewards you for learning the songs because there are accents at certain points that, if you time your drop correctly, will double the amount of multipliers you currently have.
You can't completely zone out, though, because the game sometimes switches up the rhythms for which it will accept combos. For instance, you'll be cruising along making drops on each quarter note (1-2-3-4) and then all of a sudden the song will get quieter and the game starts looking for drops on just the twos and fours. Again, learning the songs makes it easier to follow along and rack up big scores.
There are also power-ups to be gained by clearing certain blocks. They might increase the point value of blocks around them or cause explosions. While these are welcome, they don't produce any flashy effects and you're usually too busy planning your next move to pay attention.
The music is all danceable electronic stuff, but much of it has been produced with gamers in mind. The track "I Love My C-64" includes the Sid synthesizer owners of the Commodore 64 will remember. Other songs are peppered with 8-bit game sounds and accents.
Up to four players can compete either competitively or cooperatively in multiplayer modes. Local only, but it's nice to have it in here. One area where Groovin' Blocks kind of drops the ball is the absence of leaderboards. There is no online component to compare scores, and the game doesn't support multiple profiles. Your high score is displayed next to each song, but in a game like this you really want to check your efforts against your friends'.
Even though Groovin' Blocks is a smaller game, it doesn't scrimp on options. It offers a mode for the color blind that turns the different colored blocks into shapes -- something more of these puzzle games should do. You can also calibrate the visuals and controls in case you feel like your timing is too far off.
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