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Old 05-05-2008, 04:40 PM Offline   #1 (permalink)



 
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Default Steven Spielberg's Wii-Inspired Videogame Is a Demolitious Block Party

Steven Spielberg knows a thing or two about action games. He advised on the development of the Medal of Honor series, based on his film Saving Private Ryan, and he claims to be on his second play-through of the processor-punishing PC title Crysis. So it's a bit surprising to learn that for his first venture as a videogame creative director, the man behind Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park is making not a photorealistic shooter but a cross between Tetris and Jenga. It all goes back to when he was a kid, Spielberg says. He'd spend hours setting up his electric trains so that the locomotives would crash into one another. Now, with the help of a design team at Electronic Arts, Spielberg hopes to recapture that spirit of creative destruction in Boom Blox, out in May.
Inspired by a Wii tennis session, the auteur got the idea of combining Nintendo's innovative Wiimote motion-sensing controller with his youthful delight in mayhem. In the first few levels, you hurl balls at a pile of blocks. The aim? To knock it down. But it's not just mindless destruction — you have to think strategically about which blocks to take out in order to bring the whole stack down quickly. "When you pick up that Wiimote and start bashing stuff, it satisfies something primal," says Amir Rahimi, the game's senior producer. Game | Life: Episode Twelve: In this week's episode, Steven Spielberg makes a foray into the game business with Boom Blox, and Chris Kohler reviews Mario Kart Wii. For more, visit video.wired.com.



Spielberg didn't just hand off a high concept and then disengage. "He weighed in on everything from the look of the characters and environments to the way the balls move through the air to the different game modes," Rahimi says.
One of those modes challenges players to extract blocks from a complex tower without the whole thing collapsing. Basically, it's Jenga — except that in this digitized version, the buildings are inhabited by cute little creatures. That detail was 100 percent Spielberg. "We were on the path of creating a very generic puzzle game," Rahimi says. "He brought in the idea of having characters you interact with to give it an emotional wrapper."
If the game is as fun as it looks, it may go some way toward erasing those unpleasant memories of the 1983 E.T. game for Atari 2600.

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