And so it’s a natural extension for this beloved board game to be parlayed into a computer game. The result is Funkitron’s Blokus World Tour, a turn-based strategy game that builds on the winning formula with multiple game modes, colorful graphics and lots of personality.
In case you’ve never played a game of Blokus, here are the rules: up to four players start with 21 "polyominoes," which are Tetris-like shapes consisting of one to five adjoined squares. When it’s your turn, you must pick a shape and place it somewhere on the communal grid (and you can rotate the piece first, if desired). The object of the game is to fill up more spots on the board than your competitors. One important caveat: the shapes you place on the board must touch another one of yours by one or more corners, but never touch at an edge.
The strategy involves choosing which piece to use and if you should rotate it; how to best lay out your colored shapes on the board; and how to block an opponent’s path to restrict their options.
This try-before-you-buy casual download version is great for beginners as the program will tell you if you’re trying to place it in an incorrect spot on the board. Or if you need a clue as to what you can do next, you can click the Hint button. This PC version also offers varying levels of difficulty. The game also tallies your score for you after each turn, so you can easily see how you’re faring against the others.
The PC game is faithful to the board game in many respects — the board design, colors and shapes you play with — but Funkitron has added 16 humorous characters, upbeat music and multiple game modes. While not over-the-top in terms of presentation, the production values are fairly high with attractive graphics, animation, sound effects and music.
Blokus World Tour also offers a first for Blokus fans: the ability to play in tour mode and take part in 10 different Blokus tournaments around the world, beginning in Japan. If you win against the A.I. opponents, you move onto the next round. Humorous characters you’ll face off are hand-drawn and each includes their own play style and personality.
Other game modes include a Quick Play option, which lets you choose from a Classic game (two players using two colors each or four players using one color each) or a Duo game (two players using one color each). Additionally, there’s Blokus Challenges, which are specially-designed puzzle games. Have some friends with you? You can select two, three or four human players in a Hot Seat mode.
As fun – and challenging – as this strategy game is, there are a couple of shortcomings. For one, Blokus World Tour is missing an obvious feature: online multiplayer. How cool would it be to play against a friend in another city, while also chatting at the same time?
Another issue is some technical glitches that can cause freezes and crashes on some machines; it only happened a couple of times, but understandably, it can detract from the overall experience. [Editor’s note: Funkitron has since released a new version of the game that they say addresses the stability issues Gamezebo experienced.]
Whether or not you’ve played the board game, strategy lovers will no doubt be very impressed with Funkitron’s Blokus World Tour. The game is fun, challenging and offers many game modes to keep things fresh even after multiple plays. Hopefully the game makers will fix some of the technical glitches and add Internet play in a sequel.