Stackle Game

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Stackle: A Well Balanced Stacking Game

Stackle is, to put it plainly, a stack 'em up game. The objective is to pile up all your blocks as high as you can. The playing field is divided into zones. Unlocking each zone will make all the blocks in the previous one available for use. Depending on the type of block you place, you may earn bonus points. For instance, chance upon a perfect spot for a star block and you get double the normal point value. As with UNO Stacko, if you happen to pull the wrong block, your tower sways and topples over. Place a block on top and a 3 second countdown starts in order to check if your move stays on or if most of the blocks fall down. In that case, it will mean the end of that attempt at block stacking and you will have to start all over again.

Balance One, Balance All

Now you may be wondering if the tricks from the UNO toys also work on Stackle physics. In a sense, they do. If you happen to pull a block that supports the ones on top of it, you will be setting yourself up for quite the topple. The missing element is that you do not actually pull the blocks, you merely click on them. This means that your motor skills play no part on whether or not the tower falls, simply your choice of block. Other than that, the blocks do sway and fall as normal blocks would.

The controls for this highly addictive stack 'em up game is pretty basic. All it takes is a mouse click or two to remove and place the pieces. In order to rotate them, you will have to click on your choice of orientation via the left side panel. While not blocking your view in any way, it is an odd choice to put a pop out panel there. Also, it feels awkward to click on the icons while you have an active block on hand. This would have been easily remedied by giving a choice to map a dedicated button for switching. At least in that way, people who prefer the convenience of a quick switch would not be impeded by menu controls.

Stability is the Key

For Stackle's aesthetics, it passes with flying colors. In terms of the individual components, there is not really much to dislike. The blocks are smooth and colorful, without the glossy rendering that is often the pitfall of puzzle games. The menus are simple and do not take the eye away from the main game. The only gripe we have about the game's graphics, is the fact that the main menu's design seems like an afterthought. While we do understand that the block buttons are in line with the overall theme, they could have at least tweaked their positions and possibly put enough white space to rest the eyes on. Still, the menu is functional and there is no reason to linger on the page due to the presence of a menu bar in-game. This essential bar is conveniently hidden from view, so you do not have to mind it while playing the game.

In terms of sound design, this game gets a good score. One thing that the audio complements well is Stackle's relaxing game play. For sound effects, the game gives subtle tinkles as blocks fall on each other, an indicator for scoring points as well as navigation cues. The actual background music reminds us of soothing elevator music, which makes for a chilled out vibe while delicately stacking blocks. All in all, the jazzy audio makes for a good stress buster as you calculate your next Stackle move. Now despite how good it is, if you would rather have silence to concentrate on your next block drop, you may opt to mute the music, the sound effects or both.

There are no noticeable lags or hangs to contend with while playing Stackle. Even on an average net book, we were able to play the game smoothly with the High Quality graphics setting. The division of the zones is nicely done, with the number labels neatly placed on the side. Also, in case your blocks fall off screen, you may scroll horizontally in order to access them.

The Verdict

Overall, Stackle is, pardon the pun, a balanced game where Tetris meets Jenga! as it's developer phrased it. It may not be the fanciest one around, but it is sure to be a worthwhile, relaxing distraction from the numerous zany casual titles. While there isn't anything to indicate that it is a title for grownups, very young players may not find the lack of background story, cute characters, or overall relaxed gameplay all that appealing. However, teens with a penchant for puzzle games and even adults who are looking for a block arranging challenge may find Stackle to be the perfect fit. We give this game an imbalanced block’s 89/100.