Puzzle Bobble Universe is the latest game to arrive on the 3DS, and although you could probably live without the 3D effect, which really serves no purpose other than being a tacked on gimmick, everything else about the game is pretty fun.
Playing Puzzle Bobble for the first time reminded me of both Tetris and Peggle. The main aim of the game is to shoot a bubble and connect it to at least two other bubbles of same colour in order to burst them; this is done by aiming an arrow at the bottom of the screen in the direction you wish to fire. You can also bounce bubbles off the wall in order to get the angle you wish.
To add a twist to proceedings, you also have a special gauge, which when filled will allow you to shoot special bubbles. Special bubbles vary depending on the level in which you are playing, therefore in level one you will make use of Spark Bubbles, which fly in an arc, changing all the bubbles to the same colour as the one that was hit. Wild Bubbles, which are gained at level 2, share the characteristics of all the bubbles, therefore if connected to two bubbles of the same colour it will burst all the bubbles of the same colour which are connected to the chain. Three wild bubbles can be fired once they are loaded to the arrow. Finally there are laser bubbles, which burst all of the bubbles in the line of sight.
There are of course a few twists, for one, if you manage to burst bubbles on the top row, the bubbles below them will drop and burst, this is a pretty decent tactic to employ. On the negative side as the screen fills the bubbles will start to head towards the line at the bottom of the screen, this means game over if you don’t manage to pop the bubbles before they cross the line. To add yet another twist the ceiling will also begin to lower, meaning the bubbles will reach the line quicker than you can burst them, which is especially frustrating in the later levels.
As well as bubbles dropping and ceilings lowering, the game also introduces Bonus time which activates when you burst more than six bubbles at a time. Bonus Time sees everything move a bit slower, allowing you to move more freely, and given bubbles don’t burst or drop until Bonus Time runs out this gives you some freedom to build up some great combos. Finally the game also includes Gimmick Bubbles, which appear occasionally appear in the lines and consist of bombs, bonus points and a few other surprises.
During each level in Puzzle Mode you will also be asked to collect keys, these keys will allow you to save a captured friend, which has benefits when you get to the boss round.
After clearing the tenth round of a stage (there are eight stages all in), you will then face a Boss Battle. During this fight you must try to defeat the boss with bomb bubbles which connect to him when fired. As with the main game, when three of more connect they will explode, causing damage. If you freed the friend then you will be able to fire bomb bubbles rapidly during the boss fight. As you progress through levels bomb bubbles start to change colour and don’t connect, therefore you need to be careful and plan ahead to cause the boss damage.
Outside of the Puzzle Mode, players also have the option of a Challenge Mode. In the Challenge Mode you are asked to select a time limit and a difficulty setting. When the game begins, a line of bubbles will appear on the ceiling and then when you burst a set amount a new line will appear. Obviously the aim is to complete the game by surviving till the time runs out.
Graphically Puzzle Bobble Universe is a very bright and colourful title. It’s well presented, pleasing on the eyes and easy to navigate. My main frustration is that the 3D is pointless, most of the time I just played with the 3D turned off, and to be honest I feel it would have been better if it just wasn’t included at all.
Puzzle Bobble Universe isn’t exactly innovative, however it still provides a very good, addictive challenge, meaning you will find hard to put down, and that is the sign of a good puzzler.
You can order Puzzle Bobble Universe from Shopto here.