LoBlocks Review

At a cursory glance, LoBlocks may look like a cheap Tetris knock off. There’s a little truth to that, but you’d be closer if you said that LoBlocks is a cheap Dr Mario knock off. If you owned a Nintendo Gameboy in its early years, then there’s a good chance you played it or its sequel. Although ‘knock off’ is perhaps a tad rude: LoBlocks isn’t a quick raid on the wallet. It attempts a few interesting things that might make it stretch to a purchase (and a few which will put your wallet back in the pocket).

In LoBlocks, instead of making lines, you are connecting a minimum of four blocks of the same colour together. Blocks fall from the sky a la Tetris, and you manoeuvre them so that similar colours come together. Once there is any permutation of at least four blocks of one colour, they disappear and the blocks above them crash down.

As you’d hope from a game of this type, this can lead to combos. The blocks above crunch down onto similarly coloured blocks below, and so on, as combos multiply and points tally up. 

That is ninety-percent of LoBlocks. Great, we’ll pack up the review and head home. But there are a few details that liven things up, so we will stick around a little longer.

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Very occasionally, a block is switched out for a power-up. Initially, the rules around them are opaque. We thought the colour-dropper power-ups changed the colour of connecting blocks, but it turns out they change the hue of every block of that type. A dynamite obliterates nearby blocks while a bomb clears the column and row. Knowing exactly which blocks will disappear is a tad fuzzy, and that becomes more problematic in one of the game’s modes.

Which is a neat time to start talking about them. There are two game modes here, and one of them is significantly better than the other. 

The good one is Classic Mode, which skews heavily into one-off puzzle scenarios. You have some blocks that have been carelessly strewn about, and a small number of two-colour blocks with which to remove them. Your aim is to clear the screen of those blocks, leaving none behind once the puzzle is done.

This turns Dr Mario, Tetris, what-have-you, into some carefully constructed puzzle scenes. You see some recurring themes come through: is it best to hold back your matches and let combos do the hard work with the last few blocks? Should you be prepping for the best use of your colour-dropper, ensuring that all the blocks change colour at the same time? There are enough factors in play that makes these puzzles – particularly the last half of them – rather intricate. 

We had a good deal of fun with Classic Mode. It’s so easy to restart and have another pop that the constant failure doesn’t irk too much. Plans start to form, as you can get pretty close to a solution and realise that you only need to finetune to get to a better result. It’s the mode we kept returning to, working through the achievements for every ten or so puzzles.

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It’s got a curious fault, in that power-ups aren’t visible on the ‘next block’ list. We’re not really sure why this is the case. It surely wouldn’t have been difficult to throw a dynamite or bomb icon up there. We found ourselves pausing and trying to mount a plan of action, but forgot that the line of blocks weren’t one-to-one for what we would actually get. 

Arcade Mode, the other offering, should have been the killer app. It’s the mode you’d most associate with similar puzzle games: it’s a blank grid, with blocks arriving at an increasingly fast rate. Chase the score, keep the run going. But it keeps shoving a stick into the spokes of its own bike, crying on the grass bank after ruining everything for itself.  

The basics of a block-based puzzle game is that those blocks should stack. If they stop accumulating on the top of each other, you should probably pack up and go home. For some unheavenly reason, blocks don’t stack perfectly in this mode, where they did before in the Classic Mode. Blocks glitch into each other, columns are uneven, and it becomes incredibly difficult to know – with confidence – whether the block you are dropping will sidle up to another block.

Which is rubbish and inexcusable, frankly. It’s the bread and butter of this kind of game, and it faceplants into it. Sure, it’s irregular, and yes, you can guess how the blocks might be stacking up, but we don’t want to. We want the security of knowing where that grouping of red blocks is going to be. And we can’t. So we lost interest.

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There’s another issue in there, in the form of the arbitrary blocks it throws at you. There’s no multiplayer in LoBlocks, which is a miss in itself (but understandable with the budget), so the designers try to approximate it. They toss you blocks with numbers on them, as if a human opponent did a doozy of a combo and sent you some detritus as a result. These time-bomb blocks don’t turn into colours when the timer goes down: they become concrete blocks with no colour at all. Which, in LoBlocks terms, is the end of the world. You only get power-ups like dynamite very rarely, so these concrete blocks languish, getting in the way. 

But mostly, they’re not much fun. You get eight blocks to clear in four blocks’ time, and your ability to clear them is dependent entirely on luck. Not got a red block among your next four blocks? Sorry, you will soon create a layer of concrete over your game. 

Arcade Mode is, frankly, a mess. Which might explain why this mode, commonly the default for this kind of game, is second on the main menu. Colossus Game Studio know what they are doing. 

One half of LoBlocks is more enjoyable than we anticipated. The other half is far, far worse. Where does that leave us? If you can hold a hand over one eye as you pick from the game menu, then there’s a devious little puzzler to be had in its Classic Mode. Just don’t look at the other half, the Arcade Mode, which is a half-formed little growth that could probably do with being sliced off.

You can buy LoBlocks from the Xbox Store

TXH Score

2.5/5

Pros:

  • Classic Mode offers some engaging puzzles
  • Simple Dr Mario-style gameplay
  • Surprisingly lilting soundtrack

Cons:

  • Arcade Mode is borderline broken
  • No multiplayer
  • Basic functionality missing

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to – Purchased by TXH
  • Formats – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
  • Version reviewed – Xbox Series X
  • Release date – 25 January 2023
  • Launch price from – £4.19

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Source: https://www.thexboxhub.com/loblocks-review/

Source: https://webfulnet.com/

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