Impressions: Groovin' Blocks

Let’s face it – the Wii is the best choice out of the current home consoles for puzzlers. WiiWare was practically built for the creation and sale of various types of games that challenge your brain and your patience. There’s nothing wrong with that, though the system has so much more potential. In addition, the majority of most puzzlers are, in some way or another, carbon copies of games from the past. One game in particular, Groovin’ Blocks, has been done before under a much more popular name – Lumines. However, the Wii has never been privy to such a slick and entertaining block-dropping puzzle fest until now.

Players are no doubt familiar with Lumines, the popular electronica-infused Tetris clone. Groovin’ Blocks takes a page out of the same book with its svelte, minimal interface, and funky electronic beats. Blocks will rain from the sky, as blocks in puzzlers are wont to do, and it’s your job to arrange them in sets of three – same color only. If you happen to be able to sync your matches with the rump-shaking beats, then you’ll be awarded a bevy of more points. Groovy!

In an nutshell, it all sounds like a very simple time, right? Wrong. Groovin’ Blocks is a bit more complex than that. From the onset you’ll be able to choose any difficulty that you like – go ahead, torture yourself early! For a puzzler, this title is very in tune with is rhythmic side. It’s not exactly mandatory to time your drops to sync up with whatever background track is blasting, but it certainly is in your best interests, as keeping in line with the tempo will award you several multipliers over the course of the song. Different songs will require drops to different beats, such as quarter notes or on the offbeat. If you’ve had any experience with Rhythm Heaven’s Lockstep mini game, then you should have no trouble getting acclimated, but hearing the songs over and over again certainly will help you to pull off the maximum amount of combos in order to move on to different song catalogues. Often, it is a bit hard to discern how soon you should drop blocks considering you want to stay time, but this is easily fixed with an on-screen metronome, as well as pulsating blocks that put you on the right track, especially if you’re not so musically inclined.

Myself? I’m a regular rhythm game connoisseur and I had a bit of trouble matching up all of my drops perfectly, but it’s to be expected! You don’t want your non-matching blocks to tile up to the ceiling of your playfield. Much like Bust a Move, it’s then game over. Also, as you have seen in no doubt countless other puzzle games, there are power-ups galore – explosive blocks, changes in block point values, and various other items to aid in your beating block conquest.

As far as graphics go, Groovin’ Blocks is quite the slick little trickster. Its interface brings to mind a mix of both Apple and Sony sensibilities, and the bright colors are always appreciated. The main course – the music tracks – they’re rife with danceable melodies as well as 8-bit inspired bleeps and bloops that players should appreciate. I know I did! It’s nice to know that developers are figuring out their audience instead of slapping in any old hip hop track or Jonas Brothers song.

Multiplayer will support up to four players, though I find that playing these sorts of games alone turns out much better, especially since you need separate Wii remotes for each player, and who honestly keeps four remotes lying around the house? If you don’t feel like duking it out with a few friends, though, you can also play cooperatively in order to see what kind of mammoth score you all can attain collectively.

While nothing absolutely new, Groovin’ Blocks is an admirable puzzle effort for the Wii that is worth a play if you’re a fan of the genre, but is at best a rent since there is no storyline or discernible reason to play this over games such as Lumines or Bust A Move. I do enjoy its musical conventions, vibrant colors, and slick presentation, but in the end it’s just another puzzler. At the very least it does stand out from the crowd!

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