Space Bust-A-Move Review
Space Bust-A-Move box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Taito Corporation 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Square Enix 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: July 29, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
The Right Move
by Maria Montoro

When Taito became a subsidiary of Square Enix, I wasn’t sure if it’d be a good or a bad thing; I didn’t want them to “transform” key Taito franchises, and at the same time, I wanted those franchises to stay afloat.

Space Bust-A-Move screenshot

Considering the Japanese gaming giant has high quality standards for their games, I shouldn’t have worried too much; the new Bust-A-Move title they’ve published for the Nintendo DS is very fun to play and offers several interesting features that make it a very complete offering – more so than the Bust-A-Move DS game published by Majesco back in 2005.

First of all, the graphics have been greatly improved. The classic characters look a lot sharper and cuter, and the bubbles and backgrounds are more interesting and elaborate. It also includes some very nice anime-style illustrations, and you can even unlock new bubble and arrow designs to customize the game. This makes the new title more visually appealing to start with, and then if you consider the great gameplay additions such as online and local multiplayer support, the diverse play modes, and the mini-games, you're in for a nice portable treat. The background music is what one would expect from this kind of game: classic arcade style, cute, cheerful, but a bit tiresome after a while; in its defense, the game includes a varied soundtrack with different tunes for each play mode.

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Bust-A-Move's classic gameplay hasn't gotten old. The goal is to aim the arrow and shoot down groups of bubbles of the same color. You can simply take down the bubbles one group at a time, or you can use strategy to pop bubbles that are holding others, so that when the upper group of bubbles vanishes, the rest of them will fall down as well. In fact, this method will give you better results all around, with time bonuses, attacks against the enemies, trade points, special Cosmo Bubbles, etc.

Space Bust-A-Move screenshot

Aiming at the bubbles is intuitive but not without challenge; sometimes you'll be able to just shoot straight up and take the bubbles down, while other times you'll have to plan a ricochet effect much like you would when playing pool. Thankfully, Square Enix and Taito's new game has tight controls. Moving the arrow launcher with the D-pad is a piece of cake, and if you prefer to use the stylus, you can do so as well. Simply tap (and hold) to the left or right of the launcher to aim, and then tap the bubble to shoot. Using the buttons certainly works better and is closer to the original gameplay controls, though of course, nothing beats a joystick!

The main modes in Space Bust-A-Move are Story, Versus, Endless, Challenge, and Extra. The main story includes Puzzle Bobble's classic duo Bub and Bob. They find themselves living a quiet and peaceful life in a planet far away when suddenly an unidentified object crashes right in front of their eyes. This is how they meet Snown, a prisoner of the evil Devilin. He warns Bub and Bob about the Cosmo Bubbles Devilin is trying to gather in order to rule the galaxy. It's now up to them to get a hold of those special bubbles before he does to avoid danger at all costs. In addition to regular puzzle-style gameplay split up between many different levels within different planets, players will have to face bosses at the end of each set of stages. Just as the difficulty of the puzzles increases as you advance, boss battles also get more tedious and require more strategy later on. In order to fight these bosses you'll have to use their surroundings to your advantage, bursting the bubbles they try to use as shields and making sure they never reach the bottom.

Space Bust-A-Move screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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