Friday, 10 August 2018

Block Wars (Playstation)

It's kind of interesting, that every time I find another Versus Arkanoid clone, it manifests its competitive element in a totally different way. There's the most famous example, Puchi Carat, that essentially transplants Puzzle Bobble's ruleset into a block-breaking environment, there's Blocken, with its combination of a block-breaking race, and Tetris Battle Gaiden-esque attacks, and now Block Wars, which has yet another interpretation of the concept.

How it works is that the field is horizontally aligned, with a player at each end, barrier in the middle, and a solid wall behind each player. Each player starts with an identical set of blocks, and they go about their business smashing them with the ball. There's a bunch of characters to choose from, and as far as I can tell, they differ in how fast the ball goes, and how quickly it accelerates. There are two possible win conditions, the least interesting being smashing all your blocks before your opponent does.

Much more interesting is the way the walls and centre barrier come into play. The other way you can win is to ensure that one of the blocks on your opponent's side touches the wall behind them. Of course, this is done by moving the barrier in the middle of the field. There's two things that make the barrier move: hitting it with your ball pushes it away from you and towards your opponent. Allowing your ball to hit the wall behind you does the opposite. I think hitting the barrier also makes extra blocks appear on your opponent's side of the field, but the game moves really fast, so I'm not totally sure about that.

Well, the balls move really fast, but the game doesn't always. As is often a problem in single player Arkanoid-likes, you do often end up with situations where both players have one brick remaining in a hard-to-reach place, and there's a long, tense battle to be the first to reach it. And of course, with no blocks in the way, both players are knocking the barrier back and forth, too. The tension would probably be a lot more exciting with human opponents than AI ones, I assume.

Block Wars is a playable game, but if you plan on playing it single player, I wouldn't bother. There's a perfectly fine Playstation port of Puchi Carat, and that game's a lot more fun, and it has a couple of solo modes, too. Maybe Block Wars would have worked better as an arcade game, maybe on a tabletop cabinet with a vertically-aligned screen between the players?

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