When Electronic Arts first announced that they were working with filmmaker Steven Spielberg on a series of video games, people -- especially those into sci-fi -- got very excited. After all, this is the man who gave us Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, the Indiana Jones movies, and a funny little guy called Kleeborp, er E.T. It wasn’t even going to be his first foray into games; that title belonged to the Medal Of Honor series, which Spielberg spearheaded back when Dreamworks SKG had a video game division.
So it was somewhat surprising when his first game with EA was Boom Blox, a puzzle game for the Wii. A very fun puzzle game for the Wii, but a puzzle game nonetheless.
Now EA are preparing to release a sequel, Boom Blox Bash Party which is due out May 19. Showing the game off at a recent event they held at their Los Angeles offices, we got a chance to play Stevie’s new game, and to see how it differs from the original.
For those who missed the first one, the very basic idea was that there would be a Jenga-like structure made of blocks, and you — using the Wiimote to first pin-point a spot and then toss a ball at it — try to off some of the blocks, with different knocked blocks giving you different points.
The sequel works in much the same way, except they’ve expanded upon the parameters. In one part, the structure is floating in space, and the idea is to knock the blocks out of the gameplay area. In another, which Spielberg apparently suggested, you don’t throw the balls but instead use a sling shot to knock those blocks off.
There’s also a new “Color Combos” mode where you have different shaped and colored blocks all stacked in a container. You then throw paint balls, which change the color of the blocks, in an attempt to get three of the same color in a row, kind of like in Bejeweled. If you do, these blocks disappear, and any above them fall down (albeit still within the box). And, of course, should three of the same color happen to come together as they’re falling, then they disappear as well, which means more points for you.
But the biggest change in Boom Blox Bash Party is that last word: this is much more of a multiplayer experience than the original, with the game designed to be played more with friends than on your own. Though they assured us that you can still play the game, and have fun, on your own.
We do have one huge gripe with the game: the characters are all block shaped, and yet no one thought to name the square pig Sarah Jessica Porker. Really, people, it’s a joke that writes itself.
Lost comedic opportunities aside, Boom Blox Bash Party looks like it’s going to be just as puzzle-rific as its predecessor. We’ll know soon enough.