More and more classic board games have been making their way into the PSN lately and now a digital version of the classic strategy game Blokus is available from Gameloft, the studio that brought the widely popular card game Uno to the PlayStation Store.
The rules to Blokus are simple, but to master this block-laying game will take some time. Depending on the game mode, two or four players will take turns placing coloured blocks on a board with the goal of placing more blocks then their opponent or opponents. The catch is that each player has their own colour of blocks and cannot place any block directly next to one of the same colour. Starting from each corner, they are only permitted to touch the corners of their own coloured blocks which allows for some detailed strategies for blocking opponents' moves.
Blokus comes with four different game modes, including free-for-all, two-on-two and Blokus Duo, where there are only two colours and a smaller board with the starting location at the centre. Of all the game types, the standard mode consisting of four players each with their own colour is the most fun, with the matches nicely paced at about five to ten minutes each.
Quick play mode allows for a player to adjust different settings for a particular match such as CPU difficulty, a timer and game hints, useful for new players who want to learn how to improve their skills in the game.
In tournament mode, a single player will face a series of challenges that increase in difficulty as they progress. While there are different game modes, even in tournament mode, the game begins to feel somewhat dull without other real players over time. It is a good mode to play every now and then, but not something to try and beat in one sitting. An interesting addition to the tournament mode is a statistics page that allows the player to view their stats to see what they are doing well on and what needs work.
Blokus supports up to four players either locally or online with all four game play modes playable. Although the online lobbies weren't exactly over-populated, matches are smooth and lag-free. A welcomed feature is an online leaderboard and records page to view online game statistics. For new players, don’t worry; there is an option to play either ranked or unranked.
Moving the blocks and placing them with PlayStation Move is simple in theory, but often more difficult than just using a DualShock 3. To rotate blocks, you can't just simply rotate the controller: you must let go of the piece, and grab one of its corners and then rotate it, which proves much more cumbersome than just using a button. Trying to place blocks can sometimes be frustrating and even lead to placing blocks in the incorrect location, making gameplay with Move more difficult and frustrating than it should be. There is much room for improvement with Move support in this game, so for now it is best to just pull out the old DualShock 3.
Learning to play Blokus won't take more than a few matches and using the game hints, matches will fly by. As time progresses, it is easy to quickly outsmart the CPU opponents at low and medium difficulties, but playing at the hard difficulty proves to be a challenge. When first starting, it can take some time to get used to the mechanics of the game and new players will most likely rely on the game hints to show them possible moves and places where their blocks will actually fit.
For $4.99/£3.99, there is a bit of family fun to be had at a great price. Any fans of board and puzzle games will find that this will fit right into their collection, but in the end Blokus is just a virtual board game without many changes. If you already own the physical game, you might consider blocking this from your collection. Be sure to check out the demo before making the purchase to see if this block-laying game suits you - just be ready to ditch your Move controller.