Taito has the iPhone platform in the middle of its crosshairs. In just under six months, they’ve released a sea of games that range from retro titles to original versions of some fairly iconic franchises. Their newest iPhone offering, Bust-a-Move, is the latest classic looking to cash in on nearly 15 years of established brand equity. Fresh off one of the iPhone’s most impressive titles yet in Space Invaders Infinity Gene, Taito is hoping everyone’s in the mood to revisit its lovable puzzler.
Before there was a Match-3 genre, there was Bust-a-Move, a series that was simply branded as a puzzle game. At its core, Bust-a-Move was all about popping a series of multicolored bubbles by matching 3 or more at a time. Using the pointer (drag or tap controls; both of which work great) at the bottom of the screen, you aim and fire off randomly selected bubbles to trigger color matches.
After firing off a certain number of bubbles, the ceiling drops, which inches your bubbles closer to a perilous line that marks the end of a game. Special bubbles show up sporadically to provide a bailout when you’re in deep trouble, so Yogi Berra’s classic adage of ‘it’s not over until it’s over’ definitely applies in Bust-A-Move. Clearing the scene of bubbles clears the stage, and points are distributed based on time completed and the types of sick combinations that you execute.
Cuddly little dinosaur.
With the gameplay briefer out the way, we can get into the iPhone exclusives. This Bust-A-Move port has a Story Mode that is completely forgettable. With a plot centered on Bub saving a creature’s family (one sibling at a time), it’s as tacked-on as it gets. Each of the game’s six environments has 30 sub-levels to get through, but things feel very repetitive looking at a solitary backdrop while listening to the same sappy music over and over.
A few additional modes were included for value’s sake. Challenge Mode is a survival style mode; it’s all about popping bubbles as long as you can. You’ve seen this in several Match-3 games before, but it’s a welcome addition. The more interesting added value is the VS. Mode. Instead of requiring a wifi connection to play against a buddy next to you, Bust-A-Move has multiplayer over Bluetooth. There aren’t any options to modify conditions or environments in VS. Mode, but connectivity was flawless, leaving us hopeful other developers replicate this excellent use of the iPhone’s Bluetooth tech.
A big bummer for us is the lack of internet multiplayer and online leaderboards. Bust-A-Move becomes a relatively easy puzzle game with experience, and the real indicator of skills are based in scores. Since we’ve played Bust-A-Move on a variety of platforms, it would have been awesome to see how we compared to the rest of the world.
Bust-A-Move is a good representation of a timeless puzzle game. It may not be packed full of new extras or innovations, but the package here will likely satisfy fans of the franchise hoping for a quality version for their iPhone.