MAMEmania: Blocken

Posted by Guest Author on Apr 12, 2008 in Videogames |

Blocken - 1994 - Kid/Visco

In this series retro game expert Zac Bentz picks his top ten MAME games. If you’re a casual gaming fanboy MAME stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator and is a software emulator that allows you to play ancient arcade games on modern hardware.

Blocken – 1994 – Kid/Visco

Sometimes simply mashing two good ideas together is enough to bring the fun back to otherwise tired modes of play. Take the block breaking action of “Breakout,” add the vertical down-scroll of “Tetris,” some head-to-head action and sprinkle it with lots of pink and blue glitter and a stereotypical anime school-girl, and you have “Blocken.”

Blocken - 1994 - Kid/Visco

The game attempts to form a plot by sending you around to different places on a world-map. Really this is just a device to gradually raise the difficulty and throw increasingly weird characters at you. The configuration of the blocks on each board also change up with each character. While the boards never reach the creative heights of some of the more traditional block-breakers, they are still fun to play though and present enough difficulty to keep you going for just one more round.

Blocken - 1994 - Kid/Visco

It’s your standard block-breaking set-up. Most blocks take only one hit to break while others may take two or more. There is a row of bumpers at the bottom that will return your ball once before breaking, while at the same time sending the bricks down one space. There are also special star blocks that release orbs that you can collect. You can then use these collected orbs to send a blast of blocks over to your opponent with the hopes of ruining their day. The best way to totally piss on their parade is to store up eight orbs, which releases a massive volley of bricks as well as both turning your paddle into a flaming horror and your ball into an invincible killing machine that can cut through bricks like warm butter.

Blocken - 1994 - Kid/Visco

Once you make it past the gauntlet of cotton-candy hairdos and testosterone-poisoned muscle-men you’ll reach the second set of levels. These seem to be set just a hop skip and a jump away from your hometown. Over the river and through the skull shaped mountain caves to some crazy chick’s Barbie Dream Castle of Doom we go!

Blocken - 1994 - Kid/Visco

Despite the super-thin attempts at a plot, “Blocken” is very fun to play. The controls are very smooth and the pace is set just right to lull one into a false sense of security just before a rain of terror begins to fall. Each round moves by quickly. You only get one life per-game, but being able to continue at the same place makes playing through to the end quick and enjoyable. There isn’t much in terms of strategy other than “don’t miss the ball” and “catch all the power-ups.” You’re not going to play “Blocken” because you’re looking for a soul wrenching odyssey of the heart and mind, you’re going to play “Blocken,” again and again, because it is fun.

Zac Bentz is a regular contributor to the Japanese culture blog Japanator, runs his own Japanese music review blog ZB’s A-Z of J-Music and plays crazy electro-rock in The Surfactants. He lives in Duluth, MN with his wife, pets and a closet full of adventure.

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