Believe it or not, it's 2016 and they're still making Kinect games. Although most of them are subpar at best, Boom Ball 2 is actually quite fun so grab a pal and get ready to whack some balls.
If you remember Rally Ball for Kinect Adventures that debuted at Kinect's launch back in 2010 then you already have a good idea what Boom Ball is all about. You basically move your hands in order to smack balls at blocks. It's simple and actually quite enjoyable. There are some complexities, however, in the form of power-ups and a special mode. More specifically, the power-ups can enlarge your ball or make the ball multiply into more balls while a helpful mode where you can whack fiery homing balls is activated automatically whenever its meter is full. Launching balls at blocks is pretty enjoyable and these complexities only amplify the fun. There's nothing like hitting an explosive block and watching all of the surrounding ones crumble as a result. The simple and satisfying gameplay is made even more amusing when you play standing next to a friend in cooperative multiplayer; as long as you don't hit each other, of course...
Boom Ball 2 impressed me with its unexpectedly detailed and animated stages. The vibrant colours and lovely backgrounds add a spirited vibe to the experience. Not only that, the soundtrack is full of upbeat ska and lighthearted rhythms that'll make you smile as you play. The stages themselves can be cleverly designed as they include blocks that form real-life objects such as boats, giant enemy crabs, and even a volleyball match. Overall, everything is bursting with exuberance which makes the simple gameplay shine even brighter.
The campaign consists of five themed areas: Cloud City, Tropical Paradise, Crystal Cave, Space, and Snowy Mountain. There may be a secret level, too... Each one of these areas contains about 10 stages so you're looking at a rather lengthy game. One of the coolest aspects is that you can master the stages by beating them in under par times to earn medals. So, even when you manage to work through the entire campaign, you can play it all over again while trying to outdo your previous efforts.
My biggest complaint with Boom Ball 2 is that it's so simple that it gets repetitive quite fast. Of course, you can probably guess that by just looking at any screenshot. Therefore, this is a game that's best played in short bursts perhaps between sessions of other Kinect games. My only other issues are technical and make the game sometimes feel unfair. First, reaching the far left and right sides of the screen can be very tricky. Many times, the ball would seem to go past my hands and I'd lose as a result which was super-frustrating. Finally, I found some events to just not make sense. For example, I had a multi-ball going with four balls then my special move kicked in. When it was over, I only had one ball in play. Where did my other balls go? I'd rather have those than a few one-time-use homing balls. It could be an oversight but whenever things like that happen, you'll definitely shake your head.
Boom Ball 2 for Kinect is an impressively enjoyable title that anyone who has a fondness for motion-controlled games should pick up. It may have its problems but smashing blocks with balls has never been this much fun!
- + Simple fun that you can enjoy with a friend
- + Cheerful environments and lively music make it surprisingly enjoyable
- + Mastering stages can be a lot of fun
- - Reaching the far edges is often problematic
- - As you'd expect, the gameplay is a bit too basic and repetitive
- - Some unfair aspects are sure to annoy