It’s the fall of the last block as it crumbles under the weight of the tower. It’s holding the Wii with two hands to keep your sights steady for your last throw. It’s the last man falling after a catastrophic explosion. Boom Blox is a game better watched than explained, and better played than watched.
Everything works on kinetics - the force of one object moving another and ultimately surrendering to gravity. Whether pulling out the last piece of the tower or setting off a bomb to bring the whole thing down, player intrinsically understand how to play the game since it relates to the simple physics of our own environment. Things fall. Pushing things into other things will cause those things to move. Newtonian physics finally comes with a scoring system.
The one hurdle most players will have to get over is the throwing mechanics. Line up the cursor where you want to deliver your pitch. Press A, pull back, and release the button at the apex of your throw. Yes, it’s like actually throwing a ball. And yes, you better make sure that wrist strap is securely fastened. Some stretching exercises might not be a bad idea either since you’ll be throwing virtual fastballs for a good length of time.
You break the single player experience into Mission and Explore mode. Players looking for more a traditional game might want to start with tackling the missions first. Four stories are broken down into three sections containing a number of puzzles within each. The story is cute but nothing of any real caliber. Each section represents a different sort of challenge. One moment you’re clearing the way for a mother gorilla. The next moment, you’re shooting down renegade monkeys. The puzzles are inventive and surprisingly tough. Most players will be able to pass with a bronze, but they’ll come back for that gold.
Explore mode walks you through the ins and outs of what each item can actually do. By solving puzzles with the bowling ball, the laser gun, or the garden hose; you’ll be able to take your winnings into the create mode where you can construct your own piecemeal puzzles. While not designed to be impossible, those lonely puzzlers will be happy to know that further challenge modes wait once you beat the regular course. While the first set of puzzles were merely set as brainteasers, the challenge modes twists logic in some deliciously devious ways.
Puzzles make you warm on those cold, lonely nights, but the multiplayer mode may just make you the hit of the party. Just like the rest of the game, the multiplayer action is just as easy to pick up and as intuitive as the rest of Boom Blox. Up to four people can try their hand at destroying castles, shooting blocks, or the ever popular, pulling pegs while chanting Jenga. Think of it as the tower of blocks you don’t have to put together or clean up after someone knocks it down.
The multiplayer options break down the games into how you wish to attack the problem – through throwing, shooting, pulling, and good old assault by ball. Dismantle is a fresh new take on the old Jenga problem. Instead of going for the easy pieces all at once, the roll of an electronic die chooses which of the colors you get to choose from. You don’t just choose the best piece but only the best piece of that color. If you don’t want to think, you can always throw bowling balls at your opponent in castle attack. And if none of these options tickle your fancy, you can just make up something.
From the first puzzle, you’re given a choice to mess around the established structure. Create mode can be intimidating at first but familiar to anyone who has messed around with a paint program. You’re dealing with blocks, after all. You can build elaborate structures or just paste in a couple of walls here or there that have already been created for you. The rest is up to you. Paint the bricks to give them new characteristics such as exploding or disappearing on impact. Throw in a couple of boxy animals, and they’ll wander around or start hurling blocks around the area. From there, you can make up rules, try out your master plan, and ship it to your friends.
With minimalist style, some gamers may be turned off by the bright colors and the lack of complicated extras. Spielberg serves up a whole package, from a challenging single player campaign to a fun and fast multiplayer option. Boom Blox delivers so much content, that it would be hard not to find something to love in this title. Give it a try. What looks to be rather simple is actually complex and will keep you playing for hours. With some many third party titles dropping the ball, it’s amazing to see someone get the idea behind the success of the Wii so right.
• The new big party game for the Wii
• Highly addictive gameplay
• Challenging single player
• Great creation mode
• Intuitive controls
• Cute graphics may turn off some gamers
• Increased likely-hood of getting hit by a flying Wii-mote