NS Review – Blocky Bot (Wii U eShop)
If Minecraft and Nihilumbra had strange, little indie babies, I’d imagine Blocky Bot would be the outcome.
This game is pretty simple. You’re a small character who has to jump to platforms, avoiding enemies, and escaping some kind of void chasing you. (Optional; collecting money as you do all of this for unlockables) Press A to jump, and use the L stick to navigate. You die, you start from the beginning.
Upon opening the game I’m met with crude art of some individual who makes an irritating guffaw. Not the most thrilling or ensnaring start, but thanks to the drawn out loading times of the Wii U, there is silence, and then this sound again, twice more in fact. So Blocky Bot’s first impression wasn’t a particularly positive one. After this I’m met with more loading screens that weren’t particularly note-worthy, and then the game is presented to me, and it was honestly gorgeous.
Blocky Bot is a beautifully stylized, and highly polished piece. All of the 3D models in this game look, quite simply, done. Like there’s nothing more to add to them, as if they were fully complete with plenty of time to spare. Combined with the way the camera interacts with them, you’re looking at a beautiful game with the 3D effect so realistic, it’s easy to forget that this is all happening on a flat screen. The gameplay is simple, but it’s solid. The consistency of the camera’s pacing, combined with its fluidity, means that traversing this neverending plain is an extremely smooth experience. This game has it’s own style, and in almost every regard, it sticks to it well. The music, the layout, most of the characters, the fonts, and the themes feel like they all belong in this neat little cubic world, and again, while nothing stands out too much, they all do their jobs very efficiently.
There is the option of playing on the game pad or the TV, but not both simultaneously, something I find a little odd. The game pad also shows the overall jumps you’ve made while playing, and I was a little surprised to see I’d managed close to 800 jumps total within a short time. Blocky Bot allows you to unlock different themes and characters, providing you with quite a different experience each time, though it does suffer from extremely limited and repetitive sound effects. The flat characters, such as the Village Idiot, do honestly look somewhat out of place to me, but on the plus side, given it was this moron that assaulted my ears, eyes (and were he real, undoubtedly my nose too) upon start-up, I found I actually didn’t care so much if I died while playing as him, which served to help me farm currency more efficiently. Seeing there was an option to eventually unlock and play as a pink rabbit meant I had some kind of goal to keep playing and doing well, once everything is unlocked however, the only goals that would keep someone coming back to this game are essentially ones they create for themselves.
The Robot theme is probably my favorite. Everything is jet black, and what remains visible is a primarily rainbow themed lightshow. This throws what you’ve learnt about the game somewhat off; the pure black environment means you really have to look out for the oncoming void, which means it’s very easy to forget that it’s chasing you. This could work in your favor, or entirely against you, but at the very least is an interesting way to switch things up. The hitbox on enemies at times feels inconsistent and unforgiving, and it wasn’t even half an hour into the game before I was discovering bugs. Every now and then certain textures will load a bit too late, and sometimes your character will land on a platform, playing the landing sound, but will then suddenly be falling to their death. Upon death, the game quickly scrolls back over all your progress and back to the beginning, offering you the menu screen. If you happen to be dying frequently, watching this transition is very repetitive and disruptive. In my impatience I discovered that mashing A while the reset process is occurring upsets the game somewhat. Mostly this causes it to stop spawning platforms and keep the menu overlay, but forces you to keep playing. See the video below for what I mean.
In other instances I started the game before it was apparently ready, my ears were greeted with a very distorted and unpleasant version of the standard music, which lasted until I died. It’s worth noting however, that entering the menu options seems to cancel out 2 out of the 3 issues mentioned above.
Blocky Bot is quite simple. It isn’t overflowing with things to offer, but what it has to give, it gives very well. It seems to know what it is, and makes the most of that, really quite beautifully. Nothing more, nothing less.
Have you played Blocky Bot yet? What did you think of it? Or are you thinking about trying it out now? Drop us some thoughts below, or tweet me @MattiasMay for comments, questions, etc. Thanks for reading!