I really wanted to like Ant Blox. It’s a great concept for a puzzle game: stack some blocks so that an ant can easily walk to the other side of the level to reach an apple. Unfortunately, Aleph Games doesn’t seem to understand smooth game mechanics. The first couple of levels passed without incident, but as you increase in levels, you suddenly realize that this is a game that’s easy to learn, and easy to screw up.
I love games that use the accelerometer, and the concept behind Ant Blox’s use of this device is wonderful. Tilt your iPhone around to allow “gravity” to move the blocks into whatever position is appropriate. That’s cool. A bit of a Tetris idea with a more organic twist. The problem comes when you understand that these blocks don’t really have any weight to them.
Later in the game, you learn how to turn the blocks using two fingers. You need to turn a rectangular block diagonally next to a triangle block that the ant can climb to reach the rectangular block. I must have tried this maneuver fifty times before giving up, because as soon as you have on block set, the other block is fully capable of moving the set block which you are incapable of fixing without deleting the moved block which deducts points. What’s worse, every block, having nearly 0 weight, is terribly bouncy. So, when you think you have the block perfectly set, it bounces and screws every other block up, costing you valuable deletion points.
Another quibble I have with this game is that it took me several tries to understand that the block that I’m moving around isn’t actually set in the game until I hit the red button. This is something that’s easy for a developer to miss, but it’s just as easy for him to fix. If I’m still allowed to change my block type, I expect for this to be indicated somehow, for example with a blinking coloration of the block. At first I thought I had to use up all my blocks before moving on to the next block type which was quite a hassle. If you play the game, you’ll understand what I mean. It’s a bit difficult to explain without a visual reference.
This is an example of a great concept gone wrong. And it’s really just a matter of faulty game mechanics and a curious ability to break the game unwittingly. If you buy this game, I fully recommend leaving a comment on the page addressing the problems you had playing it so that the developer can consider them and re-release this game with all-new mechanics. I’m not going to say this is a terribly horrible game, because I like the idea, but playing it sent me to new heights of frustration.
Ant Blox requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. A small fee was paid by the developer to expedite the publication of this review.