This week seems to be going really fast, which is just fine by me. I need the weekend to catch up on my backlog of games! I’d stay up and play now, but I think missing out on sleep might not be such a good idea. I’ll catch you all in a few hours, have a great Thursday morning.
Ah Bub and Bob…my favorite dinosaur duo. I’ve played their games since the days of Bubble Bobble. How could you not enjoy 99 levels of bubble spitting, enemy popping fun? Throw in a second player and you can kill an afternoon. Unfortunately the pair has fallen on rough days lately. Any Bubble Bobble sequels/remakes just don’t seem to recapture the fun of the NES version. I think the major problem is that these developers are just using a familiar series/set of characters to cash in. Make one crappy level, switch tile sets for 99 levels and call it a day. It’s always a shame to see something like this happen. On the other end of the spectrum we have the Bust-A-Move line of games. I am a puzzle fan, so I am always looking for what else is out there. I’ve been a fan of the Bust-A-Move games for years now, and there really aren’t any bad entries in the series. As long as the game does its core mechanic well (popping bubbles), you can’t really go wrong. I went out earlier yesterday to pick up my copy of Bust-A-Move: Bash for the Wii. I was really looking forward to it, seeing that I haven’t played a Bust-A-Move game in awhile. I never go into these games expecting much else than the puzzle mode and endless mode. Bash! does offer some new gameplay modes, but the heart of the game is what it has always been.
Bust-A-Move: Bash! doesn’t really have anything different as far as gameplay goes. There are other modes like versus and shooting modes…but they all have you doing the same thing. The focus is on the Puzzle mode gameplay mechanic, which happens to be the only mode I played today. Puzzle mode actually gives you a taste of shooting mode as well, which I will get into later. Puzzle mode gives you a preset level of bubbles that you have to clear. You have your bubble shooter that loads one bubble at a time into your chute. You press the A or B button to fire it upwards in order to connect it to two other bubbles of the same color. If three or more line up, they pop. The objective is to clear the entire screen. The bubbles on the playing field are constantly inching closer to the bottom of the screen. There is a red line that sits close to your bubble shooter, and if any of the bubbles from the playing field touch that line it’s game over. There are a few power-up bubbles that will help you along the way as well. Some bubbles will automatically get rid of all bubbles of the same color. Another bubble is made out of metal and will smash any other bubbles in the way until it hits a wall. One of my favorite bubbles is the slide bubble. This bubble will take your bubble shot and move it to the closest bubble of the same color. This way if you screw up, the bubble just slides into place for you.
Every time you clear 10 levels you get to try out a bonus level. The bonus level is a quick version of shooting mode. All shooting mode entails is pointing at the screen to shoot bubbles that fly by. You can lock onto 8 bubbles of the same color at once. The objective is to lock onto as many as possible and shoot them before they fly off screen. Bubbles fly in from all sides of the screen, all at varying speeds. You point the Wiimote at the screen, touch the bubbles with your target, and shoot. You also have to change the color of your target to the color of the bubbles. In the first Puzzle mode world, the bonus levels contain blue and red bubbles. As you get further into Puzzle mode you will have to deal with more colors at once. These Shooting mode bonus levels are fun for quick bursts, but I don’t see myself playing the actual Shooting mode too often. Even if it does provide some quick fun, you can tell that this mode was just thrown in because of the Wiimote capabilities.
The aspect I was most interested in with the game were the control schemes. Bust-A-Move has been largely unchanged for years now. The new control schemes had the ability to add something new to the game. While you can play with the Nunchuck or Classic Controller if you like, the Wiimote is meant to be the focus. Wiimote controls come in two different flavors (3 if you count a difficulty setting). The game starts you out with “gun style” as your default. This has you holding the Wiimote pointed at the screen. You move the Wiimote left/right in your hand to move your shooting arrow left and right. Very simple to understand. You want to shoot left, you point towards the left hand side of the TV. This wasn’t how I thought the game would control at first…I figured the default mode would be the other control scheme. “Baton style” has you holding the Wiimote vertically in your hand. Now you play as if the shooting arrow were actually in your hand. You pivot the Wiimote left and right to turn the arrow left and right. Once again, another perfectly easy control method to understand. I was surprised, but I actually enjoyed the “gun style” to the “baton style”. There’s nothing wrong with either control method, both work perfectly fine. It all comes down to whichever method feels most comfortable. The best news is that these two control schemes don’t hinder the game at all. I was worried that controlling the game with motion based gestures might throw off my skill. Within 5 minutes of play I had no trouble at all. I actually prefer controlling the game this way! The Wiimote has no trouble picking up your tiny adjustments, so you should be absolutely fine.
My only gripes are ones that come with the entire series. The biggest one is that some of the puzzle levels are just way too huge. There are some screens that have an absolutely enormous amount of bubbles to pop. You are hit with these levels out of nowhere, and are overwhelmed as soon as you see them. The bigger the set of bubbles, the smaller the actual bubbles get. When you have over 100 bubbles on screen at once, you are dealing with a very large play area and a very tiny target. It makes it very hard to zone in on the bubbles you want to hit. As you play along you become adjusted to these levels, but they still offer quite a challenge. Once again, this is no particular fault of Bash!, this is an issue that’s come up in many Bust-A-Move games.
One Bash! specific gripe is the music. From what I have heard, the music is pleasant if not uber-cute. I don’t have any issues with the songs, the issue is with how often you hear them. When you play puzzle mode you have to work through 50 levels in each world. You can probably finish the first world within an hour due to the ease of difficulty. The problem is that you’ll be hearing the same song looped over and over for about 95% of that time. The only break you get is when a bonus level comes up. The songs aren’t particularly long either, which makes them even more annoying. Like I said, the music isn’t bad…it’s just the number of times you hear it that will drive you nuts. I just wish that Taito took the time to make some more music. If we had a new song every 10 puzzle levels, things would have worked out very nicely.
Bust-A-Move: Bash! offers exactly what I wanted/expected from it. I am all about the puzzle mode, and what’s in Bash! is great. Controls work absolutely flawlessly, and as I mentioned, I really do enjoy them. It will be hard to go back to a more traditional control style in the future. I am yet to try out the other modes, but I am determined to get an 8 player game going. I’d like to do an End of day thought that’s all about the multiplayer…perhaps a picture diary. I will get 8 people together to play, trust me! If you are a Bust-A-Move fan, I don’t see why you wouldn’t enjoy this entry. $40 may be a little steep for some people, but with 500 puzzle levels, an endless mode, and a (hopefully good) multiplayer/party mode, you should find a lot to keep you busy.