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iPhone  header logo

Blocky Roads


For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

Well worth taking for a spin around the block

Product: Blocky Roads | Publisher: DogByte Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Racing | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
 
Blocky Roads iPhone, thumbnail 1
If Blocky Roads were a vehicle, it would be one of those ridiculously souped up vans that you see on the road sometimes.

The type that seem like solid, functional utility vehicles as you approach them, and then WHAM! They leave you trailing in their wake, perplexed and just a little bit impressed despite yourself.

Similary, you might approach Blocky Roads as another one of those Minecraft-influenced 'build-your-own-fun' games. But it’s not. In fact, it provides more than enough of its own fun, thank you very much.

Betting the farm on it

Our block-headed farmer has lost everything he owns - farm, pigs, house, tractor - to a freak tornado. It's up to you to help him get it all back.

The way you achieve this, somewhat incongruously, is by driving your little vehicle(s) through 12 increasingly demanding obstacle courses, feathering the throttle and collecting every last piece of farm equipment along the way.

It's another iOS game that takes its inspiration from the Trials console series, but it does so in a remarkably disciplined and endlessly entertaining fashion.

Braking point

While many games of this type leave you twisting your iPhone around to adjust your vehicle's orientation, developer DogByte has stuck with virtual accelerator and brake controls. Right thumb, left thumb.

Thanks to some incredibly deft physics and supporting systems, that's all you need. When accelerating, your vehicle leans back on its suspension. Braking has the opposite effect, and both effects can be carried through when in the air.

Don't worry about pulling stunts, either. This isn't about showing off. It's about getting as far as you can with each successive run, earning enough money (via the coins that are scattered through each level) to improve your vehicle.

Ploughing the money in

When you tackle your first level in Blocky Roads, you almost certainly won't finish it. You'll flip over on a particularly bumpy patch, you'll find yourself unable to scale a steep hill, or you'll simply run out of fuel.

Unlike other games of this kind, it doesn't matter. Every failed run provides more money to help boost your chances next time. Every time you get a little farther (as marked by a golden cup) feels like a triumph.

As we just mentioned, there's also a fuel gauge to take into consideration. Early on, you'll be keeping one eye on this at all times, saving every last drop by coasting downhill and using your momentum to carry you over smaller mounds, until you reach the next top-up can.

Upgrade your engine and not only will you be faster and more powerful, but your fuel tank will also go further. Upgrade your suspension to stabilise your car, or your tires to increase grip on inclines.

Thus your next run will possibly be a longer, more successful one. But only possibly. In the end, it always comes down to your own skill, despite your rapidly improving vehicle.

Ooo-arrr

As you progress through Blocky Roads's levels, you'll unlock new vehicles that look and control in entertainingly different ways.

There's the tractor that climbs hills like a goat, but will topple forward all too easily until you invest in stabilising it. Then there's the F1 car, which is stable and fast, but with a uniquely challenging long wheel base that doesn't take to tight dips.

Before long you'll be able to design your own vehicle from scratch, which is where the whole block-based Minecraft element comes in. In truth, though, this side of things is only really paid lip service, and it's the one true disappointment of the whole game.

There seems to be little incentive to plough money into upgrading this custom craft when you've already got a steady stream of excitingly varied vehicles coming into your garage. Yes, you can adjust how it looks, but it's pretty pointless and not particularly fun to do. Maybe if the changes were more than cosmetic, it might have been worthwhile.

Ignore that, though. Blocky Roads is a brilliant physics racer that hides a finely tweaked, deceptively powerful engine under its blocky chassis.
 
Blocky Roads
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 12 November 2013
A consummately executed physics racer with a chunky Minecraft aesthetic and an irresistible just-one-more-go factor, Blocky Roads provides quite a ride
 
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