Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Breezeblox (Wii U eShop) Review

I have an early morning review for everyone today. Breezeblox is a game that released on the Nintendo Wii U eShop last Thursday-- at least in North America. It's another fine example of being able to make and release a compelling game with a small team of dedicated people, or sometimes just one person! Here are my detailed thoughts on the game with this review.

There're blocks, but this game is hardly a breeze!

Breezeblox has you moving a team of squares made up of four smaller squares through 150 unique levels of escalating difficulty. The levels feature a goal that on the surface seems relatively easy: simply getting a square object from the green starting spot to the red goal without falling off the level. However, don't think of the game's title as anything close to the actual truth-- this process is anything but a breeze.

For one, if any portion of the square object touches an edge, you automatically fail the level. Further complicating things (and in a good way, as one has to make a puzzle game interesting, after all!) is that the object itself when it is spread out flat takes up four squares. When the object stands upright it only takes up two squares. Each time the square itself is moved it alternates between these two states. This means you must maneuver the square object in just a way through the levels that you keep the square within the boundaries of the level all the while making progress. Oh, and for a final challenge, the square must land on the goal in a specific way. For instance, if the goal is two squares wide, the player object must land on it with the same exact pattern of squares shown.

It starts out simple enough...
Breezeblox consists of three chapters that house fifty levels each. Each chapter has the same amount of progression as the others and nothing visually to distinguish them, curiously enough. In each chapter, you start with the basics of the game, and as you progress, new mechanics are added. Such mechanics included are things like pieces of floor that break when touched by the square object, buttons that make new sections of floor appear, buttons that transport the player object to a different location, and buttons that rearrange pieces of the level in real time. While it is odd to have three chapters so similar in difficulty and especially progression, it's nice to be able to move from one chapter to another, so that if you get stuck on a level in one chapter, you can try your hand at a level in another chapter.

...But then you're dealing with breakable floors...
Even though there are but a handful of unique mechanics thrown in to add to the variety of challenges in Breezeblox, the developer's use of just a small collection of tricks to make 150 levels is very much worthy of applause. It's not just that 150 levels were made, but that the 150 levels created continue to puzzle and amaze from beginning to end.

...Then after that, some different buttons...
Despite the amount of puzzles, however, there is little reason to replay Breezeblox's levels. Sure, the solutions to these levels, especially the much longer ones (which by the way are a pain if you fail them late in the level, as you have to restart from the very beginning), are easy to forget, but there is little motivation to replay them. Something like a running tally of moves taken that was saved for each level or time trials would greatly add to the longevity of Breezeblox. It certainly would make the ten dollar price tag a no-brainer to recommend.

...And after that, you start teleporting places...
Breezeblox possesses simple menus that do their job and do it well enough. Levels themselves feature differently colored backgrounds showcasing an amalgamation of large pixels that alternate from light to dark. The game is presented at an angle, which while aesthetically pleasing, can make movement of the square object a little tricky to handle at first. There were plenty of times I fell off the edge of a level early on because the level was at an diagonal angle and the movement for the square was left, right, up, or down.

...And then you start getting stuck on levels,
thinking about all of your failings as a player.
For sound, Breezeblox contains just a couple of tracks, one for the menu and one for levels. The menu theme is a piano theme that would serve well for a music student's winter recital, while the level theme will make a lover of the sexy combination of guitar and pizzicato strings squeal with delight. I show sarcasm, but the music isn't out of place and it's hardly anything bad. If anything, the music loops more quickly than I'd like.

As a value proposition, the lack of any real replay value may scare off some potential buyers, but considering Breezeblox holds some truly tricky levels of puzzling perplexity that can take some time to solve, it's a game I recommend. It's perfect for playing on the GamePad while you have music, TV, or whatever else going on in the background, whether you play one level or several.

[SPC Says: 7.0/10]

Review copy provided by Pugsley LLC.

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