The Wii was built with the part-time gamer in mind; no one will dispute that fact. When it comes to the casual market, however, thereís a severe shortage of decent games. Most developers seem content in putting the absolute minimum effort into their games, or porting over a pre-existing game with tacked on waggle controls. Fortunately for these Wii owners, Steven Spielberg and EA have teamed up to bring us Boom Blox. This puzzle game is easy enough for anyone to get into, but has tons of hidden depth to keep even the hardcore crowd engaged for hours.
Boom Bloxís premise is a simple one: at the start of each level you are given a stack of blocks, and each level tasks you with dismantling it in a certain fashion. Some levels have you pulling out blocks meticulously to stop the whole tower from falling Jenga-style, and others will have you knocking down structures in the fewest number of throws possible. All the blocks are affected with extremely realistic physics and any move that looks like it would be possible in the real world can probably be done in-game. Almost all the gameís controls rely on IR, resulting in a mostly simple and intuitive interface. You can freely rotate the camera by holding the trigger and once youíve got a shot lined up, you hold the A button to lock on. Then, itís simply a matter of making a throwing motion as hard as possible with the remote and watch the tower topple.
When it comes to play options Boom Blox is no slouch. If youíre playing solo, you gradually progress through series of levels which each incorporate different styles of play. In the normal mode, Explore, these levels are focused around different block types, and youíll move on to another after you master a previous one. The chemical block challenges, for example, have you knocking two green blocks together to start chain reactions that topple structures in seconds. There are an absolute ton of these throwing challenges and since they are undeniably the most polished, itís probably where youíll spend most of your time.
There are also Pull challenges which, while fun, have less responsive controls. Pull challenges will usually have you removing as many blocks as possible without allowing a penalty block on top to fall. The biggest problem with the pull challenges is that most of the time, the game canít accurately pick up your motions. Since the Wii remote canít tell how far it is from the screen, all your sliding has to be done sideways. More often than not, youíll accidentally weaken a structure by bumping it with a block you should have been able to pull out cleanly. Last (and unfortunately least) are the extremely shallow shooting gallery stages. The biggest problem with the shooting galleries is that thereís nothing to them; just shoot at whatever moves. It does nothing to incorporate the rest of Boom Bloxís awesome physics, which definitely comes as a disappointment.
Apart from the Explore mode, solo players can find a hefty amount to do in the Adventure mode Ė just be sure to skip the painful story scenes. Like Explore, Adventure offers up different sets of levels surrounding different themes. The themes this time, however, are far more varied and fun. One of my favorite level sets has you clearing off a bridge without allowing the bridge to fall. Another great one has players setting up bombs to bring down a tower of golden point blocks with one shot. The Adventure mode is surprisingly fresh and fun (despite more than a few shooting gallery stages) and for people playing solo, itís probably the best investment of your time.
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