Boom Blox Bash Party

The Nintendo Wii is an interesting phenomenon; with over 52 million consoles sold, there must be something very special about the system. Presumably it’s the Wii’s motion controls. By freeing us from the confines of the analogue stick controller, the Wii Remote opened up gaming to an entirely new audience; “non-gamers” or the casual market. Tapping into this colossal market has put Nintendo in a very good position, with the other two console manufacturers trying to play catch-up, hoping to sample just a taste of the Wii’s success.

There is another side to this story, one that primarily concerns us “hardcore gamers” and the reason that I haven’t forked over the £180 for a Wii myself. Its game catalogue is unbelievably poor. Apart from a few first party titles, which I could count on one hand, there’s hardly anything else the console has to offer. While Nintendo’s offerings are innovative and interesting, such as _Super Mario Galaxy_ and _WiiSports_, most third party titles are simply, motion controlled cash-ins that have little depth and really aren’t worth the money. Although I might be pre-judging a lot of games, the short of it is, there isn’t anything that interests me.

So when positive reviews for last year’s _Boom Blox_ started showing up, I was surprised. Combining innovative uses of the Wii’s motion controller with a simple premise that lead to a fun and enjoyable game, _Boom Blox_ earned the title of the first truly excellent third party game for the Nintendo Wii. Fast forward a year and EA, who were kind enough to send us a copy, have released a sequel, _Boom Blox Bash Party_. Having never played the original, I can’t tell you how similar, or dissimilar, _Bash Party_ is, but I can review it on its own merit.

Although there are multiple game types within _Bash Party_, most comprise of knocking down or destroying blocks with a range of different projectiles such as bowling balls, cannons and sling-shots. While a relatively simple concept, the different modes lead to a surprising amount of variation. Basically, you aim with the Wii remote, perform a throwing motion and release the A button at the right moment. There are slight differences between how the projectiles are used but all the methods are intuitive and only take a few seconds to get the hang of, no matter your skill level or your age.

There’s also the addition of multiple types of blocks (or is it blox?); some disappear when touched, some explode and others act like a virus, infecting any blocks that happen to be nearby. This leads to strategy being a necessity; you can’t wildly throw balls all over the place and hope that you’ll complete the level. Regrettably, this does make a lot of the later levels very hard and once the game gets frustrating there’s little incentive to keep playing. You can by-pass the hard parts by spending Boom Bux, money that you accumulate through successfully completing other levels, and simply skipping them. This feels like cheating but at least you can still have fun with the game.

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_Bash Party_ offers a single-player experience as well as cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes. Each mode is represented by a theme park, with each zone of the park having its own distinct theme that affects the art styling as well as the gameplay. For example, within the space themed zone, the zero-gravity means that the blocks fly everywhere as opposed to toward the ground. The multiplayer is more like an extension of the single-player; the gameplay is near identical, with the additional players having the same control and selection of projectiles. This all means that _Bash Party_ has a considerable amount of substance, with a good selection of modes and hundreds of levels to play.

Surprisingly for a Wii game, it also has downloadable content; at the bottom of every level select screen, there’s a little satellite button that allows you to connect online and download additional levels. Although not an amazing feature, it’s nice to see some form of online component in a Wii game.

In short, _Bash Party_ is definitely value for money; all the available modes as well as the ability to download new levels leads to a lot of content to get through. And for the most part, the game is fun. It’s more of a toy than a game; throwing things and knocking down towers is instinctively enjoyable but repetition does become an issue after a while. With it’s easy to grasp gameplay and the ability to play with others, _Bash Party_ others up enough to warrant a purchase. I mean, who doesn’t like Jenga?

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