One of my favorite, and probably most criminally overlooked titles of last year, was a unique puzzle game from the minds of Steven Spielberg and developers at EA. The concept is simple: take a perfectly stacked set of blocks, and knock them over by throwing various items at them such as bowling balls. The combination of simplicity and nearly perfect physics made for one of the most addictive experiences of last year. Fast forward to the present and wonder how the team can improve on the formula, while still giving fans of the original enough new content to warrant a second purchase. Bash Party is the perfect example of a sequel done right, but it also gives gamers a second chance to check out this highly addictive puzzler instead of sitting on the sidelines. With tons of brand new features and a robust community aspect featuring a level editor complete with upload capabilities, Boom Blox is one title all Wii owners should definitely not pass up.
Like I mentioned before the concept is simple. When the first game released I admit my interest was piqued, but not enough to drop $50 on the title. As I sat and pondered about purchasing it on many occasions I continued to hear how great it actually was. Once I finally took the plunge there was no looking back. So if you are like me and loved the first one, rest assured that this sequel will no doubt be worthy of picking up regardless of how much you wore out the original. Most of this comes from the fact that Bash Party offers a wide array of new ways to enjoy the same simple mechanics. There are now themed levels that take advantage of environmental aspects to spice up the gameplay. For instance the underwater level sports a different aspect of gravity, making combos much more interesting and tricky. There are outer space levels, pirate ships and even alien planets all with their own unique twist on the conventional mechanic.
As far as modes are concerned Bash Party brings back some of the old and introduces a few new ideas to mix things up. The most notable new edition is the paintball formula, which has you tossing colored balls at various blocks in order to string combos together. The traditional block breaking modes are still present as are the Jenga puzzles and tedious shooting levels, but surprisingly the tower defense modes are all but absent. These were a lot more enjoyable than the mindless (and often times frustrating) shooting levels, so why they are omitted is a mystery to me. There are also new block shapes and even new weapons to use in the form of a slingshot and cannon. All of these items create a giant sandbox of joy that any gamer, of any age will find entertainment in.
The single player game is massive, over 400 levels are there for you to tackle, and you can even earn Achievements throughout the game such as five gold medals in a row. Earning gold medals is key to the single player game as it allows you to unlock new items for the creation mode. Earning a gold medal will seem like a breeze in the first few levels, but once you get to the more challenging ones, I found myself completely baffled at times on how I could possibly take down this monstrosity with only three tosses. This is where the unique power blocks come into play. Fan-favorites from the original return such as exploding and disappearing blocks, and they are accompanied by a pair of new ones. Virus blocks will now infect nearby blocks to create massive havoc, while conveyor blocks are continuously moving and can be used to your advantage more often than not. Mastering each level and earning all golds will take you a monstrous amount of time.
As fun as the core game is, Boom Blox was and always will be better played with friends. Bash Party takes this concept into account by allowing you access to nearly the entire game right out of the box in multiplayer. There are both cooperative and competitive modes that can be played with up to four people locally; sorry still no online play. Everything feels much better when played with multiple people, whether you are fighting for supremacy in versus mode, or attempting to tackle massive structures together in co-op, Bash Party shines brightest when more than one Wii remote is waving around. You can also play all of your created and downloaded levels in multiplayer, making this mode nearly limitless as far as replay is concerned.
This brings me to my favorite part about Bash Party. The original game gave you the ability to create your own puzzles. However, if you wanted to share them with friends they needed to drop by your place to check them out. Also once you completed all of the maps on the disc, you either made your own, or played through them again. This time around EA has integrated their online functionality directly into the game allowing players to upload their creations, as well as download new maps straight from the game. It is also amazingly fast for a Wii title. You can literally download a new level and be enjoying it in less than a minute. When you consider how many people will be online creating new levels, and the fact that EA has promised to support the game well into the future, that is a serious amount of content; granted you have a WiFi connection to utilize it.
Boom Blox Bash Party is the definition of how to take a great game and make it even better. There is more than enough content here to warrant original owners to take the plunge again, while still being approachable enough for newcomers. If you have not played this title yet, and you own a Wii there is no excuse anymore. Everyone is raving about how much fun Boom Blox is, and Bash Party takes it to a brand new level of fun. I recommend this game for anyone who enjoys a good time.