At school I was often encouraged to concentrate on doing one thing properly.
This was because of my tendency (which continues to this day) to start something, lose interest, and move on to something different before I’d finished the first task. The resulting work was predictably sloppy and half-hearted.
Developer Big Pixel Studios knows that it's best to focus on one thing at a time, making it as good as it can possibly be. Piyo Blocks 2 proves this philosophy to be a winning one with match-three gameplay that's incredibly familiar, but also incredibly good.
You might think that's a slightly risky proposition – after all, there are plenty of those on iPhone and iPod touch, right? Play Piyo Blocks 2 for a few minutes and you're sure to realise that there really aren’t - not of this quality.
There aren't any gimmicks or strapped on role-playing, beat-matching elements here. Just pure, simple block-shuffling gameplay.
You're tasked with matching coloured rows of three or more Piyos (little square birds) by swapping one at a time with an adjacent row, à la Bejeweled. The row disappears and more Piyos drop down, potentially leading to a cascading combo.
Like Bejeweled, Piyo Blocks 2 makes everything look and feel chunky, solid, and supremely satisfying to execute. It has a familiar aesthetic that comes across as Japanese in its bright, bold confidence.
That’s not to say that Piyo Blocks 2 is without fresh ideas of its own. Like the first game in the series, you’re able to manipulate the game field while chain reactions are taking place.
Where most other games in the genre lock you out and force you to watch, Piyo Blocks 2 allows you to get in there and set up further matches, leading to some stunningly prolonged chain reactions.À la mode
There's plenty of variety in the game's modes, too. Along with a welcome two-player mode (Bluetooth and local wi-fi only), there are four solo options each benefiting from OpenFeint-integrated online scoreboards.
Piyo mode asks you to collect a set number of each colour in order to level up, whereas Time Attack involves scoring as many points as possible before time runs out. Hyaku mode encourages you to target a single colour, with the aim of collecting 99 to advance.
Just as interesting is the frenetic 3 Second mode, which requires you to find each match in just - you guessed it - three seconds. What seemed simple before suddenly makes your brain freeze with the added pressure of a strict time limit.
It’s the kind of unexpected reaction that the game as a whole provokes. While on the surface a thoroughly conventional match-three puzzler, Piyo Blocks 2 manages to surprise and delight simply by doing one thing remarkably well.