Back in November, Roppy Chop Studios released Bub Block for the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace. I’ve been on quite the run lately with trying out and enjoying indie games with a heavy or total focus on local multiplayer, this game being the latter. I jumped at the opportunity to see if Bub Block was worthy of adding to the recurring playlist of titles to fire up when the gang gets together. While it’s fun and does a few things right, in the end I would’ve liked to have seen more content and variety to foster that desire to keep coming back.
The principal design of Bub Block is fairly simple. Up to four players compete on a single screen by trying to trap each other within the paths of spinning blades bouncing around. You accomplish this by running around, picking up bricks, and dropping them strategically to thwart your competitors. Similar to party games like the Bomberman series, once a player dies he comes back as a ghost with the ability to continue trying to get the other players killed. Although not wholly original, that feature does help keep everyone interested in the game even when they can no longer technically win.
Naturally just about every game featuring competitive local multiplayer elicits a positive response in a player when he or she wins. The real strength of Bub Block goes beyond that in that you’re not just trying to win, you’re really trying to screw over your friends. It’s a hook that dates way back in the history of gaming, but for me personally brought back memories from games as old as the original Mario Kart and Bomberman 64, and even newer indie titles like SpeedRunner HD. A victory is that much sweeter when you know you accomplished it by craftiness or some work of trickery used against your friends. And when you can see their looks of disgust and hear their cries of desperation, that seals the deal.
There’s not a lot of variety to Bub Block and that’s by far its greatest weakness. While you can adjust a variety of settings like the number of spinning blades and the amount of bricks you can carry at one time, the fun factor will likely wane after a short time. More maps of different shapes or obstacles other than spinning blades would’ve given the game more replayability. Throw in some power-ups and you’ve got yourself the making of a classic. After talking with developer Roppy Chop, there are plans to update the game with additional content, but there’s no definitive time table set for those changes.
Bub Block is a tricky game to review. While it exhibits some of the qualities I really look for in a local multiplayer experience, there’s just not enough content to keep gamers playing for long sessions. An extra mode or map or feature would’ve easily bumped our review score up a point. Its 80 Microsoft Points price make it not much of a risk to buy, but it’s best played within the context of a group of friends shuffling between games.
This Bub Block review was done using a copy provided by the developer.
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