Given Tetris’s immense popularity, it should come as no surprise that there were tons of spinoffs and clones done by people trying to either cash in on it, or to discover the ‘next big thing. When you combine that with my apparent lust to put a copy of Tetris on everything I own, you’ll discover that I’ve tried lots of these knockoffs in an attempt to sate the urges between releases.

Blockout is, supposedly, the next logical step to Tetris. I won’t bother explaining how Tetris works, I’m pretty sure you already know. But imagine, if you will, that instead of looking at the playfield from the side that you’re instead looking at it from above. And further imagine that you gain the ability to rotate the pieces on both the X and the Y axes. You’d, of course, have to imagine new pieces that would be possible in this strange new space. And then you imagine them slowly falling into the bucket, or pit, or hole, or well, or whatever you want to call it, and your goal is to arrange them so that they complete layers instead of mere ‘lines’. Then you will start to have a grasp on this game.

This game was really hard for me. The different layers are color-coded, so that’s a plus, but I had three big problems with it. One was that my brain just doesn’t seem to work in a way that allows me to see how these 3D pieces need to be manipulated to fit properly in the 3D space. The normal pieces are pretty easy to deal with, but the corkscrew-like pieces just screw with my head, and I invariably panic and put them in the wrong spot. The other problem I had was that I couldn’t keep track of where my gaps were in the puzzle. So if I had a partially-unfinished layer, and had to start another layer on top of it, and then had to put yet another layer on top of that I pretty much forgot where the gaps were in the second layer, and the bottom? That may as well not exist as far as my brain is concerned. The last problem I had was with the perspective. I’m used to playing classic Tetris by lining up the piece where I wanted it and then driving it home, but I just have a real problem doing that with any kind of accuracy in 3D space. So I ended up making lots of bad drops, which makes for a frustrating time.

At least one of those problems could probably be somewhat alleviated by practicing the game more, and there’s a practice mode just for that where there’s no ‘gravity’ and you can play as quickly or as slowly as you like. And I had a degree of success with that. But not being able to reliably keep track of where the gaps were made it difficult for me to really make any kind of headway. But I’ve grown to accept that my brain just doesn’t quite work that way, I can’t even reliably solve one side of a Rubik’s Cube. But I still have fun trying.

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