Published on May 18th, 2011 | by Derek Strickland, Contributor
Blocks That Matter Xbox Indie Review
Platform: Xbox LIVE Indie Games
Price: 240 MS Points ($3)
Developer: Swing Swing Submarine
From the French development studio Swing Swing Submarine comes Blocks That Matter, an original and quite fun Xbox Indie mashup that blends humor, side-scroller, and strategic puzzler into one. This game is a mix of platformer aspects with progressively challenging puzzles all with a signature style that’s quite delightful.
In Sweden, the Land of Indie Games, Alexey and Markus (most likely alluding to the developers Alexey Pajitnov, developer of Tetris, and Markus Persson, developer of Minecraft) are hard at work on their next revolutionary game release. The two Indie Game developers have created a few successful titles and are popular within the Indies community itself, making the anticipation for their next release quite high. The team’s next release was to be “revolutionary”, but the anticipation was too high as it brought attention from the wrong kind of people.
On a cold winter day, two armed men arrived at the Indie developer’s home and applied psychological coercion with their weapons to convince the devs to comply with their demands. The henchmen kidnapped our duo and took them to an isolated cabin in a forest of pines, where they are forced to work on their game and finish it in a day’s worth of time so the boss can rake in all the profits.
In this planned scheme there was one thing that the criminals hadn’t planned on, and that was the tiny driller robot known as the Tetrobot. Alexey and Markus had been working on the creation for a while, and in an effort to save themselves they activate the robot and attempt to guide it to their location.
Players take control of the Tetrobot–the tiny robot who is very charming and like-able, especially when he runs. It’s up to the little drillbot to utilize wits and a variety of blocks to save the Indie Game Developers from their captors, and to reveal the next “game” to the entire world.
While playing as the Tetrobot, gamers will be able to collect blocks either by smashing them with the drill or by jumping and colliding with them. This game makes use of “Pajitnovian physics” which states that players can only create shapes that are tetrominoes–with four blocks that branch off from one another. Players strategically place different blocks in different formations to cross to the next area and eventually reach the exit portal.
There are a few different types of blocks that the Tetrobot can make use of in Blocks That Matter, such as the Sand Block, the Granite Block, the Wood Block, and the Obsidian Block. Each block has a distinct texture that makes for easy identification, and some blocks will fall if not supported by another–Sand Blocks and Obsidian Blocks–while some will stay suspended–Rock & Wood Blocks.
Sand blocks need a block to support them, if they are in mid-air they will fall through to the ground. These blocks can be useful by strategically placing them above enemies so that they are crushed by the block when it falls.
Players must make good use of the blocks themselves as the Tetrobot is limited in it’s abilities–for example he can’t drill while in the air from a jump, making it so players have to place block formations to assist. It is possible to get stumped and get stuck, this happens after not utilizing the blocks correctly and the only thing to do is use the nanoreset explosion by holding down the B button. This resets the level and allows gamers to try again from the start.
There are multiple enemies that are out to stop the tiny drillbot from completing his mission, and most of the smaller ones such as slimes can be eliminated with strategically placed sand blocks. The slimes can be dangerous, however, as two contact hits will destroy our robotic friend. It is also possible to trap enemies with strategically placed blocks to avoid getting hit.
Blocks That Matter has a few unique features that make it into a noteworthy and amusing Indie gaming experience, elements like the artistic style and the blend of puzzle dynamics with tetromino block structures which are straight from the addictive video game classic Tetris. The soundtrack is also a nice touch, and there is an in-game music block feature that allows players to listen to the various level soundtracks of the game.
The aesthetics of this Indie title are quite appealing and gamers of all ages can enjoy Blocks That Matter‘s signature style. Even though the game itself uses 2-D sidescroller graphics, the game sprites and visuals are simplistic yet enjoyable. The menus and general interface are all arranged quite well and overall the game flows naturally and is visually charming.
Throughout the game there are a few upgrades that that Tetrobot will receive, one of which is the “Pajitnov Upgrade” that allows players to eliminate rows of 8 or more blocks in a single stroke by pressing X in block mode. Other upgrades include being able to destroy and collect Obsidian Blocks to use for structures. Essentially the upgrades are enhancements to the Tetrobot that will enable players to do more within the game.
Final Truth: Blocks That Matter is an amiable and entertaining Xbox Indie that makes use of a mix of 2-D side-scrolling platformer elements with block-building puzzler. It provides a unique experience for gamers wrapped in charming graphics–the Tetrobot is just irresistible and the in-game developer interactions are humorous. Players must use strategy and their wits to solve puzzles with platformer mechanics and save the Swedish developers from their captors and save the day in this engaging Xbox Indie mashup.
+ Original Mashup Game Mechanics
+ Amusing Graphics and Style
+ Over 40 Stages and Levels
+ Great Soundtrack
+ Unlockable Features Like Bonus Levels and Soundtracks
– Progressively Challenging Puzzles
– Requires Strategic Planning