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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

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qam62

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Underneath the slightly cutesy graphics and dead simple interface there’s actually a complex physics engine figuring out how every block, and how you move it, affects everything else. This isn’t some magical world where blocks hover in mid air (well, except for a couple of immovable blocks that might be dotted around), every structure is precariously balanced and, just like in Jenga, the wrong move or an unsteady hand can bring the whole thing crashing down.

Boom Blox starts you off gently, with some simple tasks such as pulling out crystals without collapsing the whole tower or, for the child in you, there’s levels where you have to just raze the whole thing to ground in as few moves as possible. Later on there’s a fair bit of thinking needed as you have to figure out how to manipulate the blocks to achieve the goal you’ve been set. Fortunately, replaying a level is quick and simple and believe me, some of the later levels will have you doing them over and again until you get them right.

There’s several modes of play in Boom Blox, from the solo challenge levels and adventure story mode through the party challenge sessions where you play against or with others. Oh, and on top of that lot, there’s a super easy creator mode where you can muck around with everything and create your own towers to topple and puzzles for others to try and beat.

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Boom Blox isn’t perfect though as there’s a couple of howling clangers that really shouldn’t have made it to the retail copy. The first one you’ll come across is the ‘info’ panel that displays over some mission screens before you start. Basically, it’s a small panel that tells you to have a look around and press the ‘Play’ button once you’re ready to go… but the panel telling you this covers the bottom third of the damn screen, restricting your view… not helpful.

The second niggle is with the control system which just isn’t sensitive enough to pushing and pulling. Up and down and side to side is fine but in and out of the screen? You have to move the Wii Remote miles just to get a small response on the screen. This means you’ll end up turning the view side on to slide a block out, obscuring your view but giving better results… and in levels where you’re against the clock, wasting time positioning the camera can lose you valuable seconds. But maybe that’s just a limitation of the Wii Remote rather than anything to do with Boom Blox itself…

On the face of it Boom Blox seems stupidly simple and horrifyingly addictive but worryingly limited in lifespan. In fact you’ll find it far more addictive than it first seems. That ‘just one more go’ factor seriously ramps up once you unlock the higher level challenge modes which is a good thing as unless you’re super-fussy and keep redoing levels until you have all gold awards, you’ll complete the adventure section in a few hours. Like Portal, the tougher challenges are seriously tough… but you learn from each mistake and will always progress just that little bit farther.

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Overall Boom Blox is one of those classic ‘dipping games’ that actually causes you to ‘dip’ too far, far longer than you meant to. Either as a solo game or, even better, as a party game, Boom Blox is pretty damn good and possibly one of the most original titles I’ve seen for a while. The pacing is near perfect, apart from a couple of blips in the difficulty curve, and the humour is bang on. Oh, and us grown up players can skip all the cutscene story stuff and get on with the game if we fancy. So if you’re looking for the next solo/social game after Mario Kart, you can’t go wrong with Boom Blox… and you sure as hell don’t feel like some yuppie piling a load of wooden bricks up on the coffee table while Tasminda and Quentin open the wine.

Pros
Easy to learn, hard to master
Great solo games
Cracking party games
Easy peasy creator mode

Cons
Camera can be tricky to get the right angle
Some ‘steps’ in difficulty rather than a curve

Boom Blox is a nicely original game that has that essential ‘one more go’ factor

HEXUS Awards

HEXUS.gaming Editor’s Choice
Boom Blox - Wii

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