Deblocked Reviewed

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Our friends over at QuicklyBored have another BlackBerry game review for us. This time, they take a look at Magmic’s Deblocked.

If you think it’s hard being a mobile gamer, just think of those poor sods who try to game on their BlackBerry. They’re usually stuck playing paper thin ‘games’ with worse graphics than an Etch-A-Sketch with tourrets. However, BlackBerry developer Magmic Games seems hard set on trying to change that. First they drop the truly spectacular KaGlom, and now they’ve released Deblocked, a game that tries to push the BlackBerry further than it’s ever been.

This is without a doubt the prettiest BlackBerry game that exists. From the splash screen to the in-game action, everything looks lush and crisp (with the minor exception of the paths you take on the map screen, which are ugly and the only example of a lack of attention to detail within the game); Deblocked puts most mobile games to shame in terms of graphics. However, the eye candy comes at a price: while the game runs like butta on an 8700 BlackBerry, there is consistent slowdown to be found on the 7100 version. It’s nothing game destroying, but it’s definitely annoying.

Unlike most mobile puzzle games (and basically all BlackBerry games), Deblocked features a story mode to enhance play. It follows the adventures of Trot the fox who has save his animal friends by blah blah blah. Listen: the characters are cute, the Disney-esque storyline fits the aesthetics of the game and it’ll entertain the kids when they nix your BlackBerry for some mobile toddler gaming. But let’s be serious, the story is only there as a setup for the gameplay.

The basic gameplay is centered on removing pesky blocks from a 5X5 grid. This is done by pushing blocks onto the grid to form chains of at least three blocks of the same type: the bigger the chain (or chain combo if you’re lucky), the higher your score. Most levels are completed by making a certain amount of chains or achieving a high enough score within a set time limit.

However, Deblocked contains some fundamental gameplay glitches that prevent it from reaching the high watermark established by its graphics. The first is a question of blocks: there are just too many types for a 5×5 screen to effectively clear, as well as different stages of block strength that essentially require you to clear blocks multiple times. This wouldn’t be so bad if your block queue was generous with the blocks that you actually need, but it isn’t. You’ll spend half your time deleting blocks that you’ve just sent out instead of focusing on the blocks that are already there, which seems like a waste of time. Occasionally this frustration will be contrasted with times when the blocks you get are sooo generous that you can clear the screen so easily that you spend the remainder of the level shooting blocks and then clearing them. Boring.

Another concern is your inability to shoot blocks from any place other than the front two sides of the grid, which really limits your options. Also, although you can rotate the grid to see blocks on the other sides, you have no way of seeing the blocks that are completely surrounded, so many times you end up shooting blocks in a blind hope that the ones you can’t see will help form a chain.

These gameplay problems are exacerbated by the game’s instructions failing to give you a proper understanding of how to play the game. For example, you can shoot a wedge to lift a block up off the ground and place a new block underneath. Usually this block is the same type as the one directly above it — except for when it isn’t. This is never explained in the instructions. Also, the game instructions tell you that the wedge is unable to lift a stack of blocks after it has reached a certain height, but leaves it up to trial and error to determine what that height is. There is an in-game tutorial which answers most questions, but new information can only be gained by progressing through the game. If you’re stuck, or don’t have a good grasp of the fundamentals, you’re basically screwed. The difficulty to the game ends up seeming artificial and not earned, which is a death blow to a puzzle game.

In the end, while Magmic has tried really hard to offer more bang for your BlackBerry buck, Deblocked falls short. With the exception of the graphics, why would you play this when you could be playing KaGlom? Buy this game only to shut people up when they start picking on you for playing ugly BlackBerry games.

To download the trial, just point your Blackberry browser to:

http://bb.magmic.com