Bust-A-Move, Puzzle Bobble, whatever you want to call it, is a time-tested, addicting and fun puzzler from Taito. It has appeared on various consoles over the past 15+ years, and has now made its way to Xbox Live Arcade, following the release of Bubble Bobble Neo a few weeks ago. There seem to be two camps when it comes to re-releases of classics on newer console hardware: either the game is clearly tossed out for a quick buck based on reputation, or the developers add something to the title to make your second, third, or whatever the count is purchase of the game worth your while. Luckily, Bust-A-Move Live! is much more of the latter than the former, making it a fun puzzler you should pay attention to on the XBLA service.
Sep. 30, 2009
Here are the basics: there are various colored orbs hanging from the ceiling, and you shoot them down by blasting more of these colored balls from below. Chances are good you have played Bust-A-Move or one of its variants in the past (Snood, perhaps?) so most people should be familiar with the concept. Three of the same color orbs touching means you’ve cleared those from the puzzle–continue to do this to clear the entire puzzle in single-player, or do this as much as you can to stave off losing and outlast your opponent in multiplayer.
There are different orbs with different powers as well–the flame burns away whatever pieces it touches, while the rainbow turns into the color of the object it was touching when they are cleared–and they are simple to use, as you just shoot them like any other orb. The most useful may be the crystal, which when shot eliminates every ball of that color along with it–this is also a great piece for multiplayer, since your cleared pieces make their way over to your opponent’s screen.
There’s plenty of single-player fun to be had here. Start with one of a few puzzles (named A, B, C, and so on) which then branch off into different options, and continues that way until you reach the end of the alphabet. You can replay this mode a few times without repeating puzzles, but even repeating them is worthwhile as you can improve upon your scores and times–the game tracks this information for you, and as any puzzle addict can tell you, things like that add a lot of replay value.
Multiplayer is also great, as you can play locally with a friend or over Xbox Live. There are various game modes here–different object sets, different ways of attacking your opponent with cleared pieces (traditionally from the top, more annoyingly from the bottom)–and matches are not one off events either, so don’t be discouraged if you get wrecked online or have a bad match the first time around, as there’s another chance for you right around the corner.
The music can at times become a little annoying, though there are parts of the song that plays again and again I enjoy–these parts sound like they belong in Chrono Trigger rather than Bust-A-Move, but it’s appreciated just the same. Like the music, the graphics can be hit-or-miss; they are bright and colorful as they should be, but the menus are bland with giant, ugly font, and the inclusion of avatars in multiplayer is just a bad decision–their fat, exaggerated heads get in the way when you’re trying to make shots down in the corners. You know, in some of the most important areas for accuracy in an entire Bust-A-Move match.
Blast Factor: It’s hard not to like this game, as it is Bust-A-Move. The next-gen additions don’t add a ton to the title–as stated, avatar inclusion is more annoying than fun, and the bland presentation takes away from some of the graphical high points–but you’ve got a time-tested puzzler available for you with online and local play, and chances are good that some people out there have not experienced the addiction that is Bust-A-Move as of yet. Now’s your chance to fix that issue.
Bust-A-Move Live! is available exclusively on the Xbox 360’s Xbox Live Arcade service for 800 Microsoft Points. A copy of this game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes.