i had very little interest in playing the wii game boom blox, but it’s gotten a fair amount of acclaim so despite my reservations i thought i’d give it a try. after hours spent unlocking all the various challenges, however, i’m still pretty much completely baffled about what the appeal of this game is. if you don’t already know, in a nutshell the game is basically all about destroying towers of blocks. in most cases you’ll be throwing a ball of some kind; in some cases you’ll be pinpointing particular blocks and avoiding others; and there is some variety in the types of blocks and their behaviors, e.g. bomb blocks that explode when struck, vanish blocks that disappear, etc.
first of all, there is a certain amount of sandcastle-on-the-beach-like satisfaction in the basic action of knocking stuff down (and even more so in this game where you have the added bonus of blowing stuff up), but i think i got over that type of thrill-seeking once i entered, oh, grade school perhaps? no doubt a big draw to this game is also the multiplayer aspect, of which i’m clearly not the intended audience, but even then the ratio of luck to skill seems questionable to me. steven spielberg is apparently the brains behind this venture, and i’m not much of a fan of his movies, so perhaps it’s not surprising that his game wouldn’t appeal to me either.
along with these basic disinclinations to this type of game, i have more serious complaints as well. the art direction and presentation in general are completely mediocre and bland, as is the music. i’m not exaggerating when i say this is some of the worst design i’ve seen in a modern game. clearly the focus of the game’s development was on the physics engine (which works quite well), at the expense of everything else. each episode of the story mode is presented with a few still cartoon images and some lame storybook-like rhymes, but the characterization and settings are utterly forgettable anyway so it hardly matters. the game mechanics of locking onto a position with a button and then swinging the wii remote to throw work tolerably well but are hardly stellar; the same could be said of the manual positioning of the camera (which lacks any zoom features), although the push/pull mechanics in the jenga-like stages are awkward and unreliable. the shooting in the shooting stages also feels slow and unresponsive. challenges are hampered by the fact that these are physics-based puzzles, so it’s oftentimes difficult to set up the exact shot you want, and some challenges are way too long or require too much finicky trial and error to be much fun.
well, this has got to be one of the most negative reviews i’ve posted yet. despite trying to keep an open mind and despite spending a more-than-fair amount of time on it, i just couldn’t find much to like about this. as i said, i’m clearly in the minority here as a quick survey of the scores posted on metacritic will attest, so maybe i should give it another chance sometime. on second thought, i’d rather not. at the very least i’ll try its sequel, which generally got slightly better reviews.
a bevy of boom blox links:
– entry at wikipedia
– interview with spielberg about the game at yahoo.com
– glowing reviews at videogamecritic.net and nintendolife.com
– FAQ at gamefaqs
– i had little to no interest in the custom stage builder feature, but here’s an interesting video of classic video games recreated in this game
– some nintendo channel stats from its first month out courtesy of kotaku