It takes a special kind of game to hold our attention for longer than a week or two these days, mainly thanks to the amount of choice in both the iTunes App Store and Google Play. Hill Climb Racing, available on all platforms, is one such game. It’s incredibly simple to play, yet fiendishly addictive, and although it includes in-app purchases, they aren’t essential unless you were desperate to get a head start. It’s a game we often return to today.
Blocky Roads, released recently on Google Play, could be seen as a sequel of sorts – although it’s completely unrelated – as it’s very similar in terms of gameplay. Your farm has been destroyed by a tornado, and you must go and find the parts needed to rebuild it. They’re hidden along a variety of tracks down which you drive your vehicle, collecting the treasure chests as you find them.
The blocky part comes from the graphical style. It’s not 8-bit, more a refined 16-bit look with extra chunks. It looks great, and the zooming around is very smooth. We tested it on the Nexus 5, and it played perfectly. The game is a horizontal scroller, despite having a 3D look, and you’ve got two controls – an accelerator and a brake. Like Hill Climb Racing, both controls can be used to steady the car after a big jump.
The display has more information than Hill Climb Racing too, as your vehicle has clear health points, which deplete when you hit things, fall off ledges, or land badly. There’s also a fuel gauge, and extra fuel canisters are dotted along the course. They’re less plentiful than Hill Climb Racing, and you need to make swift progress if you’re to grab each one. Each level has a clear ending point too, although each one can still be replayed.
There are three treasure chests along each course, together with lots of coins to collect. This virtual currency can be used to upgrade your car with new suspension, more health points, and an improved engine. There are also new cars to buy, and interestingly, the chance to customise your own vehicle. This is done with different colour blocks, and is a really cool little feature. The personalisation doesn’t end with your car either, as your character even gets his own wardrobe.
Blocky Roads is the perfect mobile gaming diversion. It’s quick and easy to play, addictive, and the customisation options are more than enough to make us keep returning. The car handles well, although it’s not as bouncy or quite as enjoyable to “drive” as the ones in Hill Climb Racing, but some may see that as a good thing.
Where Blocky Roads differs from Hill Climb Racing is in its funding. The game is free to download and the first three levels are included, along with your first custom car. It’s not tough to play, and can easily be completed in 30 minutes. After which, it’s time to pay for the full version, which costs £1.22 through Google Play. Hill Climb Racing can be played through for absolutely nothing, unless you pay up for extra coins. When you pay, the new vehicles are all unlocked, along with an additional eight levels of increasing difficulty.
The one thing we didn’t appreciate in Blocky Roads was the pressure to sign-in with our Google+ account when first opening the app. This made it look spammy and desperate, and almost made us delete the game before even starting. Thankfully, if you’re persistent, you can cancel out of this procedure. This aside, if you enjoyed Hill Climb Racing, but have played it to death, then Blocky Roads is the spiritual successor for which you’ve been waiting, and it’s available at a bargain price. We think it’s one to grab soon.