Monday, June 02, 2008

Boom Blox

You throw stuff to blow other stuff up.

In one sentence, that's basically how Boom Blox works. And it does work--it's consistently fun, frequently silly, and highly entertaining. It's the first game from EA's casual games division that understands fun, following the disasters of Boogie and EA Playground.

I've played this game with Eli 6.10 for over ten hours now, and I realize as I started to write that the game is so simple it's difficult to write about. There are basically three types of levels-- blow stuff up (very popular with both of us), protect stuff (by blowing up invaders), and pull stuff out (very much like Jenga).

Okay, on those Jenga levels you don't blow anything up, generally, but on almost every other level, you do.

Here's the key to Boom Blox: blowing stuff up is fun. That sounds easy, but combining blowing stuff up with physics is criminally underused in games. As boys, we all love to set up elaborate chain reactions involving imaginary explosives. Revisiting those moments with Boom Blox is tremendously satisfying, and it has the "just one more level" quality in spades.

The game also has a satisfying number of modes: two adventure modes for single players, plus co-op and competitive modes for multiplayer. There are also levels for the single player not tied to any adventure, and a construction set as well. I'm sure we've played well over a hundred levels at this point, and we're barely halfway through the game.

Complaints? Well the game is very linear--if there are a dozen of a certain kind of level, you'll be unlocking them in sequence, one at a time. This is only a problem if you hit a level you just can't beat, and fortunately, I've only found one (the second to last level of Adventure mode, which is just brutally difficult). I don't see anyone clearing that level unless they're masochists, and I'm reasonably sure that wasn't the target demographic, so including a magic ticket that could be earned and used later to skip a level would have been much appreciated.

Overall, though, this is a fun, clever game, and if you have a Wii, it's a game that you definitely need to play.

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