Sega are traditionally well known for their crazy arcade games that combine over the top Japanese pop stylings with bizarre music and spot effects, yet also maintain a cutting edge of addictive, fine tuned gameplay. Examples of this are Chu Chu Rocket! and the sublime Space Channel 5, both titles for Dreamcast, a console that for many was like owning a custom Sega arcade machine at home, such was the quantity of arcade ports available.
Sega obviously hope that Brick People follows this fine tradition of their arcade games performing well on a home format, and while I wouldn’t go so far to say that the game is a disappointment, I don’t feel enough has been done to ensure the success of these odd little brick climbers and their game.
In its arcade incarnation, you physically stacked plastic bricks up against a big screen that the brick people would climb up to reach pieces of fruit scattered around the stage. It was a neat bit of tech, but definitely the type of game that you would try once for the experience and walk away from, never to tempt more credits away from more popular machines. In fact, the game probably only lived long in the memory of those unscrupulous souls who walk away with pockets full of the unprotected bricks.
Well, at least on this iOS version no one can steal the bricks, right?
Like the arcade original, the idea is to build towers and paths of bricks that the little fella’s can climb and jump from to reach pieces of fruit hanging all around the level. Here, instead of real bricks, you can drag an unlimited amount of virtual bricks from the left and right hand side of the screen and drop them into play. There are all different kinds of fruit, some of which have an impact on the game, such as the peppers that set your tiny team on fire.
Some stages are simple collecting frenzies, but the levels where you have to collect fruit or numbers in a certain order are far better and add a little strategy to the game, as do the little devils that drop fruit and item behind your blocks meaning that you have to have a sharp eye to prevent a last minute scramble to find out where that last item is hidden.
Each level has a strict time limit, which also carries over into the next stage. Every couple of stages, you have to complete a bonus game that involves filling out a shape with your bricks. Finish this in good order and any remaining time will be added to your total.
A big problem is the fact that all this time related gameplay and focus is obliterated by unlimited continues that game gives you. So, when the clock runs out, just touch the continue button and the level keeps on rolling, with the only penalty being that you have to re-stack your bricks.
This wouldn’t be such a problem is there were a few more modes, but unfortunately there is only one single player mode available. This is split up into three difficulty levels, all of which offer new stages, but there really should have been more here. The addition of a simple puzzle mode with limitations on the number of bricks would have done wonders.
There is a two player mode, playable over Bluetooth, and it is here that the game really shines. The graphics are full of character and manage to give the game its own distinct flavour, and the sound is suitably manic.
Overall, this is a good little time waster, and although the unique visual style doesn’t quite make up for the lack of content, this is still an enjoyable diversion nevertheless.
Article first published as Brick People iPhone Review on Technorati by the same author.