The Blocks Cometh: An Exciting Block Jumper

It seems that with every coming day there’s a new vertical platformer on the app store. Ever since the genre was popularized by Doodle Jump, this kind of game is a dime a dozen; the outstanding ones are rare indeed. The Blocks Cometh is one of the few games that not only brings a fresh new take to the genre, but does it exceptionally well.

Created by indie developer Halfbot, the game started out as a flash game but was later ported to iOS. How well did it do in the transition? Let’s find out after the break.

Starting Out

Launch the game and you’ll be be brought straight to the start screen. As you can see, all unlocked characters (I’ve managed to unlock all of them) are displayed posing on top of blocks — I found this to be a nice touch. There’s OpenFeint integration for those of you who like to storm the leaderboards, but all in all, the menu is very simple. The options page allows you to change the control scheme and toggle sound, but remains very minimalistic.

Start Screen / Level Select

Start Screen / Level Select

Hit Play Now and you’ll be brought to the mode select screen. For the most part, the different modes dictate how hard or forgiving the game is. The exception, Gamebot, is a 99 cent in-app purchase (unlocked in the screenshot above).

Classic mode is what you’ll want to be starting out on for your first play through; it’s the standard game mode for a reason. You have one life, and one chance to get as high a score as possible. Casual and Arcade mode are similar in that you have 3 lives; the only difference I could find between them was that Arcade mode was more difficult than Casual.

Hero Selection

One of my favorite features of this game is the ability to unlock and choose what character you play. Initially, the only hero you are able to play as is Blockman, a hazmat suit enclosed little guy armed with a plasma pistol. However, as you progress and complete objectives, you can unlock multiple different characters as well.

Hero Select / Gameplay

Hero Select / Gameplay

Playing as a different character not only changes the look of your hero, but changes certain aspects of your character, such as their speed, how high they can jump and whether attack is melee or ranged. The animations for each character are quite clever. For example, Mr. Destructoid fires lasers out of his eyes, Halfbot transforms into a gun whenever you attack, and The Agent (from League of Evil) throws a flying punch.

Gameplay

You’ve probably seen the concept behind The Blocks Cometh before in games like The Incident or Super Meat Boy: you have to dodge blocks that fall from the sky while climbing as high as you possibly can. Throw in elements like wall slides and double jumping, and you’ve already got a compelling platformer. But even if this game isn’t the most original in terms of gameplay, it definitely is in terms of polish and quality.

While you frantically jump from block to block, you’ll notice spaceships taking off in the background to escape the chaos, as well as masses of debris falling from the skies. The background not only shows the level of detail the developers put into this game, but also contributes toward the upbeat atmosphere. This is the kind of game you can get completely immersed in, despite it’s simplicity.

Block Jumping

Block Jumping

As you can see in the above right screenshot, there is a white horizontal line placed in each game to indicate the highest you’ve ever gotten. If you manage to get above that line, you’ve beaten your high score.

Controls

Playing in landscape view

Playing in landscape view

When the game first came out, the controls were buggy and inaccurate: it was not uncommon to double jump when you only hit the jump button once, or to move far too quickly in one direction. Since then, Halfbot has released several updates that address and fix these problems, and they’ve done a spectacular job of it; not only have they removed all bugs and quirks, but they’ve added the ability to play in landscape view. Although this makes the area of play smaller, the controls are further apart and much more comfortable to use.

Gamebot

Gamebot Mode

Gamebot Mode

The previously mentioned Gamebot mode (a 99 cent in-app purchase) is a purposeful tip-of-the-hat to the good old days of the Gameboy and 16-bit graphics. Gameplay is essentially the same, but the artwork and music are simplified to reflect the older style. While this mode isn’t too drastically different, it’s this kind of small-but-clever extras that are often the deciding factor between a good game and a great one.

Conclusion

The Blocks Cometh is a excellent example of a game that takes a simple concept and executes it perfectly. Everything about the game, from the flexibility of the controls to the awesome pulsating music and crisp graphics, oozes polish. I have no complaints about it because there’s hardly anything to complain about!

If you’re looking for one of the best vertical platformers out there, look no further: this is it.


Summary

An exciting endless vertical climber. Dodge the falling blocks and climb as high as you can!

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