At one time in your life, you probably got a thrill out of setting up blocks and watching them fall down. Unfortunately, that was probably back when you sucked your thumb and dined on pureed food. Electronic Arts and Steven Spielberg have teamed up to make a game that brings back the joy of that simple destruction, minus the growing pains and onesies. Boom Blox Bash Party is a bigger, better, and more destructive sequel to last year's Boom Blox. Problems with the first game have been ironed out, and a ton of levels, a variety of modes, and addictive multiplayer action have been added. This sequel will bring out your (destructive) inner child and have it clapping with uninhibited glee.
The Boom Blox formula is easy to grasp, because at the basic level, your goal is nearly always the same: destroy blocks. But how you do that will differ widely throughout the more than 400 levels. The single-player mode unfolds across a cheerful amusement park, and each area offers a different theme and variety of games. Each level will set an objective for you, such as knocking down a number of blocks within a time limit or accruing as many points as possible in a limited number of turns, and then rewards you with a bronze, silver, or gold medal.
While the original game emphasized careful Jenga-style block removal, Boom Blox Bash Party favors more destructive variations, which is great because they're a lot more fun. Destruction games include knocking down certain blocks with baseballs or bombs and using the blocks themselves in a new slingshot mechanic. There are a bunch of new block shapes and materials, and there's also a virus ball, which infects certain blocks and spreads the deterioration among other pieces. The new additions bring a lot of variety to the game and result in more challenging puzzles. For instance, levels set in space have you exploding blocks in every direction, while another draws its inspiration from Bejeweled and has you throwing paint balls at blocks to match colors. There are a few misses, like the mindless laser-shooting and the occasionally tedious Jenga-style game, but the sheer variety of modes and interesting ideas make up for any weak spots.
The large volume of challenges in the single-player game could keep you busy for a long time, especially some of the later puzzles that require a bit of finesse to nab the gold medal. Gold medals are worth collecting because they unlock more items in the creation mode. Boom Blox Bash Party features a robust level creator that is both deep and flexible. You can construct new solo and multiplayer stages or tweak existing levels to your liking, but you'll need a good reserve of patience to manage the sometimes clumsy Remote controls. Fortunately, there's a handy tutorial that makes the going a little smoother. You can share your new levels with friends online or download new levels from both EA and other players around the world. With all the new game modes and block pieces, there's potential for some amazing user-created levels.
As entertaining as the single-player game is, it pales in comparison to the multiplayer. Boom Blox Bash Party is a game that's best played with friends. Whether you're dismantling a building in a cooperative game or trying to sink your opponents' block-made ships in a competitive match, the multiplayer is a blast. Watching your friends line up a sure-to-fail shot or forming fragile alliances against others makes for some good times. Unlike with some party games on the Wii, you won't have to spend your time unlocking modes or whittling away at the single-player content just to have fun with friends. You can jump right into the multiplayer action with Bash Party and play nearly all of the 400 levels either cooperatively or competitively. Like the single-player game, the multiplayer puzzles are all about variety. Some puzzles will have you playing all at the same time, forcing you to frantically blast blocks before your opponents can, whereas others are more methodical, letting each player carefully line up shots one at a time. Though there's still no online play, you can create teams with four players locally and play custom levels from the level creator. All the options, game modes, and destruction add up to one of the most enjoyable multiplayer experiences on the Wii to date.
Controlling the block-blasting fun is easy for the most part, though a few snags do crop up. The slingshot is a fun new toy, but it isn't reliable, and lining it up for the perfect shot can be difficult. Gently sliding pieces out in the Jenga-style games is also a chore because the game doesn't afford you quite the level of precision it should. The camera control is a little touchy if you're using the remote by itself, which can be a pain if you're trying to find just the right angle to launch your attack. Thankfully, you can plug in the Nunchuk and use the analog stick to control the view. It might also take you a while to get accustomed to the slightly exaggerated physics. These things are only small annoyances compared to the solid controls everywhere else though. Throwing baseballs and chemical balls is as easy as holding a button to lock on and then swinging your remote forward. After a few rounds you'll be blowing puzzles to pieces as the exaggerated pieces send blocks soaring into the distance
Visually the game hasn't changed much from the original. There are still plenty of bright colors, and there are some moderately attractive destruction effects. However, the goofy, square animals play a bigger part in the sequel. They roam all over the levels, star in silly, limited animation shorts before some games, and serve as your avatars during multiplayer. For the most part they're entertaining critters. Some of them can become a little annoying with their nonstop baying or barking, but the game alleviates this a bit by giving you the option of using those cute little lambs as ammo for your slingshot or placing them atop a high tower just begging for you to knock them off. It's a family game, so there's no gore involved; animals just dust themselves off after a tumble, but it sure is satisfying to see them fall.
The first Boom Blox certainly wasn't the cinematic opus that some were expecting from a game with Spielberg's name on it, and this sequel has less story and more action than its predecessor. Less narrative and more destruction sounds a lot like Spielberg's sequel to Jurassic Park, but don't let that put you off; this sequel turned out much better. Boom Blox Bash Party is a huge step forward for the series. It's got all of the good stuff from the first game and very little of the bad, plus a ton of extra content and multiplayer mayhem sprinkled on top. If you own a Wii and have friends, there's no reason not to play this game