Boom Ball Review

Boom Ball releases today on Xbox One for Kinect here in the UK. This game is being brought to us by the Virtual Air Guitar Company, the same guys that brought us Kung-Fu High Impact on the Xbox 360 a while back. I played Kung-Fu and found it immensely entertaining watching myself on screen kicking the virtual crap out of waves of enemies. Anyway back to the task at hand. Boom Ball takes the classic brick breaking genre to the next level by making you the paddle in a 3D environment. Games like Breakout and Arkanoid are titles which I spent many days playing during my younger years. Born of simple yet highly addictive gameplay, that just required you to break all the bricks on screen without using all your lives, with the aid of some very handy power-ups. Now if you are one of those people who complained about Microsoft always being on Kinect spying on you in your own living room you may want to leave now, just so you don’t get jealous.

Boom Ball as I have mentioned puts you in place of the paddle you are more used to seeing in these type of games. Replacing the paddle with two hands that have, well lets just say virtual rackets attached for you to strike the ball at the blocks. The concept is extremely simple, hit ball at bricks and continue to do so until there are no bricks left, continue to next level. I could very well end my review there and say no more, I mean who does not get these types of games, but that would be totally unfair to Boom Ball and what it actually has to offer. You start out on some very simple levels to get you going and soon realise that you are in fact inside a 3D world. Hitting the ball you can actually angle it to bounce of the side wall and come in from behind the blocks, which if done correctly can do massive amounts of damage with minimal effort. Boom Ball soon ramps up the difficulty and you will have bricks appearing from behind trees, out of the ground or simply flying across the screen in the form of a duck hunt game. So far I have played over 40 levels of Boom Ball and you really have to be prepared for the unexpected in these highly ingenious levels that keep the players on their toes. You can tell that the developers put a lot of thought into every element of the game, and instead of just delivering a mundane brick breaking title they have managed to step it up into something, that while being highly addictive and enjoyable, is not all that simple and can test you at times.

Like other games of this type, Boom Ball also sports a host of upgrades for you to use in the levels, just like the ones you would have found in say Arkanoid. You can get multiball, which is fairly self explanatory, or big ball that will break through those more stubborn brick in one go. Remember the different colour bricks we had to strike a number of times before they would disappear? Those are the ones that Big Ball deals with. Among the coloured smiling little blocks are these red blocks, hit one of these babies and they explode taking with them a massive chunk of surrounding blocks. Aiming at a certain block can be difficult but as you would have used spin in Breakout or the like the same applies, hit the ball just right to add a little spin and you will find that it soon does exactly what you want it to. Boom Ball is very friendly for the whole family to enjoy and even lets the player know when the ball is within reach by turning it green, this was especially handy when the kids were playing. Now Boom Ball gets its name from somewhere, and if you fill up the block meter at the top of the screen you unlock Boom Ball, which is a sort of guided missile that takes out the remaining blocks on the screen. All these levels are timed so to achieve the gold you should be aiming to unlock Boom Ball as quickly as possible. Graphically Boom Ball will not enlighten your senses but at the same time it suits the style of game it is trying to be, not fancy or over complicated, just pure unadulterated fun for anyone to enjoy.

Thanks to the power of the new Kinect, Boom Ball responds perfectly to every push and swipe of your arms, and had me addicted in less than 5 levels. The only thing I would have loved to see in this title would have been some kind of local or online co-op or face off competition but as it stands it is still a solid game. Boom Ball is a testament to how simplicity is the way to go at times, don’t over complicate something that does not need it. The Virtual Air Guitar Company have added in many bells and whistles to make this a completely rewarding game and it was honestly quite refreshing to just dive into a game that did not have a big story element or large class based system that takes a degree from MIT to understand. Anyone can just walk in front of the Kinect and hit a ball from the youngest to the oldest, and that is why Boom Ball just works.