Fantastic review Ben, and a decent score too!
EA. What a beast. The company, no, corporation, that brought us yearly updates to our favourite pastimes, including 'Badminton: Tuesday Edition 08' and 'Lacrosse: Bank Holidays May 04', a few 'Sims' games, the less appreciated Bond games and lots, lots more, has gone and teamed up with Steven Spielberg. A match made in heaven? From initial impressions of the game, the answer to this might have been a resounding "no" - Boom Blox, the first fruit of this proverbial marriage, certainly didn't resemble the blockbuster hit everyone was expecting - but after a few minutes with the Wii remote you'd be silly not to see how much of a dude Spielberg is, and why he's won all those Oscar things...
Boom Blox, like most games, starts with a title screen. Here, you'll learn a lot about it. There are cows, bears, sheep, monkeys - all shaped like bricks. Don't look away! That's right, there are brick shaped animals representing a game by Steven Spielberg himself. It might be easy to take one look at this title screen, assume a bunch of flaws the game must have and turn it off. But as the old rule goes - a game containing monkeys rarely fails...well, regardless of how fake that rule might be, going past the title screen greets you with a menu to create a profile. Choose your name, avatar; all the mundane things in life come first. Then you're welcomed with another menu, and already, the fun has begun. All menu items are represented with blox which can be manipulated and slapped around, bouncing off the other menu items and wasting 3 minutes of your life. It's a totally unnecessary addition to the game, but already you can see the focus here isn't about flashy graphics or even a great storyline (more on that later), but good old fun.
The physics of Boom Blox are touted as being some of the most realistic on Wii, sure to please those that enjoy superlatives. The aim of the game fluctuates - in single player mode, you'll usually have to knock down a stack of blox of differing sizes to make other, special 'gem' blox fall to the ground. There are other type of blox that aid you in this pursuit, including chemical blox which explode on contact, vanish blox that disappear when hit, point blox and more. Jenga is well mimicked here, but improved upon tenfold. To manipulate the blox, you can hit them with different types of ball, a stream of water and even a grabbing tool. Holding A, flicking your wrist at the desired speed (the game can tell how fast you're 'throwing' the ball) and releasing the A button will launch the projectile towards the structure you're trying to demolish or the towers you're trying to strategically tip over. There is a crossover of popular games like Dominoes, LEGO, Jenga and Lawn Bowls ensuring that most bases are covered.
There are a number of modes inside which you'll find puzzles based around the aforementioned concept. Adventure mode takes you through a cheesy and slightly superfluous story involving theft, lies, deceit - the usual - and along the way you'll encounter a load of cleverly built levels. It's not perfect, and a certain section near the beginning makes you wonder if they'd run out of ideas, but perseverance allows you to experience a lot more than you might have thought previously possible with only a few 3D shapes and a Wii remote. Explore mode guides you through different gameplay strategies, grouping the different type of blox into their own sections. In these modes, and their extensions, you are awarded a medal - bronze, silver or gold - for completing a level after achieving a certain threshold, whether it be finishing with 20 seconds to go or knocking down a level in 1 throw. "Just one more go" becomes a common thought, as the satisfaction of achieving gold after being stuck on silver for a week is fantastic.
There is also a mode where you can create levels, aptly named 'Create Mode', and here you can spend as long as you like building up blox and other scenery ready for destruction. Lots of items available here are unlocked throughout the Adventure mode but there's plenty available to you from the start. It doesn't have the pick up and play appeal of the rest of the game, mainly because it involves a lot more thinking and the fun isn't immediate. You can test out levels straight from the editor and even swap them over WiiConnect24 with your other Wii friends. It would have been nice to have a dedicated section for uploading and downloading levels from around the world, but what you're given is better than a poke in the eye. Multiplayer is, arguably, where the game excels. A lot of the enjoyment comes from your own activity in front of the TV, as you're essentially just knocking over some blocks with a friend, but there are a variety of takes on the formula, including co-op destruction or building and competitive score binges. This is one of the few instances where playing against a friend online would probably be less enjoyable than sharing a sofa.
Presentation isn't a weak point of EA's games. Considering the amount of games developed and published each year, you'd have to expect a decent level of proficiency amongst the artists and programmers with this generation's consoles. With games like Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3 showing us that Nintendo's little white box isn't just a pretty face, one could assume that there'd be an influx of titles showing graphical prowess and wizardry. Boom Blox can't be placed in that category. It seems to be family focused by accident, perhaps a marketing ploy to better target the Wii's perceived market, or perhaps just an innocent attempt at appealing to everyone. There are colours galore - rarely will you find a dull brown or green trying to imitate the drabness of real life - and everything is neat and inoffensive. Some of the characters are adorable whilst others irk, but altogether you'll find an art style that is appropriate and, importantly, unobtrusive to the fun. Maybe unsurprisingly, there isn't much more to Boom Blox after all that's been mentioned, but it all goes deeper than a few words on a screen could hope to express. This is just one of those games you really have to play to understand, because when all is said and done, Boom Blox is much more than a game. It's an experience.
The game shines here like brand new tin foil in the desert. Superbly accessible, addictive and, perhaps most importantly, a lot of fun.
Don't be fooled by the primary colours and simple character models. Yes, they're blocks. But they look lively and animated, cheery and colourful. There is nothing mind-blowing and that's partly the charm of Boom Blox - its simplicity.
For a game with a twee exterior, the sounds match perfectly. Tunes aren't terribly memorable, but the sound effects are satisfying and quite funny at times.
This can easily take up a whole night with a few friends, provided your batteries don't run out first. The adventure mode is a decent length, but with everything else, and, of course, the ability to ameliorate your scores, there's always something more to do. Maybe not worth �40, but in most places you'll find it a lot cheaper anyway.
A true gem amongst a lot of bile in the Wii's software library. Don't avoid the game for its goofy, Cartoon Network worthy characters, and you'll have a blast. The editor, the explore mode, adventure mode, multiplayer mode, addictiveness - heck - the sheer, unadulterated fun of this game cannot be overshadowed by what some might call a slightly immature front end. If you enjoy games, it should be quite clear what to do. Superb.
Fantastic review Ben, and a decent score too!
Yet people still won't but it full price!
Sometimes I wander what goes through some peoples heads, if not confetti.
I try not to buy any game at full price these days.
Buy it. It's worth it. But I would rate it at 8, although it's as good as Zack & Wiki.
It's hilarious when you throw accidentally a ball at some guys in the back or hit them with a brick...
It's one of the best games by EA. Seriously. Fresh and hot.
Anything graced by Steven Spielberg has to be good.
Yeah I think I'll get it, considering its on sale right now. But I already just bought 3 games lately (Mario Kart Wii, LOZ TP, Super Paper Mario) and will probably get SSBB as soon as its out.
Does it have aliens in it? Me and brawlbumboy disscused that any film by Speilburg usually contains Aliens (ET, the new Indiana Jones does apparently, ect), so surely his games do aswell..( Edited 26.06.2008 10:03 by hexpunK )
I think it looks what the Wii is great and famous for: Multiplayer.
Boom Blox is a good game. plus things to destory!