Block Out logo

RAINBOW ARTS £19.99 * Mouse/Keyboard

With the follow up to Tetris arriving in the form of Welltris (reviewed elsewhere in these pages), it's not too surprising that similar games should appear. American development company California Dreams have been rather quick off the mark and have come up with their own interpretation of the falling shapes genre with Block Out.

The game is based in a square well shape, with falling blocks having to be constructed into patterns on the floor, but this is where the similarity to Welltris ends. Instead of the shapes being flat tiles, Block Out contains solid 3D objects which can be rotated in three axes. The idea is to place the shapes in the well to form layers, which when completed are removed from the playing area.

If any gaps in the layer are blocked off from above, then the next, higher layer must be completed before access to the holes can be gained, thus making the going harder. If the blocks mount up filling the well, then the game is ended and you start again.

There are three basic modes of play corresponding to different block sets - Flat, Basic and Extended. The flat set has shapes only one block deep, so it's easy to form them into layers. The Basic set contains more irregular shapes and the Extended set can be of any proportions, making the game particularly tough to crack.

Different game types can be created from an options page, determining the block set to be used, the size and depth of the well and the starting speed of the game. So a massive eight-by-eight well 20 blocks deep with extended blocks piling into the shaft would undoubtedly be rather hair-raising!


Sound in the game is rather minimal, the most noticeable piece being the classical loading music. Elsewhere in the game sound is used sparingly, providing only the odd effect when a layer is completed. The graphics, although simple, portray the action very well indeed. The clear, colourful displays and smoothly shifting shapes floating down the shaft go together to make a well-presented and good-looking puzzle game.


The action is fairly easy to get into, the only real hassle being the 3D rotation to get the pieces to fit. However, the system isn't that complex and soon becomes second nature. As you'd expect the going is pretty compulsive, and even if you do think you've mastered the art of layer building, shifting the options around could add considerably more challenge than you'd expect!


On first sight, Block Out could well be passed off as a Welltris rip-ff. This is unfair, since Block Out is a true 3D puzzle game with the player having to think not only in width and height but also in depth. Don't dismiss the game out of hand! Have a try and you'll see that it has enough of its own character to stand up as a challenging game in its own right and for many people will have more appeal than Welltris.

Block Out logo

Tetris is back - das Grundprinzip ist gleich geblieben, aber die aktuelle Variante des Knobel-Klassikers bietet mehr Spielmöglichkeiten und vor allem natürlich die ausgefallene 3D-Grafik...!

Per Zufallsgenerator bringt der Rechner geometrische Figuren unterschiedlicher Größe und Form auf den Screen, die man zu einer quadratischen Fläche zusammensetzen muß. Diese befindet sich am Boden eines in 3D-Verktorgrafik dargestellten Schachtes, der tief genug für zwölf solcher Ebenen ist.

Sobald eine davon vollständig ausgefüllt ist, verschwindet sie in den Tiefen des Raumes, und die restlichen rutsehen nach. Das Drehen und Wenden der Figuren erfolgt mit Maus oder Tastatur, wobei eher das Keyboard anzuraten ist: Mit den Cursortasten legt man die Position des Steins fest, gedreht wird es dann mit den Tasten A/S/D. Abschließend ein Druck auf die Leertaste, und ab geht es nach unten.

Zum Üben empfiehlt es sich, erst einmal mit der "Practice-Version" anzufangen; hier kann man in aller Ruhe den Stein in die richtige Stellung bringen - beim eigentlichen Spiel sinkt er bereits während des Rumprobierens ab. Die Zeit zum Überlegen wird in den höheren Leveln immer kürzer; insgesamt stehen zehn (frei anwählbare) Spielstufen zur Verfügung.

Ein Menü bietet die Möglichkeit, Größe und Form der Figuren zu ändern. So können kleine und große, gerade oder verwinkelte Steine gewählt und abgespeichert werden. Die Perspektivisch genaue Grafik ist natürlich einer der dicken Pluspunkte von Block Out: Die Figuren erscheinen anfangs als pure 3D-Vektorgrafik und füllen sich nach dem Absenken selbst in der Farbe der jeweiligen Ebene aus. Am Bildschirmrand ist der Schacht mit den noch unfertigen Ebenen im Längsschnitt dargestellt, damit man sehen kann, wie hoch man schon gestapelt hat.

Die ganze Hoch- bzw. Tiefstapelei vollzieht sich - einmal abgesehen von der kleinen Titelmelodie - in aller Stille, Sound gibt es nur, wenn eine fertige Ebene verschwindet, und beim Aufstieg in den nächsten Level. Das genügt aber auch völlig, schließlich muß man sich beim Ausknobeln der richtigen Position (unter Zeitdruck!) doch ziemlich konzentrieren.

Wir meinen, Block Out ist ein wahrhaft würdiger Nachfolger von Tetris und hat gute Chancen, ein neuer Klassiker auf dem Amiga zu werden! (ur)

Block Out logo


There's been a change in games playing consciousness. It hasn't happened overnight, in fact it's taken as long as a year or so. Puzzle games are cool - official. Even the most hardened arcade addicts, shoot 'em up junkies and sim jocks are pondering over geometric shapes and they don't look like square pegs in round holes.

As usually happens with these things, one game is to blame for the rush of brain teasers, and this time the software equivalent of the Rubik's cube is called Tetris. Since that example of mathematical glasnost slid out of the Soviet Union game designers have coming up with ever more complicated ways of torturing us.

Block Out again stems from an East European, though this time he's based in the US. Aleksander Ustaszewski based this on a thing called the soma cube according to the instructions, a kind of Rubik's cube for the mentally constipated. For an easier point of reference you should imagine a 3D version of Tetris. The game is viewed from atop a multi layered pit, and geometric shapes appear and fall slowly down to the bottom, the idea being to slot them together and fill a layer. When that happens the layer disappears. Your points total grows as the levels progress and you slot together increasingly intricate shapes.

It's undoubtedly testing stuff with a succession of blocks falling quicker and quicker as you attempt to rotate and flip them. Where Tetris was, comparatively, straightforward, Block Out really bruises the bran cells as you attempt to get your head around the 3D shapes as they appear. By the time you get to a couple of levels you'll find yourself slotting pieces together that you simply wouldn't believe you could make fit.

Block Out plays easily and there are several options for developing the challenge it poses. You're allowed to vary the parameters such as the depth of the pit or its width, and you can set it so it chucks hideous shapes at you from the start.

Curiously though, Block Out is more therapeutic than addictive. It doesn't get the adrenalin going in the way Tetris does. That's not to say it's not as good - simply that it tests you in an altogether different way. For Amiga owners starved of the joy of Tetris, or even a clone by a litigious Nintendo, it comes as a welcome addiction to the brain teaser's catalogue.

Block Out logo

Tetris has a lot to answer for, it's the game that launched a squillion clones. Here's the latest, it's called Blockout and it comes from German publishers, Rainbow Arts. We gave the task of reviewing it to David Wilson, the new kid on the Blockout (Don't you mean 'oldest' kid? Ed.)

There's been zillions of puzzle games and, furthermore, as many again spawned by the original and arguably best of the bunch, Tetris. Now here's Rainbow Arts' contribution to the genre - Blockout. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Breakout and, without beating about the bush, it's 3D viewed-from-above Tetris.

In a bid to 'be different' the game features three versions of this game and also an Editor that allows you to alter all the various parameters. You can adjust the size of the playing grid (in terms of depth, as well as length/width), you can increase the speed at which you rotate the pieces and then the choice of game type. You can choose from the three pre-set games or after you've adjusted all the parameters, you can then save this as a new preset to a file on the game disk.

Amiga reviewDavid: Oh no! It's another Tetris game. Still I suppose it does try to offer new variations on a theme, but at the same time has enough of the original to still be a very playable game. It is basically Tetris viewed from above, and this viewpoint whilst bringing a new slant to gameplay, has both positive and negative points. Where the game has tried to be innovative is in the 3D shapes which you can rotate clockwise or anticlockwise about their x, y, or z axis as they fall - in other words any permutation is possible - and also in the inclusion of an Editor that lets you play one of three preset games or alter all the parameters therein and save the new configuration as a new preset.

Pieces appear as line graphics and when set in place they fill in colour - different colours indicate different levels. With the most complex shapes as you rotate them it becomes very confusing to see exactly what's going on.

Basically Blockout is a good little game, though largely devoid of originality. The problem lies in the fact that although there are ten difficulty levels, each individual game doesn't get progressively harder. Pieces fall at the same speed etcetera. In effect it's a war of attrition - you keep on till you get so tired that you make a mistake. Another good variation on the Tetris idea, but a rip-off nevertheless. If you can't get enough of Tetris, and its numerous clones, then you'll probably love Blockout (though it's not as good) but I wonder how long these games will continue to flourish? Stop

Block Out: Flat Fun 1  The basic game is dubbed 'Flat Fun'. Here you have quite a large deep grid. The pieces are all flat (i.e. they don't have lumpy bits sticking out of the top and bottom) and you seem to have loads of time to turn the pieces through every conceivable angle as they slowly descend.
Block Out: 3D Mania 2  3D Mania is basically the same as the above, except the grid has become much smaller and the pieces are bigger and more awkward shapes. You may have already guessed that they are also more complex 3D shapes (i.e. they have got lumpy bits sticking out of the top and bottom as well as the sides).
Block Out: Out Of Control 3  Out Of Control - which erm, is a tad self-explanatory. Basically the computer bungs all the most awkward shapes it can think of, (with all the sticky out lumpy bits) in the trickiest possible order, at you - and that's just on the easiest of the ten difficulty levels!