Not since its debut in the early 90s has the Bust-a-Move series ever released an anticipated entry. A version of the popular puzzle series has come out on virtually every major game system since then, but the result has been the same; there hasn't been an effort to take the game to the next level.
What's It About?
Starring the popular blue and green dragons Bubble and Bobble, Bust-a-Move is a puzzle game that requires players to rid the board of its multicolored bubbles simply by using the gun at the bottom of the screen to make three bubbles of the same color touch.
Since the idea of the game is to make all the floating bubbles fall off the screen, players can execute combos and clear the boards faster by aiming for the top bubbles that hold all the pieces together. The game as a whole allows players to be creative, and it's the combination of creativity and speed that have made the game as competitive as it is when played with others which is unfortunate, because Bust-a-Move Universe is only one player.
Why Should I Care?
To give players more of an incentive to play the game, the Puzzle Mode includes a story. Though it's weak at best, it would at least provide some pleasure to those of younger ages. Basically throughout the planets in the universe, dragons gets trapped in a spaceships, and the only way to save them is to obtain the keys found in stages throughout the game.
At the end of every world, there's a boss fight that requires the player to throw three bombs at them to cause damage. It's nothing fancy, but it gives the game the character and stress it needs because there is no challenge to be had. Even if players somehow lack the motor skills to beat a boss at the end of the time limit, it's still considered a win (for some reason), and players can advance to the next world.
With all this is the game's Challenge Mode, which is virtually an endless chain of bubbles to play through until the player dies… or rather, the 3DS dies. It takes way too long for the game to become challenging, and before that even happens, the 3DS dies if it's not connected to some sort of power source.
What Makes It Worth My Money?
The game's production values are quite impressive, but considering it's a puzzle game, that's not really saying much. The 3D looks great and the blend of colors is definitely eye-popping, while the game sounds the way a puzzle game should sound–crisp.
As fun as the game may be, there simply isn't enough meat here to justify a $30 a purchase. Sure, it's $10 cheaper than every 3DS game available, but this is a game that has free knockoffs all over the internet, and if you really need Bust-a-Move in your pocket, there's a $5 app for that. With the 3DS, this is a game that Akira and Taito could've taken more of a risk on, but this is the same game that people have been playing for decades; it's just more eye-popping.