Blocks2 Hands-On

As of Monday, July 6, Blocks2 is now available in the App Store. For one week, you can pick up this game at a reduced introductory price of $.99. After that, Blocks2 will cost $1.99. Blocks2 also comes in a lite version, with just one level and no OpenFeint integration.

If you’ve ever owned a PSP, you probably also owned Lumines, the platform-defining musical puzzle game that was to the PSP what Tetris was to the Gameboy. Lumines was a must-have game for a handheld system that has been struggling for definition ever since.

The iPhone also has some identity issues, but no shortage of games, and Blocks2 owes a lot to Lumines. Maybe Blocks2 and the iPhone can help define each other.

Blocks2 contains the same basic premise as Lumines, but with a few twists that develop as you progress through the 28 missions. Like in Lumines, you drop 2×2 blocks of different colors, trying to match them together to form solid squares or rectangles. Early missions simply require you to achieve a certain number of points or solid shapes formed. Later, you’ll also come across bomb blocks, color-changing chameleon blocks, countdown blocks that only disappear after a certain number of combos, and several more.

Instead of racing ahead of a “beat line” like in Lumines, in Blocks2 you can build combos while a bar fills up along the bottom of the screen. When the bar is full, your solid sets disappear and give you points. You can keep resetting this bar by creating even more squares of solid blocks, which will help you achieve a nice high score.

Like in Lumines, Blocks2 also has a techno soundtrack, albeit a slightly milder one. The background themes that accompany each stage them all tend to be set in outer space, with pictures of stars and planets.

Controls in Blocks2 are all completely touch-based. You simply tap on the left or right side of the block to move it side-to-side, and flick your finger up or down to rotate the block. Dragging the block downward makes it fall rapidly.

The basic action is just like we remember from Lumines, with the occasional new element that varies depending on the level. You can also play in an endless mode to rack up a high score, and that brings us to this game’s other notable inclusion: OpenFeint.

With OpenFeint, you can upload your high score from endless mode, visit chat rooms, and work to unlock achievements. While there’s no multiplayer in Blocks2, these online components can help make it feel like you’re part of a community of blockheads.

Blocks2 is very similar to Lumines, but it does add a handful of new features, like different types of blocks and OpenFeint integration, that help it stand on its own. This type of block-dropping gameplay can still be fun even if you’ve played it before, and we’re looking forward to playing the full game to see if all the pieces fall into place.