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Review: Boom Blox - Wii

by Nick Haywood on 14 May 2008, 11:00

Tags: Boom Blox, Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), Wii, Puzzle

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It’s like Jenga, but much, much better

Yuppies. Bloody wine bar trawling, iPhone loving, yaw-yawing young buggers with hardly a thought between them. Yes, that some broad stroke painting there with my brush of stereotyping, but honestly, they do wind me up. These are people my age who watch the dinner party scene in Notting Hill and think, yah, we do that every weekend. They go to music festivals because they like to feel trendy though they haven’t a clue who Muse are. Their idea of a night in with friends in to crack open a bottle of whatever wine it’s trendy to drink this week and then call Camilla, Tasminda, Tarquin, Quentin, Simon and Tara over for a game of Jenga on Percival’s faux oak and smoked glass Ikea occasional table.

Now, when I first read that Steven Spielberg was going to be sticking his name on a game I was struck by thought that either it’d be as awesome as Saving Private Ryan or as dreadful as 1941. An odd mix of Breakout, Jenga and Lemmings, Boom Blox is one of those games that at first glance seems to have bugger all appeal to anyone but the most casual of gamers. But believe me, if you dismiss Boom Blox because it looks simplistic and cutesy, you’ll be depriving yourself of one of the best games on the Wii this year. So let’s set aside our casual games/yuppie past-time reservations and have look at what’s what.

The principal behind Boom Blox is simple. You either use a variety of projectiles, from baseballs and bowling balls through to bombs or even jets of water, to shift block out of various towers in each of the levels. In the explore mode, each group of levels is themed toward different types of blocks. There’s point blocks, (which you need to remove from the towers without knocking out any of the negative scoring blocks), there’s chemical blocks that explode when you push two together, then there’s disappearing blocks, immobile blocks, crumbling blocks and so on.

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But what makes Boom Blox really stand out is the way you interact with the blocks in the game. Some levels demand you to lob balls at the blocks to knock them out of the stack, others require you to strategically remove or blow up certain blocks which should, with a bit of luck and a lot of skill, you can achieve the goals with a few moves as possible.

But it’s not all just about knocking down towers, it’s often about knocking down towers in a particular way to achieve the set target… That target might be as few throws, grabs or squirts as possible or, even more tricky, removing all the blocks without toppling a penalty slab on top of the whole tower. And bloody hell, it’s about as addictive as a game can get before the government classifies it as a controlled substance.

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