It started with an inkling. An idea. An idea formed by a man. A man with a big important name, a lot of clout, and a lot of money, who one day said he wanted to make a game he could play with his kids.
Thus, Boom Blox was born, and Steven Spielberg’s name would be forever plastered across the box art. On more than one occasion I’ve gotten tongue tied and referred to this game as “Bloom Box.”
I question how much Steven Spielberg actually did for this game. I’m sure he threw a lot of money at it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he wrote the “story” for the game, because it’s an abomination and makes me want to recoil in horror just from thinking about it. Maybe he sat in on a few concept meetings or something, because there really isn’t a lot of…stuff here. I mean, not compared to Grand Theft Auto or the Final Fantasy du jour, because the idea is remarkably simple. There are blocks, and you manipulate them. It’s easy for anyone to pick up regardless of videogame aptitude.
Of course, how you manipulate them is where this game really fleshes out and starts to shine. You can knock them down with baseballs, lasers, rubber balls, bowling balls, hoses that shoot water, hoses that shoot bowling balls, bombs…or sometimes you need to carefully pick them up, swing them around, whip them across the screen, hit them into targets, shoot them as they fly across the screen, use them to protect blocks made out of kittens…and then some. The variety of puzzles found in this game is made very extensive through the use of different tools and various kinds of blocks, formations, and objectives.
The best part of Boom Blox is its very simple control scheme that functions flawlessly. Coupled with the in-game physics, the transition from controller movement to on-screen action is not only incredibly intuitive, but suitably realistic and seamless. Sure, things fall a little slowly, and things tend to stick together slightly unrealistically, but real gravity, well, kind of sucks. This game wouldn’t be fun if it was 100% true to life, so a fantastic hybrid has been found and makes for an enjoyable experience. Moving the camera is also very intuitive, which is extremely important, because the angle of your throws and grabs is crucial to knocking down towers and knocking blocks into score zones. Although once in a while the camera gets in the way of the action, this is the exception to otherwise great camera controls.
If you get bored of solving the pre-made puzzles, you can take on up to three friends in a variety of challenges co-operatively or against each other. The battles here can be intense and a lot of fun. The experience differs from game to game. so there is plenty of reason to play them over and over again, which shoots the replay value of this title through the roof. This game could easily stand the test of time as one of the best Wii party games available. Still, if you’re flying solo, you can hop into the level creator and create your own puzzle. Everything in the game is available to you, although some things need to be unlocked through single-player mode. The editor is simple and easy to use, allowing you to jump back and forth between editing and testing quickly, and, for the most part, you’re only limited by your imagination.
This is one of the first titles where the hardware limitations of the Wii really start to hold it back. When you’re blowing up a giant tower of blocks or causing a major chain reaction, the game can chug a little. On one hand, crunching hundreds or thousands of physics calculations is no short order, but this isn’t exactly Crysis, and one can’t help but wonder if this would play out a little smoother on the Xbox 360 or the PS3. And it’s not just an occasional framerate drop. The level editor has a “stuff” bar that, when filled, prevents you from putting any more “stuff” in your level, so you can let go of your dreams of trashing a tri-level mansion made of glass with a bowling ball. You’ll have to settle for a two-story. The only other drawback is that the one-player story is just god awful, but fortunately you can skip past it. I suppose it might be charming in a generic Shel Silverstein kind of way, but it just makes me nauseous.
Overall, this is a strong party game with some good, challenging one-player modes, even though the game suffers a little from a lack of powerful hardware. The graphics are simplistic and thematic, and the music is not repetitive or annoying and fits comfortably into the background. The controls are awesome and the replay value is great due to the multiplayer. The level creator is not only robust, but allows you to share levels with friends. This is a definite purchase, either new or used, and I think you would be hard pressed to be disappointed by this title. Certainly the best thing Spielberg has done since The Flintstones Movie. Man that was crap. Not like Boom Blox.