Tuesday 16 February 2016

Stack-Up (NES review)

Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1985

Stack-Up is an action-puzzler and one of only two games to require R.O.B. the Robot (the other being Gyromite, 1985).

In Memory mode you have to set up the blocks in a specific pattern and input a series of commands so R.O.B. moves them to another pattern; all of the required moves need to be entered before he starts moving so careful planning of the entire sequence is crucial. It sounds mundane but remembering where the robot will be positioned after a series of moves is surprisingly fun, especially in later rounds where you sit nervously waiting to see if you've not only inputted everything correctly, but whether R.O.B. will successfully pull off the moves without knocking over blocks! There's many: "Oh, no, why did I do that?!" moments that are genuinely hilarious if you're with a group of people that can take pleasure in your failures! It's very satisfying when you get it correct though as you feel like you've achieved something by programming a robot! Bingo mode is more action orientated; the objective is similar to Memory except it takes place on a 5 x 5 grid and you need to move Professor Hector in real-time so he lights up a full row. R.O.B. will then perform that move but to make things more difficult enemies try to stun you or even light up an unwanted row to control R.O.B. and sabotage your attempt! In my opinion, these faster paced games are where the robot shows his limitations as it's impossible to make him react quickly and it's more infuriating than it is enjoyable. The main issue with the entire game is that it has no way to confirm if you've constructed the blocks correctly and it relies on complete trust from the player; therefore, you can simply move onto the next round with no repercussions!
Stack-Up is a pretty barebones game with little depth but Memory mode is a guilty pleasure that will keep you and your friends entertained for a while. Unfortunately the rest of the game is forgettable and the fact that it has no way to track your progress is a big flaw that discourages you from chasing a high score.
Random trivia: In Japan, the game was known as Robot Block, or simply just Block.

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