I've got Denki fever. No, not the deadly Carribbean virus dengue fever, but similarly there seems to be no immunization for this disease. This is Denki fever, caused by repeated, uncontrollable playing of Majesco's latest Game Boy Advance puzzle game, Denki Blocks. It seems like such an ordinary game, what with its brightly colored box art and friendly presentation, but it is actually an insidious device designed to take over your life and wear down your batteries. Puzzle game fans should run out and buy Denki Blocks before reading any more of this review – you'll be glad you got the head start. For the rest of you, we may continue.
Denki Island is a land of puzzles. All of the inhabitants play and create puzzles. All of the inhabitants are also cute little critters and beings rendered in a likeable cartoony style. It is up to you to roll into Denki Island and take out all of these puzzle loving suckers. Of course, you don't use a gun or violence to do this – you must beat them at their own games, which is pretty tough.
Featuring over 270 puzzles, Denki Blocks will keep you busy for quite awhile. There's a plethora of different modes including Workout, Tournament, Perfecto, Special Puzzles, Battle, and more. These modes are pretty self explanatory. Workout allows you to practice your skills; Tournament is the main single-player mode where you try to beat the residents of Denki Island at their own game. Perfecto and Special Puzzles are solo modes where you get to either perfect your technique of solving certain puzzles or try out super tough and tricky puzzles. Multiplayer modes like Battle and Race are pretty obvious, too. These are not easy puzzles – the difficulty ranges from way simple to incredibly, mind blowingly, keep you up all night long difficult. Needless to say, you'll be here for awhile if you want to clear out Denki Blocks.
So what are these puzzles like? Well, like any good puzzle game, the explanation sounds really complicated, but the execution is very natural. The Training mode in Denki Blocks is exceptional, and definitely a must-try for new Denki initiates. Basically, you are presented with a grid. On this grid are different colored blocks. You slide around the blocks to connect blocks of the same color together. This activity is complicated by unmovable blockers, specialty blocks that can change color and what not, and various goals such as creating different shapes. Your execution of the puzzles is timed and ranked, and you'll be surprised at how compelling it is to retry a puzzle for a better ranking once you've figured it out.
Like I said, a written explanation just can't do this game justice. Everyone talks about how a Tetris took over their life at some point in time, and I definitely believe that Denki Blocks has the potential for that kind of success. Puzzle games are tough because they must be simple enough to grasp, but robust enough to keep you coming back. Often, puzzle games suffer from repetition or a flawed main concept. Denki Blocks succeeds in both of these areas and offers us another wonderful gameplaying experience. Puzzle fans should definitely make Denki Blocks a purchase. And all other GBA owners should at least give it a spin. It might just take over your life.
Shawn Rider (12/20/2002)