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Platform: Nintendo Wii
Being the world's most famous Oscar-winning director definitely has its advantages. For example, If I approached one of my contacts at EA with an idea for a game, I doubt it would get past the first phone call. Mr Spielberg, however, ends up with a game (with his name) on the shelves.
The odd thing is that Boom Blox isn't the epic, cinematic adventure you might expect from one of Hollywood's most A-List A-Listers. Apparently, that sort of thing is being saved for a second collaboration to arrive on the HD consoles later on. Boom Blox has the odd cut-scene, but I doubt that Spielberg was directly involved in their creation, and looking at the visuals, I suspect Janusz Kaminski wasn't called in to consult. As you can see from the screenshots, Boom Blox is cute, blocky, knowingly primitive and bright. To be honest, It would probably work on the DS without an awful lot of graphic downgrading. That's fine. Boom Blox isn't about pushing games forward as a visual or artistic medium. It's one of those games that you can imagine springing from an idea, as if Spielberg had tried the Wii and said like "wouldn't it be fun if we could do this?"
In a way, the game goes back to the simple joys of early childhood. First, you have blocks, arranged in innumberable structures, configurations and towers. Next you have tools and objectives. Sometimes you can pull at the blocks, and Boom Blox goes a bit like Jenga - you're pulling blocks from the stack for points while trying not to collapse the whole structure. At other times, you get a ball. You throw it at the blocks, and your only aim is to get the gems on the top of the blocks on the ground using the smallest number of throws. On other levels, it's up to you to clear the obstacles that stop some cute block critter from getting to its objective, or you're hurling bombs at blocky bears so they can't tear your buildings down. There are loads of variations, and one of the great things about Boom Blox is that it throws in idea after idea and twist after twist to keep things interesting. Even if you don't like a particular game style, you'll rarely find yourself doing it for any great length of time.
The tools themselves help make the game fun. In a lot of levels you'll find yourself throwing balls or bombs at the blocks, targetting with a cursor using the Wii remote, holding the A button, then pulling back the remote and releasing the A button to hurl your missile. In the Jenga-style levels you select the block with the cursor then use the remote to slowly pull or drag it out. In yet more levels you get your mitts on a hosepipe or a laser, and use them to blast the blocks or spray them around on a stream of water. All this works because the controls are so brilliantly implemented. Anyone can pick up and play Boom Blox within about five minutes, and it's one of those rare cases where the Wii controls and the whole game concept make a perfect match. As in Wii Sports: Tennis or Excite Trick, for example, there's a real sense of physical connection - all that throwing, pulling and zapping just feels right.
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