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  • Steven Spielberg’s Boom Blox Wii review

    7 May 2008
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    Boom Blox for WiiBoom Blox is a physics-based action-puzzle hybrid game designed to be played by anybody in the family using the unique control set-up of the Wii. It’s also the first collaboration (out of three) between videogames developer Electronic Arts and movie director/producer Steven Spielberg that features a variety of family-friendly game modes.

    To quote Steven Spielberg: “I am a gamer myself, and I really wanted to create a video game that I could play with my kids. Boom Blox features an enormous amount of fun challenges and cool scenarios for your kids to solve or for you to master together. Boom Blox plays on the enjoyment of building and knocking down blocks, something that can appeal innately to kids and adults of all ages.”

    System: Wii
    Genre: Puzzle, Action
    Release dates: May 6th 2008 (USA), May 9th 2008 (EUR)
    Players: 1-4 simultaneous
    Developer: EA LA
    Publisher: Electronic Arts
    Origin: America
    Rating: E for Everyone with Cartoon Violence and Comic Mischief

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  • Boom Blox screenshot

    Boom Blox offers action-packed interactive activities, that are fun for kids and the entire family, and that take Wii play to a new level of creativity and fun with single player gaming as well as co-op and versus battle either simultaneously or turn-based with one Wii controller. Players can explore the visceral gameplay (perfectly suited for the Wii’s interactivity) that keeps them destroying their way through brain-twisting challenges. They can interact with entertaining characters such as the Blox-laying chickens or the baseball throwing monkeys, who bring personality to the Modern World, Medieval, Tiki, Frontier, and Haunted themed environments.

    This high-energy game features over three hundred levels, and a cast of over thirty wacky characters. The variety of activities also includes the option for players to remix any level of the game in Create Mode using props, blocks, or characters that have been unlocked during the game. Players can also virtually build anything they can dream up with an easy-to-use in-game editor that allows players to express their creativity. Plus, their designs can then be shared with friends or used to challenge others to solve their newly created puzzle via WiiConnect24.

    Watch the Boom Blox launch trailer.

    Gameplay is best described with the four main actions.
    * Throw: Choose your target and launch your item of choice for maximum destruction.
    * Grab: Grab and drag to topple other Blox, move Blox around to solve puzzles, move Blox to clear a path, or try not to knock over the towers.
    * Blast: Ready, aim, blast! Don’t just move Blox, destroy them. Zap Blox with lasers and more.
    * Build: Use the building tools and toy box to create, change, grab and move Blox around in order to make your own levels.

    While playing you’ll be given plenty of items like bowling balls to knock the blocks towers over or use a baseball to hit a Bomb Blox and blow the whole thing up with a loud boom! As mentioned above, you’ll be using the Wii Remote to throw, grab, push, shoot at, and attempt to blow up block structures to cause them to wiggle, topple and finally completely collapse or explode with big fireworks. But the blocks all have different special properties aside from blowing up when struck by you…

    There are over 20 kinds of blocks with such special properties. Here are a few examples:
    * Normal Blox: The building Blox of the game, you can pile them up, throw them over and let them roll around. Available in natural wood and plenty of other colors.
    * Unmovable Blox: These indestructible Blox can withstand the worst possible punishment. They cannot be moved, not even by the most powerful throws and explosions.
    * Bomb Blox: Bust one of these booming red Blox and watch nearby Bomb Blox get blasted. They cause chain reactions with Firework Blox too.
    * Firework Blox: When hit or near another explosion, these black and red Blox shoot up into the air and burst into sparkling fireworks.
    * Vanish Blocks: Hit one of these purple Blox and “poof” it’s gone, leaving a void to be filled by surrounding Blox. Often seen separating volatile Chemical Blox.
    * Chemical Blox: When two or more of these green Blox touch each other, they explode. Knock them together to see the reaction for yourself.
    * Gem Blox: These sparkling blue Blox are often in high places, just waiting to be knocked down. Watch them sparkle as they smash to the ground.
    * Point Blox: How many points will the player gain for knocking one of these golden Blox down? They come in a variety of values including negative, so pay attention.

    The three gameplay modes are:
    * Play: In single player you play to solve many challenging and entertaining puzzles through five themed worlds.
    * Party: Play competitively with up to four players and co-op multiplayer with two players.
    * Create: Use your imagination with the level editor to build your own explosive levels for both single player and multiplayer. Jump in to test them out and jump out to edit some more.

    Boom Blox competitive split-screen multiplayer

    Go at it on your own or go multiplayer by: teaming up with a friend to topple Blox or take on an opponent in a Blox showdown. Both choices can be played on one screen or via split-screen.
    * Play together: Join forces with a friend in co-op. Achieve more by playing together. Playing as a team is twice the fun.
    * Compete: Go head-to-head with up to four players. Out-fire and outsmart your friends and family. Keep your nerve against your opponent.

    The five themed worlds you can play in are the:
    * Modern World: The introductory world, this is the perfect place to learn your Blox basics, from throwing to blasting and beyond.
    * Medieval World: The Bakkks of Woolington live in this world where they guard magical gems that they discovered in ancient ruins.
    * Tiki World: This tropical island paradise is home to Gorilda and her children, but they’re under attack by the Tikis. Can you help save Gorilda and her family?
    * Frontier World: This dry desert world contained valuable gold nuggets, but beware of bandits who want nothing more than to steal the loot.
    * Haunted World: This spooky world features a graveyard and ghostly sights. Help the frightened kittens get safely back home on this dark night.

    Boom Blox create mode level editor

    Once you’ve played through the nearly 400 levels in the game, you can create more and share them. You can customize any level in the game with the level editor, or use it to build your own level, block-by-block, for single player and multiplayer. Then share your creations with friends over WiiConnect24. There’s no online multiplayer, though.

    What are the main features in Boom Blox?

    * Throw, grab, and blast — Use fun action gestures with the Wii remote to cause strategic destruction in levels like Tiki-Tower-Topple and Medieval Mayhem.

    * Over 300 Brain-Busting Challenges.

    * Fast-paced Multiplayer Action — Play with or against your friends in co-op, versus, or 4-player games.

    * Make It Your Own — Unlock characters, worlds, blocks, and props throughout the game and use to build whatever you can imagine in Create Mode. Remix any level and share what you create with friends via WiiConnect24.

    * Over 30 Wacky Blox Characters –Tackle the action and interact with a cast of entertaining characters including animals like a chicken that lays bomb blocks and a beaver that likes to make them explode.

    Watch a Boom Blox gameplay video.

    As a conclusion let’s rate Boom Blox on its fun-basis.

    FUN FACTOR – 9.0
    What a treat it is to play the first videogame developed with guidance from the famous movie director Steven Spielberg. It’s been said that Boom Blox is Jenga meets Tetris Blast, but the Wii Remote motion-controlled physics-based action-puzzles make it its own beast of a game. Beastly explosive fun, that is! This fun comes from the ease-of-use and the simplicity at which you can reach the objective of the game: knocking down the block-structures. I know that doesn’t sound so appealing written down, but the moment you’ll start building or tearing down Boom Blox structures you’ll understand why the child-like joy of building a fort out of blocks and then tearing it down (preferably with friends for added chaos) used to be fun and actually still IS fun. Because what are grownups but kids with more ethics and morals? Everyone young and old of age, casual and hardcore gamers, all still like to have a good time despite how we change with time… Whether that’s shooting a watergun at one another on a hot day to cool down or shooting a virtual Halo 3 gun after a long day at work to blow off some steam; whether that’s playing a fun classic boardgame like Mousetrap or playing an addictive new videogame like Boom Blox.

    While the creators jokingly refer to Boom Blox as a “summer blockbuster”, that’s exactly what the Wii got with this gem of a game. Steven Spielberg and EA have created a really innovative and smart physics-puzzler here, a game that deserves to be played by many people again and again. :-D

    Graphics – 7.0
    Highly stylized character design was given to the cartoony charming characters. The game’s simple but cartoony look comes back in the backgrounds that are card-board cut-outs. The themed levels are varied, always colorful, and will rarely show slowdown during busy gameplay. While the graphics look good overall, the textures are clearly low-res. My guess would be this is because the Wii is busy calculating all the real-time physics effects going on during gameplay. Well, I’m no programmer, so all I know is that not once did me or anyone else complain about the graphics.

    Audio – 7.0
    The music is simple, nothing great, nothing bad. Cheerful characters notwithstanding, the sound effects are pretty standard, but throwing and impact sounds are satisfying.

    Ingenuity – 9.0
    All you have to do is aim your Wii Remote where you want to go, then press and hold the A-button to lock on and move Blox around and let go when you’re done moving it or want to perform an action, like throwing a ball at a Blox tower with the speed of your throwing movement. Camera movements are done by simply pressing and holding the B-button and then moving around your Wii Remote controller, the Wii Nun-chuck add-on is optional for camera use. Easy does it.

    You’ll find yourself getting used to the controls within minutes, it’s so natural — for gamers and non-gamers alike — because the game mechanics react accurately to your Wii Remote controller interactions. You see, there’s a very realistic physics simulator running in the background of the game making everything feel tactile. This quickly becomes apparent as you interact with the Blox by: A) throwing stuff like baseballs and coconuts at them, B) grabbing and pulling at Blox in 3D space, and C) blasting Blox all over the place by shooting them to bits.

    Just wait until you’re using the smile-inducing intuitive Create Mode level editor to build explosion-triggered Rube Goldberg-esque domino effect structures. It’s all very fun to play around with thanks to the well balanced gameplay that challenges you with its physics-based puzzles and instantly reacts to your every move. While it’s all setup very simple, you’re getting a lot to play around with.

    Replay Value – 9.0
    You’ll be playing this for many long hours. Once you play through the game’s single player and unlocked the adventure and explore challenge modes, you’ll find there are almost 400 levels in Boom Blox. Half of those in the challenging single player or co-op story mode that takes you through five themed worlds, and the other half of those levels can be found in the various competitive multiplayer modes. Further extending the replay value is the Create Mode for you to remix existing or create new creative levels (although there is a block-limit) for the game with (think Halo 3’s Forge). Once finished, you can then exchange your own levels with online friends via WiiConnect24. Don’t worry, you won’t have to enter new Boom Blox friend codes, the game uses the Wii system’s friend codes you’ve already got stored on your console.

    Throughout the game you’ll be able to unlock awards, bonus stacks, bonus tools, bonus characters, and bonus movies. The competitive multiplayer modes (for throwing, grabbing & shooting) and the level builder are all sure to add many weeks to an already fun single player and co-op experience that we’ve been enjoying all week. As you’d expect it’s even more fun and addictive in multiplayer with up to four players taking turns trying to beat the others. But hey (as indicated at the fun factor conclusion) we’re probably just a group of kids in grown up disguises… And guess what, when a game like this lights up the room the way it does when the Wii is on, then we like it that way! This is what casual gaming is all about, being for everyone.

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    About the author

    Ferry Groenendijk By Ferry Groenendijk: He is the founder and editor of Video Games Blogger. He loved gaming from the moment he got a Nintendo with Super Mario Bros. on his 8th birthday. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and at Google+.


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