The tower-stacking genre has been thriving on mobile, with a surprisingly wide variety of games putting their unique spin on the otherwise simple gameplay. Happymagenta’s laid back and beautifully polished Cargo King, Ketchapp’s minimalist and precision-focused The Tower, and Squidshaped’s quirky and sometimes fish-flavored Pixel Burger all use the same premise—managing a vertical balancing act of objects—to create very different games.
Preparing to land on this growing line-up is Callipix, a small three-person development family out of France. Their upcoming entry into the genre and only sophomore iOS outing is Stack Heroes, a fast-paced twist on the otherwise meticulous line-‘em-up model.
Stack Heroes combines its genre’s familiar Jenga-esque need to delicately plan moves with the manic rush of unlimited stacking within a time limit. Players will be given individual blocks of one, two, or three cubes in length and tasked with placing them on any part of the base area. Unlike its category cousins mentioned above, Stack Heroes’ creations need not be a single vertical tower. The available base is much larger than the cubes themselves, allowing players to build multi-columned structures vaguely reminiscent of Tetris. Of course, these blocks don’t “snap” together, so the result is usually a wobbly mess, especially for new players.
But the beauty and fun of Stack Heroes is that wobbly’s okay: you can even lose (or deliberately discard) blocks without ending your attempt. Doing so merely knocks a few seconds off your available time, whose countdown to zero is the only level-ending factor. And since blocks are constantly falling whether you’re ready or not, slow and steady does not necessarily win this race.
The result is frantic, forgiving, and fun, allowing you to create some really precarious piles of blocks and still earn a modestly decent score. Since you can stop any time and take your current score (for whatever can stay standing an additional five seconds), there are plenty of ways to approach your building plan. A well-founded base may take too long to build, running out of time before you hit a height that will earn you additional seconds. Whereas a haphazard, towering turret may leave you with plenty of time yet little room to grow.
These different potential strategies create plenty of variety, as do the surprising number of game modes included. Stack Heroes offers a whopping eight modes, each of which features the same core gameplay with slight variations to the board itself. The basic board, “Dropzone,” contains a flat plane about seven blocks wide and endless empty space for stacking above. “Splitus” divides the plane into two small bases, each less than two blocks wide, and places a hovering hexagon between them. This hexagon shows up in multiple modes and acts as both a hazard—that can knock blocks off your stage—and a helper—that can rotate blocks by hitting them, an ability you don’t otherwise have at your disposal. My favorite mode, after a couple hours hands-on with the current build, is “Solidarius”: this version “solidifies” your tower after you reach a certain height, basically banking your score, letting you build off a sturdier base mid-stack and breathe a sigh of relief.
All of this is presented in a colorful, techno-themed package that will be supported by an unobtrusive economy. Stack Heroes will be free to play, with only interstitial ads popping up between rounds and removable with a $1.99 one-time purchase. Callipix is continuing their generous tradition of giving 50% of all proceeds to charity that began with their first game, Fruit Avalanche.
As Claude Jegouic, CEO of Callipix told Gamezebo: “The truth is that we have so much pleasure in running this business every day that we want to share a little bit. We do our best to give a lot of fun to our players, and for those who do not have this opportunity, we share 50% of our benefits to help their cause. Basically, we equally share these benefits between five great causes: Doctors Without Border, UNICEF, BCRF, WWF and GamesAid, 10% for each.”
Stack Heroes is shaping up to be a great game, in support of great causes. You can join in that greatness when it releases on iOS June 24th.