The introductory titles last for ages (and can fortunately be skipped) though you may well want to watch them the first time you boot the game. It consists purely of video footage of buildings being razed to the ground (no the World Trade Center is not featured).
The menu introduces the various game modes; main, challenge, battle and options. The main game mode consists of four further sub game types; Standard, Special, Crack and Directional.
In each of the main game modes there are six buildings, one to introduce the rules for that game mode, and five for you to destroy. Each building consists of a number of different floors, displayed in 3D although you only need to think two dimensionally (this is a good thing). You need to clear each floor before the building will collapse to the ground, which when done will reward you with a 3D model of the building that shortly becomes a cloud of dust.
The first tower of each game mode is used to show you how to play Buile Baku. A detailed but Engrish (sic) voice over is given whilst demonstrating the concepts on screen, this along with English menus means non Japanese speakers will have few problems penetrating this title.
The dynamite available to you comes in five basic shapes, these cover from one to five tiles and can be rotated. In order to complete each level, you must place the dynamite in such a way as to cover all the floor tiles. This may sound easy, but you are limited in two ways; you have a maximum number of turns in which to place dynamite, and a maximum number of pieces of dynamite you can use.
The number of turns and dynamite will not allow you to cover the entire floor simply by dropping the pieces next to each other, this introduces the next rule in the game – tile linkage. If you place a piece of dynamite a block away from tiles already destroyed, setting the dynamite off will link these and destroy the tiles up to one block in between, though this only works top and bottom, not left and right.
Special mode introduces the concept of "must use" blocks. The basic dynamite shapes remain the same, however a new and odd shaped piece is introduced with a number beside it. This is the number of times this block must be used on the level.
Crack mode introduces a limited number diagonal dynamite blocks – these can only be placed diagonally across a floor map. It allows you to leave a single row of tiles either side that do not require destruction before the floor is complete.
Directional mode introduces the concept of joining dynamite. With this type of explosive, two or three pieces will link together across the map, unless obstructed by a destroyed tile. Again the number available is limited.
It possible to undo one or two moves in the level, though as you can’t really work out where you've gone wrong until you’ve only got a few moves left, it really makes this feature rather pointless. This level of difficulty isn't necessarily a bad thing if you can get to grips with the rules of the game and think across expansive floor areas, but it's not ideal for those who can only think one or two moves in front.
Whilst there are a good number of different game modes, the diversity between them is minor and does little to extend the life of the main mode. Finding a concept for a new puzzle game is not an easy task, and Kadokawa Shoten should be praised for attempting this feat. Sadly this game doesn't have the addictive replay quality of Tetris, by the time you reach the 4th or 5th tower you begin to wonder why you are bothering anymore, as the later levels don't lend themselves to logical solutions and it's more a matter of trial and error that completes them.
The challenge mode is indeed challenging and is more fun than the main game. There are 99 maps to play through here, using the standard blocks. Bearing in mind the difficulty level of this game described above, although the floors are less complex, the challenge mode introduces a very stringent time limit on top of this. The faster you can complete the level the more time you will have for the next. Should you use less dynamite and turns than the maximum allowed, you receive an additional time bonus to use on the next floor. If you fail to meet a floor challenge, it's game over and you will have to start from map one again, there is no restarting of the level here. The challenge mode will take a long time to complete, but reaching the end may prove to be too much for even the most ardent of gamers. You will be tearing your hair out in no time.
Multiplayer action is catered for in the battle mode. Two players can battle it out over a randomly generated four floor contest, using the basic one to five dynamite shapes. It's a simple matter of who clears the floors first wins. Skill levels between players can be balanced out slightly by using "player attacks". Up to four of these can be assigned to each side, using the attack resets the floor to its original start layout, very satisfying to execute when your opponent is down to the last few floor tiles.
It is a brave attempt at introducing a new idea into the puzzle market and deserves a look, indeed it is initially quite fun, and watching the buildings collapse in polygon rubble is, to a certain extent, satisfying. Should you find the puzzle element of the game taxes your IQ without making your blood curdle, you may well be playing this game for some time. However, for those who cannot persevere, ultimately it will sit on the shelf collecting the dust.