“It’s a new Spielberg!” If this would have been a movie, you could have expected some quality, but thanks to a cooperation with Electronic Arts two games with his name on them will be released. The first one has already hit the market: Steven Spielberg proudly present Boom Blox.
I won’t go blabbing around here. Boom Blox is simple in every way. The game combines different puzzle genres which all revolve around gravity and the leading characters… blocks! Simple cubes and beams with various physical properties. The puzzles are built in such a manner that these properties have to be exploited to reach the goal of the level. Chemical blocks explode when they touch each other, bomb blocks when they’re shot and disappearing blocks… Well, they disappear.
The game can be played in three different modes – which are very intuitively controlled by the way. Throwing can be compared most to baseball from Wii Sports, even though you have to mark a target first. The games based on this mode are those where something needs to be saved or destroyed. Picture some towers containing a variety of gems which have to hit the ground with the towers collapsing, or an army approaching your towers and you have to protect them from harm. Then there are the grab-games. These probably come closest to Jenga, where you have to pull blocks from a tower without the tower losing its balance. The last mode – which doesn’t really feels like it belongs in my opinion – is shooting. This can be done with strange attributes like fire hoses or sci-fi pistols. Luckily these are rarely used so the impact on gameplay isn’t all that big.
It’s very clear that this game was created for the younger generation. The rather simplistic graphics (blocks…), the cartoony characters (looking like blocks of course) and cardboard environments confirm this even more. But what makes this game so special, is the fact that it really has Wii-mote written all over it. The big picture can’t be called perfect, but this definitely is one of the best attempts to this day. Sadly the puzzles aren’t always as simple, certainly not when you’re about 5 years old. I myself have been cursing often enough while playing because I had missed the target by an inch, was a tad too slow or even couldn’t find an immediate solution to the puzzle. It’s all fun and games to put up a bit of a challenge, but by doing so they totally forgot their target group. A separation of difficulty would have been nice, like levels for kids and separate levels for adults.
However, multiplayer is where the game really flexes its muscles. Ok, we’ve seen it before that games on Wii are so easy to control, but with Boom Blox even your aunt, uncle or grandma can join the fun. You can play with up to four players on the same console: with or against each other. On the other hand, most categories require more than one remote, but the multiplayer demonstration mode lets you change the person at the wheel. To add some time to the lifespan of this game they also included an editor where you can load completed puzzles and adjust them or even create your very own challenge from the ground up. The collection of buttons on the screen can be quite confusing though. They make it hard to build out your fantasy. A nice extra is the fact that created puzzles can be sent to a friend through the Connect24-service.
The result of Boom Blox is a refreshing use of the Wii-mote with a very smooth learning curve which mainly kids will enjoy. On the other hand, the game feels somewhat “unfinished” – partly thanks to the simple graphics – and after a while even goalless. It does offer you some gratification after completing a difficult level, but the extra attributes you can use in the editing mode aren’t really worth the trouble, especially not when you’re never intending on using it.