By Eric Pankoke on Sat, 03/20/2010
When I read the press release for Boom Boxes I thought “I’m not quite sure I get it”, so I asked the developers for a video. They didn’t have one yet, so they sent me a promo code to try it instead. I’m not sure how interested I would have been in the game after just watching a quick video, but after spending some time playing Boom Boxes, I’m so glad I got the opportunity to try it. The game is fun, it’s challenging, and the developer clearly understands the concept of progression of difficulty. If you’re looking for a good casual game that’s also challenging, look no further than Boom Boxes.
Boom Boxes is a game about matching shapes. At the top of the screen is a line with a bunch of shapes, and the playing field is littered with the same shapes. As each shape in the top line appears in the “current shape” box on the left, you must tap the corresponding shape in the playing field below. You have a certain number of seconds to match a certain number of shapes, and the combination changes for each level and each stage. If you tap the wrong shape you lose time, and the amount of time you lose increases with each stage. If you run out of time you lose a life and must restart the level. If you lose all your lives the game is over and you must restart the stage.
There are four stages in Boom Boxes, each containing 15 levels. The first stage is pretty simple and just helps you get acquainted with the game. In stage two, as you remove shapes from the playing field the other shapes will move around, so even though you know what shape is coming up next you may not know where it will be on the playing field. In stage three the shapes in the top line will be colorless until they get to the “current” box, which isn’t such a big deal until you get to levels that have multiples of the same shape. Finally, stage four hides all the shapes in the top line until they get to the “current” box. Surprisingly, this isn’t as difficult as it would seem to be, because by the time you get to stage 4 you’re used to things changing and moving around, and so it’s a lot easier to adapt to shapes being revealed “on the fly”.
The only real control in the game is tapping shapes to clear them from the screen. For the most part the game is quite responsive, but on the most difficult levels where the shapes are smaller to accommodate more on screen at once, it’s often quite difficult to select a shape. As the levels start getting more difficult a time power up will start appearing, and tapping on it will increase your clock by 2 seconds. It’s not mandatory that you get this power up, but chances are good that if it shows up you’ll probably need it. There’s also the mythical “extra life” power up, which I have as yet to actually see in the game.
The visuals in Boom Boxes are simple in the sense that they are all pretty basic shapes, but they are colored nicely for the most part. My main gripe is that there are instances where two objects are just different shades of the same color, and it’s sometimes difficult to tell them apart (two different tones of green, for instance). You also have to pay attention to the “fat” vs. “thin” circles, which will both be the same color. There’s a cool sparkle / fade effect when a piece goes away, which is the major effect in the game. Overall the visuals are quite nice for such a basic motif.
The sound effects are actually kind of interesting. Tapping a shape sounds like a popping balloon. When you hit the 4 second mark you’ll start to hear a ticking indicating that time is running out. Usually that kind of thing gets annoying to me, but for some reason it seems to work here. I guess it’s just a gentle reminder that you need to pick up the pace a bit. Clicking on the wrong shape sounds a bit like a fog horn, and can be somewhat jarring if you’re not expecting it. There’s no music, which I normally gripe about, but I almost think it would be a distraction in this particular case.
Boom Boxes was a pleasant little surprise. There are 60 levels over all, and while the first three stages might not seem so tough, the last one will keep you busy for a while. There’s certainly enough game play to cover the cost of admission. Through in a few crazy achievements, and you’ll be busy for far longer than you’d care to imagine. Casual gamers, here’s another gem to add to your stash.
Overall Score: 8/10
App Store Link