BOOM BLOX is a game that you really need to see being played to understand what’s going on, and you really need to play it for yourself to understand why it’s so damn fun. I’ve seen the BOOM BLOX trailers and I caught a glimpse of the game at GDC earlier this year, but last week’s Nintendo media summit was the first time I actually got to play it for myself. BOOM BLOX looks to take a simple physical act–in this case, breakin’ stuff–and build a compelling game around it.
Before I started flinging baseballs and bowling balls at various building-block structures, though, there was a fairly lengthy demo of the game from EALA’s Amir Rahimi. He showed off how the basic mechanics of throwing projectiles and grabbing blocks, explored the four different themed worlds of BOOM BLOX, and tossed some pretty impressive numbers around–there will be a good 400 levels split between the single-player and multiplayer parts of BOOM BLOX, and 11 different competitive multiplayer modes in the game.
My time with BOOM BLOX was limited to a handful of these multiplayer games, which weren’t consistently great, but they gave me a good enough sense of how the game will handle. There was a competitive Jenga-inspired game where players took turns grabbing blocks out of a precariously built structure. Any grabbed blocks that you were able to pull successfully earned you points, though any other blocks that fell due to your actions would cost you points, encouraging you to strategically pull blocks that would make the structure less stable. It was fun, but what really impressed me about this mode was how smooth and natural the movement felt, especially when moving the Wii remote towards or away from the screen, something that I’ve never seen a Wii game pull off as successfully.
From there I tried a four-player shuffleboard game where you throw baseballs at your pucks in order to slide them into special scoring zones on the table. This was my first time playing with the game’s throwing mechanic, which has you aiming at your target with the Wii remote, locking onto your target by holding A, and then throwing your projectile by swinging the Wii remote and letting go of the A button at just the right time. The faster you’re moving when you let go, the faster your projectile will move.
I’ll be honest–I sucked something awful at this part of BOOM BLOX, and I can’t say I ever got it 100% during my time with the game, but based on how quickly Jeff was throwing fast balls, I’m gonna chalk this up to personal incompetence. While I only played the first shuffleboard level, I caught a glimpse of some of the more advanced ones, which will feature tiered platforms and some seriously challenging scoring zones. I also played a little shooting gallery game, which neglected BOOM BLOX’s interesting mechanics for some simple, and kind of boring, point-and-shoot gameplay.
Between the huge number of levels and modes of play and the inclusion of a level editor that lets you share your creations over the Internet, there’s no shortage of stuff in BOOM BLOX, and the gameplay generally feels pretty solid too. If you still don’t quite understand what BOOM BLOX is all about, you won’t have to wait long to find out for yourself, as the game is set to hit store shelves on May 6.