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Old 02-04-2012, 05:43 PM
Big Albie Big Albie is offline
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Default Droopy Blocks Charms with Unique Shape and Finger Intensive Puzzler



Tetris and Tangram puzzles are popular because they challenge and force us to change the way we look at things while making quick decisions. One gem taking the premise further is Droopy Blocks by Mechanical Butterfly Studios, a unique iPad puzzler that simultaneously tests your dexterity, timing and spatial abilities. The game takes advantage of the iPadís larger screen and its multi-touch capabilities to create a frustratingly satisfying and ďtouchingĒ experience.

To kick off things, Droopy Blocks has a sparse storyline involving living blocks that have basically started melting. The goal is to get them back to their friendly (they look harmless) original shape. That may sound like a ďbeen there, done thatĒ kind of a theme, but players will know the first time they open the game that this isnít the case. On the surface, Droopy Blocks is all about personality, and it certainly expresses that with a charming art style. Vibrant and lively colors, animated blocks with their own expressions, and an overly cheerful soundtrack make the game anything but droopy in the looks department.

Droopy Blocks has two modes: Puzzle and Championship and 80 puzzles, the first 10 in Puzzle mode of which are free. The rest of the game can be had for an IAP of $1.99, which is well worth it. Puzzle mode provides individual puzzles while Championship is a timed challenge where players are given 5 minutes to fill as many shapes as possible. These modes are presented in four worlds: Lab, Train, Sushi and Jungle. While there is a tutorial included, the first 10 puzzles cover game basics and the touch controls. Also, there are four save slots, and achievements and Championship leaderboards are available through GameCenter.

The game interface consists of a 5x5 grid for a total of 25 boxes. Along each of the four sides of the grid is a Sucker creature that basically sucks the various blobs into submission, I mean, shapes. In both Puzzle and Championship modes, a gauge keeps track of how much time is spent completing the puzzle, and a local leaderboard by puzzle tracks a playerís top 3 times.

Unlike most games where the challenge comes from the puzzles or levels themselves, the attraction in Droopy Blocks centers around the control mechanism which adds a different gameplay dynamic. What Droopy Blocks does extremely well is its use of the iPadís multi-touch interface which goes beyond tapping buttons or rotating objects. Frankly, this is the biggest selling point for the game.

Each puzzle presents a block in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and within each grid is an outline of a shape, or Goal Shape, that players must manipulate the block to match. Now, this is where Droopy Blocks gets fun. Tapping on a Sucker (only one can be used at a time) will pull the block towards it. The block gradually drips over, or stretches into the next square. To speed up the sucking action, you can tap on the Sucker twice. It sounds strange, but it will speed things up both for you and the block.

The unique part of Droopy Blocks comes in the manipulation of the block into the desired shape. This is done by holding or tapping on the parts of the block that you donít want to move. You can choose between Hold or Tap modesóthe more difficult and fun Hold mode forces players to keep fingers on the blocks, while the easier Tap mode allows for simply tapping blocks to keep them from moving. A drag function is also available to hold multiple blocks with one finger which can be done across and diagonally. What players will love is that the Goal Shapes are usually irregular so multiple touches and fast thinking are required. And, this is when the game gets interesting because players will likely need to use multiple fingers or taps to control what drips and ultimately the resulting shape. What I found is that as the puzzles get bigger and more complex, tapping quick enough becomes a tougher strategy. In essence, your dexterity will be tested.

What I enjoy the most is the real-time strategy part of Droopy Blocks. Players will need to use their dexterity to not only select the right blocks to hold, but also in switching those holds to other blocks all at the same time. This game involves a lot of trial and error even when spending time prior to the start in planning moves. The puzzles look deceptively easy, but a single misplaced or omitted hold can make a deformed goner of any droopy block.

Often where games suffer is in the lack of responsiveness involves touches because this inevitably adversely impacts the experience. Not the case with Droopy Block. In the more complex puzzles, placing the iPad on a flat surface is probably a good idea, but I didnít have any issues playing while holding my device in the early puzzles.

One shortcoming is that Droopy Blocks isnít currently available for the iPhone or iPod Touch. Hopefully, the devs can create an adaption suitable for the smaller screen.

Iím always amazed at what devs come up with, and Droop Blocks certainly falls into that category. Itís a worthwhile puzzler that will likely receive more recognition for its use of multi-touch. Simple in concept, but challenging in execution, Droopy Blocks will have puzzle lovers dripping in satisfaction.

Albie Meter: 4.5 Stars (combines Tangram/Tetis elements to create a uniquely enjoyable puzzler; free to try and inexpensive IAP to unlock the rest of the game; challenging puzzles with a good amount of content; innovative and responsive use of multi-touch; iPad only)

 

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