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The bizarre and hazardous nature of Boom Blox

Brandon Erickson's picture

Boom Blox

Boom Blox is certainly one of the more interesting Wii titles that I've come across recently, and it offers a fine example of how the Wii remote can be used in unique and non-gimmicky ways. While my initial impressions of the game were extremely positive, the experience was almost completely derailed by a near-crippling soreness that developed in my right arm after several multi-hour game sessions.

The problem basically stems from the ball-throwing gameplay. There are many different types of games in Boom Blox. Some require grabbing and pulling on blocks. Some require pointing and shooting at things on the screen. And others–namely, the ball-throwing games–require flicking the Wii remote forward with as much acceleration as possible. The movement essentially involves swinging the Wii remote in a sort of whip-cracking motion with the arm being only partially extended for each swing. Engaging for several hours in this kind of rapid partial extension of the arm should probably be avoided, as I learned through hard experience. Although the soreness thankfully subsided after about five days, my feelings around Boom Blox may have been irrevocably harmed.

For years to come, the words Boom Blox will probably evoke in me vaguely disturbing thoughts of that weird Steven Spielberg game that was really fun for a while but that almost caused permanent muscle damage in my arm. I think my feelings about it could probably be repaired if I went back and spent some more time with the less injurious game modes, or at least if I could learn to play the ball-throwing modes in a safer way. Since I only rented it, however, I won't be able to play it long enough to bring about such a corrective emotional experience.

Thinking about the game, and what it is, and what it contains and then pausing and thinking about the Spielberg connection just leaves me feeling utterly baffled. I mean it's just so random. Jaws, Indiana Jones, Schindler's List, Jurassic Park, Minority Report, and now...Boom Blox. What? Huh? Come again? Spielberg is practically synonymous with movies, and now he helps make a game whose essential qualities are completely those of a game and not those of film or cinema.

I guess there's no rule that says Spielberg shouldn't be allowed to make a Jenga-like videogame. It just feels so completely out of left field and so totally unrelated and uninformed by all of the things that make Spielberg who he is. It'd be like if Spielberg suddenly decided to team up with Nike and create a new running shoe and that after the shoe finally came out it just turned out to be, well, a pretty good running shoe. That's it. No obvious features to indicate that it had been made in collaboration with a famous film director. Just a pretty solid and well-made running shoe that makes your feet sore if you run on them too much without proper training. That's what Boom Blox feels like.

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But what about the game...?

Yes, the Spielberg connection is weird, but so what? You spend so long blathering about Spielberg and whining about how you hurt your arm (you don't actually have to throw it *that* hard) that you don't even mention what this game is like to play.

I don't have time to write a full review (and - hey, it's not *my* job), but the skinny is this:
Physics is spot-on. People have criticised the game for it's low gravity, but this is intentional and not a physics problem. Everything is consistent and predictable and the slight slow-motion effect is important for gameplay, especially when playing with two or more people.

Controls are also polished. You really don't have to put that much effort into hurling things, and tugging and teasing blocks out of the stack you always feel in control. If it goes wrong you know it's your fault.

Production values are high (with the exception of the slide-show story sections in Adventure), but I found the presentation on the irritating side of cute and goofy. Not to the point of Wiimote-chewingly off-putting though.

Adventure mode is not very enjoyable. I won't be spending a lot of time here.

Single-player Explore is good fun for a little while, and you certainly have to exercise your brain to get the gold medals. The variety of the different types of games help somewhat, but after some long sessions over the course of a few days I got tired of the single-player experience moderately quickly.

Multi-player is where it's at. Playing with a friend is bags of fun and the more people involved the better it gets. This is now my first choice party-game-for-a-crowd-even-if-it-includes-non-gamers. Beats even Wii Sports and Wii Play for this. Mario Kart has the edge if everyone already knows which side of a Nunchuk is up but that should tell you this game holds its own.

Bonus: There is much fun to be had from pelting the spectating, cutesy squirrels with bowling-balls if your tastes run that way. YMMV.

Oops!

I just noticed; it's a blog post and not a review.
Apologies.

Just bought Boom Blox

Just bought Boom Blox yesterday with the intent of getting something fun for the whole family, and it was a good purchase. Fun enough for the son (age 6) though it's actually too difficult in a lot of places, the wife (serious gamer) digs it a lot, and i think it's a lot more fun than i expected.

totally hear you on the arm soreness, though... my son hasn't complained of pain, but both the wife and I have sore arms, forearms and wrists from the throwing motion. i know i'm already prone to this sort of thing, but i was a little surprised that the wife was hurting so soon.

how long's it going to be before someone tries suing nintendo over wii-itis, i wonder?

not a worthy review

First off, I love this game. In a world of cheesy, overly Japanized, child friendly Wii-ness it is quite a relief to find such and amazing game among the gimmicks. The author of this review doesnt seem to have done his homework. Spielberg backed this game because he wanted a fun but challenging game to play with his family. Mission accomplished. Its not like a class A director often puts his name on a video game, especially one that is in no way related to any movie he has ever been involoved with. The game is easy enough for little kids but hard enough for the cleverest of adults. I do agree with the author that the motions do take some getting used to - I could hardly lift my arm after the first night 4 hour marathon. But once you get the hang of the throws it takes little effort. I just dont understand how you are going to write a half-assed review of a game that you obviously didnt research and only "rented." If you havent tried this game DO SO. If you are at all interested in puzzle/group games, this may be the best one for the Wii. No online play is a big let down though. Oh well, maybe Boom Blox 2. Oh, by the way, Boom Blox is the first of a series of 3 games supported/ produced by spielberg and EA although i doubt they will be the same type of games.

not a worthy review

First off, I love this game. In a world of cheesy, overly Japanized, child friendly Wii-ness it is quite a relief to find such and amazing game among the gimmicks. The author of this review doesnt seem to have done his homework. Spielberg backed this game because he wanted a fun but challenging game to play with his family. Mission accomplished. Its not like a class A director often puts his name on a video game, especially one that is in no way related to any movie he has ever been involoved with. The game is easy enough for little kids but hard enough for the cleverest of adults. I do agree with the author that the motions do take some getting used to - I could hardly lift my arm after the first night 4 hour marathon. But once you get the hang of the throws it takes little effort. I just dont understand how you are going to write a half-assed review of a game that you obviously didnt research and only "rented." If you havent tried this game DO SO. If you are at all interested in puzzle/group games, this may be the best one for the Wii. No online play is a big let down though. Oh well, maybe Boom Blox 2. Oh, by the way, Boom Blox is the first of a series of 3 games supported/ produced by spielberg and EA although i doubt they will be the same type of games.

Lazy, lazy ?

Has this guy ever had a job ? Come with me for a week and you can feel that feeling all over your entire body....then you know what....do it for another couple weeks and you'll be....strong WOW !

Let’s begin by stating the

Let’s begin by stating the obvious: Were it not for “Cooking Mama,” we wouldn’t be talking about “Order Up!” today. “Mama” made the cooking video game the unlikely phenomenon it somehow became, and “Up’s” core gameplay bears more than a passing resemblance.

But rather than merely hijack a ride on the money train, “Up” does what knockoffs should but rarely do: It contributes to the genre in ways that make sense, and it vastly outclasses the game that inspired its creation in the first place.

As with “Mama,” the core gameplay in “Up” centers around preparing food — flipping this, dicing that, sautéing the other thing and so on. Each recipe features a handful of steps to complete and ingredients to prepare, and you accomplish the various actions by mimicking them with the Wii remote.

But while “Mama” squares its focus on food preparation, “Up” unleashes an entire restaurant simulation that gives the gameplay a major injection of context and purpose. The storyline in “Up” stars you as a nobody chef with dreams of owning a five-star restaurant, and you work toward that end by opening a diner, building a reputation, keeping customers happy and funding everything from equipment upgrades to new restaurant ventures with the money you collect.

Everything ties back to your performance in the kitchen, but “Up” gives you enough freedom to stave off the inevitable repetition of preparing familiar recipes for a familiar cast of customers. You can order special ingredients from out of town, visit the black market for some rare recipe alternatives, and purchase and mix a surprisingly high variety of spices in whatever configuration you please in hopes of dazzling your clientele. “Up” even lets you hire assistants to share the load when balancing multiple orders. Managing your kitchen so that all meals go out hot and on time proves to be a surprisingly engaging challenge, and the way the story rewards you for a job well done is immensely satisfying.

“Up” endears itself further with a flat-shaded visual approach that masks the Wii’s graphical shortcomings while scoring some style points on the side. The game’s sense of humor is pretty sharp as well: How many other Wii games feature spot-on humor about income tax withholding, to name one example?

“Up’s” only major shortcoming, considering the system it’s on, is the complete lack of multiplayer. It doesn’t really need any — the single-player component provides plenty of value — but it’s worth noting for those who care.

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Submited by : Caballos

You really don't have to put

You really don't have to put that much effort into hurling things, and tugging and teasing blocks out of the stack you always feel in control. If it goes wrong you know it's your fault.

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