Boom Blox Bash Party - hands-on

Whether in one of these new environments or not, all the levels we were shown exhibit impressive levels of creativity. In one underwater zone, an angry giant squid tosses your precious Blox into the area with its tentacles. The player can tackle this level in multiple ways, either frantically grabbing at Blox as the creature knocks them around or taking some chemical Blox scattered around the environment and using them to blow up the squid's limbs. Another area turns Boom Blox into an approximation of Bejeweled. You must throw paint balls at blocks to turn them into color matches that will then disappear.

Each single-player level now also contains a hidden block related to the game's new form of currency, BoomBux. Whichever medal you win at the end of each round now determines how many BoomBux you make, and your wallet can also be bolstered by discovering and knocking over the hidden BoomBux Blox in each level. BoomBux will be used primarily for unlocking single-player content, allowing players to bypass any particularly hard areas that they get stuck on. EA was careful to note that since the game is meant for parties, all multiplayer content will be unlocked from the beginning.

The Create mode has received an upgrade in Bash Party as well via the new level upload system. The first game had a level creator, but sharing your creations required connection via Friend Codes. With the sequel, EA has managed to bypass Nintendo's user-unfriendly online system so players can now connect to EA's servers at any time and download a new batch of random user-created levels. Best of all, the level info is broken down into simple data, so even the most complex levels may only take a few KB of space. We were excitedly shown some amazingYouTube videosof user-created levels from the first game and told that now users will be able to easily play these levels for themselves instead of just watching a low-quality video.

Between the multiplayer focus, the buckets of new content, and the ability to keep things fresh indefinitely with user-created levels online, you'd almost expect EA to take a couple years polishing up this sequel, but Bash Party is already due out in May. If you're a hardcore gamer who somehow missed out on this casual sensation the first time around, do yourself and the industry a favor and pay attention to the latest Boom Blox.

Mar 31, 2009