Wii

North America

Groovin' Blocks (Retail Release)

by Pedro Hernandez - September 13, 2009, 10:21 pm PDT
Total comments: 5

8.5

An enjoyable title that combines the basics of rhythm with the proven 'falling puzzle piece' formula.

With so many puzzle games on the market across so many platforms, it becomes hard to innovate with the genre. A recent trend is to combine puzzle mechanics with other genres to enhance gameplay. EA did this with Henry Hatsworth, a DS title that combines puzzle gaming with adventure platforming. Groovin' Blocks is another title that innovates by meshing two different genres. In this case, the 'falling puzzle piece' genre is mixed with the basics of rhythm gaming, and the results are surprisingly satisfying.

Groovin' Blocks first started life as a WiiWare title developed by Empty Clip Studios (read Jonathan Metts' review here). Courtesy of Zoo Publishing, the title now receives a retail release with double the content of its WiiWare iteration, with its original gameplay intact.

Groovin' Blocks is a falling puzzle piece game akin to Tetris and Lumines. The object is to clear rows of blocks by aligning three or more blocks of the same color horizontally or vertically. As in many puzzle games, you can chain blocks together to gain the highest score possible. Groovin' Block's main innovation is that it mixes the concepts of rhythm gaming into its puzzle mechanics. On each side of the screens are scrolling beats, and the object is to place the puzzle pieces to the rhythm of the song. Doing so earns the player a score multiplier.

While keeping the beat isn't necessary to successfully complete a stage, it is the best way to open new stages and achieve high scores. The game lets you know how well you are keeping the beat by the color of the blocks. Blocks placed in rhythm will be bright, while those blocks placed off beat will be darker and register a thud sound when placed.

It's a very novel idea that works extremely well and creates surprising results. While the core puzzle concept is basic and works well on its own, the concept of keeping rhythm as one of its goals accentuates it in a grand manner. The only issue is that some players may find it confusing having to keep track of both tasks at once. It is easy to either focus on placing blocks and missing the opportunity to score high, or focus too much on keeping the beat and letting the blocks stack up. But it never gets to the point of being overwhelming, and it is not necessary to follow the ideas loyally. It's a very engaging concept to say the least.

There are three modes of difficulty: casual, intermediate and expert. The main differences between each mode are the blocks that appear, with the harder levels featuring larger blocks that drop more frequently. Each stage has a score goal, and achieving this goal earns you star icons. These are used to unlock new songs and stages. Players can also earn power-ups such as multipliers and bombs that can help them beat the stage faster and get an even higher score. Best of all these power ups can be leveled up as you achieve the stage's highest score. Power-ups are fairly standard in puzzle games, but the ability to level them is a welcome addition. The game also features over 50 stages, with the idea of successfully hitting all the beats and scoring chains of blocks likely to keep players at it for a while.

The music is also a winning aspect of Groovin' Blocks. The songs are able to provide a level of challenge when it comes to keeping the beat, while creating a smooth and pleasing atmosphere that reminds you of the hottest clubs around. Not all of the songs are winners, but the soundtrack does both of its jobs well.

The title also shines in terms of its options, . providing plenty of setup options to create a more personalized and appropriate experience. Players can synch the audio and the image in the event that gameplay seems off, and there's even a color blind mode for those players that have issues telling the colors apart. It's always great to see developers offer the player the opportunity to tweak the game in the event of an unforeseen issue.

The only major drawback with this version of Groovin' Blocks is that it's nearly identical to the WiiWare version, despite the addition of new songs. The only decision buyers needto make is whether they want more content or quick accessibility. Regardless of the version you buy, you will be getting a unique and fun puzzler that proves that the genre can still be innovated- even if you have to mix two different genres to create a new one.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 8.5 9 9 9 8.5
Graphics
8

Groovin' Blocks is not meant to be a title that pushes visual boundaries, but its bright colors and groovy atmosphere do the job of creating a lively setting without being too distracting.

Sound
8.5

With music being an integral part of the gameplay, the soundtrack does a really nice job of being both catchy and pleasing while adding challenge and fun to the puzzle elements.

Control
9

Groovin' Blocks uses the Wii Remote on its side, as well as the Classic Controller , as the main methods of control. Both work well; they are simple and very quick to learn.

Gameplay
9

Featuring the best of both worlds in terms of rhythm and puzzle gaming, Groovin' Blocks proves that combining two unlikely genres can be a great thing if a lot of work and polish are put into it.

Lastability
9

It can be very addictive trying to nail all of the beats in a song while creating never-ending combos. There are a lot of songs to be mastered, along with a compelling concept that is enough to keep players at it for a while.

Final
8.5

Despite the fact that there's no real difference between the WiiWare version and this retail version, Groovin' Blocks is a winner in design and replayability. Whichever version you get, the experience is a memorable one that might be hard to let go of.

Summary

Pros
  • Addictive gameplay
  • Ingenious puzzle design
  • Lots of stages
  • Pleasant soundtrack
Cons
  • Almost identical to the WiiWare version
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

Mop it upSeptember 14, 2009

Wait, did this game get released already? How did I miss that?

This game sounds pretty good. I've actually never been so fond of Tetris because it is kind of simplistic, but having to match a rhythm sounds like it really adds depth to the game. I also appreciate games which have a good soundtrack, and I'd hope a game based on music has one!

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterSeptember 14, 2009

Yeah its been out for a while now. The retail version is, I believe, only 20 bucks so its a steal, especially for a quality title like this one.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusSeptember 14, 2009

Quote from: Mop_it_up

Wait, did this game get released already? How did I miss that?

This game sounds pretty good. I've actually never been so fond of Tetris because it is kind of simplistic, but having to match a rhythm sounds like it really adds depth to the game. I also appreciate games which have a good soundtrack, and I'd hope a game based on music has one!

Yup, it did get released however it didn't get much publicity because the publisher, Zoo Publishing is a very small publisher.

Mop it upSeptember 14, 2009

So I guess it had a very limited release then?
I looked on the websites for Best Buy and Target and they didn't have it listed. Even GameStop doesn't have it listed on their website, even when the search criteria includes items not available online. I guess the real challenge will be finding the game...

D_AverageSeptember 15, 2009

I still need to check this one out

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Genre Puzzle
Developer Empty Clip Studios
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Groovin' Blocks (Retail Release)
Release Aug 11, 2009
RatingEveryone
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