Junkyard Battle is a 2-player competitive physics-based puzzle game. Junk falls from the sky. You use a crane to move the junk around in an attempt to create the tallest tower of junk. Periodically power-ups appear that can give you an edge, like a cement power-up that freezes junk in place. Maintain a taller tower than your opponent for a set amount of time and you win the match.
Junkyard Battle has a nice visual style going for it with a purple sunset in the background and an almost cell-shaded look to its objects, and I have to give it credit for trying something different, but I’m having a little difficulty in figuring out who the target audience is here. Aside from a single-player tutorial, the only other mode available is local 2-player versus play. If you’re a fiercely competitive puzzle game player like myself, I would have to think that the imprecise nature of physics-based games would drive you nuts and you’d prefer a more precise game like Lumines or Tetris for your competitive puzzle gaming. On the other hand, casual players would probably prefer to have single-player and co-op modes which are nowhere to be found.
I had a few other issues with the game. The cement power-up never seemed to do what I wanted. I understand why it wouldn’t freeze that precarious perched item on the top of my tower, but does it really need to freeze items that are nowhere near my tower that I’m intending on using next? And I understand that programming netcode is a big hassle and might not seem like it’s worthwhile for an Indie game, but having a multiplayer-only game on the XBox 360 with only local play just seems wrong somehow.
On the other hand, there is some sort of primal fun in trying to build precarious towers out of junk so if you have a few minutes free and a friend on hand, give the trial a whirl. It didn’t quite click for me, but it may for you, and if it does, it’s quite the deal at a mere 80 MS points. In the meantime, I’ll stick with World of Goo for all of my tower building gameplay needs.