Remember the shooting gallery levels in the original Boom Blox? They were criticised for being much like the tedious point-and-shoot efforts you find in every other Wii mini-game collection, and all the other ones. Happily, there are fewer shooting levels in Bash Party and a bit more thought has gone into them. You're no longer shooting ducks scrolling along a track, for example, but UFOs that appear from nowhere and attempt to abduct your gem blocks. Also, you get a laser gun.
So, more levels, new environments, extra toys - and that's without even mentioning the improved multiplayer options. There are many more levels to play co-operatively and competitively than in the previous game, and they come complete with the new variations mentioned above. A nunchuk is not required to play any of the levels, and because many of them are turn-based you can have hours of multiplayer fun with just the one remote. This is especially useful when the batteries in one of the remotes runs out at 2am, but you can't stop playing because it's first one to win 50 levels and the score is 46 - 47 and you've bet your car.
Once again the slingshot is a highlight, particularly in Versus mode; look out for the levels where you have to knock each other's gems off a tabletop, air hockey-style. The levels that involve capturing territory with paint balls and firing cannonballs at each other's pirate ships are also excellent. But Bash Party is just as enjoyable in Co-op mode, especially when it comes to challenges that involve thinking ahead. Working out problems is more fun with someone else, except of course when they're idiots.
If the extensive selection of single-player, Versus and Co-op levels on the disc isn't enough, extras can be downloaded via Wi-Fi Connect. Bash Party's online element wasn't up and running at the time of writing, but EA promises additional levels will be available free of charge from day one. How many? "A lot."
That'll include levels created by users as well as EA. Unlike with the previous game, you won't have to muck about with Friend Codes - there's a proper system for sharing content across the entire network of Boom Blox players. EA says you'll be able to score levels and search for them by star ratings, number of downloads and so on. It'll be interesting to see how EA manages the problems with copyright and censorship Sony's experienced with LittleBigPlanet. Surely it won't long before someone uses a load of blocks to create a giant Mario or an exploding cock. Or a giant Mario with an exploding cock. Five stars.
It'll be easier to create content as well as download it thanks to the improved level editor. There are more elements to play with, but clearer instructions about how to use them and more extensive tutorials. Placing blocks feels less fiddly and the interface is more intuitive. You can remix levels you've played in the main game or build stuff from scratch, and there are some neat set-piece options to make this quicker. In short, if you were put off by the awkward aspects of the level editor last time round, it's well worth another look - especially now you can share your creations with the wider world.
It's hard to find much to complain about in Bash Party. True, the visuals still lack charm and there's something subtly but strangely sterile about the whole thing. Cut-scenes have been reduced to pans across still images, with no voiceover or subtitles, which is odd. The characters are downright weird and completely unappealing, and that includes the new ones. Somehow EA has managed to make even fluffy white bunnies seem menacing.
But these are minor grumbles. As sequels go, Boom Blox: Bash Party is one of the best. There aren't just more levels, there are more different types of levels. The new blocks and toys are inventive and intuitive to use. Criticisms of the level editor, the online options and even the shooting galleries have been listened to, and significant improvements have been made. Best of all, there hasn't been too much mucking about with the brilliant gameplay mechanics and superb physics that made the original Boom Blox so much fun.
If you're one of those people whose little white box is gathering dust in the corner, don't put it on eBay. Pick up a copy of Boom Blox: Bash Party and remind yourself why you bought a Wii in the first place, and why games don't have to be about guns and cars to be good, and why Steven Spielberg should be forgiven for the Crystal Skull. Only if he promises never to do it again, mind.