iPhone Game Review: Groovin' Blocks

by: Tina -
More On: Groovin' Blocks
I didn’t like this game at first. To begin with, I’m not particularly huge on the music-infused games. They can be fun and all, but doesn’t it get boring after a short while? Groovin’ Blocks not only incited similar sentiment, but the elements of gameplay also felt hashed together.

The idea of Groovin’ Blocks is a Tetris puzzle put together with the rhythmic notions of a game like Rock Band or Guitar Hero. So, you get extra points for placing each block of colors along with the beat of the music playing. There are different tracks and power-ups, both of which are unlocked by achieving high scores that get you stars. Jazzing up the Tetris portion of their game, the rules of Groovin’ Blocks make it so lining up at least 3 sets of the same color, and thereby getting block destruction, will spread to blocks of similar colors that are nearby.

The blocks order of colors is rotated with a shuffle button on either side of the screen for easier accessibility. Two direction buttons, left and right, are also laid out on either side of the screen to direct where you want to drop your blocks. There is also a down direction button placed on the bottom middle of the screen to drop the blocks alongside the beats of the music. You have to hit the down arrow as soon as the beat hits to activate this.

You’ll notice when a beat is about to arrive with the Beat Meter shown to the left of the screen. Hitting said beats consecutively will rack up your multiplier points, another familiar Rock Band/Guitar Hero feature. You can also hit SuperBeats to double your multiplier. This effect functions like star/power mode on the music genre games we all know very well. All they had to do was add in a “tilt the screen to activate star power” to finish it off but alas, they did not. That would probably push the similarities too far.

A distinct feature for Groovin’ Blocks is the power-up aspect indicated by an icon on selected blocks. To pick these up, you’ll need to drop them in conjunction with a beat. Once they are destroyed, they will be activated. There are various power-ups available, Score Boost that increases the value of the blocks and Destruction that destroys blocks within a radius to name two, but all power-ups come in sets and can be unlocked up to a third tier.

There are three modes of difficulty (casual, experienced, hard), and a few options to play around with. I found Color Blind Mode useful, although semi-insulting. This option changes the shape of the blocks as well as the color to help you identify which pair up. It would also help if you were colorblind.

The music itself isn’t really music. It’s more like noise being made that should indicate roughly when a beat is coming. Actually, it’s more companionship to the game than anything else. Only problem is that I don’t want its companionship, and prefer to play my own music while playing the game. Although music is a key aspect to gameplay, you don’t really need it playing to line up the blocks with the beats given the Beat Meter shows it pretty accurately.

After playing the game and getting a handle on the controls and gameplay aspects of Groovin’ Blocks, you’ll find that it’s actually quite entertaining. When I first picked up a music-game like Rock Band, it was an unfamiliar experience and can be a bit overwhelming at first. As soon as you play around with the casual/easy modes of games like these, the overwhelming sensation gives way to an urge for challenge by testing how good you have actually become. These are one of the few games where I actually indulge in the various difficulty modes, given that I have to slowly progress through them.

There are plenty of music-based games in the App Store: Tap Tap Revenge, Rock Band, etc. What makes Groovin’ Blocks unique, though, is what I had initially felt was a hashed together gameplay experience. Turns out, Tetris plus Rock Band is actually pretty good together. While the music could use some updating, and the interface slightly morbid and clunky, getting used to the game makes it pretty enjoyable. Of course, if you need a test run before you decide to spend the $1.99 on the game, you can pick up Groovin’ Blocks Lite.

Groovin’ Blocks: $1.99
Groovin’ Blocks Lite: FREE
GamingNexus Grade: B