Friday, November 27, 2020

Iceblox Plus

Yet Another New Game?

Okay, I might be a couple of years late but here is Iceblox Plus, a brand new Pengo remake by Karl Hornell. It's based on the recent C64 conversion - which is actually based on the old mobile phone original. Phew, that's quite some history and it's actually strange to think it was something I could have played on my old Nokia!

Anyhow, the game introduces us to Pete the penguin and explains the gameplay basics of crushing blocks and the method used to eliminate our enemies. As in Pengo, there are 16 icy screens with blocks to shove or smash; some you wanna break whereas others can be used to slide into the baddies for an instant kill (flames and burning wheels). A few blocks contain hidden coins and it's these that we should break open to complete each level.

Wee-SMASH!! Well, this image fails to display my joy at sliding a block for a kill. Points awarded too!

Gaming like it's 1982

Iceblox breaks you in gently with just the one flame lurking about the first level but things soon heat up with two flames chasing after you. By the fourth level, three flames are chasing which is pretty frantic. However, I personally found the difficulty drastically increasing from level 6 which is all thanks to the dreaded burning wheels who do a magnificent job of tracking down poor old Pete for a terrible death by fire. He prefers it cold...

It's interesting how the levels become progressively harder; thanks to their design and those firey baddies who appear in a variety of combinations (up to) four at once. Both have great chasing techniques that feel somewhat like H-Mec II and killing them results in bonus points. Plus a much-need short breather, before they respawn!

Run Pete, RUN!!! (He's got no chance because I was controlling him <insert evil laugh>)

Fancy some tips?

Oh heck, I only managed to reach level 12 which isn't too bad at all - for me! I hope this helps you guys:

1) Don't just run around like an idiot - think before you make your move! 

2) Use the blocks to extinguish those dreaded enemies for a burst freedom albeit only for a second or so. Hey, don't knock it, every second counts.

3) Each nasty provides a high degree of cunning chase, rather than blindly heading to your location. However, the wheels can be infuriating so take them out as quickly as possible.

4) Use the maze design by hiding behind static blocks for cover (see below).

5) Don't panic. I know, it's easier said than done, but panicking only gets Pete killed quicker!

Pete is a penguin and NOT a chicken. Ahem, you can't hide forever...

Graphics & Sounds

Okay, this is no Gods or Magic Boy but I doubt any version of Pengo would drop your jaw to the floor? Well, Iceblox is actually strikingly 8-Bit with a bold design using colourful and beautifully animated sprites - I love how Pete wibbles as he walks! Plus he actually turns into a skeleton when dying, which is kinda sad but also funny.

However, initially, I wasn't taken by the huge blocks along with the isometric perspective. It's a little odd and I found myself sliding a block only for that to be a complete miss! Yes, this took me a while to get to grips with.

The audio is just as cute as the visuals with jingles and chipmusic by M.D. Smit. Everything has a simplicity I adore - it's not trying to produce the greatest ST music but it's humorously apt for the task at hand. Love it.

Oh no, things are hotting up (sorry) with both a flame and a burning wheel chasing you!

The CryptO'pinion?

I don't think I've played Pengo since the 80s and that was probably on my ZX Spectrum. Iceblox Plus is a great twist on the original theme and, rather than a straight conversion, it comes with bells and whistles that I like. My only real gripe is the limited play area using a grid layout of 12x10 which I thought was a little claustrophobic.

I really enjoy how Iceblox Plus transported me back in time and those of us old enough to remember the original (or the 8-bit conversions) will appreciate the mix of authentic and new styles. Although it makes me panic like a big girl's blouse from level six, I'm completely smitten by the exhilarating oldskool gameplay.

AtariMania has the download and I hear there's a boxed version by Côté Gamers (which I'd love to buy!)


  1. Nice find mate. This game looks better and more beautiful than the original version. Let's try it now!

    1. I think you'll love it :)
      Watch out for level 6 onwards.... those darn burning wheels always catch me!

  2. I did mate. If the flames are not very smart, the burning wheels drove me crazy. It's difficult to escape from them when they chase you. I managed to reach the 8th level. I'm pretty proud of myself 😁

  3. This looks very cute and well-polished!!!

    Now I have the urge to play some Skweek :D

    1. Never did like that... Hmm, perhaps I'll add it to my to do list? Glad you like Iceblox anyhow, really neat game :)

    2. If I recall correctly I had first played it on the CPC and I was blown away, it was amazing on the platform!

      And then I remember being mesmerised by the graphics, even on a STFM it looked glorious. Gameplay was great too actually!

    3. Even on the STFM??? ;p
      Actually, I've never used a CPC but i must admit the 6128 looked like a cool piece of kit and quite pro looking compared to the kiddies toy that was the 464. You know, kinda like the QL did compared to the 128. Something else I couldn't afford back then cos i'd have loved both of those machines! Sorry for the late reply :/

  4. The 464 actually was pretty cool for the year it was released. Certainly miles ahead of the competition in various aspects, certainly the 'kiddies toy'. Sure, the 664 and 6128 really took things to another level but at the time the 464 was released it looked much more like a proper proposition than almost anything else European.

    The QL was great, really; until you actually used one :D (I do have one and love it).

    Yes, "even on the STFM", meaning not the STe :D

    1. Ohhh man!! You've got a QL? Wow!!!!!

      Merry Christmas + All the beST :)

    2. Yeah, along with my SAM Coupe and my Enterprise64 it's among my precious items. Though when you turn it on it turns out it's a lame duck :D

      Merry Xmas to you too!!!

  5. I really hated Pengo when I had it on the 130XE. That's why I never played Iceblox plus. I might revisit it now that I am older.

    1. Might be worth a shot? Tastes change over the years. All the beST for the new year mate.