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Default Spielberg's 'Boom Blox' Brings Art of Destruction to the Wii

</img>: On May 6, famed director Steven Spielberg will release his first collaboration with game publisher Electronic Arts -- a clever, innovative Wii game called Boom Blox. Inspired by Spielberg's childhood love of destroying his toys, Boom Blox lets players experience the joy of smashing elaborate towers of blocks by throwing baseballs at them using the Wii remote.
But it's got much, much more. Multiplayer modes that mimic Jenga have up to four players pulling and throwing blocks in fierce competition. And a robust creation mode lets you make your own puzzles, then trade them with friends online.
Left: Gamers of all skill levels can enjoy throwing balls at this tower of blocks: Winding up with the Wiimote, then letting a baseball fly at the tower, is a universally fun experience. But hardcore gamers can approach each of Boom Blox's hundreds of puzzles with an eye towards perfection. One of these blocks will, when struck precisely, cause the whole tower to come tumbling down at once, as shown here.
</img>: A tower of wooden blocks explodes, thanks to some strategically placed red Bomb Blox, as the town full of chickens panics in reaction.
While the core concept of Boom Blox was pure Spielberg, one of the Indiana Jones director's other major contributions to the game design was adding a cast of animal characters and a variety of different settings, like the Old West. "We were on the path of creating a very generic puzzle game, and he came in and really championed having themed worlds and characters you interact with to add that sort of emotional wrapper to it," says Amir Rahimi, the game's producer.
</img>: Having carefully placed his Bomb Blox on this tower, Boots Beaverton celebrates as he knocks down a whole pile of valuable numbered Point Blox.
In addition to the extensive single-player puzzle mode, Boom Blox also contains a great deal of multiplayer content, both cooperative and competitive. In this mode, players compete to knock down as many gold blocks as possible. Each has a specific point value that players will earn if the block hits the ground during their turn. The game's physics engine accurately calculates the blocks' weight, so you'll have a harder time knocking the bigger ones over.
</img>: An army of skeletons bears down upon the kittens' fortified stronghold. Can you hold them off and save the poor cats?
Some of the levels are purely twitch- and timing-based. In this level, you have to defend the adorable bow-tied kittens from the evil skeleton army. If you throw balls at the red Bomb Blox, they'll explode and take down the skeletons. As with all Boom Blox challenges, perfection (less dead cats, in this particular case) will give you higher scores and unlock more and more challenges.
</img>: Dragging this block out of the way will help the mother gorilla get to her little children.
Not only do all of the different character blocks have different behaviors, they also act differently depending on what other characters are around. In the case of the mother gorilla, if her babies are on the screen, she'll do anything she can to get to them. This sets up some clever puzzles in which you have to gently move blocks around in order to create a path that Mom Gorilla can follow to her brood.
</img>: This would represent a very bad move.
Boom Blox isn't all about wanton destruction. Just as many of the levels involve precision movements. In a mode reminiscent of Jenga but significantly more complex, you pull individual bricks out of a tower without letting it fall over. Some multiplayer games have blocks with negative values, and if you accidentally pull them out, you lose points.
</img>: The dogs are attempting to defend their castle from the army of invading skeletons. Don't let them take your green Gem Blox away!
The real meat of Boom Blox is the game's extensive creation mode. You can edit any of the game's puzzles and change things up. It could be as simple as swapping out a bowling ball for the baseball -- try throwing that and see how much easier it is to take down a tower!
But you can also create your own elaborate puzzles with a whole variety of different goals. You can then upload them to EA's servers, where other players can download your creations and attempt to solve them -- then tweak them and re-upload them as slightly different puzzles, if they so desire.
</img>: So many golden Point Blox, so few bombs. Where can you place them to ensure that this entire structure blows up in a chain reaction?
"In my opinion, part of what makes Steven Spielberg the master filmmaker that he is is his ability to spot and deliver what is universally compelling," says Rahimi. "The core of this game, that urge to build something up and break it down, exists with just about everybody in this world. So when you pick up that Wii remote and start bashing stuff down, it satisfies something that's really primal and really deep.
"When I heard the idea, it made perfect sense. In my mind, his credibility as a gamemaker just about tripled that day, because he figured out an idea that would be a fun videogame. And that's the mark of someone who can really deliver entertainment."


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