Boom Blox for everyone? We always thought the original was a decent sort of pass-the-remote party game, but this time the line between solo and multiplayer modes is less clearly defined, and the whole thing becomes an experience that works equally well with one or four competitors. Other players can opt in before the round starts, and you can play by sharing a single remote – although it’s better if everyone has their own controller, particularly in modes where each turn only lasts a couple of seconds.
There are co-operative levels involving the same sort of objectives you get in the solo mode. In other games this would be ideal for a parent to help out a young child, but as Boom Blox is so ridiculously easy to play, we can’t imagine anyone having any trouble hitting the target and knocking down some bricks. They’ve even made the throwing controls a bit more generous, so you don’t have to wang the remote so violently to register a full-strength shot – a boon to those of us who wound up with aching shoulders after a session on the original game, and it might just save your LCD telly from a battering, too.
Competitive levels are more fun, and there’s an incredible variety of them. The tasks and toolsets you’re given are wildly inventive. In one game type you’ll be trying to paint blocks in your own colour while avoiding knocking down anyone else’s; in another you’ll be firing cannons at your rivals’ bases.
There are zero-gravity levels where the trick is to launch a slow bomb and detonate it at the optimum point in space to send blocks flying off into the void. Underwater levels see you toppling towers of gems and frantically trying to throw them all up to the surface before they touch the sea bed.
As well as all the new stuff, the best of the original game returns in expanded form, including the excellent Jenga-style challenges and the ones where you try to uncover a weak spot which, when hit with a ball, makes the whole structure explode satisfyingly in a shower of bricks.
Less successful are the shooting challenges, where you just control a cursor and try to zap coloured blocks out of the sky as they fly towards you. We’re not too sure about the paint puzzles, either, which seem to be about thoughtfully planning how to colour the blocks so they match up and collapse in a chain reaction but can often be solved by lobbing a cheaty paintball at the join between several blocks. Maybe we just missed the point of that mode.
The great thing about the whole package, though, is that even if you find a mode you don’t particularly get on with, there are hundreds of other levels to choose from. If you really enjoyed a level, clicking a button takes you to another one with a similar theme, and once you’ve exhausted the built-in selection you can check out a bunch of extras from the internet, using the easiest, most seamless online interface we’ve seen on Wii.
On top of all that, you can build your own levels from scratch and share them, or customise any of the levels supplied on the disc or downloaded from the net. If you think it would be better to replace all the blocks in a puzzle level with exploding bombs and give yourself a weighty cannonball, to make things easier, you’re free to do it.
Despite being rather low on difficulty, Bash Party is a brilliant little toy to mess around with, and one you’ll get a lot of pleasure from regardless of how many friends or family members you rope in. It wouldn’t work on any other console, and as a Wii owner you really ought to check out at least one Boom Blox game. Ideally this one.
May 19, 2009