Hey, you there! You blocked my pixel in with your car. Wanna back up so I can get this thing outta here? What's that? You can't back up? Fine, let's just restart the puzzle and try not to be so daft this time, shall we? So goes the conversation (or something like it) you'll have with your self over and over again with Pixel Blocked, a rotation-based block firing puzzle game that has cute and casual written all over it.
The game works using a simple premise of launching blocks onto a rotatable grid with the goal of filling every empty square with a solid piece. Use the [arrow] keys to rotate the grid clockwise and counterclockwise as well as slide your craft left and right. To launch, press [z]. Blocks will soar through the air until they encounter a solid object, so as you move around the puzzle, watch that you don't leave any inaccessible spaces. Otherwise, doom and gloom for you!
In addition to plain solid blocks and empty squares, Pixel Blocked also features a few special block types that change the way you think about solving each puzzle. Magnet blocks, for example, stop fired blocks as soon as they're adjacent, regardless of what's on the other side. Crumbling blocks disintegrate as soon as something hits them, leaving an empty space you'll have to contend with later. Not too many curve balls to deal with, but just enough to keep things interesting.
Analysis: Pixel Blocked somewhat emulates the style of Guru Logic Champ, a lost and forgotten game created for the Game Boy Advance system back in the early 2000s. It never left the shores of Japan, but the game is filled with some of the most convoluted and intense puzzles one can lay eyes on. Pixel Blocked takes the same general idea as Guru Logic Champ but presents a simplified and smaller world to contend with. There are no block removals and grid sizes are greatly reduced, but there are special blocks you get to work with, which does add a nice bit of variety.
Pixel Blocked's simplicity sometimes begins to feel like its downfall, as the game doesn't really offer much of an incentive to keep playing beyond the usual arsenal of achievements and high score self-competitions. The levels do get more difficult, but it's a difficulty you easily learn to work around, so while there's definitely some challenge there, ultimately the game sticks more strongly to its casual roots instead of offering up something that might hurt your brain.
Beyond the few puzzle games it can be compared to, Pixel Blocked is an elegant mixture of simple gameplay and challenging puzzles, all wrapped inside an easy interface. It's casual to the core, and packs almost 200 levels to play across three difficulty settings, which is plenty to keep you occupied for days. The visual presentation is also rather charming, with thick-bordered sprites, blocky little animals, and pastel colors everywhere. It never hurts to add a little cuteness to a casual puzzle game!