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Joystiq impressions: Boom Blox (Wii)

Zack Stern

In our previous coverage of Boom Blox, we highlighted the basic way you toss baseballs, bowling balls, and other objects at the blocks. But this casual game has even more game modes that have gotten less coverage. I sampled some of the lesser-know variants at the Nintendo Media Summit.

The game's adventure mode introduces other mechanics. Players move through successive levels, trying to initially knock down structures with as few throws as possible. But following levels give gamers unlimited baseballs to toss at a pack of bears, for example; these cranky creatures try to amble off with your gem blocks, and you have to knock them down. Another change on later levels forces you to protect an advancing group of sheep. Monkeys throw items from their own block-built castle, and you need to knock them all down before the sheep are wiped out.

Gallery: Boom Blox | 15 Photos

EA twists the gameplay mechanics through the rest of the adventure. Sometimes, players need to slide blocks apart like a puzzle of dead-bolts, releasing a large platform from its obstructions. In other situations, players toss balls to clear the way for friendly, advancing creatures. The Wild West levels even include a shooting scenario.

Multiplayer games mostly have their own rules, too, like taking turns trying to knock blocks with the highest point value off a pedestal. But some remix the non-throwing game types from the adventure mode, or let gamers team up to attack the bears. Up to four players can compete with any number of Wii Remotes.

And the detailed Boom Blox level editor should let gamers find their own ways to play. EA demonstrated a few Rube Goldberg-like creations, with levers and other cascading ways to change the game's motion. 30 different block-like characters can twist these moments, since they have programmed behaviors. For example, chickens cluck around, laying explosive block eggs. Skeletons chase and kill chickens. Dogs throw baseballs at these attacking skeletons. Once a gamer creates or remixes a level, they can also share it with friends over Nintendo WiFi.

Boom Blox largely centers on tossing balls to knock down block structures. But the adventure mode, level editor, and multiplayer ways to play should make it last beyond the 400 levels included on the disc. Look for the Spielberg-executive-produced game May 6.

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