Bub and Bob are back to their puzzling tricks in New Bust-A-Move (or New Puzzle Bobble here in the UK)…
I have to say that I’ve never been a fan of Taito’s Bubble Bobble platforming games, but with Bust-A-Move it’s a whole different story, I absolutely love these game. I used to plough tons of cash into a Neo Geo arcade machine located in my local student’s union back in the day. Sometimes depriving me of essential beer funds.
There are a ton of Bust-A-wannabes out there, particularly on the AppStore, but for some reason they just don’t come close. It must be Taito’s formula. Sure, there have been some duds in the franchise over the years, but as long as the game sticks to the basic formula it tends to work out great.
New Bust-A-Move is no different. It adds the adventure style mode of play like most updates of popular franchises, but it doesn’t try pushing it too far, and in doing so it hasn’t diluted that famous puzzle gameplay.
An over-world map offers up the various areas you can visit, and acts as a hub to the levels. Each area contains ten or so levels, culminating in a boss battle to complete that area.
The level order is branching, so after completing one you may unlock more then just the next level. So if you get stuck on one for a while (which you will), you can take a break from that and try another.
There are six different level, or puzzle, types. You have the regular type where the bubbles slowly descend towards you and so you must pop them all to win. Then there is what I call the bird level, where bubbles are attached to hovering birds. The trick here being that the more you attach to the bird, the heavier they get, and so begin to descend. Others include one where you must drop the attached amulet to win, and there’s even a bonus type level that plays like a shoot’em up. By far the most challenging of these, though, is the monster level. Here you have a little flying monster that swoops in and deposits more bubbles on the game screen as you are trying to burst them.
As mentioned earlier, to compete an area you must defeat the boss. These can be tricky too, often requiring you to attack their weak points while also taking out the bubbles. One example requires you to free the bird from the weighty bubbles, so that they fly up and stun the creature, allowing you to pelt it with bubbles to defeat it.
To help you in your quest there are 13 different power-up bubbles. These can both help and hinder you. From the likes of Star bubbles that will remove all similar coloured bubbles from the game, to Copy bubbles that affect the surrounding bubbles by changing their colour and adding more, their random nature means that no level is quite the same.
Graphics are bight and cheery, with fun 2D artwork for the creatures and environments. But I have to say I’m not a big fan of the typography they’ve gone with here. The main menu type is garish, and the text for instructions, and intros for each puzzle are ugly, hard to read and badly aligned. It doesn’t take anything away from the gameplay, but it doesn’t look as polished as it could be. The music on the other hand is as cutesy as ever. With that toe-tapping signature tune woven into the new compositions.
The controls for New Bust-A-Move are One of the best aspects of this game. All touch based, they offer two ways to shoot. You can opt to simply tap where you want to place a bubble, or use the slingshot method of dragging back the bubble while aiming and letting go to fire. Both these methods of control are available to you at anytime, so you can choose on the fly. A new added way of firing bubbles has been added too. This is more of a strategic method, for reaching bubbles at the top of the screen. By holding down your finger as you fire, you can activate a moving aiming reticule. Once the reticule is hovering over your chosen target area you can then let go to cause the bubble to jump over any other bubbles and slot into place. It’s not as easy as it sounds, and you can easily miss. But it’s a great way of adding more skill and strategy to the levels.
Overall, New Bust-A-Move offers around 2-3 hours of puzzle action in the adventure mode. But then there’s always the endless mode too, which offers up the more classic style gameplay. There’s no multiplayer which is a shame, and for some odd reason the game doesn’t support multi-tasking. But, what your left with is still one of the most enjoyable and addictive puzzle franchises of all time, and this latest iOS iteration continues that tradition.