Ready for another bubble bath? The most popular bubble game is back, in case you missed previous installments…
May 15, 2007 – Bubbles, bubbles, and more bubbles! Did you think it was over? No! Majesco brings Bust-a-Move to the Wii with the new title Bust-a-Move Bash! This is another puzzle game that will always catch my attention, even if it’s been re-made a zillion times.
Why do they keep making the same game for every system that comes out? Obviously, because it sells. No matter how much or how little they have changed it, puzzle game lovers will always feel that initial attraction towards any game titled Bust-a-Move. And that’s how, again, I find myself playing a game that I’ve been insistently playing on all different consoles and handhelds to date.
Bust-a-Move Bash! doesn’t have many new things to offer; needless to say, there’s nothing truly extraordinary from all the features that were newly offered. As you may have guessed, motion-sensitive controls come into play in this new title. No more using the joystick to aim the ball; we’ll use the Wii-mote instead. But wait; do you know what Bust-a-Move is about? Simply imagine a bunch of different colored bubbles hanging from the ceiling. Lucky you, you’ll be controlling a cannon from down below and shooting bubbles towards the top in order to match the different colored balls. You’ll pop them when you make a group of three or more of the same color; whatever bubbles were hanging from that group you just popped will fall down and disappear as well. The more balls you get rid of in one shot, the more points you will achieve, and if you’re good and lucky, you’ll become the new bubble-popper champ. However, as time goes by, the ceiling will periodically drop down; if the bubbles ever touch the danger line, you’ll lose and will have to start the level all over again. This is a game that has kept people addicted since it first came out in the form of Puzzle Bobble, Taito’s arcade puzzle game launched to the public in 1994.
The Wii-mote handles the gameplay quite well; they did a good job with that. You can choose to hold the Wii-mote as a gun and point towards the screen in different directions to move the bubble-shooting cannon, or you can hold it like an umbrella (baton, they call it) and twist your wrist to switch where the cannon is pointing at. The first way seems to be more accurate and also less tiring. However, both control systems are kind of tiring, compared to the classic way of playing Bust-a-Move. For this kind of game, I’d rather play with standard controls and not worry about the way I’m holding the controller or if I’m pointing at the screen correctly. Using standard controls is not an option in the single player mode though.
Two options are available for single player mode: Puzzle and Endless. Puzzle mode contains five themed levels with a total of 500 stages that seem as endless as the Endless mode itself. Of course, this game has always been about addiction; see how long you last and don’t quit until you’re actually bored! Even if you are bored, you’ll find yourself pushing the “next” button at the end of each stage. There’s no real goal here other than finishing all 500 stages and accumulating as many points as you can. If you are defeated in one of the stages, you’ll lose those points though, so it’s more about how long you can last, whether you’re playing Puzzle mode or Endless mode. There is a small game-art gallery where you unlock pictures of the characters and other content like that, but it’s not very enticing, I have to say. No skins or backgrounds to unlock here, you’ll just play with what there is. Each of those five stages has two to four different backgrounds and skins with different themes that randomly decorate the arena. They look really nice, modern, and innovative at first but they get old really quickly. As if that wasn’t enough, some of them are so colorful, bright, and “Japanesy” that will almost make you blind (especially the second level, with a “Candyland” kind of theme). A bit more variety and originality throughout the game would have been appreciated, particularly after seeing that the few themes that were created are actually quite nice and different from previous Bust-a-Move games; the potential was there.
The only thing that has been added to the gameplay is the UFO element and the ability to choose between two bubbles before you launch them. UFOs appear on the screen and fly from right to left or left to right once in a while. If you shoot them down, you’ll be able to grab the power-up bubble they were holding, which has special abilities, some of which we’ve seen in previous installments. There’s the fire ball, for example, which burns down some of the bubbles that touch it when you shoot it towards them. The star bubble explodes and makes bubbles of the same color throughout the screen disappear.
A special Shooting mode was made available in Bust-a-Move Bash!. It’s the same one you’ll play as a bonus level in Puzzle mode. Bubbles will fly across the screen, both vertically and horizontally, and your goal is to shoot at them by aiming with the Wii-mote and pressing A or B (Duck-hunt style). No cannon here, just a crosshair that shows where you’re pointing at. The trick is that some bubbles are blue, some are green, some are yellow, and some are red. The color of the crosshair needs to match the color of the bubbles you’re going to shoot, otherwise it won’t work. By pressing (+) or (-) or using the D-pad, you’ll change the color of the crosshair. That’s fine until the bubbles start going faster and faster and you don’t have time at all to change the color before shooting. The goal is to last as long as you can, which will be just a few seconds, unless you’re a super-multi-tasking machine that can get it done lightning fast. This game mode wasn’t very well thought out. It’s not fun when you know it gets impossible that quickly!