Someone owes me an apology. Specifically, that someone is the person in charge at Robotube Games, developer of the new colored block-matching game Bloktonik. It's entirely his fault that I haven't gotten anything done in a week. My lawn looks like a jungle, my new Swedish furniture has yet to be assembled, and something in my kitchen is starting to smell. But it's not my fault, I'm this close to beating my high score. Just a few more tries and then I'll be ready to rejoin civilization. Probably.
It's a tried-and-true formula: match a certain number of the same colored blocks, 4 in this case, to clear them from the board for points. As you progress you have to deal with more and more colors, going as long as you can until you run out of space on the board. With Bloktonik, the difference is that blocks don't just fall from the top; they come from all sides. They will continue moving towards the opposite wall from which they started, and your goal is to bring them to rest against other blocks, matching 4 of the same color to remove them entirely. The game will continue this way until you run out of room for the blocks, at which point it's game over.
The game is controlled entirely with the [arrow] keys, navigating the block perpendicular to the wall from which it came. Scoring is done through matching blocks of the same color, with larger combos being worth more. Once a group of blocks is cleared, anything that was anchored to it will go flying in the direction that the last block was headed. If these freed blocks don't touch anything else, they'll just fly off the screen with no penalty. However, if a block that you're controlling manages to make it all the way across to the opposite wall, you will be penalized with a block with a particularly menacing-looking skull on it. These skull blocks can only be removed with a rainbow-colored block, which is your reward for reaching 5,000 points and a new level. There are also a number of secret blocks and combos to discover, but it's better not to go into the specifics of those; half of the fun is in finding new ways to maximize your score.
Analysis: I wasn't lying when I said that this game is addictive. We've seen matching games done in any number of ways, but Bloktonik manages to implement a lot of innovative new features that can keep you playing for hours. Every time I thought I had the game figured out, I would find a new combo, and then I would spend the next 2 hours trying to figure out just what I had done to cause it in the first place. The instructions page gives a clear (not to mention highly entertaining) picture of how to play, but the specifics are left up to you to figure out.
The graphics are nice and shiny, with some quirky details that don't contribute much to gameplay, but add a nice atmosphere. The music did start to grate my nerves after 5 or so hours of playing, but it's easily silenced at any point in the game. The only real drawback here is that not everything is really complete. The game itself is finished, but there are some dead links on the website, and the high score list has yet to be implemented. I'd really like to be able to show off my high scores, unless they're not as impressive as I'm hoping, in which case it would be nice to have something to aim for. But with versions being developed for mobile platforms and WiiWare, everything will hopefully be finished sooner rather than later.
A new twist on an old classic, Bloktonik is a great way to waste an afternoon. Or several, depending on how willing you are to are to avoid the real world.