Boom Ball 2 For Kinect is is now available to download on Xbox Live for Xbox One via the ID@Xbox self-publishing programme priced at £7.99 (UK) / €9.99 (EU) / $9.99 (US).

Boom Ball 2 For Kinect First Impressions

I was lucky enough to be given a review copy of Boom Ball 2 For Kinect by Virtual Air Guitar Company a few days in advance of the game’s release, so I was able to play enough to write this first impressions article by the release date. The following first impressions are going to include many parts copy & pasted from Boom Ball For Kinect’s first impressions for convenience as the games are very similar, but I will of course talk about the differences or anything I previously forgot to mention. I’ll highlight the Boom Ball 2-specific information in yellow so that owners of the first game can easily skip to it.

Like the first game, Boom Ball 2 For Kinect is a first-person 3D cross between block breaking videogames, such as Breakout, and the racquet game squash. Similar to the Rally Ball minigame in Kinect Adventures for Kinect for Xbox 360 but with more to do. Unlike the original game however, the sequel includes 2-player co-op! Unfortunately I can’t give my impressions of that since I don’t really have the room for playing a game like this in multiplayer or anyone to play it with most of the time since it’s only local multiplayer. From what I’ve played so far the graphics seem to be similar quality to the previous game. Maybe a little more polished. The music is pretty good, some of it sounds similar to SEGA’s Sonic Team and there’s at least 1 track in the music I’ve heard so far that sounds very Oingo Boingo-ish!

Controls

You can only use hands to hit the balls and walk left and right (or lean left and right if sitting) to move left and right in-game, complete with the correct 3D perspective. I did find it harder to play Boom Ball 2 sitting down than standing up compared to the first game, but that could have just been because my chair was quite far from the TV/Kinect so it might be better to be a bit closer. Also I was very exausted after playing it standing up for quite a while so that affected my seated perfomance too.

Some people have complained about the Boom Ball games only using hands to hit the balls and wanted to be able to use all body parts, however after playing I think just hitting the ball with your hands in right for the game. The reason for this is that since it’s in first-person you wouldn’t be able to see your feet unless you did a high kick, or at least a mid kick, since the view is very 1:1 with your body (or at least if you have the top of your TV at around eye level like me) so it’s a lot like looking through an open window rather than having a view that could fit your lower body too. Unlike Rally Ball in Kinect Adventures which has a close 3rd person view with transparent characters. I suppose they could have added the ability to head the balls, but being able to hit them with your torso probably would have made the game too easy.

The bats in Boom Ball 2 are slightly different to the first one as they become tear-shaped, looking very similar to the head of a tennis or squash racquet, when you move them around. I realised that the end of the pointed part is where your wrists are and it’s as if your hands were racquet heads, so it gives you a better idea of how you’re hitting the ball compared to the original game.  This caused me to play the game a lot more tennis-like and I was was performing more backhands and lobs for example. Although the lobs are a bit limited as the courts have quite low transparent ceilings.

I eventually noticed that the bats do in fact move back and forth in 3D space a little bit, not just on a 2D plane, but it’s hard to judge how deep into the screen the bats are when you move them forward. I think there should have been a shadow on the ground for them like there is with the ball, as then you could tell how far forward they are. This doesn’t really affect the game too much though. The speed and force of your swings are tracked so you can whack the ball harder to make it go faster, and the angle you hit it is tracked too. Although the speed is limited and I wish they could be hit even faster, but maybe that would make getting the gold medal times too easy for skilled players. Unlike Boom Ball 1 however, the balls no longer get green highlights when they’re within striking distance, so the timing is a little trickier to get used to at first and you may find yourself missing them a bit more. I would have liked for the ball to not only still get green highlights when they’re within striking distance but also for it to maybe get red highlights when it’s about to go out of play.

There’s not really any perceptible lag while playing. In fact I played this after playing VR games with the Vive, which has no perceptible lag at all as far as I can tell, and was so impressed by Boom Ball 2’s latency that I tried so see any lag and the only way to barely notice it is if you hold your hand out and watch it and the bat at the same time, but even then you really have to concentrate to spot it at all.

Balls

There are a few different balls I’ve come across so far. As well as the regular ball there are also Heavy Balls, which can instantly break blocks that normally take more than one hit to break and that you collect by hitting a dark coloured ball icon. Big Balls, which does more damage due to its size that you collect by hitting a big ball icon. Multiballs, which are multiple extra balls added in play when you hit multiball icons. The multiballs can get pretty hectic, although you don’t lose a “life” ball unless all the balls get past you, as long as you have 1 in play you’re OK. The last balls I’ve come across are the Boom Balls which you get at the end of each wave of blocks once you’ve broken enough blocks to fill your Boom Ball meter. The Boom Balls are explosive homing balls, although you still have to him them in the general direction of the blocks you want them to home in on.

Blocks

There are all kinds of blocks in various colours that I’ve come across so far, both static and moving. Some are just regular blocks that can be broken in 1 hit, some are stone blocks which require more hits, there are glowing red block which explode when you hit them and take out any blocks in a few block radius and there are blocks with question marks on them which drop power-up bonuses (Heavy Balls, Big Balls, Multiballs etc). There are also metal blocks that can’t be broken and just act as dividing walls. In the first Boom Ball there were also black bombs that shouldn’t be hit as you lose a ball if you do. I haven’t come across any black bombs yet, but I’ve only played all the levels in the first location so they might appear in later levels.

Levels & gameplay

There are 50 levels spread across 5 locations: Tropical Paradise, Snowy Mountain, Crystal Caves, Cloud City and Space. Each level is still a square court with “invisible force field” walls that flash when the balls bounce off them and have graphical themes that match the locations like boats and palm trees in the backgrounds of Tropical Paradise levels.

You start each level with 5 balls (1 at a time, not counting when you hit multiball icons) and you lose a ball anytime you fail to hit it and it passes by your bats. You have a certain number of blocks to destroy to clear each level and after the first level there are 2 or more waves of blocks per level. As previously mentioned, there’s a Boom Ball meter at the top of the screen that fills up as you destroy each block and you get one meter per wave. The way the blocks are arranged and often move about presents puzzle-like challenges to figure out how best to break all the blocks and how to do it quickly if you want to get gold medals, or even eventually how to break the blocks at all in later levels if it’s like the original game, which I’m sure it will be.

Each level has a clock and although I think you can take as long as you like to complete the levels, you are given 2 time limits (different for each level) to beat to win medals which also win you stars. I’m not sure what the stars are for yet, probably unlocking stuff. If you beat the 1st time limit you win a gold medal and if you go over that time limit but beat the 2nd time limit you win a silver medal. You also win a star if you manage to clear the level without losing a ball.

Unlike the original game, the levels are presented as a page of tiles per location and you have to complete each level in order. Once you’ve completed all the levels in that location the next location is unlocked. I prefered the map presentation of the first game’s level select, although some may prefer the tiled presentation of this one, especially since it’s more convenient this way. In fact my preference is purely subjective since I just liked the style of the original, whereas the sequel’s level select presentation is objectively more convenient so I’m certainly not saying it’s “worse” really.

I think that overall the tweaks made to Boom Ball 2 have made it slightly better than the first game and no doubt the 2-player co-op makes it even better still if you’re able to use that feature. As a core gamer I played the game in a more challenging way by only moving on to the next level once I had cleared the previous level with a gold medal time and not losing any balls. I would recommend other core gamers to play like that, since if you played it more casually and didn’t care about the medals or losing balls then it would obviously be a lot easier and probably only take about 2 hours to complete. (I spent at least that long to complete Tropical Paradise alone, with gold medals and no lost balls on each level.) Especially since it appears to have unlimited continues like the first game. It is a lot of fun and very addictive though, so that plus the multiplayer gives it good replayability.

I’d say Boom Ball 2 For Kinect is definitely worth buying, especially since it’s only £7.99 (or 9.99 / $9.99). What I’ve played so far (which is only just over a fifth of the levels that I know about) is worth a score of at least 7 and will probably end up being worth about 7.5 for single player as, just like the original, it has been getting better and better with each level. With multiplayer factored in it could be worth closer to an 8.

 

Are you planning on buying Boom Ball 2 For Kinect? Have you bought it already? If so then let us know what you think in the comments below, or create a discussion in our Kinect 2 Games Forum. You can also post your own review in our Kinect 2 Game Reviews Forum.

 

Screenshots

(Click on pics to enlarge.)