Piyo Blocks makes no bones about its purpose. The game is match-3, and delightfully so. Rather than dress up the simple mechanic with role-playing elements or blockbuster production values, Piyo Blocks simply revels in the raw addictive properties of color-matching. Bejeweled aside, you won’t find a purer game about moving blocks.
Open the app and your screen is filled with color. The loading screen is bright as a rainbow-colored sun. Cut to the main screen, and wide-eyed blocks float lazily by a moving landscape. In a nice touch, the background reflects the time of day.
All three gameplay modes call up a pulsing wall of blinking blocks for you to eliminate. You clear blocks by matching three of the same color. In each mode the game tracks how many blocks of each color type (fuchsia, orange, sky blue, lime green, yellow, red, and donut-shaped) you have cleared.
Each mode finds a distinct spin on the central mechanic of match-3. In Piyo mode, you must clear a requisite number of blocks of each type before the timer reaches zero. Once you have reached that target you advance a level and the timer resets. Then your target increases by one. In Level 1 you need to clear three blocks of each color; in Level 2 you have to clear four; then five in Level 3, and so on.
Time Attack mode is similar, but the timer doesn’t refresh when you gain a level and your target stays at three. The goal is to see how many levels you can reach before the timer hits zero. And in Hyaku mode, you gain levels by eliminating 99 of any one block type. You gain back some time as you match blocks and advance levels.
This is less a casual diversion than an arcade-style game of speed. In each mode you race for levels against the timer. But you can also attempt combos by matching blocks while other blocks are in the process of being cleared. The more matches you stack, the higher your score. Although your numerical score doesn’t seem as meaningful in Piyo Blocks as the number of levels you have advanced, there’s still something naturally compulsive about multiplying combos.
The gameplay in Piyo Blocks may be simple, but it remains challenging because of the sheer number of block types in play. You’ll find yourself scrambling to hit the target for one straggling color when all other types have long been eliminated. The blocks wiggle anxiously as your time runs out, and the catchy music loop starts to sound like a nervous tic after a few minutes of play. Luckily, you can press a hint button a limited number of times to point out matchable blocks (the blocks try to grab your attention by making vigorous faces.) A recent update added a “Super Piyo” block that you can touch to eliminate blocks all over the screen.
Piyo Blocks has one obvious flaw, and it arguably works in your favor. The game stalls ever-so-briefly when you clear blocks. In a frenetic game like this, these small delays grant you crucial time to find matches and build combos.
There’s a lot of life in Piyo Blocks’ graphics and gameplay—enough to give you pause if you’re looking for a distraction. This is a game that demands your full attention.