Steven Spielberg is best known for directing Hollywood blockbusters like

Schindler's List,

The Color Purple

, and the

Indiana Jones

film series. But in addition to his glittering cinematic career, Spielberg has had more than a passing flirtation with video games over the years. A decade ago, his Dreamworks Interactive studio created the hit Medal of Honor franchise before Spielberg sold the company to publisher Electronic Arts. More recently, Spielberg has been developing Wii games in collaboration with EA.

Boom Blox Bash Party is the second title to come out of the Spielberg-EA partnership and, for casual game fans, it's a winner. The sequel to last year's Boom Blox adds more than 400 new levels as well as an increased emphasis on what EA calls "strategic destruction." That's a fancy way of saying that the player must solve puzzles by blowing things up, causing chain reactions and the like. Destroying structures made of blocks and collecting gems hidden therein is pretty much the name of the game. Using the Wii controller, players will hurl items such as baseballs, bowling balls, and bombs in order to clear the requisite blocks.

Sounds simple, but it's not all that easy. In fact, a good deal of planning is required. While there is a wide variety of levels in Boom Blox Bash Party, the player typically needs to deconstruct structures within a certain number of moves or recover a specified number of gems in order to advance. To make matters a bit more challenging, the blocks that make up the structures have properties of their own. Some are explosive, for example, while other may require two hits to break through. Others are indestructible or will trigger chain reactions. In some underwater levels, players will carefully fling gems to the surface while keeping others from landing on the ocean floor. There are also levels that feature precision, Jenga-like removal of blocks, and some that require the player to create color matches. Characters from the game's wacky cast appear in each level and can become part of the solution to the puzzle.

Along the way, players earn medals and achievements. Up to four players can compete or cooperate in multiplayer matches. There is also a powerful utility that lets players create their own levels or edit those included in the game. User-created levels can in turn be shared with other players online. The bottom line on Boom Blox Bash Party? It is terrific casual fun and a great way to share some time with friends.

Video games are often criticized for encouraging a sedentary lifestyle, but this Nintendo product is quite the opposite. In fact, it's not accurate to call Personal Trainer: Walking a video game, although it does run on Nintendo's popular DS handheld.

About $50 buys a DS cartridge as well as two pedometers that can be used only in concert with the DS system. Users drop a pedometer in their pocket or clip it to their belt or even their dog's collar. Once activated, the device tracks the steps taken by the wearer over time. Later, the data can be uploaded to the DS wirelessly, allowing users to see how active they - or their pets - have been. A single cartridge can track up to four people or dogs, but the purchase of additional pedometers will be required.

Power Up:

Grade: A

Boom Blox Bash Party

EA. Wii. $39.99

Rating: E (all ages)

On the Web: www.boomblox.ea.com

Power Up:

Grade: B

Personal Trainer: Walking

Nintendo. DS. $49.99

Rating: E (all ages)

Contact Dennis McCauley at dmccauley@phillynews.com.