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.
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.
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.