Since the Bust A Move (Puzzle Bobble) debut in 1994 on the Neo Geo, the match 3 puzzle formula has been copied many times, sometimes well (Bubble Bash) and sometimes poorly (Snood). iSplume by Flash Bang Studios sits somewhere in the middle. Based on Splume, their flash version (which you can play here), the object of the game is to remove all Splumes from the screen, match three of the same colour Splumes together and they will pop, eliminating themselves from the game screen. Meet the ‘win’ objective for that level by clearing as many Splumes as you can and it’s on to the next. But fill the screen with Splumes and hit the red bar at the bottom of the screen… then it’s game over.
If you have played the flash version, then beware that it is not quite the same. The presentation is similar – more on that later – but the way it plays is slightly different. The Splumes appear much larger on the iPhone version, and Gravity has been added, which allows you to influence the Splumes after you have released them. For instance, if you have 2 Splumes together, you can tilt the iphone and they will sway in that direction, if they come into contact with a third Splume of the same colour, they will pop. While I like the tilt aspect, I don’t like that the Splumes are so big. The game would play better with smaller Splumes in greater numbers. I also don’t like the controls for releasing the Splumes. Instead of controlling the angle of fire by sliding a launch device, you simply tap where you want the Splume to go, which makes the game too easy. Half the fun of Bust A Move is moving the launcher in position under pressure! The game only features 20 levels, which is a little short for a puzzle game and will only last you an hour or so of play.
The presentation is very clean and simple (in a good way), and follows a similar colourful flash style of Loco Roco on the PSP, the Splumes pop with a satisfying splat animation. The menu system is a little uninspired though, featuring basic iPhone SDK graphics on a static background. Sound is non-exsistent which is a big disappointment. It would be great to hear the pops of the Splumes as you match them. And some happy cheesy music would blend well with the art style.
Overall, iSplume has some promise, but as it is now it feels very much like am unfinished beta. If Flash Bang can add sound and bring in better gameplay to match the flash version, plus add more levels, then it may be wortt the $2.99 price tag. But until that time, I would avoid it and pic up Bubble Bash for your Bust A Move clone addiction.
Presentation & Graphics: 7
Nice art style: cute, simple and clean. Minimal animation, but looks good.
No sound or music. What?
Not as fun as it’s flash bigger brother, which is a shame. The tilt gravity is a good addition but it doesn’t save the game.
Game life: 4
Only 20 quick levels. Online leaderboards may get you coming back if you must be the best at everything, but otherwise it’s short lived.
Game rating: 5
There are better Bust A Move clones out there. Its worth keeping an eye on for updates. But until then hold on to your cash.