By: Uma Smith
There’s nothing that spells more fun during a party than pitting you and your friends in an arena on no-holds-barred battle. No, I’m not encouraging you to start your own backyard wrestling! I’m talking about competitive multiplayer titles for your video game console. We’ve seen quite a fair share of them, from violent, blood-filled shooters like Brink and WarHawk to friendlier-looking games like Bomberman Ultra.
While blowing your friends’ heads off can be loads of fun (what better way to develop those friendships), playing on your own can be quite dull. That’s the danger of multiplayer centric titles: without friends to play with, you’re unlikely to touch them. And although going online remedies this, there are some that don’t have this important feature. That’s the danger that Robby Chop faces with its Xbox Live Indie Game, Bub Block. Will missing online capability “block” players from enjoying this game?
Controls are really simple: you drop a block with one face button and break them with another. Movement is executed with the left stick, but it feels like your character moves too fast to be navigate effectively. But overall, it’s definitely easy to pick up and play.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice that Bub Block takes on the retro classic appearance. Your character, Bub, is depicted as a round, friendly-looking person that you navigate through a single-screen arena all colored in green. Toss in a few wells and saws, which both appear to be simple circles just with different colors, along with a bunch of brown blocks and that’s the basis of the visual presentation. It’s not much to be impressed with at all. You will get the occasional animation of the tiny hearts appearing when you get hit by a saw, which is supposed to indicate a loss in health, but there isn’t much eye candy in the world of Bub Block.
On the other hand, the game’s retro music works quite well and, in fact, can be quite enjoyable if you’re into classic 8-bit era gaming. However, that’s the only aspect of the audio that is perhaps keeping the title’s supposed value as the sound effects don’t really do much in providing excitement.
Your objective is essentially to trap your competitors with blocks you get from the wells so that they can get hit by the saws that bounce around the screen. Before starting the battle, you decide how many wells there are in the arena, the number of blocks you can place and saws that bounce around the screen, and so forth. You do have the ability to break the blocks down, which gives an added degree of challenge to the gameplay. However, if you end up dying, you come back as a ghost to revenge on your opponents, similar to Bomberman Ultra.
In Bub Block, you never know what’s going to happen next for every new person that picks up the controller as his or her skill level and strategy differ. You will need to weigh out between your attacks and defenses as you’ll have blocks coming left, right and center to limit your movement while dangerous saws come your way. But in due time, the game gets boring and repetitive because of the lack of variety. Furthermore, the Bubs move so quickly that it’s hard to block anyone in the first place, which impedes the entertainment factor even further.
Unless you have at least two friends to play with, you’ll quickly lose interest — even playing with just one won’t keep you entertained. The lack of online multiplayer really is unfortunate as it would at least maintain some replay incentive, especially for those that don’t have three friends hanging around the house at any given moment.
It’s really hard to recommend Bub Block to players, especially when there are so many other titles out there that offer way more variety, eye candy and enjoyment. And if you don’t have at least two friends to join you, you should “block” yourself from even considering it in the first place.