Future Obscura- Blocky Bot

One of the many things I never get tired of being asked by those who enjoy my writing, those who love coming into my store, or those who have even heard me sing (shhh!), is why I love doing what I do, all of it, and I’ve come to realize that it nearly 35 years of age it would have to be that in all those realms of media, entertainment, and just overall fun and artistry it would be that nothing is predictable in any of it. What looks full proof can be the first to fail, while something that looks horrible on paper can resonate in a way that creates a whole new movement, a whole new way of thinking about that particular medium. It’s just exciting. I mean, I’m talking Buy 1 Flannel Shirt Get Another Free exciting here, folks!

Yeah, you're not getting out of this article easy, Animated Rob Luther.
Yeah, you’re not getting out of this article easy, Animated Rob Luther.

Here in the Retro Junkies Network, especially here at Retro Obscura, we like to talk a lot about the past, about those games, developers, artists, and musicians, who helped pave the way for what we have now, what so many of us (especially those blasted kids, STAY OFF MY LAWN!) take for granted. I’m not one to look away from history, and I love waxing nostalgia with the best of them, but tell me, aside from warehouses full of Crystal Pepsi and DeLoreans, what will the future be like? While I certainly don’t have all the answers, what I am here to discuss are those games I feel could be a part of the next wave of cult classics, those next generations of games that collectors are pining for, or if nothing else, those that elicit a feeling, good or bad. Today I begin what I call “Future Obscura” those games that may be an afterthought now, but could become the next Earthbound in the future. What does our future hold as gamers? Well here’s a few games that can at least tell those collectors of the future where our direction was at the time.

Today I begin with a game I stumbled upon in the Nintendo eShop one fateful day as luck would have it, and has become somewhat of an unsung hero in the catalog of games I played in 2015, Blocky Bot. How does a game, with a ridiculous name, an even more basic and ridiculous premise, and very little depth in comparison to the far more expensive Nintendo eShop downloads be looked at so fondly by a guy with 4 collegiate degrees and a box of Whoppers on his desk? (The chocolate candies by the way, not the burgers) Well, there’s only one way to find out, and no Stephens, not by putting it on a hot dog.

Ya know, cute robots and stuff.
Ya know, cute robots and stuff.

Sound: 9
Obviously one of the big things that has made indie games such a hub for nostalgic gamers is the fact that developers are taking long time gamers back to a time when games were simple, fun, and yes, addicting, but without having to pay tons of money to unlock features on whatever “homage” a company has made to the good ol’ days as it were. It would be easy to make a game like Blocky Bot with little to no effort, relying on these cute little robots to be the selling point, with an art style that harkens back to a time where games were complete as you got them, no downloadable content, no updates, just a complete game, and while there’s no question that Blocky Bot could have been successful on the NES or Sega Master System, one of the early draws of the game that is often overlooked would be the music. The score here is upbeat, catchy, and really keeps you trying as it relates to breaking a personal best on jumps, while trying to unlock other characters and levels. While the basis of the soundtrack seems simply enough, with extra levels comes greater emphasis on both developing that basic track further as well as introducing new songs to keep jumping up..and up..and, well you get the point. I’d like to also give a nod to whoever decided to take the basic track in the first level opened to you, and, well, Gameboying it in the 1989 level (More on that none Taylor Swift induced level in just a second)

OMG, you mean something to do with that year doesn't have to do with me? That's crazy, right?
OMG, you mean something to do with that year doesn’t have to do with me? That’s crazy, right?

Graphics: 8
There are only a small handful of levels created for Blocky Bot, many that aren’t open to you at the start of the game, but despite this lack of variety comes a strong sense of dedication and detail by all those involved with creating the game. Blocky Bot has simple cartoon levels (some that even look like they were drawn by a 2nd grade art class, which is awesome!) as well as levels created by lovers of the classic toy Light Brite (or perhaps those with an appreciation of the Rainbow Road levels of Mario Kart lore) but for my money no level properly illustrates this indie team’s love of the classics quite like the 1989 level, in all its pea soup green Gameboy love song glory. The music that plays as you jump, the colors, all of it makes you feel like you’re playing an original Gameboy launch title for sure, and while I doubt it has any connection, I felt most at ease as I jumped from platform to platform on this particular level than any others. I guess my inner 8 year old says thank you?

Gameplay: 9
There’s many reasons why I feel Blocky Bot is a game future generations will be discussing, but it all boils down to this. I have two nephews, as well as friends whose kids play retro games with us here at the house and I am often asked how a game without these huge blockbuster graphics or amazing cinematic cut scenes can be so appealing, and the answer I always give is that if the core of the game is fun, it doesn’t matter what it looks like. Blocky Bot is all about beating a personal best, while still keeping you going with the fun of unlocking (not downloading!) extras like characters and levels, and that’s something I think appeals to a lot of people, regardless of age or gaming experience. It’s a simple premise, a continuous jump fest upwards, drawing comparisons to Flappy Bird and other simple, yet addicting mobile games, but to group this game with the likes of those is doing it, as well as the developers behind it, quite the disservice. You can tell a lot of careful work and consideration went into making this game, because even the character you choose can affect how you attack the game. It seems that the bots vary in speed and jumping skills, some average, some very skilled, while the non bot characters are an acquired taste, many of them seeming rather stiff and clunky. In the end, whoever you choose, none can compare to my mighty warrior of choice.

I know, adorable! Um, I mean, FEEL HIS WRATH! RAWR!!
I know, adorable! Um, I mean, FEEL HIS WRATH! RAWR!!

Overall: 8
Obviously another strong selling point for Blocky Bot right now is how inexpensive it is, as most gamers picked this up for like 2 bucks and change, but I’ve always believed whatever games are sought after (in digital form or otherwise) in the future will be those that were quickly overlooked, yet developed a cult following that leads to mass appeal, or at least mass collecting. Obviously, collecting games will be far different in the future, and while Blocky Bot doesn’t have a physical disc release right now, who knows if Blocky Bot 2 and even 3 will be coming down the pipe in the future? You mean to tell me that our generation, of having unopened Star Wars toys and CIB games from our youth wouldn’t want to hunt down a compilation disc of this franchise in the future? To me, that’s like saying people don’t have fond memories of Pac-Man to the point of playing an arcade cabinet of it any chance they get. Will Blocky Bot have that kind of appeal in the future? I doubt that, but who knows? What I do know is that any game has elicits memories of your childhood has all the potential in the world of being a future classic, the next wave of obscure or at least hard to find games. Blocky Bot is fun, and if you own a Wii U, have a few dollars to spend, and enjoy the idea of a game that puts a smile on your face (AND LET’S YOU PLAY AS A ROBOTIC ORDER OF FRENCH FRIES FOR THE LOVE OF PETE (AND PETE!) then you owe it to yourself to pick this game up, because hey, who knows how easy it will be able to do in 2026?

Scoop this game up now, so you don't feel like Future Squidward later.
Scoop this game up now, so you don’t feel like Future Squidward later.

Next time on Future Obscura, we take a look at a Mega Man game..without Mega Man in it. You’ll understand where I’m going when we get there, but until then, like the song says, time keeps on slippin’ into the future, so get ahead of THE GAME!

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