(WiiWare)

Groovin' Blocks (WiiWare)

Game Review

Groovin' Blocks Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Is Groovin' Blocks really that groovy or is it more of a square?

Unless you've been stuck on a deserted island or in a coma for the past few months, you know that there's been a barrage of puzzle games released on the WiiWare service during its short time in existence. You can now add one more puzzler to the list with the release of Empty Clip Studios' first WiiWare title, Groovin' Blocks. It won't take gamers long to see that the game borrows heavily from several other popular puzzle series, but it's worth noting that it brings at least a few new ideas to the table. So is this groovy puzzler a worthy addition to the WiiWare service or just another mediocre puzzler clone?

The best way to accurately describe the gameplay in Groovin' Blocks is to liken it a bit to a cross between the PSP hit Lumines and the classic Mega Drive title Columns. The core gameplay of manipulating the coloured blocks is quite reminiscent of that found in Columns where you can move the various colours up and down the stack of three blocks that come falling from the top of the screen. Your task is to basically align three like colours in a row either horizontally or vertically. This will cause these matched blocks, plus any like-coloured blocks touching this group, to disappear. This is where the music twist of Groovin' Blocks comes into play.

Instead of the musical beats being more of an afterthought as they were in Lumines, Groovin' Blocks forces you to use the thumping beats of each song to score bigger point values. When you bring the blocks down to stack them up, you have to do it on a downbeat. If you're successful, the blocks will glow and appear raised on the surface. You'll also be given a circular flash that will let you know when you've successfully stacked a group of blocks with the beat. As you stack and remove like-coloured blocks on the beat, you'll get a points multiplier. If you can keep it going you'll continue to get larger multipliers, starting with 2X. If you miss the downbeat while bringing a set of blocks down, the multiplier will disappear and you'll have to build it up again. You basically have until the song ends to play the level, at which time your score is tallied up and you are awarded stars based on your overall score.

As you gain stars for scoring high scores during each song, you'll soon be able to unlock new songs and unlock power ups as well. Some of these will give you scoring point bonuses while others can be used as destruction boosts to eliminate larger groups of coloured blocks at one time. These power ups will also gain in effectiveness as you unlock stronger ones. Unlocking these power ups is key to being able to reach the high scores so you can win the required stars for each song.

The control system is about as simple as you can get. You can use either the Wii Remote turned on its side or the Wii Classic Controller. Vertical groups of blocks are moved from side to side using the D-Pad, while pressing down brings the blocks downward in order to stack them up. Only one action button is used which will change the positions of the coloured blocks on the vertical group that's currently falling. While this control itself is simple and intuitive, trying to perform these moves to the beats of each song can become quite challenging. The early songs are fairly tame, but you'll soon come to songs that change beats and fade out from time to time, which makes your timing in bringing the groups of blocks down quite tricky and extremely challenging in later levels. Of course the required scores for each song also become more difficult to reach as you progress through the game.

There's also a multiplayer option in which two players can take on the game in one of two fashions: the Head-to-Head mode provides separate playing boards in which you both play your own board trying to rack up more points than your opponent before the song ends, while Co-Op mode allows two players to play simultaneously on the same game board and try to help each other rack up points cooperatively. This can be a double-edged sword at times, especially if one player is quite a bit better or worse than the other. In this case, a fight might break out once your playing partner begins losing points for you or stacking blocks up too quickly. It's a lot of fun until someone starts losing.

Unfortunately, Groovin' Blocks isn't much to look at. There are some nice special effects that flash in from time to time and the scrolling beat bar is a nice touch to give you a better indication of what the downbeat is for those songs where it's a bit difficult to pinpoint. The gauges and bars that you'll need to keep an eye on are all well drawn and easy to pick out, but they don't show much in the way of graphical flash. Even the blocks themselves aren't much better than you'd find on any classic 16-bit era puzzler. In all honesty, the coloured pulses and the blocks shattering into many little polygon pieces are really the highlight of the visual package as a whole. Of course, with a game like this, visual flair falls pretty far down on the priority list anyway.

Now we get to the good stuff! If you're a fan of techno music, you're in for a real treat with Groovin' Blocks. There's enough techno here to last you a lifetime. That's to be expected since the emphasis on downbeats plays such a vital role in the overall gameplay experience and you'd be hard-pressed to find a style of music with a more constant downbeat than techno. It's also worth noting that the music is very high quality and each song is very distinctive, so you don't have to worry about the music tracks becoming too repetitive during long playing sessions. In fact, the music tends to get better the further into the game you progress. A lot of that could be due to the fact that these tracks become quite a bit more intricate as the game becomes more difficult.

Conclusion

It is safe to say that if you are a fan of puzzlers such as Lumines or Columns you will get a kick out of this. For the admission price of 800 Wii points it is pretty good value for the money. Groovin’ Blocks is not terribly original in many respects, but there are at least a few unique gameplay elements that help set it apart from the many music puzzlers that have preceded it. If you are not much of a puzzle game fan, however, it is unlikely that Groovin’ Blocks will be revolutionary enough to convert you. Whilst it is understandable that online play was not included on this offering from start-up developers, it is sadly a glaring omission for a game of this nature. The inclusive of more game modes might have boosted the longevity of the game; as it stands it is unlikely you will go back to this once you have met all the score targets. Groovin’ Blocks is a welcome addition to the WiiWare service and a great first effort from Empty Clip Studios.

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User Comments (47)

calculon

#1

calculon said:

It's funny, but even before I read your review I thought "I bet this game gets a seven" - I'll read your review now :)

Sounds a reasonable game and worthy of the score (which makes a change) I might buy it unless something radically creative appears on WiiWare. In other words, I probably will buy it unless Tetris appears first in the EU. Well done on your first project Empty Clip Studios.

DazzaAdmin

#3

Dazza said:

It just goes to show that the average WiiWare game is pretty decent. As a policy we encourage our reviewers to be critical when needed and not dish out high scores lightly. Lately the quality level has been pretty consistent which is a relief. Remember it wasn't that long ago that we had SPOGS, MLE, Pirates then Pong Toss in a row. (Although we did like MLE more than we thought we might!)

I downloaded Groovin' Blocks last night and I have to say I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I am not really the biggest Columns fan myself, but the techno music and dropping blocks to the beat adds a lot to the gameplay. Not bad at all.

Kawaiipikachu

#5

Kawaiipikachu said:

Gei would be downloading this game as soon as it come out here in the PAL Empire at least you americans get it first .

Looks intreasting .

And once again great review Corbie .

Ziondood

#6

Ziondood said:

I'm still gonna wait around for some other games so ill pass . . . . . but next week doesn't look to appealing either . . . but i would perfer Groovin' Blocks than Potpourri =D

darkmagi_82

#7

darkmagi_82 said:

Empty Clip pulled it off, good for them; and Corbie pulled it off too, excellent review. I like techno, so this one's a win for me; I'll download it as soon as I find time.

Jogurt_the_Yogurt

#8

Jogurt_the_Yogurt said:

Hmm... still undecided. I think what I'll do is download this, but I'll wait till a dry week to do it. NHL 2k9 also came out today, making this week not very dry at all! :)

Pegasus

#9

Pegasus said:

Yup, that's about the score I would have given it, too. I still have yet to gain a star in any difficulty setting other than casual. It ain't that easy. While the graphics may seem quite simple, I really like the style.

Definitely recommendable to fellow puzzle nuts.

Wiiloveit

#10

Wiiloveit said:

I think I'll wait until I've got minigolf, potpourri and strongbad. And the EU release of course. It does sound about how I thought it would though (in terms of quality)

worrybomb

#11

worrybomb said:

I'll give it a download but it'll probably be somewhere in the near future. It looks like fun and hopefully these guys meet some kind of success with this game because I would love to see some more games by Empty Clip. Plus I like their logo. =)

Jazzem

#12

Jazzem said:

It's a real shame when games like this don't have WiFi functionality but I like the look of it, I'll consider it when it gets a EU release :)

CanisWolfred

#13

CanisWolfred said:

This turned out to be pretty good! I'll definitely make sure to get it once I get the time. Sadly, I probably that probably won't come any time soon, what with school and all, but I'll definitely be including it in my next Wiiware purchase.

Oh, and I don't mind the lack of WiFi, since I hate playing puzzlers online. Like they said, it's fun until somebody starts losing.

You know, even though I figured it would be about a 7, judging from the review I figured it would be more like an 8, maybe even a 9! I guess it's just my kind of a game :)

CorbsAdmin

#14

Corbs said:

There were a few things that brought the score down, several of which are mentioned more than once in the review. Lack of any type of online functions, barebone visuals, and the fact that it borrowed a lot of game play mechanics from other puzzlers, one of which is well over a decade old and has already been cloned many times over. It's a good game and a nice twist on a classic formula, but it would be difficult to rank it above a 7 given those factors. It's a fun puzzler, but not quite up to 8 or 9 standards.

CorbsAdmin

#16

Corbs said:

Just for that, I'm going to give Mega Man a 7 even if it deserves better or worse. So mark it down on your calendars people, Mega Man 9 is a 7. In fact they should just change the name to Mega Man 9-7. Save us all a lot of time and trouble. :P

Mario64DStyle

#17

Mario64DStyle said:

Haha, I was actually expecting a 5 or 6 from this game...

Lol, k, my calendar has been marked for the Mega Man 9 7/10 review.. oh wait.. when is it coming out again? =P

Tides_of_Chaos

#18

Tides_of_Chaos said:

I didn't read the whole review yet, but Corbie, if you're from the US, then why are you spelling color as colour and calling the Genesis the Mega Drive? Or is it the Editor(s)'s fault?

CorbsAdmin

#19

Corbs said:

They change the spelling and sometimes words in general to European spelling. I know, it looks funny to me too. :P

tantrumario

#20

tantrumario said:

hmm didnt think it'd get such a good score. Hmm im still saving my points though. Unless i could try it first hand.

Objection

#21

Objection said:

@Corbie
Is the whole "Colour/color" an on-going joke between you guys then? ;)Like your new avatars? (You're still cool with a Dreamcast lollipop.)

DazzaAdmin

#22

Dazza said:

Haha "Mega Drive" is Corbie's own doing! After all he is a big time Japanese importer. The English spellings thing is just because Damo and myself use an English spell check when proof reading reviews submitted to the system.

At least all of our reviews by European and American reviewers are consistently UK English. C'mon we have to have standards don't we? :-p

Read more here about this interesting subject!

CorbsAdmin

#23

Corbs said:

Not really a joke, so much as just the standard that the editors like to adhere to. And as Daz said, they change the spelling to a more "UK English friendly" spelling to remain consistent since we have both US and UK reviewers. I say Mega Drive because most of my Sega consoles are Japanese imports.

Oh and the Dreamcast lollipop is just my dedication to the month of September when the Dreamcast was released in the US 9 years ago. I've always loved the console and felt like it never came close to reaching its true potential. My Grim Reaper's sickle will be back next month.

Kawaiipikachu

#24

Kawaiipikachu said:

@ Dazza .
I didn't realise that corbie's a big time Japanese importer .

Well i only managed to get some American imports that i managed to get that i happen to find at GameTraders that intreast me at the time e.g. Final Fantasy V & VI GBA games & Pocket Megadrive .

CorbsAdmin

#25

Corbs said:

I've always been a big Japanese importer of games and consoles since I first imported a Super Famicom back when it first came out in Japan. My current import setup keeps me quite busy when I'm not reviewing. In fact, 90% of the games I own for those systems in the picture are Japanese imports, many of which are shooters. :P

AlexSays

#27

AlexSays said:

Just for that, I'm going to give Mega Man a 7
Mega Man fanboys will hunt you down. :P

stokley316

#29

stokley316 said:

this game is like crack I can't stop playing. Definately not just another wiiware title

CanisWolfred

#32

CanisWolfred said:

@anexus

This game has absolutely nothing to do with Scrabble. Scrabble is a word game, this is a Columns clone with rythm elements.

darkmagi_82

#34

darkmagi_82 said:

Once you get the hang of it, its not too hard. It took me a while, but I finally got all 27 stars in all three categories. Then I unlocked...something. :P

Twilight_Crow

#35

Twilight_Crow said:

A friend just gave me this game, indeed is better than I thought, it's fun to play and challenging, I like it a lot; I'll try and get all the stars.

KnucklesSonic8

#37

KnucklesSonic8 said:

Favourite? Really? Wow!

But the block size is very unappealing, especially for a game of this stature. :(

Starwolf_UK

#38

Starwolf_UK said:

But the block size is very unappealing, especially for a game of this stature.
I can assure you the lion's share of the blocks are on the soundtrack. So its just like Mojipitan (Japan only) in that respect (and possibly Toki Tori).

Ricardo91

#39

Ricardo91 said:

@Anexus. LOL! Are you high? This game has nothing to do with Scrabble! There's no letter tiles or forming of words vertically or horizontally of any sort here. It's more of a Columns/ Lumines ripoff.

KnucklesSonic8

#40

KnucklesSonic8 said:

Anyone still playing this game? I recently saw some footage of it and I'm intrigued. I dunno why I skipped over it the first time around. I probably thought it was too formulaic, I dunno. But anyway, I'm seriously considering purchasing this now.

Rocky

#42

Rocky said:

They are actually coming out with a Wii disc version of this game, so if you haven't purchased it yet on WiiWare, you may want to wait for the enhanced version to be released on disc.

Objection

#44

Objection said:

I'm enjoying this quite a bit. Hopefully the later levels don't become too frustrating but I loved the first 6 songs I played today. Yay for free stuff, but yay for good free stuff. So far I agree with the 8/10. :)

jhill109

#45

jhill109 said:

Excellent puzzle game! Worth every point. Easy to play, hard to stop. It's very addicting.

moosa

#46

moosa said:

I realize this is an old review, but I must say Corbie, I think the "review" was only in the last paragraph. The rest was more of a description. This is an awfully common mistake. It's well written, but you spend too much time talking about the game and not enough time talking about how good or bad it is. Just a little constructive criticism.

MikeyMikeMike

#47

MikeyMikeMike said:

The simple fact that this game has a color blind mode which converts all pieces into shapes warrants a big thumbs up from me. I'm generally like games of this type but my first question is always will I be able to play it. The lighting of already similar colored pieces in Rotohex or the shadows cast on already dark colored pieces next to other dark colored pieces in the middle of a Cubello makes it impossible for me to play them (I particularly like the idea behind rotohex and it ruins what would otherwise be a great game for me). Thank you Groovin Blocks. The sound integration to an alrealdy established puzzle idea works great and is generally quite engaging. My biggest criticism is that the difficulty of obtaining stars in the second and third difficulty settings (needed to unlock stages) makes a huge leap from the casual setting with nothing in between. I have a feeling that many people may give up on reaching the harder levels around half way through.

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