FREE DOWNLOAD MOBILE GAME-CITY BLOXX
City Bloxx is a Java game built into some of the latest Nokia phones, and is also available as a free game from the Download! service on certain Nokia S60 smartphones. It's a combination of an arcade game and puzzle game, and involves building tall towers as well as a spot of careful city planning to try and squeeze the maximum population out of the limited space you have to build on. It's also possibly the most mobile-friendly game ever given away on a phone.
There's actually two game modes, a very simple Quick Game arcade mode where you just build and build and build, as well as a much more subtle Build City mode where you build towers of particular heights and choose where they go. Both modes revolve around stacking floors of tower blocks on top of each other, hopefully getting them as straight as possible, and any blocks which hit the one below dead on start a bonus counter that multiplies the population of every block subsequently added. If that seems complicated, it isn't, just watch the video to see what I mean.
Although Quick Game is good for a giggle, it's Build City that will have you coming back for more. The task ahead of you is to achieve all 20 milestones that will make your city a megalopolis. At first it seems a complete no-brainer, no effort required except the arcade-based building sequences. However, as you reach the end of your quest it becomes (as it should) steadily trickier until the final few milestones are very hard to reach indeed. What it calls for isn't just skill in the arcade game but also a logical approach that can work out what combination of building types will get you the maximum population, and what sequence of construction will get you that combination. The lowest-population blue towers can be built anywhere, but as population of tower types increases so do their restrictions: red towers need a blue neighbour, green towers need a blue and a red neighbour, while the massive yellow towers need all three of the other colours to be adjacent (and diagonals don't count at all). Once a tower is built, you don't need to follow the rules any more, but if you do break a tower's neighbours rule you cannot replace that tower with another of the same type. This forces you into an intriguing shuffling of tower types, you may need to build towers and then replace them at a later point just so you can get more taller tower types to fit into your city. The complexity towards the end of the game is completely unexpected and a lovely bonus, it appears at just the right point to keep things interesting and challenging.
This isn't any kind of city simulator, the puzzles are completely abstract, but the city setting works very well graphically: the towers bend and flex if you add the blocks too sloppily and residents move in immediately via Mary Poppins-style flying umbrellas. The weather effects around the towers are also simple but nice, and (on the S60 version at least) the 3D effect when floors start tumbling or shaking is very good.
What also makes City Bloxx special is how well it's suited to mobile phones. The basic idea of building a tower is ideally suited to the vertical screens of most phones. The controls are so simple they would work on any phone model: dropping blocks is controlled entirely with one button! Each bit of gameplay is delivered in the smallest of bite-sized chunks, and the game can be played in very short bursts or longer sessions. Gameplay can also be interrupted at any time, there's no time limit on building a tower and you can exit at any time (the game auto-saves when you do), so you can put the phone down and come back to the game any time you want. Although the basic Quick Game is very simple, the Build City mode adds longevity to the simple arcade game as it puts your efforts into context: you HAVE to get this tower done or your city won't reach its next population target. Finally, the planning side of Build City proves surprisingly clever, and the various population targets have been carefully set to be plausible without being too easy to attain.
I don't know how much I would pay for this if it were a commercial game, perhaps US$10, but as a free game City Bloxx is absolutely brilliant, one of the best games ever given away with a phone. It's addictive, it has depth, and the gameplay structure fits in with your own timetable rather than demanding your time.
City Bloxx is such a simple but brilliant idea, surely someone has done this before on a different platform?
(Incidentally the graphics may vary depending on what phone you play it on. As you can see from the video the S60 smartphone version has a rather pleasing 3D look but some of the other versions are more 2D.)