Bust-a-Move (also known as Puzzle Bobble) is more than a Match-3 puzzle game: it’s the King of Match-3 puzzle games. When Bub and Bob the Bubble Dragons stepped out of Bubble Bobble to engage in a bit of ’90s era puzzle-play, the gaming world gave their vacation a thumbs-up. Bub and Bob have since made a full-time career out of popping colored bubbles with arrows, and chances are good that your mom still plays some counterfeit variant of the game on the Internet.
As for the original Bust-a-Move, Bub and Bob have done some work around the homestead and come up with the fresh and lovely New Bust-a-Move. Match-3 fanatics will love the different challenges that each level offers up, and everyone else will just love how gosh-darn cute the game’s presentation is. Unfortunately, imprecise controls mar what would otherwise be a perfect puzzle experience. Is this bad end??
Not quite. New Bust-a-Move is still a worthwhile purchase for puzzle fans, and it has some tricks to help it stand out from a crowded market. There is, for instance, a bit of a story going on. Bub and Bob must travel through different worlds and retrieve scepters that will drive back evil. It’s nothing that will go up for a Pulitzer, but it’s a bit more interesting than “advance to the next level,” not to mention some of the Tetris fanfic lying around the internet.
Ready’¦ Aim’¦ Fire.
The core gameplay for New Bust-a-Move won’t alienate anyone who’s familiar with the general rules of Match-3: Match three colored bubbles, and they disappear. With a bit of strategy, you can complete a candy-colored vein and watch the bubbles below it drop into oblivion. Supremely satisfying.
New Bust-a-Move adds some new tricks, however. Many of the levels add an extra challenge that makes clearing the screen a little more difficult. For instance, enemies might add extra bubbles to your load, or you may have to “free” some birds who are being weighted down by bubbles. There are enemy swarms that can only be defeated with a well-aimed bubble shot. There are even boss characters that require a little bit of brainpower to squash.
In all, New Bust-a-Move is a joyful little experience–until your fat finger invades Bub and Bob’s airspace and causes them to fire off a bubble exactly where you don’t want it to go. There is no worse letdown than spying a perfect level-ending move, poking the precise spot, and watching the bubble stick uselessly to the underside of the pile. O, the agony. Alternatively, you can move Bub and Bob’s cannon with your finger, draw back a bubble, and let it fly, but don’t expect your accuracy to improve significantly.
Frustrations aside, if you’re looking for a good Match-3 puzzle, invite Bub and Bob back into your life. Just don’t let their wide, happy smiles fool you into letting them look deeply into your soul: they eat dreams.