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Blokus World Tour

Score: 96%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Sekkoia
Developer: Funkitron
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Puzzle/ Board Games

Graphics & Sound:

Ever hear of the board game Blokus? Neither had I until the videogame version found its way onto my PC - so at least we're starting on the same level. Actually, not only did I learn that Blokus was a board game, but that there are several awards that board games can win, and it turns out that Blokus has won several. After spending time with the game, I can see why.

Blokus World Tour doesn't do much with its presentation, but it does well with what it has. Most of the screen is taken up by the game board, which is a silver grid. The game pieces are brightly-colored blocks that look like mutations of the shapes you would find in Tetris. Portraits of each player surround the board; though they are still for the most part, they do change to reflect the mood of the player. If the player is thinking, the portrait strikes a "thinking" pose and so on... there aren't a lot of different poses, but they add something to the game.

Music changes to fit the game's mood as well. The melody that plays during the title screen and during certain menus is catchy and upbeat. It isn't something you'll find yourself humming long after you stop playing, though while you're playing its enjoyable. In-game music is kept simple and unobtrusive, which is understandable since you can't afford to have any distractions while you play. One of the really neat things is how the beat usually plays perfectly in-time with the low hum made when blocks are counted. I can't say for sure it that was intentional, but it is a cool effect regardless.


As much as I try to avoid describing all of the gameplay in reviews, sometimes it is unavoidable. With Blokus World Tour, it is impossible; but the idea behind the game is really quite simple. Each player (there are four) has 24 blocks that, again, look like shapes you would typically find in a game of Tetris. During each turn, players place one block on the board and earn points for the number of smaller blocks that make up the big, misshapen one. The object is to fit as many of your pieces on the board as you can, but with the restriction that only the corners of your own pieces can touch.

The simple corner restriction is what instantly takes a simple concept and turns it into a very complex game. Remember those awards I mentioned earlier? One of them was the 2003 Mensa Select award, which should give you a pretty good idea about the gameplay. There are a number of different strategies that you'll have to employ during each game, so if you're not that big into games where you have to think a lot, you won't like Blokus. The addition of three other players complicates your own strategy, requiring you to sometimes have to plan for every possible outcome - something that even Batman couldn't pull off. Okay, so maybe Batman could do it, but he'd need a lot of prep time.

Blokus is split into several play modes. The core mode is "World Tour," where you play against other players in tournaments set around the world. Each tournament has a different format that showcases different variations of the game. The more common type is 4-player, though there are also 2-player variations that are typically reserved for the Championship match.

A Quick Play match type is also available, which lets you play a quick game without the pressure of a tournament. Any of the game variations can be played in Quick Play, including 2- and 4-player multiplayer on one PC. The difficulty options are also expanded in this mode. My only complaint is the lack of online multiplayer, which really would have put the game over the top.

One of the more interesting modes is Challenge, which adds even more of a puzzle element. Each challenge places you in a situation where you need to perform a specific action. One may require you to win in a certain number of moves, while another gives you one move to keep everyone else from scoring. The challenges are varied and are sometimes more difficult that normal games, which makes them great from practice sessions since they teach you how to really get the most out of each turn.


There's no way Blokus World Tour couldn't be complicated, which is what I really liked about the game. What I didn't like, however, was the brutal A.I. Three difficulty levels are available and, unless you're playing on "Kid", the A.I. is really tough. I'm not asking that the game "throw" games, but the A.I. is brutal. It doesn't make many, if any, mistakes and is always ready to capitalize on any you might make. Though this will definitely appeal to certain players, I can also see it shutting out a large number of players who just want to play a game and feel like they're playing with their mistake prone (possibly inebriated) friends.

It isn't all doom and gloom though; although tough, the A.I. can be defeated. The trick is to keep tabs on each player's score and what blocks they put down. If a 5-point block is placed by an opponent, then you had better try to at least get a 4-point block down; anything less and you've probably lost. Another useful, but not always successful, strategy is to try and carve out a large play area for yourself and defend the cracks that other players might be able to seep though. The "corner restriction" keeps this strategy from working in 4-player games, but I had a lot of success with it in 2-player matches.

Game Mechanics:

Blokus World Tour doesn't require much in the way of controls; just a two-button mouse will suffice. Your blocks are lined at the bottom of the screen. Clicking on one picks it up and turns your pointer into a transparent version of the block. Once selected, you can rotate the block using either the rotate tools at the bottom of the screen or the right mouse button. Either works, though the second mouse button method is a little better since it takes some of the guesswork out of piece placement.

An in-game hint system is included to make sure you're on level with the A.I. There's no limit to the number of times you can use the hint system, so you can use it every turn if you want. The hint system has three "levels" to it; the first shows you where you can't place a block, the next shows you all of the possible moves and the last shows which blocks you can place. Even with the hints, Blokus is tricky since you'll still have to think about repercussions each move may have. In the end, Blokus is really just a game of spatial relations' cause and effect. That alone makes it a pretty good game for younger kids - especially middle school kids.

It is impossible to win every match, so even the smallest of accomplishments are rewarded and celebrated. Similar to the badges on MSN games or Achievements on the 360, Gold Blocks are awarded for doing special things while playing. It may not sound like a big deal, but you would be surprised how many people play Bejeweled just to see that big, shiny "Excellent" pop up on the screen.

Blokus World Tour is one of those funny games that, despite being a major challenge, has that an indefinable quality about it that makes you want to play just one more game.

A 1-hour demo and full version of Blokus World Tour is available at the official site.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 98/ME/2000/XP 500MHz processor, 64 MB RAM, Sound Card, SVGA Graphics Card

Test System:

Windows Vista; 1.6 GHz Dual-Core processor; 2 Gig RAM; DVD drive; 120 GB HDD; GeForce Go7600

Sony PlayStation 2 Luxor: Pharoah's Challenge Nintendo DS Geometry Wars Galaxies

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated