Pop Review
Pop box art
System: Wii (WiiWare) Review Rating Legend
Dev: Nnooo 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Nnooo / Nintendo 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: May 12, 2008 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

With WiiWare now up and running, the future holds an exciting level of promise as the platform gives smaller developers a chance to truly shine on Nintendo's console. The potential for greatness also comes with a caveat: the possibility to disappoint. The reduced cost and instant distribution means players will be able to sample truly unique games from publishers big and small without major risk or financial outlay, but in some cases will they also be taken advantage of in the process? A game like Pop raises such a question.

Pop screenshot

Pop is truth in advertising taken to the very extreme; the game is solely about popping bubbles. Sound simple? It is. Does the game offer players enough incentive to play beyond the first few quirky minutes? Well…yes and no. Putting an end to tons of colorful bubbles, racking up score multipliers, and avoiding dangerous skulls is mildly fun in short bursts, but it's hard to shake the feeling something is missing from the experience. While playing the game, you may find yourself waiting for something big and exciting to happen only to be disappointed when that moment never truly arrives. The kicker is Pop is the kind of game players may find themselves returning to over and over again - against their better judgment in some cases - simply because it possesses a strangely satisfying, Zen-like quality.

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Initially, the concept is beyond basic. An endless stream of bubbles of various shapes, sizes, and colors will float across the screen in random cluster patterns. Your job is to pop the bubbles by pointing at them and clicking either the A or B button on the Wii Remote. The main objective is twofold; you must pop enough bubbles to reach score benchmarks that allow you to move on to subsequent waves while keeping the clock from ticking down to zero. Popping smaller bubbles will give you higher points, but popping large bubbles will add precious seconds to the clock. Taking out large clusters of bubbles in one shot gives you lots of points, and you'll score major bonus multipliers for popping a consecutive series of the same kind of bubble. Also, three seconds are taken from the clock every time you miss. A few minutes of these simple mechanics quickly grow boring, but things do pick up as new twists are added in.

Pop screenshot

As you progress to new waves, the direction of the bubble current will change and the speed will increase. The color patterns will also fluctuate from deep blues and purples, to reds and pinks, and so forth. This is around the time when new bubble elements (that produce unique effects when popped) start floating their way into the streams. Though they're cute, skull bubbles take time off the counter when popped and are best avoided altogether whenever possible. Radioactive bubbles slowly explode outward and pop any same-colored bubbles - for better or worse - they encounter. Another bubble gives you a larger pointer that's helpful when going after large swaths at a time, but it makes it difficult to pick out individual bubble types in a group. Vortex bubbles slow the flow of the stream and lower the pitch of the music and sound effects for a brief time. All these elements add in minor layers of strategy that make the fact you've just spent upwards of 25 minutes simply popping screens full of colorful bubbles a little less embarrassing.

Pop screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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