The Blocks Cometh Review: Halfbot Triumphs, Gamers Win

Halfbot’s The Blocks Cometh [$0.99] hath come to the app store, having climbed a arduous slope to get there.

By way of abbreviated history: The Blocks Cometh was first released as a free-to-play Flash game, with Halfbot later beginning work to port the title to iOS. With their port still a work-in-progress, however, Halfbot’s two-man team discovered their game had already been released to the app store by another developer — Edison Games — who had stolen not only their title and concept, but their art assets as well. As if it were not enough to rip-off one developer, Edison Games went a step further and ripped-off a character from Ravenous Games’ League of Evil [$0.99]– another Flash game at that time in development for iOS, and which has since been released — to replace the original protagonist.

A further twist of the knife, Halfbot discovered the doppleganger as it rose into the app store’s Top 100 rankings and was featured by Apple. As you might expect, Halfbot took action in defense of their intellectual property, and while Apple was slow to respond, Edison Games’ copycat title was eventually removed from the app store. For the full story, see Halfbot’s blog.

Having suffered so much, however, Halfbot hath overcome. They have scaled the slope, penetrated the clouds cast over them, and now stand in that light once obscured. The Blocks Cometh — the real The Blocks Cometh — is in every way superior to its impersonater ( I know; I’ve played both ), and we find that those clouds may even have had a silver lining. More on that in a bit.

The Blocks Cometh is a game of vertical ascendency, similar in some respects to The Incident. In it, blocks fall from the sky in random array, stacking Tetris-like as they land. As Blockman or one of several unlockable bonus characters, the player’s goal is to climb those blocks as high as possible without being crushed or scrolled off the bottom of the screen.

To achieve this endeavor, players may jump, double-jump, wall-slide or destroy blocks as necessary. The Blocks Cometh is challenging, but all in good fun, and rocks some stunning pixel art alongside a chiptune soundtrack for a distinctly retro — and distinctly awesome — presentation.


Perseverance: Above all, Halfbot has earned by enduring respect. They were handed lemons, and they made lemonade. Not only is The Blocks Cometh awesome on iOS, but it comes to the app store having endured and overcome adversity. All too often is the app store host to plagiarism, and I am glad for once to see the right come out on top. I hope that Desktop Dungeons, a game now in development for iOS and suffering similar problems, should find the same success, and that unscrupulous developers might take note of Halfbot’s victory.

Retro Fantastic: Pixel art? Chiptunes? The Blocks Cometh is retro-fantastic! The game looks and sounds brilliant, and it’s retro challenging as well. Those with an old-school itch will here find a good scratch.

League of Evil Tie-ins: So, about that silver lining … In a way, we owe thanks to Edison Games. In ripping-off both The Blocks Cometh and League of Evil for their sorry immitation, they inadvertantly put the games’ two developers together in a unified front against them.

In a lucky turn for gamers, Halfbot and Ravenous Games did not disband after trouncing Edison Games, but set to work on tie-ins for their two games.

I will say this: Edison Games may have been unscrupulous, but they did produce a competent facsimile of the real The Blocks Cometh, and adding League of Evil’s evil ninja fellow to the mix was undeniable cool.

Perhaps recognizing the potential, or maybe just because they hoped to convert those having bought the immitation into taking a second plunge on the real McCoy — and didn’t want to take anything away from them in the process — League of Evil’s evil ninja fellow returns as an unlockable character. But that’s not all, as League of Evil’s hero is also included, alongside two other unlockable heroes.

What’s more, a reciprical update to League of Evil is now awaiting approval by Apple including 30 new stages inspired by The Blocks Cometh.

And THAT is a win for everyone!


Controls: My only gripe against The Blocks Cometh is that the areas of sensitivity for the control buttons are not large enough. It’s too easy to “miss” the button while playing. This is something I imagine could easily be remedied in an update, and I do hope Halfbot will take notice and address the issue. The existing controls are by no means broken; they could just be a little more forgiving, as it’s easy to loose track of your fingers as the game turns frantic.

The Blocks Cometh is an easy recommendation, both to new players as well as to those who previously bought the knock-off. The game is attractive, challenging and rewarding, and nails that just-one-more-time addictiveness factor that makes games easy to pick up and hard to put down. And be there any doubt, you can always take the Flash version for a spin. And with League of Evil being totally awesome (review coming soon), the tie-in is icing on the cake.

The Blocks Cometh [$0.99] is developed by Halfbot. Reviewed at version 1.0 on an iPhone 4.