Platforms: Wii U
Release Date: March 6, 2014
Rating: E for Everyone
BLOK DROP U is a unique Wii U title for two reasons: 1) It's the very first HTML5-based game to arrive on the platform, and 2) unlike many other games on the Wii U eShop, it's played primarily with the Gamepad screen in mind (though you can view it on the TV as well), utilizing the touchscreen solely to control the gameplay. Simple both in its aesthetic and execution, this physics-based puzzle game by Michael Aschenbrenner (the one man team behind developer RCMADIAX) is almost exactly the opposite of what Jenga is; instead of building up a tower of blocks and hoping one piece doesn't cause it to fall apart, you're tasked with deconstructing a structure made of gray blocks, with the ultimate goal being to safely secure the one red block at the top on flat ground. Of course, this is easier said than done.
For starters, the red block is always placed over a pit in the middle of the screen, with only the block(s) it's sitting on (and any below it) preventing it from tumbling into the abyss below. Thus, you're required to manipulate the flow and direction of how the blocks fall by carefully selecting which blocks to remove and when you remove them (by tapping them on the Gamepad screen). Things get even more difficult when moving saws are thrown into the mix, which not only reduce the amount of safe flat ground the red box can land on but also destroy other boxes that might otherwise redirect the red box so that it lands on safer ground.
Finally, blue bounce blocks, which act like trampolines, add a chaotic variable into play. If you thought avoiding saws would be tough, these bouncy blocks can often cause your projected block falling trajectory to become a wild, random ride, and it's actually a lot of fun to see how many ways you can use them to guide the red block to safety. But while there is a certain skill and finesse that you'll come to achieve throughout the course of the levels, it often comes down to trial and error in trying to figure out different ways of manipulating the way blocks fall in order to achieve your goal in each level.
Though it's remarkably entertaining and addictive while it lasts, BLOK DROP U's biggest downside is that it's extremely short. It only took me about an hour to breeze through all 30 levels, most of which can be solved in seconds if you have a knack for precision and physics, and there isn't much replay value either (no scores or times to beat and so forth). Fortunately, Aschenbrenner has stated that he does have plans to release an additional 20 free levels in Q2 2014 and 30 more in Q4 2014, bringing the total number to 80 levels overall. Still, it's only $2, so if you're a big puzzle fan and are looking for a fun, yet short diversion and would like to support an indie developer who is dedicated to bringing exclusive games to Wii U, you may want to give it a shot.
+ Simple, addictive puzzle gameplay
+ Some challenging levels near the end
- Music becomes repetitive rather quickly
- Extremely short, can be finished in an hour or under
Overall Score: 6.5 out of 10
Blok Drop U has a great premise and mechanic, but it ends before it really starts to get going. Still, it's worth checking out if you're a fan of physics-based puzzle games and are wanting something new to play.
A downloadable code was provided by the publisher for this review.