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.
- My favorite games of 2009 - December 12, 2009
- On letting go of a rare and impractical piece of videogame memorabilia - April 30, 2009
- Killzone 2: Can amazing looks make up for an utter lack of personality? - March 11, 2009