The first Boom Blox was a hit taking the simple idea of knocking blocks over with balls and making that concept even more fun. You wonder how much Steven Spielberg contributed to the idea beyond the basic idea but that man is a genius. A year has passed since that game was released and EA have released a sequel again with the great Spielberg stamping his name on it.
The sequel is essentially the same as the original but there are multiple additions and changes to the formula. For example while it might seem like a small change there are now cylindrical blocks. There are also zero gravity and underwater levels that take the already brilliant physics engine to a new level. In terms of the controls, they have been tightened slightly since the first game meaning that they feel slightly more accurate. At the same time though it may have become slightly easier to make a good shot as well. The games style is the same as before with block shaped characters running around making weird noises as you play. They start influencing the levels now though. In some of the underwater levels a giant squid pops up and starts knocking blocks over, in levels where you have to carefully disassemble the tower this adds another level of challenge as you try and catch the blocks before they hit the ground.
There are other changes to the formula as well which include a slingshot mode where you pull back on a block and then fire it at speed at the other blocks and a match three paintball mode where you fire paintballs at a structure to match three blocks of the same colour to make them disappear. Both of these work extremely well. Another addition in the cannon is a little less well thought out, it works, but it could have been better.
The biggest change in the game though is updated ability to create your own levels, in the original this concept worked but was a bit too difficult to use. This time around, every level in the game was created in the level creator so you know exactly what it is possible to create… if you have the time and ability. The upshot of this is that they have properly integrated the internet to transfer levels. You will be shown a button at the bottom of every type of level that will take you to EA’s server and there you can find user and EA generated levels to try and then save to your console. This also means that the game never ends because it is constantly updated and therefore it will last until the next one comes out. The only real problem with the service is that you still cannot play people online. Its no biggy for me though because I prefer having my friends in the same room… being social is kinda underrated these days.
My only other real gripe with the game is the user interface, I understand that they have gone with a kind of theme park, fairground theme to differentiate the levels and it works in single player as you work to progress through each level but I find it downright rubbish in multiplayer as you try desperately to remember where that killer level is hidden. This is where ‘it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ should come in. In the old game you had each game type categorized, for example the shooting gallery games, the pulling down a tower games and the block throwing games were separated from eachother. Now though they are mishmashed together under broader categories of circus, underwater, space and futuristic. I am sorry but this really is not an improvement, I go into the game thinking ‘right we’re playing some slingshot levels’ and then spend 5 minutes trying to find them.
In conclusion, Boom Blox: Bash Party is a brilliant evolution to the series. The controls are tight, the graphics look good for the wii, the physics engine still rocks and it is still the best party game on the wii. From the next version I would hope that we can expect a new online playing mode and 8 player local support (lets be honest there is no reason in Boom Blox why you should be limited to four players). There are some downsides to the new game like the multiplayer user interface but these are forgotten when you consider the vastness of the user generated content available to every player… for free. Whether you own the original Boom Blox or not every wii player should get this game as it is truly brilliant.