Monday, February 1, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Blockout

Retro Game of the Day! Blockout

Blockout by California Dreams, who apparently was a Polish development studio - so named because they dreamed someday of moving to California? Did it happen? Or did "Polish Dreams" not guarantee a good sales return? Anyway, the game first appeared in 1989 (a big year for puzzle games!) and appeared in various incarnations.

An intriguing game. though quite intimidating, the game was very obviously a spinoff of the notion originally presented in Tetris - though, where that watershed game was purely a 2-dimensional experience, this version attempted to carry over the gameplay into 3D space.

Did I mention that this game was intimidating? Anyone who's played Tetris (or should I say, anyone with opposeable thumbs) is well aware of how quickly Tetris can become quite hectic. Now consider playing it from a top-down perspective and having a very limited POV - even, as was the case with this game, if the active pieces are rendered transparent, the game is obviously going to be quite difficult to play.

A chore, yes, but a fun one, no doubt about it. As Tetris was before it, Blockout could become mesmerizing to take hold of. The pace was dramatically slowed down to account for the presentation, and clearing rows would prove to be quite gratifying. Unlike Tetris (or similar games), one can never get into a Zen-like connection with this game, as it is impossible to perceive the whole of the playfield at any given time - since much of the depth is usually obscured.
Regardless, Blockout is a game which must be recommended if you enjoy the basic take-offs of the Tetris formula. Writing about it prompts me to search for an iPhone version (if you know of on, please clue me in!) Personally I got much enjoyment out of the Atari Lynx port - puzzle fans, don't be daunted by this confusing looking game, it is quite fun and absolutely is worth having a look at.


  1. I tried to play this once in the early 1990's on a PC. TRIED. For about two hours in fact. Turns out that it is incredibly terrible game. Let me assure you that there are complexities in translating a 2D game to 3D that people don't understand until they've tried it. To make my point, imagine how much simpler 1D Tetris would be than 2D Tetris. Why, it wouldn't even be the same game, and would be incredibly boring unless you had some ingenious insight that made it fun. Same goes for 2D to 3D. An unimaginative translation of Tetris to 3D will always fail.

    One final example: look at how many bad 3D asteroids games there are. After I made one I played a lot of them and they mostly suck.

  2. I know what you mean. There's a reason Blockout's not had any longevity - though it was still enjoyable enough that I'd give it a little time now if I could get my hands on it. To be honest, they'd need to push the concept a good bit further to actually make it enduring - not impossible - but no small feat for sure!!