Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Boom Blox

Boom Blox

Fall 2008 Video Games
Ages: 6 - 12 yrs.
Producer: Electronic Arts
Price: $49.99
Created by Steven Spielberg's partnering with Electronic Arts, this brain-teasing videogame is something of a surprise-and a good one at that! Never mind contrived storylines or fast-action scenes, 'cause there aren't any here. Instead, this is a thought-provoking, problem-solving puzzler that requires players to figure out the most efficient ways of knocking down various towers and other block structures.

Playing as one of 30 odd little critters-among them, chickens, monkeys, penguins, cows and cats-players knowingly (or not) apply basic principles of physics to figure out which building blocks or built-in explosive devices, when struck from a particular direction and angle, are most likely to topple towers and sometimes adjacent structures in the fewest number of strikes. Using Wii's motion-sensing controller, you first zero in on that chosen spot and then "throw" (wrist and arm whip-like action) baseballs, bowling balls, even bombs, at it and see what happens. Sometimes, the entire structure collapses with the first try.

Knock down a structure within the limit of strikes and earn gold, silver or bronze medals, maybe even get special pieces to use in the game's fun "Create" section where you build your own tower puzzles to destroy. But too many attempts at achieving a goal and you earn a "Nice Try!" message and get more chances to learn from your mistakes.

Set in different environments ranging thematically from medieval to frontier to Tiki to haunted, each of the game's more than 300 challenges presents its own tasks and goals. There are teetering towers, explosive gas bombs, thieving enemies, blocks worth positive and negative, complex buildings, all sorts of imaginative scenarios-as you'd expect from Spielberg. As players progress, unlocking the next challenge in sequence by earning a medal, the challenges grow more difficult. Players can play individual or multiplayer mode-great for party-time. Either way, this bust-a-block game proves irresistibly entertaining, subtly educational and addictive no matter your age.

Don Oldenburg   ©2008 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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Major, Specialty & Online Retailers
Electronic Arts

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