My very first thought as I began Mad Blocker Alpha: Revenge of the Fluzzles was, “Hey! Tecmo Stackers!” This new Playstation Mini from Open Emotions has some immediately striking similarities to one of my old favorites. Does Mad Blocker Alpha improve upon a classic idea, or does it fall short?
The basic idea of Mad Blocker Alpha is a fairly simple one. In classic puzzler style, blocks are falling from the sky, and you need to arrange them in the best possible way to reach maximum points without reaching the top. In this variation, there is a strip of three brightly colored blocks that fall, and each of them has its own emotions. To quote my two year old, “Ooooh, the blue is mad! But the pink one is happy!” (And there is the first very striking similarity, as the blocks look just like the ones in Tecmo Stackers.) The blocks fall in a horizontal strip, and you are able to change their order with the shoulder buttons. However, you cannot turn them vertically, which adds a bit of challenge.
The goal is to have four or more blocks of the same color touching, at which point they will disappear. Matching 8 or more blocks at once will create a chain. That is the basic gist of the gameplay, but there are also some special blocks that can do things like cause a whole column to disappear, or cause blocks of one color to disappear. These tend to be a bit underused, as they appear up in a corner, underneath pictures of the square, triangle, and circle buttons, indicating which one you must push to make them appear. Because they are not always available, and you need to check which button to push as well, they are often underused, especially during more frenetic gameplay. However, it is to your advantage to get comfortable with using them, as they are essential to finishing the game.
Mad Blocker Alpha offers 3 games modes: story, endless, and tower. The endless mode offers just what it sounds like: play till you drop action. The tower mode offers a kind of reverse play, where your goal is to not allow your blocks to reach the bottom. But story mode is where the game really offers variety and challenge. While there is only a bit of a story to it, it mainly offers you a new challenge at every level, which really helps you hone your skills at every type of play. One level might have you trying to attain a certain score, while another may require you to match a certain number of one color of blocks, and still another will require you to make a certain number of chains. Some levels are timed, some levels have you beginning with several rows of mismatched blocks already in place, and each level sees the blocks falling progressively faster. You must reach the goal in order to advance to the next level, and many of them are really quite difficult. All of the levels lead up to the final level, which in a twist for puzzle games, actually has a boss to defeat. I won’t go into too much detail (I hate spoilers), but the use of all of the elements of the game to defeat the boss and win the game is really quite clever.
Mad Blocker Alpha is a colorful little puzzler that offers challenge and fun on both the PS3 and PSP. While the emotional blocks and much of the gameplay is strikingly similar in style and execution to the classic Tecmo Stackers, it is a great style and one worthy of imitation. The use of story mode and special blocks adds interest and fun. I give Mad Blocker Alpha a 7 out of 10, and recommend it to puzzle fans looking for a fun, pick up and play diversion.