Monday, July 7, 2008

Boom Blox (Wii) review

Developer: EA Los Angelos
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Date Released: May 6, 2008 (USA)
MSRP: $49.99
Players: 1-4
Genre: Puzzle
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

Recently, I watched all three of the original Indiana Jones to reacquaint myself with the globetrotting adventurer before seeing the latest one (which I haven't even gotten around to seeing yet!). So when the name Steven Spielburg comes to mind, I think more of Indiana Jones, giant sharks, or extraterrestrial beings, not colorful, kiddie blocks blowing up and flying everywhere. But apparently, Spielburg had a lot to do with my latest bought game, Boom Blox. But how good is the game really?

Boom Blox is definitely one of the uniquest experiences I've had on the Wii since Wii Sports. The basics of the game all revolve around a very powerful physics engine. Nintendo really has emphasized the term "innovation" this generation, and EA knows exactly what they're talking about.

The basics of the game include this: you throw a ball, shoot a laser gun, or try to pull out blocks Jenga style. There's hundreds of puzzles. Each of them has some sort of goal represented in bronze, silver and gold medals. In the point based puzzles you have to knock away the positive point values while keeping the negatives intact. You're overall score in each decides what medal you get (if you get one at all). Then there's the gem puzzles, in which you're awarded medals on how many throws it takes you to knock all the certain blocks down. Then there's the Jenga puzzles where you try pulling out blocks without toppling the entire structure. There's so much variety in the puzzles it's astounding.


Not only is there variety in the puzzles, there's tons of different blocks and block characters to make the puzzles even more unique. For example, there's the chemical blocks. These blocks will explode when they make contact with another chemical block, which leads to some interesting puzzles. There's also vanish blocks (which do just that, disappear once hit), point blocks, and bomb blocks (which explode). Not only are there different blocks, there's different characters that inhabit the different levels. Some will throw balls and random thing, which will both help and hinder your success, while others will light off bomb blocks or something along those lines.

There are three basic modes in Boom Blox: Play, Party, and Create. The first, Play is what you'll be doing a lot of alone. It has two other modes in it: Explore and Adventure. The former includes around 70 or so puzzles grouped according to the whole "block" it based around (e.g. Chemical, Vanish, Points, etc.). While the latter of the listed (Adventure mode), includes the basic story part of the game. It's a little silly. It concerns different aspects of the little block character adventures. You may be searching for lost gems as the sheep or defending your fortresses from rampaging, attacking bears. It's fun and a step away from the basic puzzles, but I found it a little stupid and enjoyed Explore mode far more. Plus, once you've beaten certain requirements of both modes, you'll unlock even more Explore and Adventure puzzles.

As for Party, this is the multiplayer aspect of the game. And let me tell you it's as fun or maybe even a bit more fun that single-player. There's two more modes in this to: Cooperative and Competitive, which are just that. In the latter, you're competing to either get the most points or pull blocks out of a tower without toppling it over. While in the former, you're working together to complete puzzles. Multiplayer is where the game really shines in my opinion, as it is a great party game. It's shame it won't sell very well, for it doesn't have the words Party in the title (but Boom Blox Party just sounds lame).

Create mode.

Boom Blox also includes a really unique, deep Create mode. Basically you can make any puzzle you want, as long as it will stand up according to the physics. I can see a lot of people going full out and making complex and awesome puzzles. But I really didn't have many ideas for the puzzles. Another nice feature is the ability to edit any of the puzzles already on the disc.

While the gameplay and multiplayer gameplay really shine, the graphics aren't so great. It's a cartooney style that doesn't really fit the game. Because the difficulty certainly isn't for children. The graphics are mediocre for a Wii game, but really don't downgrade the game that much.

To go along with the average graphics, is the audio of Boom Blox. The music is pretty forgettable, but the sound effects are a little funny. The cries of chickens and baboons are funny, but overall the audio is nothing amazing. At least it's not unpleasant to the ears.

And last but not least, you may be wondering how long this game will last you. Well, I have two words for you: a while! Just like the back of the box boasts, Boom Blox includes a whopping 300 single-player puzzles and over 100 multiplayer levels. Plus the with the level creator/editor, you could pretty much say the game never ends.

Overall Thoughts

Boom Blox is a great third-party game and an excellent game for your shiny, white box. The single- and multiplayer offerings are where it's at. The graphics and audio aren't so good, but the awesome physics engine keeps things new, as you'll almost never have the exact same reaction as the last time.

Gameplay: 9/10 The complex physics and originality of the game really make this game a must-have.

Multiplayer: 9/10 Great for parties, or even for a friend or two just hanging out.

Graphics: 7.5/10 Not so great, but no so terrible. As I said before, they don't really diminish the experience.

Sound: 7/10 Mediocre. Period.

Lasting Value: 9.5/10 Boom Blox will last you a long time. With over 400 puzzles total, it has some serious replayability.


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