Editor’s Note: As some of you know, I’m on staff as a game reviewer for the electronic entertainment site, Avault.com. I intend to publish all of my reviews on these pages to insure I have a full record of everything I’ve written. If you haven’t read this before, enjoy!!!
It’s become cliché to mention it, but the Nintendo Wii has defied all expectations and emerged as this current console generation’s clear winner, in terms of pure sales. While Nintendo may not have pushed the envelope in terms of greater graphics or phenomenal processing power, they did accomplish their mission of pulling more gamers into the fold – some would argue at the detriment to their loyal hardcore fan base. And while Nintendo has offered up some compelling first party content geared towards satisfying both camps, they’ve received some much deserved criticism aimed at their new strategy of seemingly granting the coveted Nintendo Seal of Approval to any developer looking to make a mint off a poorly conceived and executed collection of minigames, knowing full well that the legion of newly minted game players are less likely to hit up a website for a recommendation and more likely to make a purchase based solely open the pretty pictures adorning the cover.
Fortunately, there are some developers, like EA – who despite their intense commercial interests have applied generous resources to their casual divisions to create compelling entertainment geared towards entertaining all crowds. EA, in partnership with Steven Spielberg, first hit pay dirt last year with the ingeniously clever puzzle game, Boom Blox, and they’ve returned with a more robust follow-up in this year’s Boom Blox: Bash Party.
Bash Party is a sequel in the truest sense of the word. It retrains the core building blocks and immediate pick-up and play nature of the first title and layers on more of what worked in that game while also introducing some new elements to the field of play, making this the definitive version of the title. The game is segregated into three game types – with a lengthy solo campaign offering a wide variety of puzzles set within an amusement park setting, a co-op campaign that offers a series of challenges that two people can undertake and the bash party mode which offers an extensive suite of multiplayer modes, allowing up to 4 players to compete.
As with the original title, the core game design is tied to one of the earliest play concepts tethered to our youth. Simply put, this game is all about building up towers of blocks and then bringing them crashing down. Of course, the developers use this concept as the blue print for a number of diverse game types. There are the assorted Jenga-styled levels, where players use the remote to deftly remove blocks without disturbing intricate towers. In addition, some levels will task the player with tossing an object (everything from a bowling ball to the newly introduced cannons and slingshots) to knock down a set number of blocks. In addition, new block types have been added which alter the game play, including the virus blocks that will infect surrounding blocks and the paintball blocks, which turn some of the levels into three-dimensional representations of those classic Match 3 games – think Bejeweled.
The original Boom Blox was a breath of fresh air when it first released on the Wii. As I mentioned in the introduction, it proved that with enough thought, developers could leverage the slight firepower of the Wii to craft some new game play experiences. Boom Blox Bash Party continues that trend as EA has taken that core template and bolstered it with over 400 puzzles spread out among the various game play modes. Most of these are winners, although some of the modes that require a more careful touch (i.e. the Jenga styled levels or the slingshot mechanics) suffer from the exclusion of Wii Motion Plus compatibility. These levels require a deft touch that the normal Wii Motion capabilities can’t quite match.
There is also a tremendous amount of value found in this package. In addition to the 400 levels and extensive multiplayer options, comprised of over 20 game types supporting cooperative and competitive play, EA has provided an excellent level creation utility (the same tool set that the developers used to create levels) which really expands the longevity of the title to infinity and beyond. Users can create levels for their own play as well as submit them to the EA servers for other players to download. EA also appears dedicated to providing downloadable levels meaning once you have finally exhausted all of the levels that ship with the title, including getting the Gold Medals which unlock additional items for use in the Creation mode, there is a whole world of challenge out there to experience. The game would have benefited from the ability to engage in some online multiplayer challenges, however.
Boom Blox Bash Party is a fantastic puzzle title expertly built to take advantage of the Wii’s strengths. In my opinion, many of use choose to be multi-console homes for this very reason. We can get our next-gen adrenaline kicks on the higher-powered systems, but the Wii is built to provide game experiences that we can’t get elsewhere making it the prime party system. Boom Blox Bash Party is that perfect party game – with a fiendishly addictive single player game that serves as appetizer for the main course – a limitless multiplayer party mode that is guaranteed to entertain the masses and works overtime to justify your Wii purchase. It’s titles like Boom Blox Bash Party that make me proud to have one in the house.