Since the early days of video games, humans saw fit to create a game in which bouncing a ball into blocks to break them would create endless hours of fun. Little did we know, decades later the ‘brick breaker’ game genre would continue to thrive having found its place on nearly every gaming platform released. So it’s with no surprise that we’re seeing this style of game land on the Nintendo Switch, and one such entry is Boom Ball: Boost Edition. With such a focused genre pedigree, it takes immense creativity and ingenuity to really stand out amongst the crowd of competitive games in this space.
Boom Ball may be new to the Nintendo Switch, but the team at Virtual Air Guitar Company are no strangers to the block breaking space, having been around for many years with Boom Ball on the Xbox Kinect platform. So does a game that has its history built on full body motion controls translate over to the versatile Nintendo Switch?
Boom Ball: Boost Edition is a vibrant brick breaking game in which you control paddles smacking a ball inward to break simple cubes that are formed into designs of critters and other various objects that make up a scene for the level. The premise is simple, and although there are a few power-ups, like a highly robust multi-ball that can be triggered in some levels, the game never feels like it truly evolves as you progress through the 60 main levels. This felt true for the level designs just as much, in that playing level 30 was nearly identical to level 5 for example. That’s not to say the levels aren’t fun or engaging, but the repetition does set in pretty quickly.
Helping to break some of the repetition is a variety of ways you can tackle every level. Levels can be played in 3 speeds: Normal, Fast, or Turbo. This setting dictates how fast the ball bounces back and forth to you, but I found the speed increases between normal and fast to be inconsequential. Turbo did feel faster, but not uncontrollably. There still was a reasonable balance that allowed me to react quickly with my paddles.
In many brick breaking games, you’re in control of a singular reflecting paddle, but in Boom Ball: Boost Edition you’ll control two motion gesture paddles when playing in Joy-Con mode. The biggest benefit of having two paddles each linked to a Joy-Con is that you’ll have instant 2-player mode. Handing off one to your pal to control immediately makes for a couch co-op game. The game also offers its primary progression rewards in the form of new paddle images. I loved getting a new one, but also found that some of the designs would really obstruct the screen space.
If you don’t have friend, you’ll be in control of both paddles. Having spent a fair amount of time playing this way, I constantly found the experience extremely awkward. Should your ball be on the left side of the level, the camera would pan left, however your right paddle’s center point is always static, so it frequently made my right paddle drift away. The same happened when my ball would go to the right side of the level. I never truly found a flow where I wasn’t struggling to keep the paddles pointed where I wanted, often times catching myself with a Joy-Con pointed to the left, but my screen paddle showing all the way to the right. Thankfully the game offers a touch screen option as an alternative if you’re playing in handheld mode.
Touch Screen mode had its clear advantages in that it was much simpler to hit the ball back simply by tapping the space the ball was going to on the screen, with no struggle of aiming a Joy-Con. This mode was not without awkwardness either in that it lacked functionality. When playing with the Joy-Con, you’re able to press a button to power shot a ball, allowing it to hit harder on your own accord. This feature which I found crucial on some of the more challenging levels did not appear to exist when in Touch Mode. Furthermore, the main unlockable paddle designs didn’t carry over to Touch Mode either in any form.
Playing Boom Ball: Boost Edition ticks all the high level check marks of a brick breaking style of game, but for me, comes up short in finding that something special to make it memorable. If you’re striving for a brick breaking game on Switch, this is a decent entry right now, but its best in short play sessions. For these types of games to be successful it must feature impeccable play controls, and it falls short.
Boom Ball: Boost Edition Review
Final Thoughts: WORTH CONSIDERING
Boom Ball: Boost Edition brings brick breaking to the Switch. The game offers a cute and vibrant aesthetic and the dual paddle system is great for some two-player fun. However with inconsistent control methods, and a slow progression with repetitive mechanics, the game’s levels will go fast and are best played in short sessions.
Alex has been actively gaming since the release of the Nintendo. Turning passion into profession, he’s spent just over a decade in game development, and is currently the Creative Director at a studio.