The Blockheads (iOS) review
The Blockheads is a new iOS game from Majic Jungle Software. The title, which is a free download from the App Store, enjoyed a brief stint at the top of the charts shortly after release, and has been positively received by press and public alike.
The Blockheads is an open-world sandbox game heavily inspired by Mojang’s popular game Minecraft, which is also available on iOS in a somewhat more limited form than its original PC and Mac counterpart. Unlike Mojang’s title, however, The Blockheads unfolds from a side-on 2D-made-from-3D-objects perspective rather than the first-person viewpoint of Minecraft, and maintains its inspiration’s blocky art style. This perspective is somewhat more fitting for a touch-based control scheme and eliminates the need for awkward virtual joysticks, instead controlling everything through simple taps and menus.
Like Minecraft, there is no real “goal” in The Blockheads; the game is whatever the player decides to make of it, and very little guidance is given from the very beginning of the game. Essentially, the game revolves around harvesting resources from the world (ideally using the correct tools) and then using the various gathered items to craft things. Initially, the player will need to craft various different types of workbench in order to create different types of items — a tool bench allows for the creation of items to aid with harvesting and mining, for example, while a woodworking bench allows for the construction of items such as doors and beds. Once the player has a good base camp set up, however, it is entirely up to them how they choose to proceed — there is a large, randomly-generated world out there for them to explore that extends up into space and down into the planet’s core as well as wrapping around on itself after about 15,000 blocks.
The player initially starts with a single Blockhead but with the correct combination of resources, additional Blockheads may be summoned, allowing for the player to divide their time up more effectively — one could remain at “home” crafting while the others go out harvesting or exploring, for example. The player will need to take care, however, as each Blockhead as a The Sims-style collection of mood bars reflecting their hunger, energy and happiness levels, and in order to keep them working effectively, it will be necessary to take care of these needs as much as possible.
The game is free to play but monetizes in a couple of different ways. There is an optional one-time in-app purchase that reduces the amount of time taken to craft items — the game is rather slow-paced without this, but still perfectly playable. Alternatively, the player may purchase an in-app currency known as Time Crystals, which allow them to immediately finish crafting tasks and also perform special functions such as summoning additional Blockheads. Time Crystals may be mined as a rare resource, but for the most part they will need to be purchased.
The game’s social features are relatively limited, though the game does offer the ability to invite a second player into their world via Game Center. This mode also features voice chat, allowing the two players to communicate with one another and coordinate what they’re doing. There is also nothing to stop the player from taking a screenshot and sharing it via social media, and a later craftable camera item allows for images to be saved or emailed. It would perhaps be a good move for a future update to make use of iOS’ built-in Twitter and Facebook sharing capabilities, as this would help to extend the game’s reach somewhat.
On the whole, The Blockheads is a fun mobile game that will appeal most to existing fans of Minecraft, though a number of comments around the Web have noted that even though who didn’t enjoy Mojang’s title are having fun with this. The monetization is implemented in an unobtrusive manner and those who wish to play for free can still have a satisfying experience, and there’s already plenty to do in the game — doubtless we’ll see some “feature creep” over the course of a few updates just like we have with Minecraft, too.
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A great mobile game that pretty much out-Minecrafts Mojang’s own portable version of Minecraft.