Wednesday, June 11, 2008

VG Review: 'Boom Blox'

EA, for the Wii, rated E for Everyone (cartoon violence, cartoon mischief).

You know video games are a mainstream enterprise when a noted filmmaker and big-time entertainment mogul such as Steven Spielberg starts making them.

His debut, produced in collaboration with Electronic Arts, is "Boom Blox" for the Wii, an addictive puzzle game that lives up to that "fun for the whole family" tag line.

Best described as "Jenga in reverse," "Boom Blox" has players (at least initially) knocking down precarious towers of blocks in as few throws as possible.

The game makes good use of the Wii's controls here. Simply clicking on where you want to throw, then winding up your arm and releasing the A button can result in a hail of blocks.

Just when that starts to go stale, the game provides a number of variations so that you'll soon be blowing up blocks, pulling them apart, helping a block-shaped gorilla get to her babies as soon as possible or keeping a group of cute block-shaped kitties from being menaced by block-shaped skeletons.

To meet these goals, the game offers several tools. Red bomb boxes, for instance, will explode upon impact, while green ones explode only when they come in contact with one another.

Not every variation on the theme is successful. I found the skeet shooting levels, where you're firing indiscriminately at swiftly moving boxes or foes, to be irksome and overly difficult. One level, where I was playing some goofy variation on golf by spraying green boxes into one another with a hose, should have been dropped early in the development phase.

I much preferred sequences that required a bit of meditation, such as having to slowly remove the pieces of a teetering tower without letting the tiny cows on top fall to their doom.

Replay value is contained within the "Create" mode, where you can build a puzzle, using an intuitive selection of PhotoShop-like tools. Unfortunately, you can't post your handmade levels online, though you can send them to friends.

Despite some missteps, "Boom Blox" remains a highly entertaining and engrossing game that parents can share with their kids without cause for concern. I look forward to seeing what Spielberg and EA do next.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2008



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