Kablooey is a somewhat entertaining puzzle game. It is both a follower and precursor to a number of puzzle games in this category. The game is challenging, and you feel a certain sense of accomplishment each time you clear a stage.
The concept is somewhat novel for the era. Tile-based game. You have to walk around and blow up bombs in a particular order such that you don’t fall in the water, or get blown up. My biggest complaint is that the game tries to do too much at once. You have a limited amount of time, and you have a limited number of lives (but infinite continues, so what’s the point?), and you can die just by stepping in the wrong direction by mistake. I much prefer puzzle games when they don’t try to also put an adventuresque element to it. If they had made it now, they’d also throw in some sort of leveling system, and achievements. Instead of all the clutter, I wish they’d just focus on the puzzles. Make them challenging enough on their own so that you don’t have to taunt the player with making them fall off the edge because they pushed the wrong direction. Chu-chu Rocket is masterful at this sort of game. You don’t get frustrated when you get it wrong. You just try again. Here, you have to try again not only when you get the puzzle wrong, but also when you run out of time, hit an enemy, scratch your nose and nudge the d-pad. It doesn’t add anything to the game and takes a lot away.
I also wish they’d just show you the whole game board at the start of the stage. I get that they’re trying to make it more challenging, but it doesn’t end up that way. You have to move, pause, move some more, pause again, to get in the whole stage. It’s basically impossible to do them in one go. You have to die a few times to learn the layout. You just automatically run through each level at the start and then suicide to see the layout. You have infinite continues. Why not? Would have been easier to just give the player a flyover at the start of the stage, at least.
Verdict: Kablooey gets a lot right: interesting concept, challenging puzzles. But it suffers from trying to do too much, adding a lot of things that just frustrate the player without making the game more enjoyable or challenging. I suppose that approach is forgivable for the early nineties. Nowadays, Popcap games has learned the lessons from the trailblazing of games like Kablooey and makes much more fun puzzle games. Oh, and the music is repetitive.