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Game Profile
GENRE: Puzzle
PLAYERS:   1-8
April 17, 2007
Bust-A-Move Live!

Bust-A-Move DS

Ultra Bust-A-Move

Super Bust-A-Move 2

Super Bust-A-Move

 Written by David Taylor  on January 24, 2007

First Impressions: The best bust since Angelina Jolie is on the Wii.

Few would argue that Tetris is the game that popularized the puzzle genre on home consoles. Just like any runaway success story, the series spawned many imitators. Recognizing that there was a market, developers quickly determined that the key to a successful puzzle game was not to simply ape Tetris, but provide the public with something familiar, yet original. This was no doubt the thought Taito had when the developer decided to integrate characters from its popular Bubble Bobble franchise (which has yet to appear on the Virtual Console, get it together guys), into a unique puzzle game. As a result the first Bust-a-Move (known in Japan as Puzzle Bobble) was born in 1994. Since that time, the series has spawned numerous sequels and appeared on almost every major console in some form. In following suit, Taito is bringing this classic series to the Wii in perhaps its most revolutionary form to date with Bust-A-Move Bash.

The concept of Bust-A-Move, like most puzzle games, is deceptively simple. Bubbles of varying colors hang suspended in mid-air on a rectangular playing field. The player controls a bubble launcher to which the game supplies randomly colored bubbles to shoot into the aforementioned mass. The trick is to get three bubbles of the appropriate color together to make them disappear. The game possesses a good deal of strategy. Players will often have to shoot the bubbles at a precise angle to make them ricochet off of walls and into a tight notch.

Fans will be glad to hear that the single player modes in Bust-A-Move Bash retain this same gameplay style. As in previous entries, both Puzzle and Endless modes make an appearance. The former is the standard single player mode that encompasses 10 worlds (five unlockable) and over 500 levels. In other words if you are a puzzle fan, you had better break up with your girlfriend now. The main opponent in puzzle mode is the time limit. Endless mode, on the other hand, is where the bubbles keep on coming, and you have no objective other than eliminating them before the mass reaches the bottom of the screen and FATALITY!

Not content to simply rehash the previous games, Taito is adding some dramatically new elements into the mix with this installment. Perhaps the most intriguing of these is the ability for up to eight players to play simultaneously. In this mode, each player plays on the same playing field. The object here is to free special jewels trapped among the masses of bubbles. As you would expect the player who gets the highest number of jewels wins (whereas those who bought The Jewel of the Nile DVD lose automatically). Expect supreme chaos in this mode, as the sheer amount of bubbles being shot around would make you think someone slipped Mr. Bubbles into the waters of Normandy.

Other new features include a Shooting mode that allows players to aim and shoot bubbles as they float across the screen. The player uses the D-Pad in this mode to switch to the aiming reticule to the appropriate color. While this may sound extremely simple, the speed and amount of bubbles that appear means that players will have to put their reflexes to the max.

Another new addition is UFOs that float in the playing area. These UFOs can both hamper players by serving as obstacles as well as holding power-ups to help you clear the screen. These power-ups include fire bubbles, star bubbles and bowling balls, all of which should be familiar to series' veterans.

The game features the same colorful 2D graphics to which series fans have grown accustomed. Needless to say the game is not pushing the Wii's horsepower, yet at the same time the ?if it ain't broke, don't fix it? formula seems to apply. What Majesco has revealed so far shows colorful backgrounds with themes varying from a carnival to a winter wonderland. Fans will be glad to hear that series mainstays such as Bub and Bob (the two dragons from the Bubble Bobble franchise) will return as playable characters, as well as some new and old faces.

In terms of control, the player has the option of holding the Wii-mote either vertically or horizontally in order to aim the bubble launcher. In either case, a simple tap of the B button launches the bubble into the air.

Final Thoughts
Bust-A-Move Bash seems to be a step in the right direction for the series. By adding a strong multiplayer element, the game should attract a new legion of fans to the series, while not changing the game so dramatically to alienate old fogies like myself. Keep an eye out for the game stateside sometime in early 2007.

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