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Mad Blocker Alpha

For: PSP
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Blocking great

Product: Mad Blocker Alpha | Publisher: Open Emotion Studios | Format: PSP | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Mad Blocker Alpha PSP, thumbnail 1
Okay, bold statement coming up, so brace yourself: if Mad Blocker Alpha had been released around the time of Tetris it would be a household name by now, up on that puzzle pedestal with Pajitnov's classic.

Its method of play is – would you believe it - simple to grasp and difficult to master, equally inviting to young and old through a combination of appealing yet unobtrusive visuals and levels of play to cater for all.

If this were the late '80s, it would be difficult to find any faults in the title at all.


Fast forward to the present day and it's still easy to give MBA glowing praise on almost every level. Open Emotion Studios has provided a master class on how to make a limited platform like PSN Minis sing.

Play is best described, rather paradoxically, as 'horizontal Columns'. Rows of three coloured blocks steadily fall from the top of the screen, and you have to combine blocks of the same colour in groups of four or more to make them disappear.

As with Columns, you can nudge the pattern of colours along – in this instance left or right – and the key to victory is rapid organisation and combos. Helping you on your way is a grab bag of power-up rewards that are activated with Square, Triangle, or Circle.

These nestle among the upcoming trio of cubes, and effects range from taking out all blocks of the same colour to tunnelling down an entire vertical line to exploding and taking everything out in the surrounding area.

Story mode is your first port of call for Mad Blocker Alpha, though don't get your hopes too high. It's a contrived and very loose narrative that facilitates objective-based play. It's not Shakespeare.

Slowly but surely ramping up the difficulty, this mode succeeds in providing an end goal to a game in a genre that so often feels aimless. You're asked to hit a certain score or chain a number of combos together and work within certain parameters - such as a time limit - and the inclusion of a clear world map adds a welcome element of progression.

The Tide

A more traditional puzzle experience comes in the form of Endless Mode, which is exactly as it sounds - a marathon to see how long you can survive before filling up the screen, at which point it's Game Over.

Movement at high speed is a little slow, and when things get hectic this can be a hassle, but for the most part the controls won't fail you.

Rounding out the package is Tower mode, a reversal of everything you've learnt. Here the aim is to stack pieces higher and higher without letting the tower fall lower than a certain level. Success resets the tower and you begin again.

It's hard to wrap your head around this inversion of the staple block-breaking mechanics, but the struggle to rewire the gaming side of your brain is fun.


Mad Blocker Alpha is anachronistic. Modern puzzlers focus on delivering endless twists and gameplay elements to cater to a dwindling audience of interested parties, but MBA goes against the grain and presents a simple and consequently accessible title.

Without the added frills that may have come with a different delivery mechanism, it never attains true greatness, but as an old skool noodle-scratcher it excels.
Mad Blocker Alpha
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 28 April 2011
A wonderfully formed block-breaker, Mad Blocker Alpha should be a constant presence on your PSP if you have even the slightest interest in puzzlers
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