Guest Review: Groovin’ Blocks [WiiWare]

Groovin Blocks

Today we have a fine guest review from Michael Thornton about the WiiWare title Groovin’ Blocks:

Groovin’ Blocks has just been added to the all ready abundant amount of puzzle games on Wiiware this past week. The title of the game may seem generic and silly, the developer may be unknown, and though it may just look like a watered down version of Lumines. I urge readers to take another look at what Groovin’ Blocks has to offer to puzzle game lovers.

I have always wanted to like puzzle games but preferred a more impulsive and action oriented approach. In the past, I found Wario Woods and Lumines much more entertaining then original puzzle games such as Tetris or Dr. Mario. If you had to compare Groovin’ Blocks to an already existing puzzle game it would undoubtedly be Lumines. Both have gameplay elements that involve placing puzzle pieces in beat with the music. There are a few things that make Groovin’ Blocks stand out from Lumines and other puzzle games.

From the beginning, you will notice that Groovin’ Blocks user interface looks very clean. The entire game feels very polished. Its graphic design is similar to that of a Wii or Ipod. It is extremely simple but looks and feels great. As far as the in game graphics, there is a lot going on but it is pretty easy to tell what is happening once you get used to it. The only minor complaint I have is about the puzzle pieces themselves. I found them a little confusing at times. The colored blocks flicker while falling and some colors can look like other similar colors. This is easily remedied by an option on the main menu that uses different shapes for the pieces instead of the colors only. The graphics are on par or perhaps exceed Wiiware expectations. They are definitely better than Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 quality.

Since this is a music based game it would be a shame to go without mentioning something about the game’s soundtrack. I consider the music to be above average. There are a few really cool tracks included in here. Some of them have a retro feel to them, while others are more of the techo/trance genre. The music is very comparable to that of Lumines 1. The tracks that don’t really stand out are very tolerable and nothing is really annoying about any of the music. There was some really great talent put to work here.

Lastly, great gameplay is the heart of every puzzle game and this one definitely delivers. Groovin’ Blocks has a few things going for it that other puzzle games don’t. First off, you choose stages similar to how you would in Dance Dance Revolution. You choose a song you would like to play and try and get the highest score for that particular stage. This is very different from Tetris or other tradition puzzle games in that you won’t be playing till you lose. The stage ends when the song itself ends. Therefore, you have a specific amount of time to rack up as many points as you can within that allotted time. I definitely prefer this style over the more traditional. For one, the game is exciting from the get go. Tetris starts off pretty slow and builds momentum as you continue. This game is exciting from the beginning to end of each stage. I am not much of a score junkie but I found it fun going back to different stages to beat old scores because each song/stage only takes around 3-5 minutes. It is easy to pick up and get right into the meat without having to grind your way there. By breaking it into different stages I find there is much more variety in the game.

The game is very similar to Lumines in nature but differs to a degree. There is a meter on the right and left side sections of the screen that displays the beat of song playing in the background. If you drop the blocks in time with that beat you can get multipliers that increase your score. It sounds tough at first but once you play a few rounds you can pick it up quite easily. You don’t have to actually hit every single beat but make sure to try and drop the block on a beat. Similar to Dance Dance Revolution the multiplier will grow until you accidentally miss a beat. There are power ups and what not that activates when you match 3 or more like colors when dropping the block on the beat. Also comparing it to Lumines, there isn’t any kind of line mechanism that erases your connected blocks to calculate your score. You simply match 3 or more colors and they disappear giving you your score plus any multipliers. It is very straightforward in a sense but definitely addicting. There is also a great unlocking system included in the game. You can unlock power ups and new songs as you go along. Some of the difficulty settings can be really tough and you really feel like you accomplished something when you reach that new unlock or high score.

All in all this game may feel like Lumines but it definitely stands out as one of the more prominent puzzle games on Wiiware right now. If you don’t have the patience for a traditional puzzle game and need something a little more reflex oriented, this is the game for you. The game is definitely not shovelware and is a very polished game. Worth checking out if music based puzzle games interest you in the slightest.