Tower Bloxx is an example of a mobile game made by people that truly understand the mobile medium...
Ok, so we're a little late to the Tower Bloxx party. Digital Chocolate likes to remind everyone every chance they get that the game won like a bajillion mobile Game of the Year awards in 2005, so being August 2006, we figured "Hey, let's run a review of a game that's nearly a year old, and heap the same praises on it everyone else did!"
Seriously though, we're finally getting a review up because it's important that people understand what makes Tower Bloxx so good, so mobile consumers can make smarter buying decisions in the future instead of flocking to licenses, and mobile developers put out better products.
It's such a cliche thing to say, but Tower Bloxx truly does do an excellent job of appealing to both hardcore, and casual gamers. I tested it out on my mom, who plays simple PC games at places like Yahoo! Games, and even she got into it.
Gamers are tasked with building a city, one building at a time. A swinging crane dangles a building floor at the top of the screen, and a button press releases it. Each floor has to stack on the one below it, until you've achieved the required height for that building. It's a simple concept that remains simple throughout - there's no twists or curveballs at high levels of play. The only things that change are the required building heights, and the speed of the swinging crane.
As buildings get higher the entire thing begins to twist and sway left and right on it's own - sometimes violently, if you haven't put it together very well up to that point. So it becomes a game of lining up two moving parts, and not just the crane.
The city-building element introduced some needed depth and strategy, and is a perfect example of Digital Chocolate recognizing they had an awesome concept on their hand, but that it shouldn't just be released "as is." You choose what squares to place the buildings you've built - but choose wisely. The red buildings must touch a ble building. Green must touch Blue and Red. The yellow skyscrapers have to touch all three other colors.
The concept itself is solid, but what really makes Tower Bloxx succeed is the effort they put into the feel of the whole experience. The crane doesn't just move left and right, it's a steady but subtle swinging motion, that effects your timing. When a floor is released, it doesn't just drop straight down, it follows the momentum it already had.
I found the experience to be nearly zen-like. I was playing the endless mode recently and I began spacing off, thinking about the work I wanted to get done that day and making a mental grocery list, when I realized I'd built a 70-floor building without even really being aware of it. The game lulls you in with a subtle sense of rhythm that's hard to pull yourself away from.
The icing on the cake is that "DigiChoc Charm Level" that's present in many of the company's games. The more accurately you build your buildings the more people move in - but it isn't just a climbing number. They fly in from offscreen with umbrellas. The buildings are blocky 3D models. They're characterized 2D pixel art. As your building grows the background slowly changes, until you build right out the city itself, until it's flying birds, and later, flying planes.
I wonder if you build a really tall building if you can eventually see the moon and the stars, in the background. It's that kind of game.
What's Hot: Addicting as hell. I dare you to put it down. DARE you.
What's Not: High-score tracking could be handled better.