Day 16: “Bloc”

Posted: 2010/11/25 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and no longer appear in the top 50 downloads. Today is day #16, and today’s game is “Bloc”.

This was one of the first games ever released or the Indie Games channel, way back in late 2008 (when they were still called Community Games). Two years later (almost to the day), I played it for the first time and was quite impressed with it.

This game is kind of like Geometry Wars paired with Ikaruga. You play as a four-coloured disc, that looks something like an old “Simon” electronic toy. Your disc is broken down into four coloured quadrants, each corresponding to the colour of one of the 360 controller’s four face buttons. When you press the “A” button green shoots out, when you press the “X” button blue shoots out, etc. The triggers spin your disc, so if you want red to shoot out to the right you spin the disc so that the red quadrant is facing right and hit the “B” button. Blocks of the same four colours start flying across the screen in all four directions, and you have to shoot down the blocks (and here’s the Ikaruga part) using a blast from your disc of the right colour.

Like any good pick up and play game, the concept is simple enough. The challenge comes in as the blocks start coming in faster, and as the screen fills up with more of them. The game helps level the playing field by dropping power-ups from some blocks which give you various special abilities (such as a temporary shield, and the brief ability to shoot down any block with a blast of any colour). Any time you get hit, your disc loses the ability to shoot the colour on that side of the disc, which can quickly turn the game from a shoot-’em-up to a dodge-’em-up as the screen gets congested with blocks you can’t destroy. There’s a power-up that restores one of your missing colours, though, that can redress the balance.

Perhaps most intriquing of all is the game’s local co-op mode, where the four colours are divied up between two discs, so each player can shoot half of the colours. There’s one more power-up only available in this mode, which brings your co-op partner back to life if they’re eliminated.

It’s nice to play a game like this that’s not a twin-stick shooter (as much as I love Geometry Wars, there’s little point trying to beat it at it’s own game since it does it so well and so many people already own the game). Having to shoot and dodge enemies, while spinning your disc and constantly re-orienting your brain to what button must be pressed, is a unique and enjoyable challenge that won’t have you feeling you’d played it before, and it can be yours for only 80 Microsoft Points. As a bonus, the game has a second soundtrack (hinted at the end of the tutorial, so definitely read the tutorial all the way through). This is a great example of a simple, inexpensive, and incredibly fun Indie Game that is highly recommended.

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