Random Review: Boom Blox

Just about every Wii owner that I know has “that one game,” as in that one game that they could not stop playing for hours which resulted in a sore arm the next day. I had yet to play any game to that point, until now. My first session of Boom Blox yesterday lasted over three hours and left me with a pretty sore right arm this morning…and I’ll be back for more once I can straighten out my right arm all the way again.

If that isn’t a ringing endorsement of a game, I’m not sure what is.

As I’ve mentioned before I don’t mind repetition so long as the game is fun. Like many other games I play obsessively (or at least to the point where I’m reaching for the ibuprofen) Boom Blox falls in the “easy to learn, hard to master” category.

The concept is simple: you have a structure of blocks with gems in some areas. The goal is to use as few balls as you can to knock off the gems. More gems can be removed at once by making the whole thing fall over. The balls are tossed with the Wiimote, and while a simple flick of the wrist will do, I have a habit of acting like I’m Ozzie Smith trying to throw someone out at first, which is why I’m sore now.

The job is made easier by certain blocks that disappear when hit with the ball, other blocks that explode when hit with the ball, and others that can be detonated by knocking them into each other . Seeing a well-placed throw result in a cacophony of stuff blowing up and blocks flying everywhere is VERY satisfying, and very frustrating when one or two gems are left after the fireworks are over. Its basically a puzzle game with a dash of destruction tossed in for good measure. Its great fun, especially for OCD gamers like me that have to get the high score. I haven’t tried the multiplayer or the stage-editor as of yet, but that’s because the core game is so much fun I haven’t bothered to yet.

Like pretty much every other Wii game, Boom Blox features cutesy cartoony graphics and music, those worried about catching “teh ghey” from all the pretty colors need not apply. The blocks behave as you would expect them to, but all the math going on behind the scenes appears to be too much for the Wii; explosions involving lots of objects sometimes slows down. This is a minor quibble, though. I thought the slowdown enhanced the experience, watching a tower s-l-o-w-l-y tip over and crash into the one next to it just rocks. If a Boom Blox 2 happens, I want REPLAY!

Curiously enough, this game is the first from Steven Spielberg (yeah, that one) and EA. My first reaction upon hearing this was “WHY is Spielberg making a PUZZLE GAME?!” but upon further review, it makes sense. Assuming Steven Spielberg is not a gamer (which is a poor assumption to make, for all I know he has a max-level mage in World of Warcraft and is the best Counter-Strike player on the planet…probably not, but hey, you never know) you don’t want him trying to make Halo or God of War on his first try. Instead, EA lets him get his feet wet with something simpler. I’m looking forward so seeing what he does with something more story-driven.

One complaint, however, is that this was released as a full-priced ($50) game. A $50 PUZZLE GAME!? Granted, it is a very entertaining game with lots of fun stuff to do, but its still a FREAKING PUZZLE GAME! I wonder if EA felt the “star power” Spielberg brings to the project (his name is featured prominently on the box) would loosen the wallets of customers. I rented it via Gamefly myself, and will pick it up once the price drops some.

Nevertheless, the game is great fun, and should be at played by everyone with access to a Wii.

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