Title: Crawlco Block Knockers
Release Date: August 2, 2019
Reviewed On: PC
Puzzle games come in all shapes and sizes. Some take the player on deep and intense quests through mysterious dungeons, while others serve as a way to break up events in lengthy visual novels. However, there are simpler puzzle games available known as “Match-Three” games. Sure, some focus on being as cute and colorful as possible, but others decide to take a more adult approach.
This is where developer CosmiKankei comes in with their new match-three puzzle game, Crawlco Block Knockers. The game borrows elements of retro games like Gals Panic and Qix and requires players to use their brains if they wish to uncover some pretty lewd imagery.
Crawlco Block Knockers has a story, but if anything that only gets in the way of what any person who picks up this game is here for. The story is only there as a reason to be clearing out boxes, and I felt that it got in the way most of the time instead of helped. This is because when the story is going on, the rest of the screen is inaccessible and going through the menus causes the story to replay sometimes. Basically, you are tasked with entering a level that consists of three stages. The requirements for the stage is to clear out a number of blocks by matching the colors of blocks that appear on the field.
Doing this requires a bit of thought as you can easily mess up if you don’t clear out blocks properly or allow them to be trapped around already cleared spaces. Blocks can be pushed and pulled across the map. The simplicity of it all had me thinking that this was going to be a straight-forward game, but the difficulty slowly increases each level and soon you’re asked to clear out blocks from the center of the map or clear out hazards such as spikes and so on.
What makes the game a little more intense are the enemies, who add a huge chunk of the challenge to the game as they roam the level. However, smashing them with a block will clear out a good radius of blocks around them. These enemies get more and more difficult throughout the game, while some only travel around the radius of the map, others will shoot or fly at you from across the field. Even though I was frustrated if I died, the game’s only punishment is to restart so getting the player back to the action isn’t an issue.
So what’s the incentive for clearing out these blocks? Well, to see some pixel art girls slowly undress across each level. Yes, this is that type of game and was also the biggest drawing point for classing arcade games like Gals Panic. Each of the illustrations is consistently cute and has a retro 90’s anime look to them. The game does feature a gallery mode, but the player will need to get a perfect score on the level to unlock them. Getting a perfect score is also the only way for players to get a star on the stage.
What’s interesting about Crawlco Block Knockers is that it also turns into a shmup action game after every few stages in the boss encounters. These battles are pretty intense and unique as the player must use blocks, not to clear out spaces, but to sling at the boss. However, an interesting system in the game is that players can use the stars gained from levels to completely bypass the boss and get right back to the girls. This creates more incentives to 100% each of the levels if you’d rather not take on the bosses.
Crawlco Block Knockers also features some pretty nice music across each of the levels that adds to the 90’s synth aesthetic. It really creates a nice tone for the game and completes the appeal set by the game’s illustrations. The game also has a ton of accessibility options for the player such as turning off enemies or making the art a bit more modest. I was glad to see the developer give players a choice, which is always nice to see.
Where Crawlco Block Knockers falls slightly short is that there hits a point where it loses its appeal over long play sessions. Sure, new hazards and enemies are introduced, but it’s all the same match-three style of gameplay and I found myself using the same tactics over and over. The boss battles definitely break this, but they can also be fairly difficult.
Crawlco Block Knockers is simple in premise but gets complicated over each level. The game requires a lot of thought and quick actions by the player if they hope to see some cute half-naked girls. This is a match-three game that mimics classic arcade games. However, the game mixes things up a bit with unique boss battles and systems that give it a more modern appeal.
Crawlco Block Knockers does everything well that it sets out to do. The game is definitely targeted at a niche audience, but that doesn’t mean that match-three fans won’t get easily addicted to its puzzle design. I was surprised by how the hours flew by as I attempt to 100% the levels in the game. So for providing so many hours of unexpected fun, I could easily recommend this game to anyone who is willing to try something new.
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