|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Los Angeles||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 19, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
February 13, 2009 - Steven Spielberg and the folks at EA really struck a chord with Wii owners when they introduced Boom Blox to the system's library of games. A physics-based, puzzle adventure designed for every type of gamer, Boom Blox offered an experience that truly exemplified what the Wii is all about. Now, with a sturdy template to expand upon, as well as a slew of fresh ideas from the creator himself, EA and Spielberg have set sail for Boom Blox: Bash Party.
Though this sequel will offer a single-player component that is touted to be every bit as extensive as the first game, Bash Party has a much heavier emphasis on multiplayer. Regardless of how you choose to approach the game - with some 400 wholly original levels and over 20 new physics-based techniques - Boom Blox fans can look forward to more great gameplay that puts the Wii Remote to good use.
The mainstay of the first game was its use of physics to bring down towers of blocks in order to get at gems. You'd toss a marble or pull blocks (Jenga style) in order to either tumble as many gems as possible; using the least number of throws or maintaining a tower while slowly dismantling its components. Bash Party introduces a host of new ways to tackle puzzles, and the game's title seems particularly appropriate, as these fresh techniques promise to add even more excitement to the wonderful Boom Blox formula.
One particularly interesting new mechanic is the slingshot, which should prove to be a real hit (no pun intended) with those folks eager to watch blocks blast in all directions. Players simply aim the Wii Remote where they want to fling an object, then hold the A button to lock on. Once locked on, you then pull the remote away from the screen to build power, and then release the A button to let `er rip. You get the added bonus this time around of being able to hurl characters from within the adventure mode, as well as a slew of new projectiles designed to add completely unique gameplay mechanics not seen in the first game.
Other major additions include a water-themed world and a space-themed world, each with its own unique physics to work with. Lobbing objects under water will require a completely new approach to puzzles, as will the low gravity of space. You'll also have different types of blocks to contend with this time around, including new shapes, as well as blocks that react in unique ways when hit or disturbed. The Virus block, for instance - when hit - will make other, nearby blocks explode and cause a shockwave throughout block towers. It will be very interesting to see how these and other mechanics are used (or avoided) within a given level.
Perhaps the most exciting new gameplay mechanic, however, has to do with marbles/blobs that cause blocks to change color upon impact. Like Planet Puzzle League or other match-three puzzlers, matching groups of blocks makes them disappear. Of course, you're still working within the Jenga-esque, 3D world of block towers, so getting things to fall where you want them will undoubtedly prove to be a unique challenge.
As was the case with the first game, Bash Party will include a level editor where players can create their own masterpieces. It's our understanding that the editor included in the package is the same one used by the developer to create levels for the game's adventure mode. Though the editor is fairly deep in terms of what it will allow players to create, it's also very approachable. Best of all, players can share their creations by uploading levels (in-game) to a general online hub. Similar to the set-up for BlastWorks, players can then search through a database of player-rated levels to download, and it's an element of Bash Party that will undoubtedly add tons of replay value. Unlike other, more intricate games that allow players to tinker with creation tools, the simple, physics-based premise of Boom Blox promises to be a much more prolific platform for budding game makers.
Visually, Bash Party doesn't seem to be deviating much from the first game, and it retains a very playful art style that should have broad appeal. With Boom Blox, as well as games like MySims, EA seems to have zeroed in on the strengths of Wii, working around the system's limitations. Bash Party isn't poised to dazzle anyone with realistic lighting and high-poly textures, but the hardware will still be pushing a fair amount of steam due to the awesome physics taking place within each puzzle level. So long as the framerate remains steady and the developers stay true to the core elements of what made the first game so appealing, Bash Party should prove to be another great Wii experience.
In a market where so many other publishers are scrambling to get cheaply made games onto the system - with gimmicky use of the Wii's functionality - Boom Blox has been a real breath of fresh air (and motion). It wasn't too surprising, however, to see gaming newcomer Steven Spielberg figure out how to make great use of the unique capabilities of Wii. After all, the success of his storytelling undoubtedly lies greatly in his daring as a creative force, and he seems to inject that energy into whatever he's working on. Boom Blox: Bash Party is slated for release this summer, and if you haven't yet checked out the first game, now's the perfect time to ready your chops.
CCC Freelance Writer