The iPhone game from HalfBot, a port of their popular flash game, moves fast. Not as fast as the original, mind, but still at a pace where I didn’t want to take my fingers off the screen in order to take a quick screen grab by hitting the top and home buttons on my iPhone. In fact, doing so killed me on at least one occasion.
I sacrificed a high score for you, Internet. FOR YOU.
The concept of the game is simple enough. Blocks of varying shapes and size are falling from the sky, and you want to climb as high as you can on the resulting tower of junk, making sure never to be underneath a block when it falls. In that way, it’s like a metaphor for life. Are we not all trying to ascend to the top of the blockades that get in our way? Are we not all threatened to be crushed under their weight?
Anyway, you can run and jump in order to accomplish this goal, as you’d expect. You can usually double jump as well, and can slide on the side of blocks in a sort of wall grind, Mega Man X or Super Meat Boy style. You also have the option of destroying any blocks that get in your way, but true ninjas don’t need such petty abilities and will climb higher and higher without the need to remove any obstacles.
The only real problem with the iPhone port of The Blocks Cometh is in the controls, and this is sort of a tricky situation. All told, the controls are probably as good as they could be on the iOS. They function just fine, and the buttons are properly placed so you neither cover the screen with your hands nor accidentally hit buttons you didn’t mean to push. But if you’re gunning for the highest of scores, you’ll find yourself really wanting a keyboard or gamepad. It’s just too easy to lose your fingers’ place on the iDevice touch screen, and you might find yourself cursing as you tried to jump out of the way of a block, only to realize that you weren’t hitting the right arrow like you thought you were.
Again, this is really a fault of the hardware, not the software, and HalfBot seems to acknowledge the limitations of iDevices. As I mentioned previously, the iPhone version of the game seems to start off slower than the Flash game, and the playing space is smaller. So good on them for at least doing what they could to properly adapt the experience to the mobile device.
So why would you pay $0.99 for this iPhone version when you can play it free on your browser? A few reasons. One is, of course, portability. The Blocks Cometh is a really great game to pick up and play for just a few minutes, similar to something like Canabalt in that regard. This makes it a great choice for an iPhone app. HalfBot also added some content for paying customers, namely in unlockable characters that all play differently and change the experience just enough to make them worthwhile. There’s also GameCenter and OpenFeint support for leaderboards and achievements, which is much appreciated.
There’s another reason to buy it, too. And that’s the fact that the game was originally stolen from them outright. Some thieving scoundrels stole their gameplay, art assets (except one, stolen from another iOS game, League of Evil) and even the name, then managed to make money off selling it without Apple having any clue what was going on. I tend to be against theft as a rule, so feeling bad for the damages HalfBot may suffer from the counterfeit product (a lot of people probably won’t buy the app again, since they already got the fake), I decided to throw them a dollar.
Thankfully, I think the game is good enough to justify that small price. It’s a solid iOS experience that should appeal to gamers who want a bit of a challenge in their mobile games.