Bub Block is the kind of game that should have been a multiplayer retro classic. I’ve searched my memory banks, but can find nothing that even comes close to the core gameplay mechanic. I guess the greatest similarity would be with Bomberman, but that doesn’t really give you the whole story.
Essentially, you create your own kind of game with Bub Block. Your job is to block in your competitors using blocks picked up from wells. You decide how many wells there are, how many blocks you can put down, how much danger there is (in the form of spinning blades that bounce around the screen), and so on. So, the idea is to block in your opponents so they can’t move out of the way of the spinning blades.
What this leads to is a rather dull opening couple of minutes, followed by frantic stop-gap techniques to weasel out of danger. The option to punch blocks adds a dash of depth to the game, and allows you to recover from deadly situations, and once you die, you have to option to come back as a ghost and screw with the guy that killed you.
Really, that’s about it. It’s the kind of indie title that only has one string to its bow. However, it can be quite good fun. That fun is only as much as you make it though. With no online multiplayer modes, you’re stuck with the folk you have in the room, and the chances are that you’re unlikely to find three other people for whom a pseudo-retro title like this is more than a couple of hours of fun at the most. Still, even if it’s only a few hours that you get from it, it’s worth the money.
As I said, the gameplay is very much what you make it. The emergent nature of it makes for some surprisingly complex gameplay. With a group of people who have never played it before, every game is different, as each player seeks to find a workable strategy. Unlike many other competitive multiplayer games, forging temporary alliances is something that does unbalance the game somewhat. You stand no chance against a concerted effort by two or more players, simply because you need to balance your attack and defence well in order to win, which is something you can’t do against two other players.
It managed to hold my attention for longer than I would have thought. Strangely, although it’s a genuinely innovative title, unlike a vast majority of this grade of indie game, it’s one that is difficult to recommend to everyone. You won’t get a helluva a lot of play out of it unless you have three dedicated friends, and if you have that, what are you doing playing indie games?
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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