Ever since the groundbreaking Tetris, games developers
have been banging their heads against the wall trying
to replicate its success. 'What's the problem?', I hear
you say. There really shouldn't be one but for some
reason no one has yet managed to follow this game of
falling blocks while retaining its simplicity and addictiveness.
Up steps the next contender - Denki Blocks, from Gameboy
newcomers Rage, which appears to have all the ingredients
to become the Tetris of the new Millennium but did it
give us sleepless nights or just put us to sleep?
Outlining the gameplay in this title is simple to
say the least; if Tetris can be defined as 'fitting
falling shapes together', Denki Blocks is 'pushing coloured
boxes together'. This may appear like mindless gameplay
to you at the moment but read on, you may change your
mind. The game starts off so simply you might wonder
why you're playing it at all but this is really just
a cleverly constructed learning curve so hang in there
as by the time you reach the fourth area you'll be struggling
to solve anything.
You start off by pushing same coloured blocks in
order to fuse them together. It should be mentioned
here that it is the walls and various obstacles (always
in white) that move and not the blocks. The blocks will
only move when a wall or another block pushes them.
Got it? Good.
Things get more difficult with each color introduced.
It may sound strange but you actually spend most of
your time avoiding blocks. This is because joining blocks
too early can trap you in a corner or jam the walls
thus rendering you helpless. This can happen a lot to
start with but using the 'Reset Puzzle' option will
give you another crack at it. If this isn't enough,
as a bonus, you'll sometimes be challenged to replicate
a given shape using one of the colors which eventually
opens up other areas.
We started off in 'Tournament Mode' where you solve
puzzles from different hosts located in various parts
of the island. There are 25 from each host set up in
a grid fashion allowing you to tackle the puzzles in
any order. Complete 15 and you win a special award and
the option to try the next level of gameplay. There
are other modes that have you beating times, matching
the 'Par' moves already set and there's even a four
player option using just one GBA. Another way to tackle
the game is just to play all of the puzzles available
although this is not as interesting as the other modes
and only really for puzzle purists. The battery save
system is exactly as you'd wish as your name and position
are saved automatically even if you just switch off.
We're only reviewing the GBA version of this game
as the differences between it and the GBC version are
so slight it that it really didn't warrant a second
look. Basically the GBC version gives you exactly the
same gameplay so the end score stands for both versions.
The GBA version has more levels and superior sound/graphics/animation
and that's it. In an original marketing move UK residents
with digital television can play a demo using 'OPEN'
and your remote control. This really is the ultimate
'Try Before You Buy' and in the comfort of your own
This is possibly the simplest control system we've
seen as other than travelling through the various options
the only in-game control used is the 'D-pad'. For anything
else you need to know there's a whole tutorial section
in the game which disposes of any need for a manual.
Yes, this is a truly portable game.
Throughout the game you're treated to some wonderful
airbrushed cartoon graphics that suit the gameplay perfectly.
Everything has a very whimsical feel about it so you
get the impression that this game never really takes
itself too seriously. The style of animation also complements
the title with large sprites dominating most cut scenes.
One entertaining aspect of the game is the host puzzlers
in 'Tournament Mode' who become visually emotional when
you're playing the puzzles set by them. The Princess
is especially amusing and when screaming she opens her
mouth wide enough to swallow a small puppy.
Sound & Music
The music, like the graphics, immerses you fully
in this wonderland of puzzles and, unusually, never
becomes annoying. The sound effects too do justice to
the gameplay but hey, these are just sliding blocks
we're talking about.
The simplicity of this game makes it accessible to
absolutely everyone. It's one of those games where even
your parents could suddenly become very interested in
your Gameboy. If you don't like Tetris or puzzle games
in general then there's absolutely nothing here to change
your mind. For everyone else, however, prepare to put
the rest of your life on hold. This is handheld puzzling
at its best.