Unstable Blocks is Tetris with a twist. Instead of simply falling into neat piles and staying still, the blocks in Unstable Blocks are…. well , do I have to say? They have physics properties, so they will be likely to fall over if you don’t stack them well. There’s no tolerance for messy stacking here, if you don’t do a good job of lining everything up your blocks will have shakier foundations than my neighbours house. The one that subsided into the ground (don’t worry, they weren’t in it at the time).
Currently in Beta, Unstable Blocks from Ellusive Bytes shows how a simple idea can completely reinvigorate a game concept. Tetris is often chosen as the best game of all time not just because it was great when it was released, but it’s still great now. The enjoyment you get from making neat, stacked tetrominos will never fade; it will still be a great game a thousand years from now.
Unstable Blocks adds just enough to change how you think about and play the game. By adding physics to the blocks, it becomes a game about careful judgement. Placing your blocks is absorbing and tricky, and I found myself subconsciously sticking my tongue out as I concentrated on the next falling block, trying to make sure my whole carefully constructed Jenga tower didn’t fall.
The scoring system is adjusted, as are the win/loss conditions. You don’t create lines that make blocks disappear. Instead, you stack as many blocks as you can without any falling off the pits at either edge of the play space. You also have to avoid stacking too high and crossing the line half way up the screen. You can increase your score by making the blocks fall more quickly. These rules encourage players to be efficient with their space management and rewards those who think ahead.
There’s still a few bugs to iron out. Sometimes you feel like a block should fit a space that it would slot into fine in Tetris, but when it tumbles off the edge its hard to not feel aggrieved. It doesn’t feel like it’s your fault you lost. The graphics and physics can be a bit flaky too, and the blocks also fall a little slowly, but Ellusive Bytes say they will adjust this.
To offset these problems there’s a variety of different levels to keep the whole experience fresh. The basic level doesn’t offer much of a score modifier, but if you attempt the dreaded “Level 6” (with its tiny platforms to precariously place your blocks) you can be richly rewarded. If you have the skill to balance on them.
It’s hard to take a great game and add something to it without ruining whats there to begin with, but Unstable Blocks manages to do just that. By tweaking the formula just enough though, Unstable Blocks looks like it could be a nice little time waster for when you want a little special sauce on your vanilla Tetris.
You ca get Unstable Blocks here.