I’m guessing that near on all gamers will, at some point in time, have played Breakout or at least one of the many variations on it. Whether it be on a retro console, mobile device or PC, the aim of the game is the same; fire a load of balls at a brick wall in order to break out.
Now though, the Xbox One is getting in on the action with the arrival of Boom Ball. But it’s not a Breakout clone as we know it. In fact, it brings something entirely different to the table.
Boom Ball for Kinect, to give it its full title, does exactly as the name suggests. Via the power of Kinect, you boom balls at a number of walls, removing cubes and blowing up bombs as you go about your business. With the original Breakout bat replaced by your own two hands, and a first person viewpoint preferred over the old style top down, Boom Ball is a lovely homage to the old, whilst bringing something new to those who are happy to game away without a standard controller in their hands.
I have to admit to being somewhat sceptical about Boom Ball prior to playing it. It looks simple, perhaps too simple and unless Kinect is utilised in the perfect way, could well turn out to be a bit of a mess.
Thankfully the Virtual Air Guitar Company have done a decent job. In fact, they’ve done more than a decent job.
With 55 levels in all and numerous different layouts to boom your way through, from the initial throw of a ball, you’ll find a game that not only brings you a fair amount of fun, but tests your reflexes like no other Kinect title.
Trapped inside a transparent box and tasked with removing all the blocks in the fastest time possible, you’ll find yourself free flowing from left to right, moving your arms up and down as you attempt to bat the ball back into the field of play. Whilst it’s relatively easy to ensure you hit the ball each and every time with a simple block move, being able to swipe the ball in various directions ensures that the blocks in front of you are hit and dispersed at a quicker rate. With the inclusion of numerous special blocks and items bringing explosions, multiballs and portal-like scenarios to a number of the levels, if you are serious about gaining a decent time and acquiring the shinier medals on offer, then you’ll need to master the art of spin.
What begins life as a simple to play title, soon begins to pick up and you’ll occasionally need to pull out your sharpest reflexes in order to keep the ball – or balls – in play. With you sometimes needing to move your entire body left and right in order to reach the balls that are right on the edge of the play area, you’ll need to be playing Boom Ball standing up though so if you are looking for a good sit-down Kinect title then you may just struggle with this one.
A single player only title (it would have been interesting to see a local co-op feature included), Boom Ball for Kinect works well and comes complete with some lovely precise controls, cleverly designed and named levels that pick up in difficulty but never frustrate and enough replayability for you to still be going all guns a week or two after you start – but only if you are really desperate to take home gold medals on all the levels. With four different challenges available for each level – that of completion, times for silver and gold medals and finally finishing a stage without dropping a single ball, there is plenty of game time on offer for those who wish to find it.
It won’t be for everyone mind, and those who have a hatred towards motion controllers will despise it, but go in with an open mind and enjoy it for what it is and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Boom Ball for Kinect is great fun for gamers of all ages, from the young right up to the old and should ensure that those Christmas get togethers and awkward Birthdays move on massively from a dodgy quiz.