iPhone Game Blockoban: So Fun It Blocks Out Your Time

BonusLevel’s iPhone app, Blockoban is a puzzle game released a couple of weeks ago that does an especially charming job at wasting your time, and maybe your friend’s time, too.

The game is simple enough. Players are presented game board with the sole objective of getting colored block A to same colored tile B. Here is the trick: This game board has a rather low amount of friction associated with it so once you slide a block – using the touch screen, of course – it keeps going until it hits something or flies off the edge (which is, obviously, a bad thing).

As the levels proceed, more and more blocks are introduced and the levels become more intricate. In fact, at later levels, such precision is needed that the initially moot feature of pinch zooming becomes critical, and the always wonderful “Undo” command a godsend. And, with new difficulties also comes new obstacles and blocks. These include elements such as sticky tiles that stop a sliding block in its tracks, circular “blocks” (for lack of a better term) that stop blocks but move when hit, and grouped blocks – represented by a rainbow (don’t ask) in the same corner – that all slide together.

Frankly, this makes the game most challenging later on, but truly adds a great deal of depth to the puzzles. What is even nicer, however, is that the game has per puzzle challenges to earn gold and silver stars by completing it in X amount of moves or less. This is further added to by the fact that this game has social integration with ngmoco’s Plus+ platform.

With Plus+ comes the ability to share achievements, and there are a fair amount, including said stars. Moreover, competitive leaderboards are associated with each of the game’s play and difficulty modes (i.e. Big Maps, Kickoff, and Time Attacks).

Beyond making use of Plus+, BonusLevel does something else that is even more curious. Blockoban is actually completely free… to try. However, don’t let the term “try” fool you. The developers actually grant the user both the tutorial and a pack of 100 free, “Kickoff,” levels. Once players get a feel for the game, and are hopefully addicted, they can, through an in-app purchase, buy an additional pack of 820 levels for $1.99. Intelligently, BonusLevel also has the option to buy a $1.99 solutions pack for all the levels as well. Go figure: an in-app strategy guide.

Honestly, the only complaint that can be had with Blockoban is that it is a little slow at loading initially, but considering the vast amount of content, that is hardly a big deal. In total, there are 920 puzzles. To add more to that, each has five different difficulty levels and there is even a map generator to randomly create new puzzles. Heck, there’s even a level editor on BonusLevel’s website to submit user creations for review and a chance to be put into future level packs.

Blockoban is a wonderful free app for any iPhone or iPod Touch owner. Everything is beautifully done, and is truly designed with the user in mind. Not only does this refer to the game play usability, but even when purchasing the full version (the extra level packs). Unlike other “Lite” games intended to demo a paid game, Blockoban really does a fantastic job at showing the user what they will be paying for, rather than grant five or so minutes of play time. If you like puzzle games, with thousands of potential puzzles and Plus+ integration, Blockoban comes highly recommended.

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