Believe it or not, bubbles, crabs and baseball bats are fun times.
Bubble Bash, Gameloft's cheery iPhone game, whisks you to a tropical paradise and challenges you to line up three or more of the same colored bubbles to make them disappear. It's a novel concept and one the company handles well. It's also very familiar to anyone that cares about puzzle games. You don't need to look closely. It's Bust-A-Move with a new coat of paint.
Bust-A-Move, also called Puzzle Bobble to some, is a 1994 arcade game that was whored out to what seems like every console in history. For newcomers, it's a cute and addictive game that'll suck hours of their time. For hardcore gamers, it's the same cheeseburger they've eaten for well over a decade; tasty, but it lost its appeal ages ago. This ultimately makes and breaks Bubble Bash. Either you've never seen it before and want to play until the wee hours of the morning, or you're wondering how Gameloft made it without getting sued.
Regardless, it's a fun little game with 100 levels of bubble bursting shenanigans, made even cooler because instead of launching the balls with a canon, you crack them with a baseball bat, which defies all logic of bubbles, but you needn't worry about such matters, especially as your platform rises with each swing and the number of bubbles increases. Fail to clear them all, and it's game over.
Ultimately, Gameloft succeeds because of the game's presentation and gameplay. The tropical locales feature a sparkling blue ocean, flying toucans, likeable characters, a friendly crab and plenty of palm trees. In addition, there are numerous modes and variations on the classic bubble popping formula. One mini-game tasks you with hitting birds flying across the screen, while another challenges you to release balloons by destroying bubbles attached to them.
On the downside, our years of playing Bust-A-Move couldn't keep us interested long. Despite the new wrappings, Bubble Bash plays too similar to the game it mimics. Furthermore, the Gravity Mode, where you tilt your character by maneuvering the iPhone, is more novelty than helpful, since it's much easier using your fingers. The biggest issue, however, is the lack of a guide that shows you a bubble's angle. Previous Bust-A-Move games show you where your bubble will wind up if you intend to ricochet off a wall, but not so here.
That said. Bubble Bash is a cool little App that's cheaper than most games ($7.99) and a worthy pick-up. Besides, it has a mode called Crab Fever, where you pop as many bubbles as possible. Anything with the word crab in it that doesn't require us going to the doctor is good in our book.
What's Hot: Semi-addictive puzzle popping, bright and cheery graphics, crystal clear music, has a mode called Crab Fever.
What's Not: Rips off Bust-A-Move, Gravity mode isn't so hot.