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Thursday, February 7, 2008

'Boom Blox' for Wii

EA unveils Spielberg's 'Boom Blox' for Wii

It's been a long time coming, but we finally have some actual details about the first game to emerge from the partnership between Steven Spielberg and Electronic Arts.

Known as Boom Blox, the game, which will be available in May only on the Wii, is from EA's casual games unit.

It will have more than 300 levels, "a cast of over thirty wacky characters" and seems to be built around letting players take on "Blox-laying chickens monkeys" or cartoonlike grim reapers in tiki, medieval, frontier, or haunted themed settings.
EA has never said a lot about the Spielberg partnership beyond the fact that the director would be spending occasional time at the company's Los Angeles studio. It's also never been entirely clear exactly how involved Spielberg has been in the creation of the games, or how much involvement he'll have going forward. EA has said there would be at least three games under the terms of a deal first made public in 2005.

Last summer, Newsweek published a story describing the game that is now known as Boom Blox as blending "the creativity of the building-blocks game 'Jenga' with the charm of a Saturday-morning cartoon."

Based on what EA said Wednesday, that seems about right.

Newsweek also wrote at the time that the second game in the EA/Spielberg partnership was code-named "LMNO" and would be released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles. The magazine said at the time the game would be "North by Northwest meets E.T.--if E.T. were female, grown up and, um, hot."

Nothing is yet known about the third game planned for the partnership.

One thing that hasn't been discussed is how EA will market these games. For instance, will their retail boxes mention Spielberg directly, and if so, how prominently?

It does seem like putting the first game out for the Wii is a good idea, what with the runaway success of that console and EA's need for big new hits.

Another smart move is switching consoles for the second game, because Spielberg brings unparalleled name recognition and even if Boom Blox flops, the audience for the second game will likely be quite different and unaffected by what happens with the first.

But if Boom Blox is a hit, it can only help everyone involved.

Still, because little is known about how much influence Spielberg has had on these games, it's very hard to know if he's a full partner in the initiative or if he's just lending his name to the titles. It is hard to imagine the latter, since Spielberg probably isn't in dire need of the money he's likely to get out of the deal. More likely, he felt like he had some story-telling expertise to lend EA and a love of video games, a medium that he hasn't dabbled much in before.

Update: It does occur to me, however, that everyone involved in the Spielberg/EA project, let alone anyone who cares about Spielberg's legacy, would probably like to see Boom Blox and its successors do a whole lot better than one video game project he was--at least tangentially--involved in previously.

For those that don't remember, the 1982 Atari 2600 game, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, based, obviously on Spielberg's smash-hit film of the same name, didn't quite do as well as the movie.

In fact, according to Wikipedia, the game was a flop of universal proportions, known by many as one of the biggest "commercial failures in video game history."

Of course, this was a very different situation. For one, the E.T. game was based on an existing franchise. For two, it seems as though Spielberg wasn't hands-on with the 1982 game in the way he is with the EA titles.

EA and Steven Spielberg Reveal BOOM BLOX

A must-have Wiigame for Summer 2008 is on its way! EA's Casual Entertainment Label today announced BOOM BLOX ,the first game developed in collaboration between EA and director and producer, Steven Spielberg. This high-energy game features over three hundred levels, a variety of activities, a cast of over thirty wacky characters, and an easy-to-use in-game editor that allows players to express their creativity. BOOM BLOX will be available in May 2008 for the Wiifrom Nintendo.

"I am a gamer myself, and I really wanted to create a video game that I could play with my kids," said Steven Spielberg. "BOOM BLOX features an enormous amount of fun challenges and cool scenarios for your kids to solve or for you to master together."

Fun for kids and the entire family, BOOM BLOX offers action-packed interactive activities that takes Wii play to a new level of creativity and fun with single player, co-op, and versus gameplay. Players can explore the visceral gameplay -- perfectly suited for the Wii's interactivity -- that keeps them destroying their way through brain-twisting challenges. They can interact with entertaining characters such as the Blox-laying chickens or the baseball throwing monkeys, who bring personality to the Tiki, Medieval, Frontier, and Haunted themed environments. Additionally, players can remix any level of the game in Create Mode using props, blocks, or characters that have been unlocked during the game. Players can also virtually build anything they can dream up. Plus, their designs can then be shared with friends or used to challenge others to solve their newly created puzzle via WiiConnect24.
"We developed BOOM BLOX with endless combinations of gameplay in mind," explains Louis Castle, Executive Producer. "With over three hundred levels, built upon a full real-time physics model, your experience can be as easy or difficult as you want it to be -- there really is something for everyone to enjoy."

"My inspiration for this game came while I was playing the Wii for the first time," added Spielberg. "From the initial concept to what the game is today, it's always been built around the innovations the Wii brings to playing games. BOOM BLOX plays on the enjoyment of building and knocking down blocks, something that can appeal innately to kids and adults of all ages."

Developed at EA Los Angeles under the EA Casual Entertainment Label, BOOM BLOX has not yet been rated by the ESRB and PEGI. For more information or to download artwork, visit

BOOM BLOX is also in production for mobile phones and will be widely available this Spring. The mobile version puts innovative BOOM BLOX gameplay on phones everywhere -- delivering engaging, fun, and groundbreaking action. For the first time in a mobile game, players will be able to create custom levels and share them with their friends directly from the phone, enjoying a rich, interactive community experience. For information regarding mobile phone carrier availability, visit

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