Boom Blox is the first game from a series of three developed by EA in conjunction with top-Hollywood director, Steven Spielberg, an avid gamer. In Boom Blox, players have to throw, grab and blast Jenga-styled blocks in order to complete a variety of challenges. The challenges include: throwing bombs at enemies to prevent them destroying your base; throwing baseballs at blocks to knock down blue gems; moving blocks so that your character can reach the end of the course and that’s just the start of it.
As you would expect from a game about building blocks, the game is child-friendly. This is shown in the characters in Boom Blox who are “block-shaped” animals, each with a name to match their specie. For example: Sherman Woolington III is a sheep, Gorilda Gert is a gorilla and Betsy Moo is a cow. As well as a range of characters, there is also a range of different blox from immobile to the fragile and the gem block to the fireworks block. Each block has its own characteristics and physics which are clearly represented within the game.
The single-player experience is booming with lots of variety and challenges. The main mode is the adventure mode which consists of four storylines. The storylines are what you would expect to see in fairy-tales; a disruption in the character’s “perfect world” which the hero then fixes. These are the best stories ever told, but it will appeal to the younger gamer. Each storyline is told in the form of a poem with rhyming couplets and each storyline is made up of four chapters. Within the chapters, players will find themselves playing seven levels with the same goal (such as some of the challenges mentioned earlier), each level getting progressively more difficult. Whilst the adventure mode may only take an hour or two to complete, there is still replayability if players want to achieve gold on every level.
Unlike most other games, the single player doesn’t just stop at the story mode. There is “Explore Mode” in which players take on challenges within the six categories: Bomb, Chemical, Gem, Grab Tool, Point and Vanish which unlocks higher classed stacks. This feels like an extension to the adventure mode but it is an extension which many will welcome. Finally, there is a level creator which doesn’t need much of a description.
In Create Mode, players can create their own levels – obviously – using different modes and tools. The Paint Mode can be used to change the property of any blocks, the scale tool to re-size blocks, the height tool to adjust the height of blocks and finally the rules tool to choose your level’s options (such as time, players etc.). Create Mode can be slightly hard work at first as placement is difficult with a shaky hand but when you get used to it, you’ll be making stunning levels with lots of nail-biting moments and tremendous collapses. Players can also send their levels to friends using WiiConnect24. This works brilliantly though it is let down by the amount of time for the transaction can take a few hours, depending on Internet traffic.
The multiplayer in Boom Blox – known as Party Play – is as jam-packed as the single player modes. Players have a choice between playing co-operatively in a variety of challenges or competitively in Attack, Blast, Grab and Throw levels. Both modes are great fun and a lot of the competitive levels only require one Wii Remote, similarly to Worms. The multiplayer is superb and definitely one to play with a few friends.
The controls couldn’t be much simpler. Boom Blox is one of the few Nintendo Wii games which don’t require a Nunchuk though it can be used optionally. Holding A and swinging the Wii Remote throws balls, bombs etc. Pressing and holding A grabs blocks and letting go of A releases the block from your grasp. Finally, holding B and moving the Wii Remote or using the Nunchuk’s Control Stick moves the camera. Almost anyone can pick up the Wii Remote and learn the controls within a few minutes. At first throwing balls and bombs feels a little sensitive but anyone will easily get used to it after one or two goes.
The game’s menu music won’t get you humming the tune for hours to come; you’ll probably even forget how it goes once you get into the swing of things and the in-game sound effects suit the game very well. The way in which the sound of you throwing the balls and the sound of the ball hitting the blocks coming from the Wii Remote is just another feature to prove Boom Blox is perfect for the Nintendo Wii.
The feature which stands out above any other Wii game is the physics technology. The blocks move as you would expect them to move (for example: wobbling, see-sawing etc.) and the feeling of pulling off a successful shot which sends a tower or two crumbling to the ground is just phenomenal.
Whilst Boom Blox may look childish, it will appeal to audiences of all ages. The easy pick-up-and-play gameplay is simple yet effective and the addictiveness level will get players coming back for more. Boom Blox is a one-of-a-kind game which wouldn’t have the same effect on any other console and the multiplayer is one to match the high standard set by Wii Sports. I am now eagerly awaiting EA and Spielberg’s next game in the series as Boom Blox has started something which could be truly remarkable. Some may even go as far as saying EA are thinking outside the blox with this one.