When you hear that Steven Spielberg has designed a video game, you expect either a cheesy Indiana Jones movie tie-in, or that long-awaited Schindler’s List game about hiding refugees. Boom Blox is neither. Akin to a celebrity writing a children’s book, it’s cute, colourful and teaches a valuable lesson: explosions are fun, especially when surrounded by cute little animals.
Boom Blox is a physics-based block tower game. Think Jenga, if you were to play Jenga with high explosives. The game is a deep and challenging puzzle. The objectives vary depending on what you need to do to win the level, but the basic gameplay is simple: throw your projectile – be it baseball, bomb, or bowling ball – and make blocks fall down. Some game modes make you grab blocks off a tower, Jenga style, without making the tower fall. These games are surrounded by a storybook fairytale motif.
In the Adventure mode, you’re not going to find an epic tale of heroism the likes of Saving Private Ryan, but the story involving woodland creatures in medieval armour fighting an army of zombie pigs is quite enjoyable. The story, if you can call it that, is just a means to string together puzzle after puzzle, and it works. At the end of each challenge you are graded and given medals that are then used to unlock more levels.
The graphics are not exactly the most cutting edge, but the art style and great use of playful and vibrant colours make up for it. The problem is, everything looks very flat. However, the look is very family friendly. The sound design also leaves something to be desired. The explosion sounds are more goofy than powerful, and the little yelps the cute block-shaped animals make can get on your nerves.
The real fun is in the multiplayer. There is nothing like having four people throw imaginary balls at a TV trying to knock over a tower made of blocks. It’s like a night at the carnival with the whole family trying to knock over milk bottles and win a stuffed gorilla. The puzzles can also be done cooperatively with a friend. Then again you may tend to end up with a back seat driver thing as you argue about which block to pull.
Despite the lacklustre sound design and visual presentation, the gameplay in Boom Blox is fun, solid, and addictive. This makes it a great puzzle game, but also an enjoyable party game for all. Boom Blox is out for the Nintendo Wii.