Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Review: Boom Blox

Over the last few days, since I first purchased the game last Friday at Knox City SC, I have been playing a simple yet highly addictive and extremely fun game: Boom Blox.

Boom Blox hasn’t been around for too long, having been released a mere seven months ago be Electronic Arts, the same company that produces all those fabulous sports games like Fifa, NHL and NBA games.

I first played Boom Blox when we went to Dean and Emily’s housewarming party earlier in the year and they were playing the portion of this game that required players to remove oblong blocks from a structure carefully so that you don’t topple the entire structure over...basically, a glorified but improved version of the much loved Jenga game.

That was fun enough as it was, but then Dean and Emily tried out the other game modes which included tossing baseballs to knock down point blocks, throwing bowling balls at your opponent’s gem blocks atop a castle (last one standing wins!) and knocking point blocks into various multiplier walls to see who could get the highest score.

As more and more people arrived, we were all still hooked on Boom Blox and must have spent at least three to four hours playing it. It was such a simple game in terms of design, but the fun factor was just enormous...and it was highly addictive since none of us wanted to stop playing it!

I found out much later that the acclaimed Steven Spielberg (director of Schindler’s List, Jaws, E.T. and many many other blockbuster movies) was a director/producer of the Boom Blox game! So it had a big name producer attached to the game, but strangely enough, despite the game’s acclaim, most of friends I knew had never heard of the game prior to trying it at Dean’s place. I know I certainly didn’t know that such a game existed!

Anyway, I remembered how fun the game was so when I saw it on sale, I purchased it. Found out that Target (where I purchased Boom Blox from last Friday) is having a mega sale the three days before Christmas and the same game is only selling for $14.95, a good $25 cheaper than what we paid for it. Grrrr. Even still, it’s such a great game that it’s worth the money.

As I said before, it’s uber addictive and very very difficult to put down once you’ve started. There are over 300+ levels and even though I spent over four hours on the single-player mode alone, I was only 29% through the game!

The single-player mode had an “Explore” feature which allowed players to work their ways through puzzles. There were point blocks on structures that needed to be toppled over in as few throws as possible, the “Jenga” like structures where you had to remove as many point blocks as you could in a set time, and other such puzzles.

There is also an adventure mode in single-player where you have cutesy animal blocks called the Bahhhs (based on sheep) being invaded by the Grrrs (based on bears). The Bahhhs had a castle and you were required to throw bomb balls at the invading Grrrs and prevent them from infiltrating your castle and stealing away the Bahhhs’ precious gems!

In Episode 2 of the adventure mode, the Oooks (based on monkeys) had stolen the Bahhhs’ gems while the Bahhhs were distracted in the fight against the Grrrs, and you were required to invade the Oooks’ castle to retrieve the gems. Cue more throwing of bomb balls at the Oooks’ castle.

It is fantastic storytelling and heaps of fun. What’s really neat is that it’s also a game for kids...apart from needing to use one’s noggin to figure out some of the puzzles, there really isn’t much you need to know...after all, it’s just a matter of tossing baseballs/bowling balls/bomb balls at blocks!

While the single-player mode shines, it’s the multi-player mode that will really get most people going. It’s so much more fun competing against friends and laughing when someone accidentally topples a block structure down. It’s can get competitive, but at the end of the day, Boom Blox is really a superb party game.

The one thing that I must warn those who are interested in the game is that if you do not regularly exercise your throwing arm, it could lead to a great deal of pain and distress after a few hours of playing Boom Blox.

The very next day after playing Boom Blox for a few hours, my right arm was extremely sore and I couldn’t really lift anything heavy at all. I felt as if I were a baseball pitcher who had gone through nine agonising innings of trying to pitch the ball as fast as I could!

I just couldn’t get any strength in my throws, so when playing the multi-player mode against Aeris, I decided to try using my left arm instead. And despite playing for a good one or two hours less, the very next day, my left arm was out of action...and it still hurts like hell!

Boom Blox is a game you cannot afford NOT to get if you own a Nintendo Wii. It is one of the simplest yet most addictive games I have ever played and it utilises the Wiimote so innovatively and efficiently. Even if you are not a hardcore gamer, Boom Blox would most likely appeal to you!

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