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Jan 08

Irides: Master of Blocks Review

Irides: Master of Blocks
Console: Dreamcast
Release date: 12/12/09

It never surprises me that one of the best consoles to come out in the last couple of generations would still, after all these years, have such a huge homebrew support from dedicated programmers. This newest puzzle game for the Sega Dreamcast has proven to be no exception. Developed by Mad Peet, Irides: Master of Blocks will look very familiar to those enjoy the music puzzle block genre and developing a homebrew on one of the most addictive puzzle formulas to be released in the past decade is a great mold to emulate and as the old cliché states: ‘imitation is the highest form of flattery.’

In the single player mode: you control a 4×4 block with up to two colors and in the traditional vein of the  Lumines game style were you must arrange the blocks to form 4×4 blocks of the same color to make them disappear. Irides: Master of Blocks implements a slight deviation that makes me coming back for more. Instead of just stacking the blocks before the rhythm line returns, you must stack the blocks before the timer expires, but with each 4×4 block that is formed, the timer will reset, giving you a more time to stack more blocks which will earn you more bonus points. The faster you stack colored blocks, the more points you will rack up and once the timer reaches zero, the blocks will disappear leaving you ready to do it again and once the blocks reach the top line, it’s Game Over. This simple little hook has me so addicted to the game I can’t put the controller down, but that’s just the single player mode. It’s even more fun with friends.

Irides: Master of Blocks has two different multiplayer modes, from the standard player vs. player competitive modes to the unorthodox cooperative mode. With the competitive head to head modes, your goal is the rack up as many combos to earn attack points which can unleash your assault which drops dummy blocks onto your competitors field. You can play this mode with up to 4 players, who are also trying to increase their score and survive, all the while earning attacks to unleash dummy blocks onto the opponent’s field forcing mulitplayer Irides to be insanely hectic, which makes victory that much sweeter.

The cooperative mode is a lot more laid back. Two players must work together to achieve the goal by working together, both are limited to either side of the playfield and you can get into some trouble if one of the player becomes a little overzealous and hog the field which will force the other player to over stack their blocks and causing both to lose the round. Surprisingly, I found this mode to be the most enjoyable out of the whole game. Having to work together to achieve the same goal tends to keep the assholery to a minimum, but like most co-op games, your gaming experiences will mostly be depended on your partner.

One of the most surprising aspects of Irides is the 15 track music which features remixes of Hello Gravity’s music. Poor music can ruin even the best puzzlers, but with the Irides soundtrack, I found the music to never be annoying or irritating and it is soothing enough to get me into that synesthesic state where I’m running on autopilot which helped me become completely engrossed in the gameplay only to snap out of it and noticed that an hour had passed. Hell, even a music snob like Tenno enjoys the music, for all that’s worth.

Overall, I was extremely please with Irides: Master of Blocks. Chaining together combos and trying to beat my own score is fun but where this game shines is the co-op modes interweaves awesome electronica soundtrack with equally matching visuals to confusingly please the senses with friends. My only complaint had nothing to do with the game but with my annoying experience with the Dreamcast directional pad. The raised d-pad made the game feel a bit squirrely when the pace picked up and sadly I no longer have a Dreamcast joystick to overcome this annoyance, so I was stuck with my factory controller.

Another minor quibble is the price. The standard edition will cost you $21.90 which I think is a very fair price for this unique Dreamcast homebrew but the limited edition (limited to only 144 copies) comes with a different packaging, mini poster signed by the designer, a numbered medallion and an expanded instruction manual for $35.90. I feel the $14 price difference is a little high for just a variant cover, metal coin and poster. Also, it’s a bit lame to skimp on the instruction manual for the standard edition.  The $14 “limited edition tax” isn’t a deal breaker but I feel may stray away curious gamers who aren’t willing to part with their money on “just a homebrew.”  Whichever version you decide, Irides: Master of Blocks is a must buy for any hardcore game who wants to add a fun competitive puzzler to their Dreamcast collection.

Pick up your copy at the Goatstore now.

Pros:

  • Highly additive gameplay with enough twist to the Lumines formula to keep you coming back.
  • Great electronica soundtrack
  • 2 different Co-Op modes
  • Region free and supports VGA
  • Damn son, it’s a new Dreamcast game that’s fucking good.

Cons:

  • It’s on the Dreamcast so you’re stuck with the poor d-pad (unless you have a better 3rd party controller)

–Jangofatt

About the author

Jangofatt

Jango believes in the simple rule of gaming: games are meant to be played and enjoyed, not to be placed behind glass only to be to stared at. When he isn't playing old school games, Jango is also the host for the Pinekast in which you will hear his frustrations with his fellow site members. Believe you me, a bad day gaming and recording the Pinekast is always better than a good day at work.

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