If there was a star of the summit’s showroom, it was without a doubt, Boom Blox. Absolutely everyone at the show spent a good amount of time with the game. If there were media members that weren’t interested in the game before the summit, they have most-definitely changed their tune by now. There were plenty of great games to check out at the summit, but Boom Blox was the one that was making the media, Nintendo employees, and third-party reps squeal with joy. I really mean that too. Both days of the summit, you could hear laughs, screams, and groans coming from the back half of the room. That was where the one demo kiosk for Boom Blox was. That same area also happened to have massive amounts of people standing around, waiting for their chance to get in on the action.
Next to Mario Kart Wii, I spent the most time playing Boom Blox. I have been dying to get some more hands-on time with the title, and that time was very well spent. Boom Blox is a game that was tailor-made for the Wii. A lot of people complained about Spielberg’s Wii title when it was announced. It simply wasn’t what people were expecting. Well, if you are willing to give the game a try, you can see the genius behind it. There was one thing that was absolutely clear to me after my massive amount of time with Boom Blox. Steven Spielberg (with the help of EA) completely understands what Nintendo is setting out to do with the Wii. With 100% certainty, he knows how to utilize what the Wii has to offer, and has come up with a game that is the perfect blend for both core and casual gamers. I don’t think there was anyone at the summit that would call themselves casual. Nevertheless, Boom Blox catered to every core gamer bone in our bodies.
First thing’s first, Boom Blox would not be anywhere near as fun on another platform. This is a game idea that can be perfectly executed through the capabilities of the Wiimote. It’s amazing how it takes such a sophisticated control scheme to nail the mechanics of a very simple game. If Boom Blox were tied to a traditional control, the results would be extremely subdued. It’s the motion controls and ease of use that really make Boom Blox click. All you have to do is aim and throw…that’s it. The controls are as easy as could be, but the gameplay mechanics are what makes Boom Blox so entertaining. Absolutely anyone can pick up on how to play the game, be they a core or casual gamer. Equally so, everyone that gives the game a show will most-likely become addicted.
The objective of Boom Blox is to clear puzzles. This is the same no matter what mode you are in…multi or single player. At the show, it was a multiplayer-only affair. That setup just worked best for the situation. Even in multiplayer mode, the goal of the game was simple. In the mode that we played, the objective was to score as high as you could. The person with the highest score wins. Yep…it sounds like an arcade game from back in the 80s. Throw in the competitive nature of this crowd, and Boom Blox was the most intense action on the summit floor.
There were a bunch of preset block stacks that we had to choose from. Once everyone agreed on a level design, the game kicked off. These block towers were built with various sizes and shapes of blocks. Each block has a different weight to it, as well as a point value. The size and shape of the blocks also determined how they would react to hits, and the actions of other blocks. This is all tied into a very complicated/realistic physics engine. I can’t stress the importance of this physics engine. Without being able to determine real-world reactions of the blocks, Boom Blox would be nearly unplayable. Thankfully, the physics engine is spot-on, making the gameplay top-notch.
I am going to run down the controls so I can once again stress how easy they are. First off, you point the Wiimote at the screen to see your target icon. Next, you hold the B trigger and move the Wiimote around to look at the block tower from any angle you want. While you’re doing this, you are looking for a block that you want to hit that will cause a good chain reaction. The more blocks that fall from the tower, the more points you get. Once you’re looking at the tower from the perspective you want, you release the B trigger. Now you can move your target around on the screen, while your camera position is locked. Place your target over the block you want to hit, hold the A button, and make a throwing motion with the Wiimote. At the end of your swing, release the A button as it if were a ball in your hand. From there, you watch the virtual ball fly towards the tower, and hopefully knock a bunch of blocks off the tower. Your throwing strength is determined by how hard/soft you threw with the Wiimote. I tried a variety of throws, all with perfect results. I am sure there is a cutoff point for how much power the Wiimote will detect, but this isn’t noticeable while going through the actual throwing motion.
That’s it…that’s all there is to it. This is the mode of Boom Blox that we played for two days straight. Some towers had blocks with different properties (bomb blox, balloon blox, acid blox), some levels were set up for chain reactions, and other levels gave us balls with different properties (bowling ball, bomb ball). I can’t tell you how much fun I had with this game. If the reaction of everyone at the summit showed their level of enjoyment, I think it’s safe to say that everyone had a blast. This is a killer multiplayer game, no doubt about it. The single player aspect offers the same type of fun, but in a more puzzle-oriented environment. We were shown some puzzle levels during the presentation, some of them being very intricate, and others revolving around simple solutions. Right now, I am dying to get my hands on the single player levels. You can unlock goodies in single player that iwll cross over to multilayer, and extend the life of the product. Yeah…Boom Blox is a fantastic package.
Boom Blox is one of the best third-party offerings on the Wii…and it only took Steven Spielberg to make it happen. Forget your hang-ups on this title not being related to wars or aliens. Get over your disappointment that this game doesn’t have an epic story. This is the side of Steven Spielberg that appeals to everyone out there…not just action junkies. This is the same guy that created cartoons that appealed to both parents and kids. Boom Blox stands proud next to Spielberg’s other game/movie achievements. This isn’t a game you want to keep your eye on…this is a title that you should have reserved already. Get ready for one of the easiest, most addicting puzzle experiences you’ve had in a long time.