Graphics:
7.5
Gameplay:
8.3
Sound:
7.7
Control:
7.9
Replay Value:
8.0
Overall Rating:
7.8
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
SparkWorkz
Developer:
SparkWorkz
Number Of Players:
1-2
Genre:
Puzzle
Release Date:
May 25, 2010


I still remember stacking toy blocks to the ceiling of my bedroom. I was really into stacking things; I was no artist and I couldn’t make a structure that actually resembled anything, but I did like to stack things in a variety of ways. I have no idea why. I think I even remember walking into the gym for the first time and wondering if I could ever get one stack to reach the ceiling… One would experiment in other ways, too, which is why I found myself transported back in time when I went to play Super Stackers . It’s one of those simple yet appealing PSN titles that is moderately addictive and really forces you to embrace the idea of interactive entertainment from a new angle. Good puzzlers do that, you know. The game works very well and although the price is just a few bucks too high in our opinion, Super Stackers is a worthwhile experience if you’re looking for something original, and a game that’s both straightforward and challenging.

In terms of graphics, it isn’t the slickest or most polished downloadable presentation you’ll ever see, but the pleasant pastel colors and cutesy facial animations really tie together nicely. It’s all about fitting and enhancing a certain atmosphere, regardless of the game, and SparkWorkz has managed to “fit,” if not entirely “enhance.” There’s some appreciated imagination and creativity involved in the backdrops; various things like floating ghosts and weirdo monsters reminiscent of what you might find in LittleBigPlanet rear up every now and then. This, along with the music, does get a little repetitive, though, and the game would’ve held up for longer periods of time with more environmental diversity. The focus is on the gameplay, though, so you probably won’t be too disappointed in the aforementioned lacking…but you’ll almost certainly notice it. Beyond that, there isn’t much to talk about: colorful blocks and other objects dropping into a small, creative little scene.

Oddly enough, it seems as if the light sprinkling of clear sound effects contributes heavily to the overall fun factor. A block will react to its position and situation; if it’s precariously placed, it’ll make a face and you’ll hear “uh-oh” in a humorous tinny voice. And when lots of blocks and objects are on the screen, sometimes the effects can be downright hilarious, especially if many are teetering on the brink of destruction. It’s definitely one of those games that will make you smile, and it’s due in large part to the effects. The soundtrack is also a big help in this capacity, but it does get extremely repetitive; I’m not even sure there are more than two or three tracks in the entire game. It fits but much like the graphics, we could’ve used just a bit more variety and overall “oomph.” Of course, with an experience like this, we don’t necessarily need “oomph;” this isn’t a blockbuster action game. …a little extra could’ve helped, though.

At first, you almost think there’s very, very little involved concerning the gameplay. The very first easy stack you do is as straightforward as straightforward can be: start with the largest package and get increasingly smaller as you stack one atop the other. That’s it. You win. But it isn’t long before you start to realize just how far the designers took this concept. You’ll start to glimpse it during the end of the easy puzzles and when you’re tackling the medium ones; the hard puzzles will likely leave you scratching your head for a while. Thing is, it’s not just about stacking and being precise so the stack doesn’t topple over; it’s about creating structures that are solid, it’s about trial-and-error and really wrapping your mind around a particular problem. And you have aids: there’s no time limit, you can zoom the camera in and out, and you can even see every new block/piece coming your way by viewing the shadowy line of images on the right. It’s like the preview in Tetris but in that game, you could only see the next piece.

Furthermore, Stacker isn’t the only mode available. There’s also Present Stacker and Unstacker; Present Stacker has you attempting to reach a present in a certain spot on the screen. You just have to build your way up there and once nabbed, your construction must stay whole while a timer ticks down (this feature exists for a very good reason; it’s so you can’t be slipshod in your design). Unstacker is very different, in that you have to allow a white block or piece to fall (and stay) on a matching white platform at the bottom of the puzzle. You have to blow up various pieces of the puzzle to allow this to happen, and it can involve timing and a great deal of thought. For each of these modes, we have easy, medium and hard sections, and each of those have 10 puzzles each. So you won’t be finishing this game in only a few hours; not unless you’re some kind of stacking and destacking prodigy.

The controls are simple. You just move a piece into position with the left analog and drop with the X button (you also use this button to blow up pieces in Unstacker), and you can use the trigger buttons to zoom in and out. There’s also the appreciated option of fine-tuning the movement of your piece with the directional pad. Like most decent puzzle games, it’s really easy to pick up and play, even if the solution isn’t readily apparent. The only downside is that sometimes, I had to move quickly to drop two pieces in succession, or blow up a piece in Unstacker within a set time frame, and I couldn’t move the piece/reticule quite fast enough. It sort of felt like a hindrance at times. Then there’s a spiking difficulty level that can throw you for a loop; you’ll be going right along at a fine clip and then suddenly, one particular puzzle stumps you for a long time. When you finally finish it, the next few are easy again.

But maybe the latter complaint is more of a personal thing. It’s really all based on how you interpret this type of problem-solving. In the end, Super Stackers is plenty fun and even addictive in its own strange way, and it’s most definitely one of the more unique titles out there. It’s a little barebones, even for a downloadable game, but it all works out fairly well. Now, if the game had been $6.99 or $7.99 (like Magic Ball when it first launched), I’d say this SparkWorkz product is worthy of a solid 8. Priced at $9.99, it falls just a little short of that plateau because there are a lot of ten-dollar games on the PSN that, in comparison, “stack up” well, if not better. Still, those seeking original puzzlers to pick up and play likely won’t be disappointed, and it’s a much better buy if you play it with a friend. Aren’t most puzzlers?

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kraygen
kraygen
10 years ago

Interesting, had not heard of this game. I'm not really one for puzzle games, but I kinda wish I was because there seem to be a ton of them for cheap on the psn.

I bet all those kids who played with lego's might like this game.

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
10 years ago

Hmmm…interesting. This might end up being a Plus purchase if they add it to Plus…

I agree about the pricing. $8 is more likely to get a sale than $10.

The thing with games like this is how far do they differentiate themselves from the PS Minis?

I kind of feel that the minis should never cost more than $10, and should really run about $5 at most. PSN titles should be more substantive than PS Minis so as to justify the higher price. I have no problem with $10+ PSN titles as long as they merit it. But they need to be more than hi-res PS minis. I'm not saying that's all this game is.

To me there is also a difference between a PSN title and a downloadable retail title. Again the downloadable retail title needs to differentiate itself with higher production values and more depth compared to a PSN title.

Hmmm….back to this game, it looks simple enough, I hope there is a demo.

StangMan80
StangMan80
10 years ago

Demo?

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
10 years ago

Yes, some PSN games actually go as far as to give a demo so you can try before you buy….

SuMtOnE
SuMtOnE
10 years ago

they have a similar game online… forgot what site… but its very similar.. maybe you can google it and play that and see if you like it, than you can buy it off the PSN. =)

sawao_yamanaka
sawao_yamanaka
10 years ago

Hmm I thought there was a demo for it, might be mistaken. I wanted to give it a try when it came out but wasn't quite sure. I might do so now.

chewy102
chewy102
10 years ago

7.8? Id give it a 5.5 at most. The physics are really bad in this game. All of the square blocks have a buffer zone that lets them bounce. That adds up fast and can even topple the pre-set stacks without you even starting that round.

You can see this best in the unstacking mode. In many of those levels Iv seen several stacks just fall for no reason before I even do anything. Or in the stacking mode when you have to make a house like stack. Iv made many perfect bases for the roof part and when it's placed the whole thing starts to bounce out of control making it fall.

If the square blocks didn't have that buffer zone the game would be a 7.8, but that buffer zone kills the game anytime you get a high stack.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

Then you didn't do it right. I did all that and never experienced any problems. Maybe try taking your time.

chewy102
chewy102
10 years ago

Ben, go in the unstacker mode and load level 11, 21, 23, or 30 and wait. Most of the time those pre-placed blocks will start to jiggle and bounce sometimes making the whole thig fall or warp the stack enough to mess up any plan.

I think this could be a great game, but the buffer zone in the square blocks (triangle and round are good) really f***s the game up. Im stuck one of the hard stacking levels where you have to stack about 15ish cubes then try to pin half of them between a long block and a fixed point while placing another long block to catch the rest in a hellish balancing act on another fixed point. Can't tell you how many times Iv failed that level because of the first stack bouncing or having the first long block bounce off the fixed point letting the stack fall.

SolidFantasy
SolidFantasy
10 years ago

I have yet to purchase a puzzle game of this generation. Can't decide though. I'll bring this one into consideration when I decide to make my move. Thanks for the review Ben.

Naga
Naga
10 years ago

Magic Orbs?


Last edited by Naga on 7/16/2010 4:21:58 PM

SolidFantasy
SolidFantasy
10 years ago

thanks duly noted

hellish_devil
hellish_devil
10 years ago

echocrome. Your brain will ache really hard when you get to the final levels

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
10 years ago

You know, it's actually the kind of game I'd play when I'm completely bored and don't want to play a competitive or a story-based game.

snypa_69
snypa_69
10 years ago

no thanks

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