Local multiplayer games are a dime a dozen these days, so much so that they've started to form their own sub genres. You have the head to head competitive games such as Nidhogg and Lethal League. You have your wacky sports simulations, such as Clusterpuck 99 and Super Slam Dunk Touchdown. You also have the children of Super Smash Bros., games that combine running, jumping and arena brawling. Releases like Duck Game , Ultimate Chicken Horse, and this week's entry into the To The Green pantheon. Blockpocalypse by Dime Studios is a pixel art competitive platformer where you and three of your closest friends attempt to build a path away from the end of the world, one girder at a time.
Originally created during the Melbourne Global Game Jam 2015, Blockpocalypse's main Survival mode has you picking from a variety of unique characters and dashing to the right and up to dodge being cooked alive. On your way, you have to build some of the platforms yourself by grabbing rubble from the ground and stacking it along with others. Once you reach the chopper, you get a brief respite from the chaos of everything you've ever known crashing down around you. What is unique here is that everything is happening in real time—you're not building out the platforms in advance. Add in the timer constantly buzzing towards your death, and you get a recipe for fun yet stressful yelling at friends as they are fumbling with their platform at the worst possible time.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Njmg9bFvAWs
Since the game jam version, the developers have included three other modes to sample in an effort to round out the package a bit. Blockball is a two on two basketball game that adds aiming a ball to the block building chaos of the main mode. Crown of Chaos is more typical, tasking you with grabbing a crown and keeping it away from the other players while you rack up points. Finally, the creatively titled Elimination mode is pure Smash Bros, where you have to trip up your foes so that they fall into the burning lava below before you have a chance to.
The game has that modern pixel style that is really gripping to me personally. It's not trying to emulate an old console, it's instead taking advantage of the technology we have at our disposal to craft the best 2D block game this side of the Sega Saturn. It also affords them a fast pace that suits the gameplay well. Even though these graphics are impressive, they could run on a video card equipped toaster without much trouble.
The whole thing reminds me a bit of Broforce, in both the exhaustive 2D animation style and the choices for characters, some of which are ripped straight from pop culture. The minimalist sprites allows them to get away with putting in The Emperor from Star Wars and the shark from that Super Bowl halftime show without causing lawyers to swoop in and shut them down. I personally would prefer more out there models like the skellington and scared construction man as shown up above, but I'm sure there will be plenty of options in the final release.
Most recently, the game made a public debut at the recent PAX Australia show, which is the perfect type of environment to be introduced to a game such as this. Sadly I was still in the good old U.S. of A. during that particular show, but the reception from what I've read seems very positive. With a bit more expansion or a few more modes, Blockpocalypse could make a splash in the same way Duck Game did earlier this year, and I look forward to getting my hands on it in the future.
Of course, that all depends on the game getting through Greenlight. If you like what you see and there is room in your life for another couch co-op good time, be sure to head over to their page on Steam and give them a thumbs up. It's a simple idea, but one with a lot of promise for stupidity and fun while you're hunched over the TV with your Steam Link hooked up. As for me, I'll be waiting out the end of the world in a bunker instead of building bridges. I doubt even a pixelated version of myself could lift up all the burning debris out there, much less throw it onto a pile and jump onto it.
What games trapped in Greenlight are you most looking forward to? What kind of wasteland will result from the Blockpocalypse? Will there be Super Mutants here as well? Answer these questions and more in the comments below!