NINTENDO DS REVIEW: BUST A MOVE

Don't just stand there...bust a move! by Cole Smith

January 2 2006 - If you haven't played or at least heard of Bust-a-Move, then welcome to Planet Earth. Hope you had a nice trip. I'll take you to our leaders. One is named Nintedo, another is named Sony and last but not least, you must meet Bill Gates. I hear he's from another planet also.

As far as arcade puzzle games go, Bust-a-Move is in the same company as Tetris. It's a classic gameplay style that has spawned many imitators including the most recently released rip-off, Snood 2. One might even suggest that Bust-a-Move is a bastardized version of Tetris. Just don't say it out loud.

Maybe you're not from another planet but you've got a really poor memory. I can identify with that. So here's a refresher course for you. The objective in Bust-a-Move is to launch colored balls (or bubbles if you prefer) into the air, one at a time, into a large group of ball that are hanging from the top of the screen. Manage to link three balls of the same color and they will disappear, causing the balls hanging beneath them to also fall. The color of each ball is determined by the CPU, but you can see the color of the next one on deck so that you can plan ahead. Clear the playfield of all the balls and move on to the next level.

It's that simple. But there are some deviations that make the gameplay more interesting. There are special balls that do special things. One ball will destroy the first ball that it comes in contract with while another will clear all balls of the same color of the one that it comes in contact with. You can use these special balls strategically to clear an entire screen with only a few well-placed shots or just to get you out of a tight spot.

Another component of the game is bank shots. You might not be able to reach some of the balls by shooting at them directly. In this case you might want to try banking the shot off the wall. It's a lot like pool in this regard and will help you to reach those trick balls that are higher up and blocked by other balls. It takes some time to get your angles right but eventually it will come to you. When you start a new game or have to redo a level you will be assisted by a broken-line indicator which outlines the path of your ball from start to finish, even allowing for the angle of the bank if you want to launch it off the wall. Teach your mind to think like the indicator and the game is yours.

Using the DS touchscreen features, this version of Bust-a-Move shows a dramatic improvement in the control system. The stylus is used to launch the ball. You pull it back like a slingshot and let it fly. The tension is always the same so you can't make the ball go slower or faster but what is amazing is that you can launch tons of balls in a shorter time period. You don't have to wait for the cannon to move from one end of the screen to the other. You just point the cursor in the direction that you want the ball to go, pull back and get ready to launch another one. This seriously increases the speed of the game - but you're not forced to go at breakneck speed if you don't want to. The D-pad will also facilitate the launching if you're not comfortable with the stylus.

Another excellent feature is the ability to change the colored ball with the one "on deck." Before, you had to shoot whatever ball was loaded in the cannon, although you could just sink it if you didn't have any use for it. This feature not only saves your butt once in a while but it adds more strategy to the gameplay.

Up to five players can take part in the multi-player game, and you only need one copy. You have to remember to save your high score because the game won't do that for you automatically.

The characters, the music and the colors would make one think this game is only intended for young girls and male hairdressers - but that would be wrong. Sure the characters are saccharine sweet and the music would put a diabetic into an instant coma but that's a huge part of the Bust-a-Move franchise.

Although I do like playing Ultra Bust-a-Move on the Xbox, mainly for the larger screen, I have to admit that this DS version is hands-down the best version of this franchise due to the control system and the new swap-a-ball feature. Get this game.

Features:

  • Enhanced for the Nintendo DS
  • Touchscreen slingshot is used for launching balls
  • Challenge yourself to over 250 puzzles and tons of secret puzzles
  • Special bubbles like Bomb, Star, Rainbow and the grief causing Nuisance bubble.
  • Also featured are 5-player multi-player modes and DS Download sharing for single-cart group play

By Cole Smith
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
Bust A Move (DS)
3.2
Graphics
Somewhat barren on the outside of the playfield but at least there's not much to distract you.
5.0
Control
The use of the DS's touchscreen brings the franchise to a new plateau. The action is faster and more furious than ever before. Definitely a challenge for fans.
3.1
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
It just wouldn't be Bust-a-Move without the excessively cheery Japanese music. Take that you serious Russians.
5.0
Play Value
This is the kind of game that can get the better of you. The addiction rate is very high so be careful as there is no cure.
4.5
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: DS
Dev: Taito/Happy Happening
Pub: Majesco
Released: Dec 2005
Players: 1 - 5
Review by Cole Smith

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best