REVIEW: Block King

In simple terms, Block King ($1.00) is a first-person shooter for up to eight players online1 (there is no single-player option, minus the trial / tutorial), featuring various unlockable shapes and shaders as combatants. Although, technically, it’s also not a first-person shooter2. Bear with me. You move and fire shots from that perspective, granted, but you aren’t exactly ‘fragging’ your targets in the traditional sense. Rather, in the vein of stuff like Hidden In Plain Sight, you’re better off thinking of Block King as a ‘party game’, one suited to quick bouts and even quicker trash-talking.

Block King - Screen

Well, to put it succinctly.

You see, instead of killing your targets personally, in a flash of FPS gore and glory, Block King requires a more tactical and (damn near) precognitive approach. In a semi-less violent twist, here you’re shooting at the floor beneath your opponents’ feet, slowly destroying the hovering playing field until they fall through the cracks and only one of you is left standing at the top. Needless to say, having the ‘high ground’ is very much an advantage and understatement.

Fights take place on 28 multi-colored (and same-y) blocky battlegrounds, alternating maps between rounds, but the goal remains steadfastly the same. Matches themselves can last a few seconds or almost a minute, with tense duels and fancy footwork ultimately making up the difference between victory and defeat. You’re only given one life per round (you can move around and spectate after death), but with things moving this fast and fun, you’re rarely waiting for long before you can jump right into the next.

You can further improve your odds by collecting powerups at the start of the match, using stuff like Blast Off (extreme height), High Jump, Camouflage, Lasers, and more to turn the tide. Winning a match grants you ‘multiplayer points’, good towards unlocking new shapes and / or color choices for your character.

Block King - Screen2

Those unlockables are purely cosmetic, mind you, and the rest of the options are pretty bare-boned. While the game is otherwise pick-up-and-play, there’s a bit of a learning curve involved. The controls take some getting used to, as does the overly-sensitive movement. Combine the latter with precarious edges and rapidly-disintegrating floors, and you can easily become your own worst enemy.

That said, most— if not all— of these problems are erased when you’re playing the multiplayer. Much like HiPS and other party games3, Block King is at its addictive best when played with friends, locally or online. In a perfect world, XBLIGs would have a wider online community (sadly, it doesn’t), but if you have a group of pals and some loose change to spare, Block King is more than worthy of its dollar asking price and your time.

  1.  A big thanks to developer Chris Antoni, ‘ImTheMetalLord’, and everyone else that showed up to help playtest the multiplayer for this review. Much appreciated, guys! 
  2. For categorization purposes, though, this is listed under FPS. 
  3. You know, casual, social, murder simulators. Good times. 

55 thoughts on “REVIEW: Block King”

  1. A friendly heads up to all: Block King is releasing on Steam (for Windows) today! I won’t claim I installed Windows on my Mac just to play this … but I might have.

    It is good to see XBLIG games get a new lease on life. Hope to see some of you guys there!

    1. Windows on Mac!? What is the world coming to? I wonder if my computer could handle the game. Assuming there’s no special requirements, it might. Sadly, unless there’s anybody from the XBLIG days still monitoring Chris’ twitter account, I doubt there’d be anybody from here that would ever know. 😦

  2. I’m liking the new update to the game; being able to change my sensitivity now allows me to fall off a block faster! And the double jump? Soul-crushing! ; )

    Jest aside, this game is almost as much fun to spectate as it is to play. Every match is tense yet entirely comedic. We just need some more noobs to play so MetalLord and I can win every once in a while.

    1. Double-jump is nice, agreed. Chris obviously got plenty of practice with it, considering it saved his skin at least four or five times! 🙂

      I don’t know about the noobs, though. For all the new blood we get, they turn out to be pretty damn good at the game. I would like to see some ‘2nd’ and ‘3rd’ place points handed out, though. At least one or two points just to make it feel like you did something in the match. 😀

    2. No doubt Andregurov! Anything to help me I’m all for.

      2nd and 3rd place points is a must in my opinion. Otherwise people like me never really progress at all and that lack of progression equals lack of interest. (HINT HINT Headache!! LOL)

      I also really like the idea of a second power up on longer matches and I like the idea of a power up that inverts all competitors controls. Druken Fist lol.

      Game is a blast. Really is. Way better than I thought it would. Even way better than I thought it would be after playing it for the first 30 minutes.

    3. @ImTheMetalLord: Yeah, we got to get you some points, and a winning streak or two. 🙂

      Otherwise, all good options. Consolation points, inverted controls, a second powerup to use in a ‘Sudden Death’ type scenario. Perhaps even separate the two— have a ‘classic’ mode like we’ve been used to, and then add those other options into an even more ‘frantic’ mode. Also, an all-laser match, just because I’m curious to see how quickly the blocks would disappear. 👿 😀

  3. This game is getting lots of attention, like a new stripper that just came from Brazil. I was so curious so I tried the demo, and, well, could not get into it. The character jump is waaaay to high for my taste, but maybe thats the way is have to be in the multiplayer. I did not like much the presentation, guess Im used to pretty menus. That aside I only play the trial so my opinion not matter much. But is good that an XBLIG multiplayer get this lots of aattention in soo late in the 360 life. It proves that originality still exist. I think this is the only multiplayer game on the service that is not a clone, so, even if I could not get into it, congrats to the developer. Now we just have to wait for the next 5 Block King sequels that he will release in the next few weeks XD

    1. Which is my fault. If you could shoot some bots in the trial it would be a game changer.

    2. @xionix55: I agree on the demo, and as Chris said above me, that’s one of the biggest flaws in the game right now, for people that are wanting to try the game out. It needs a bot-based mode for the trial, at least to let players know what the game will play like. Videos and screenshots can’t convey that as well. The ‘jumping’ and the controls feel a little loose / float-y at first, but trust me, you do adjust to it after a while. Fun game otherwise, and we’ve had some awesome matches.

      I did laugh at the ‘5 Block King sequels’ quip, the Dev is definitely prolific in his game creation. 😀

    3. @xionix55 at first playing the game even in multiplayer it took awhile to get used to the controls and how you need to keep one eye down and one eye up on the opponents but after playing it awhile I must say it’s loads of fun. In fact the fun factor is off the charts and even when losing game after game I still had fun. So yea in this case the trial does not give it justice.


    1. Haha. Got a ‘Block King, 24-hours-to-go’ ritual going, do you? 😀

      Let’s just hope that there’s no ‘ringer’ in the bunch, set to take us all down with lightning speed and efficiency. :/

    2. I think the word “Derp” is French for “stealthy super-fast assassinating Block King demon”. #derpsgoingdown #butprobablynotbyme #andregurovyouhavelost #idontthinkimdoingthishashtagthingright

    3. I still say he’s as big a threat as Chris, AKA headache4u. Derp has an incredible shot, all the more impressive considering you’ve got to be motion at all times, watching the floor and other players. He’s got a talent for sure. … I just like that I started to win some matches once he had to leave. 😀 #mercibeaucoup

    4. You guys sure are better than last time, but it’s even more fun when it’s like that, more challenging 😀
      Hopefully we’ll be able to do a group next sunday big (or even bigger :O) as yesterday:P
      I’ll be there for sure anyways.

    5. Definitely was good to see a few different lobbies going. 🙂 We’re all getting better, like you said, and that will definitely lead to some tougher, longer-lasting matches. Should be interesting to see who the top player will be this next weekend…

      Also, here’s PART 1 of this past weekend’s games, big thanks to the Bearded Canuck (ScottMDavis) for recording:

    1. Loads of fun; perhaps we can do it again this Sunday, same time? I don’t know how Derp kept getting the powerups … he MUST share his secrets. ; )

    2. @ImTheMetalLord & andregurov: No kidding. Derp’s a deadly shot, for one, but yeah, how the hell he seems to fall faster than everyone else upon spawning is curious. He was picking up those powerups 60-70% of the time. Trickery. 😀 …or lucky.

      I know I’ve got plans this coming Sunday, but I should be back at roughly the same time as last night, so it’s certainly possible we could get another four dozen rounds in. 😉

    3. I’m down to play again, this game is just to fun.
      As for the powerups, I was the host most of the time, could be that, or just the luck to spawn right on top on them haha 🙂
      So next Saturday is good for me, but playing 30 minutes earlier (22:00) would be better for me, cause you know, I have school the next day 😛
      What do you guys think?

    4. Saturday, or did you mean Sunday? If it’s Saturday… that could work for me. Trying to get on at an exact time is hard for me, but I will try my best to get online earlier. It would be up to everyone else here, and Chris (developer), if he can make it.

      If Sunday is a better day for everyone, though, we may have to stick to that. Weekends are are always tricky, but that’s when most people have time off to devote to games. I’ll leave it up to you guys.

    5. My Twitter is foldberg1 so just tweet a few hours in advance and I’ll come. I’d love to make it a set day each week and start gathering folks as best I can. Thank you so much you guys for giving it a try! It’s my horrible lack of a good trial that hurt the multiplayer pool so much. If we figure a weekly time I will even put the info in the game itself for new players to see.

    6. I meant Sunday, I wrote to quickly 😛
      10:30 is still a good time for me but I’ll need to disconnect earlier than last time, that’s why I would prefer 10:00, but if 10:30 is better for everybody else, keep it,I’ll still be there for a couple of rounds.

    7. @Derp: Ah, okay. I wanted to make sure. 🙂

      @Chris: Well, looks like we’ve got another tentative session set for this coming Sunday, starting at 10 Eastern / 9 Central. If everybody’s good with that, I’ll post another ‘playdate’ on the site as a reminder, and we’ll battle it out with ‘Grenade / Chrysler symbol’ avatars! 😀

    8. @Derp Chris and I and one other not from this forum was there earlier than that and if time permits I’ll be there earlier again as well.

      @Chris @andregurov I followed you both on twitter and anyone want to follow me I’m @dlmayday on there.

      @Everyone See you there Sunday night so the good players have someone to kill. I swear I think I’m the first to go every match.

    9. I’m pumped guys, see you Sunday. I’m working on getting even more from several forums and now thanks to metallord we have a hashtag! #blockkingrules

  4. After watching some vids of this, it does truly look like a lot more than the sum of its parts. I could see this being an epic – and hilarious – party game.

    1. Agreed, of course. 🙂 I wasn’t quite sure how it’d play out, but it definitely fits that description better than the ‘vanilla’ FPS identity. Big thanks to Scott for posting the gameplay vid; you really can’t get a feel for it from still images alone.

  5. I had a blast playing this and thanks Chris, Tim and everyone involved. I’m down for rematch at anytime I’m available. That video sure isn’t fair. Tim and I were super noobs at that point. But we both did get seconds on the video so I don’t feel all that bad considering.

    1. Fixed! Hey… I think I know some guys in that video. 😀

      No video evidence of my own epic victories, but they happened! They totally did!

  6. For those who ever want to set up games, my Twitter is Foldberg1 and if you let me know when you’ll be on I’ll try to rally a group. I just need a few more vict… ahem friends so I can unlock the final graphic and model.

    Thanks for reviewing Tim! You were getting pretty damn good by the end of the night!

    1. I would certainly play with you.
      I tried to play online but nope, no players online…

    2. @Chris: No problem, sir, as always, and I will give your account a follow. Thanks again for organizing a match, and yeah, I wasn’t half-bad by the end. Years of playing first-person shooters is finally starting to pay off in a real-world application! … I think. 🙂

      If you guys do organize another game for this weekend / whenever, drop me a line. I’ll try and get some more matches in.

      @Derp: I expected as much. It’s looking like it’s going to be impossible to find XBLIG players for most games these days without organizing one ahead of time with friends.

    3. If you ever do a party on this game, let me know, because I don’t have Twitter… Maybe that you could send me a quick message on xbox live: Derp le Boss. After watching Scott’s vid, I really, really want to try the game out:P

    4. I will definitely send you a message if something gets organized; the more the merrier. That, and it gives me more targets to take down. 😀

      (EDIT: Looks like we’re going to get some games going tomorrow night, Sunday, starting at 9pm, Central. I’ll send you a message on Xbox as well, in case you miss this here.)

  7. Looking to pick a fight and shoot out some blocks from underneath your frenemies’ feet? Thanks to Mr. Antoni, I’ve got one code to give away. Simple reply to this comment, and the game is yours!

  8. This gane looks awesome.
    Unfortunately, like any other multiplayer xblig games, I don’t think there is enough people online to get it.
    But maybe I’ll get it for a party game to play locally.
    Also, maybe that Chris could have add a Level Editor, shouldn’t be that hard to do, is it?

    1. Locally it’d be fun too, but that’s only for two players in a 1vs1. Online is the ideal form, and without everyone gathered to help test it out, I doubt I would have ever found a game otherwise. Which is always a shame, because it’s good, chaotic fun with a group. Best bet: convince a few online friends to buy it, and set up matches beforehand. 🙂

      Level editors are always welcome for the creativity, but there’s not much variety to the block types, so that’s not a huge issue here. I don’t know if that’s a priority for him. The varied layouts do give enough battlegrounds to fight on, though.

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