We know, we know. You probably took a look at the first screenshot of Piyo Blocks 2 and thought ‘not another Match-3 game!‘ However, if you can look past that you’ll find one of the strongest entries into the genre for the iPhone. Big Pixel Studios did a great job building upon the strong and lovable foundation of the original Piyo Blocks, and made a sequel that blows it out of the water.
The single-player aspect of Piyo Blocks 2 is very similar to that of the original, with all three game modes making a return. Each mode has a specific goal for you to complete in order to move on to the next level. Piyo mode requires you to match a specific number of each color, Hyaku mode moves to the next level every time you match a total of 99 of a certain color block, and Time Attack mode gives you four minutes to rack up as many points as you can. The first two modes also have a timer, which you have to beat to advance.
Big Pixel Studios also included a new three-second mode. This high-intensity mode takes out the progressing levels in exchange for a relentless timer. You only have three seconds to find your next move, or it’s game over. This is perfect for those quick sessions where you don’t have more than a couple of minutes to spare.
That’s what some people call art.
Also new to Piyo Blocks 2 are powerups, which you get from creating matches of four and five or combos of 15 and 30. These include exploding watermelons that destroy Piyos in a 3×3 block square, and metal blocks that destroy all Piyos beneath them when a gap is created. These extra abilities play a large role in scoring big.
Piyo Blocks 2 also features a wonderful Bluetooth and local Wi-Fi multiplayer mode. The goal is to beat your opponent by surviving longer. To do this, you must keep your timer running by destroying Piyos.
The best part about Piyo Blocks 2’s multiplayer is the combo meter. Once full, it allows you to unleash an attack upon your opponent. If you decide to not use the attack immediately, you can continue filling up the bar up to four times for more powerful attacks. Some of the attacks include paint splatters that impair your opponent’s vision briefly, and ski dog, which freezes a few Piyos for a short amount of time.
But the biggest addition has to be the OpenFeint challenges. Besides achievements and high scores, Big Pixel Studios took advantage of the social gaming network’s challenge system. You can choose between three variations on time attack (one, two, and four minutes), as well as three-second mode, play the round yourself, and then send a push notification to your friends to try and beat your score.
How hot dogs cool off.
One slight oversight is that the variations on online time attack aren’t available in single-player mode. If this was added, it would make that mode much more approachable for quick sessions, especially once you’ve mastered three-second mode.
There is also an issue with the hint system. Each game you play gives you three hints, but they are nearly useless since the game doesn’t do a good job of actually showing you where a match is. Instead of using an arrow or other indicator, a couple of Piyos chirp for a second. If you miss them, you’ve just wasted a hint.
The graphics have been given an overhaul from the original Piyo Blocks. While the original sported retro-esque pixel art, this sequel portrays the same characters in a sleeker and almost glass-like form. However, the same level of personality remains, with the Piyos chirping under your finger. Even the menu graphics change based on the time of day.
We can see ourselves playing Piyo Blocks 2 for a long time to come. It offers just about everything you’d want from a Match-3 game, and it comes with two great ways to play it competitively. Piyo Blocks 2 stands out in a crowd of similar games.