This game is the one of the first, if not the first game, to try and push the puzzle genres into the third dimension, but with one major problem. It was released in 1991, six years before any of the consoles and developers took the leap into said dimension. And just like many games of its time that tried a similar feat with other genres and the same genre alike, it fails. Yes, I understand, I just ruined the end of this review like giving away the ending of the Harry Potter books, but trust me, there is much to say.
Stack falling blocks in your well to clear out a level and earn points. Manipulate blocks in three dimensions to fit into small spaces and clear levels, not just rows, to give you more room. Progress through the game to make it ever more challenging through the ten deeply challenging levels. Control faster moving blocks and increase your skill at manipulating blocks and making sure exactly where they are at on the screen. To add even more of a challenge, go through Options and lower the well size, add more complex blocks and make the game play faster. Rack up a lot of blocks and a high score and show it off to everyone.
The sound in this game, certainly doesn't help it any at all! Constantly the same noises that sound like they were simply the the same noise just changed in pitch. The constant barrage of the same noise is, again, another annoyance. The graphics are done well for being isometric 3-D in this time period, but aren't perfected, leaving you squinting to figure out what exactly is what.
Blockout is essentially Tetris meets the inevitable 3-D. While that sounds like an obvious and great combination, EA and 1991 were not. This game is plagued by technical limitations of the age and by developers who were much more creative at making Road Rash and beefing up EA Sports! These limitations quickly become noticeable within the first two to five minutes of the game.
Overall the game is a smart puzzler that is challenging, just wrapped in a horrible package and feeling very unfinished and incomplete. It had the right concept and brilliant ideas that were thrown right into this mess.
Blockout stacks up 3 (yellow) out of 10 (yellow again)
The first thing I noticed is my area might be larger, but it feels much more limited. The blocks all start out flat against the screen, which helps slightly, but you really have to find yourself and where the piece is going to land, which is very difficult and annoying unless you use the sides. That becomes ever increasingly difficult as pieces with odd shapes begin falling, faster, and faster, and you really need a piece in the middle. You quickly have to learn the three axes, X-Y-Z. Unfortunately, with so many 2-D puzzles and games, working with these axes feels absolutely foreign and gives frequent head-aches. This is because, in order to clear a row you must fill one "flat" level, each of which are color coded, thankfully, and will coordinate accordingly when they stack up. This is very welcomed and make things slightly easier. To fill that flat level you may have to flip a piece into 3-D and slide it between two tight spaces. Try figuring that out when you already have about three levels stacked (yellow) and you need to fill a spot at orange or red. Figuring out exactly which buttons to press is absolutely confusing and a pain.
As if the game wasn't difficult enough already, in Options you can use new pieces that are already stacked and in 3-D or add more room to work with. The real big problem with this game, it's not true 3-D. So starting out with more space won't help much and pieces already in 3-D you might not even notice till it's part of the way down. That's very frustrating, because the entire time you're looking into the well, not around it, making distinguishing heights and dimensions difficult. An example of this, a piece 2 or 3 blocks in height will look the same, and blocks with 1 or 2 pieces on top, in 3-D, are virtually indistinguishable.
This untrue 3-D plagues the game further, because as pieces stack up they are basically forced to grow larger to appear closer. Once you hit the purple or pink levels, the blocks will begin to overlap or completely cover what is below them, even if there isn't anything directly below it. Also, if you drop a connected block on top of at least one empty spot, the whole block will rest on top instead of a piece falling through, as it should. When a level is cleared by being filled all the pieces on top will fall. Even more annoying, because your colors now change and any strategy you had, you're going to have to rework on this new level.
|A Button||Flip X-Axis|
|B Button||Flip Y-Axis|
|C Button||Flip Z-Axis|
|Start Button||Start/Drop Piece|
|Be very aware of how items are stacked in this game and be sure not to stack one section particularly high or you'll make it difficult to see and maneuver effectively.|