In this review we look at both Bust-a-move and Snood together in a kind of head-to-head. The reason? Well underneath their Technicolor exteriors they are fundamentally the same game. We’ll break down both games in our usual categories of Presentation and Graphics, Sound, Gameplay and Gamelife… and then declare a winner. but first, a small history lesson.
Bust-a-move (also known as Puzzle Bobble) was created in ’94 by Taito. It features characters from the platformer Bubble Bobble, particularly the cute dinosaurs Bub and Bob. The object of the game is to clear the various coloured bubbles on the screen by shooting similarly coloured bubbles at them. Should a bubble come into contact with more than two of the same colour they will pop and be removed from the play area. If your bubble hits any other colour or only one or the same colour then it will be added to the group. Should the bubbles reach the bottom of the play area it’s game over. The game became very popular in arcades, as well as PC and consoles and spawned many sequels all based on the same key gameplay. As with any successful game, it will also spawn clones. Snood is one of these clones. Created two years later in ’96 the game was distributed online as shareware for both Macs and PC’s. It eventually appeared on Gameboy and DS, until present day where the rights were licensed out for an iPhone version published by EA.
The core difference between the two games are the graphics. In Snood the bubbles are characters themselves, and the story revolves around them where as in Bust-a-move (B-A-M) the story is based on Bub freeing his friends, and the bubbles stand in his way.
Both games feature stylised cartoon graphics… and it really comes down to what style you like. Do you like B-A-M’s Japanese big eyed creatures, or Snood’s more western look and feel. Personally I prefer B-A-M’s graphics as they are clearer, cleaner and more polished compared to Snood’s more flash like (amateurish) style, and I’m a stickler for Mascot characters… I love that damn Bub!
The menu systems for both games are pretty easy to find you way around, but something that killed it for me with Snood was the fact that all menu’s are in landscape mode, but the game itself is played in portrait. This to me just seems daft and there is no reason why the art couldn’t have been re-formatted so the entire game plays in portrait.
Because of this and the fact that the snood characters can look a bit messy when all on screen, compared to the smooth bubbles means Bust-a-move just takes by half a point.
Both games have pretty good sound. Bust-a-move features the original music which is as cute and catchy as ever, you’ll be humming it in your sleep. Whereas Snood features a funkier sound track. In game effects of bubbles popping in B-A-M or faces warping away in Snood fit both games well.
The core gameplay is pretty much the same which I outlined earlier. Both games feature classic modes where you can play on until your lives run out and shoot for high scores. Snoods is called Classic and B-A-Ms is called challenge. You can also play story modes which intersperse levels or worlds with cutscenes. In both cases I feel these are simply gimmicks to tie the levels together, and no one story mode is better here. Snood has two extra modes, Puzzle and Time attack… it says exactly what it is on the in, which is to complete levels in a given time. Both games feature powerups which can clear bubbles (or snoods) such as bombs and wild card style bubbles that match which ever it hits.
The controls are a big factor in any iPhone game that is replicating a joystick or mouse. B-A-M uses two methods. A sling shot setup that allows you to pull down on the screen, set your direction and then release to fire the bubble. If you have played Must-eat-birds you’ll get the idea. The other is tap. Here you tap the direction you want to fire the bubbles, this will align the bubble gun in that direction. To release the bubble you tap the gun. I felt both of these options worked for my, but the tap one was more accurate. Snood employes a slightly different one option set up which is similar to B-A-Ms tap version, but instead you drag you finger on the screen and the gun will follow, you then tap it it fire, one problem here is that your finger can get in the way… so B-A-M just takes it on controls.
Overall, despite the extra modes. I preferred the experience of Bust-a-move it just feels tighter and cleaner overall… and overall more enjoyable.
With both games featuring plenty of levels across multiple modes, it really comes down to multiplayer here. B-A-M features local (bluetooth-only) multiplayer. It’s good but it’s limited the very fact that you must be nearby a fellow iPhone user who has the game. Snood on the other hand has full online play. Using facebook connect you can either play live with a friend, or challenge a friend to beat your score at a later time. One downside to the facebook connection is that you cannot play random online battles and must be your friends only… sucks if your friends don’t have iPhone’s. Once in the games I didn’t notice any lag in either Snood or B-A-M. But Snood takes this one for more modes and expanded multiplayer features
You have to give Snood props for doing a good job in keeping up with, and at times besting, the original Bust-a-move. In both style, sound and online features, Snood is like the cooler younger brother from another mother… But if I had to choose between the two I would choose Bust-a-move. To me the classic style and feel of the game out weighs the extra features that Snood brings to the table. If however, you are not blinded by brand as I am, then both games have their good points and bad points and you won’t be disappointed by either game. If money is a worry then Snood is the cheapest at $3.99 compared to B-A-Ms $4.99