Bontago takes the art of block stacking to a new level with a strategy game based on spheres of influence. Using a series of random blocks, you build towers that mark your area of control. Taller towers capture a larger area on the map, and the winner is the player who can command the area surrounding one to four flags. Up to eight players can compete in LAN- or Web-based games, or single players can face off against up to seven bots. Though quick and simple block-stacking dominates the gameplay, power-ups create an enjoyable multiplayer experience.
Controls are mouse-based: The left button places blocks, the right button positions the camera, and the third button/scroll rotates the blocks. You can remap all the controls to keys, but camera control suffers. Good stackers will dominate low-skilled games. Once players have mastered stacking, however, random "gift boxes" with power-ups such as rockets, volcanoes, and bombs that tilt the map can decide well-balanced matches. The rules are easy to learn, yet the game leaves room for several styles of play. You can easily replace the soothing classical soundtrack with an MP3 of your choice, and the backgrounds are full of natural and astronomical wonders. Bontago should entertain strategy gamers.