The more puzzle-obsessed and/or bilingual gamers amongst us already know that sokoban (Japanese for "warehouse keeper") is the kind of sliding puzzle game where the avatar needs to push crates to marked locations around a grid-like room, presumably wondering why the boss was too much of a cheapskate to spring for a forklift. Sticky Blocks, Aaron Maupin's new variation on the concept, features that familiar design and introduces blocks that stick to other blocks as well as your avatar. One could imagine being annoyed if that happened in a real-life warehouse, but when it's a game, it's a lot of fun!
You use the [arrow] keys to move your purple sticky block around the puzzle grid. When you bump up against a colorful block, it immediately sticks to you. The block won't leave until you deposit it in the proper location. Once it's attached, it also sticks to other colored blocks, creating an increasingly large and unwieldy formation you must lug around everywhere you go. As you can imagine, finding the correct order and location to stick these blocks is the key to solving each level, and one mis-step could ruin everything.
As the levels progress from easy to hard, new wrinkles in the plan are introduced. Never fear, though, as a click of the mouse or the press of the [R] key restarts the puzzle. For an extra challenge, if you finish the level with a designated set of blocks still attached, you get a star rating, and gaining enough of those opens up the even more mind-bending bonus level, and the out-right devious secret levels. There's 64 puzzles in total, so start pushing!
Analysis: There's something refreshing in the honesty of the clear, simplistic design of Sticky Blocks. It's something that screams "Hey! This is a game about moving crates around, and we're not going to pretend anything else!" No hiding behind a facade of title screen art designed to mislead people into playing, or a story that bends itself backwards trying to justify why exactly moving blocks into place will allow you to defeat Cthulhu or whatever. Even the frankness of the title is something I can appreciate: This game is about blocks. Said blocks are sticky. You can figure it out from there.
The level set-ups are consistently clever with a reasonable difficulty curve, and the added challenge of the star ratings is certainly welcome. The graphics are sparse but playful, and the music is dream-lke, if a little unmemorable. I particularly liked the level titles which, in addition to be impishly humorous, serve to push you in the right direction. I wish the controls were a little less sticky (no pun intended... okay, it was intended a little), and the inclusion of an "undo" button would have been nice, but Sticky Blocks has polish and the framework is solid.
Most people intuitively know what kinds of games are their "thing". Some break into a cold sweat when, for example, confronted with Klotski or Rush Hour, and some can't get enough for them. If sokoban happens to be your craving, Sticky Blocks will surely satisfy!
Update: I believe that it's worth mentioning that the pre-release version I played lacked the facebook overlay which seemed to be affecting the overall smoothness of the game in its official release. In the comments below, the developer has assured that the issues some are having are being fixed. Since the facebook script was moved above the gameplay window, movement flow is much improved.