Console: Super NES

Company: Taito

Release Date: January 1995

Genre: Puzzle

Number of Players: 1 or 2

Save Feature? Yes

The trademark of a good puzzle game is a unique concept backed by an enjoyable two player mode. However, a great puzzle game also needs to have that addictive quality that makes the game so engrossing. Great puzzle games are known for keeping you up into the wee hours of the morning. Although Bust-a-Move hasn't kept me up that late, it's a great puzzler that is definitely one of my favorites.

Overview: Bust-a-Move is your typical puzzle game in that it's easy to learn yet very difficult to master. The main object of the game is to eliminate all of the bubbles on the screen. To do this, you are given a cannon that shoots bubbles skyward. This may sound easy but there's more. What you want to do is form groups of identical bubbles (e.g. shoot purple bubbles at other purple bubbles). Once you line up three or more identical bubbles together, they will pop and free up space; simple as that. However, there is so much more to the game than simply shooting bubbles of the same color together. The real points in the game come from forming combinations. A combination is when you pop a large series of bubbles (e.g. seven red bubbles) or when you pop bubbles that are supporting other bubbles. For example, let's say that you have two green bubbles that are supporting a white bubble and an orange bubble. If you shoot a green bubble at the other green bubbles, those bubbles will pop and the two bubbles beneath them will fall also. If you want to really score high in this game, learning how to create combinations is paramount. This skill will come in handy for the versus mode as well.

What makes Bust-a-Move such a great game is that addictive quality I mentioned earlier. It's one of those games that keeps you coming back; don't be surprised if you find yourself playing this dandy deep into the night. It's a lot of fun searching for new combinations and trying different strategies. It is an excellent two player game as well. Since there is a handicap feature, amateurs and pros can enjoy playing against each other.

The variety in this game is excellent as well. There are three different games (Main game, Versus mode, and Challenge mode) and a whole slew of different endings as well. Just about anyone will find something in this game. If all else fails, there's the Challenge mode in which you try to bust as many bubbles as possible before having the ceiling fall in your face (literally!)

Graphics: Graphically, Bust-a-Move is very good for a puzzle game. It can't hold a candle to other games released at the same time such as Donkey Kong Country and Mega Man X2 but it gets the job done. Some of the backgrounds are nicely done (especially in the later levels). Overall, the graphics are nothing special but they are above average. The animation is very fitting for a game like this. It is hilarious! I love the various reactions of your characters (and the enemy opponents) throughout each match. Nothing is better than defeating your opponent and watching them run around frantically! It's great stuff!

Music: Although there are only a few themes in Bust-a-Move, they aren't that bad. As a friend of mine would say, they are short, repetitive, but catchy (SRBC in other words). The main theme that plays throughout the one player mode might remind NES fans of Bubble Bobble. It plays over and over but it's a very hummable track. Still, it would have been nice to hear new music every 10 levels or so. The sound effects are average although the popping sound (when you get a combination) is great.

Play Control: This category is of utmost importance in a puzzle game like Bust-a-Move. In a game like this, it only takes one mistake to cause major problems. As I mentioned before, you control the movement of a weird looking cannon and shoot bubbles. For the most part, the controls are very smooth. If you can't seem to aim the cannon in the right direction, the L and R buttons on the controller will allow you to make very slight changes. Although the controls are adequate, there are times when it is so difficult to hit a particular spot. I guess that you can't blame this on the play control but it would have been nice if it was just a teesy-weensy easier to nail certain spots.

Challenge: The cutesy dinosaurs of Bust-a-Move definitely appeal to youngsters. Unfortunately, this may have been a major blunder on Taito's part. Many teenagers and adults probably assumed that the game must be easy as pie. However, that is a shame because behind the veil of childlike dinos lies one of the toughest puzzlers in history! This game is mega and I mean mega tough! I had a whale of time beating this game...on easy mode! Heh, heh...I can hear you laughing right now but believe me, this is no laughing matter. Although Bust-a-Move is a very enjoyable game to play, you've got to be on your toes if you want to avoid being humbled by the computer.

Storyline: Although there are some puzzle games out there that actually have a storyline (e.g. Dr. Mario), that is not the case with Bust-a-Move. Your goal is simply to bust countless levels of bubbles without being busted yourself! Simple and to the point; I like it that way! The lack of a storyline doesn't hurt Bust-a-Move at all; the gameplay is what's important.

Funfactor: As you can probably tell from this review, Bust-a-Move is a very enjoyable game for a variety of reasons. It makes you think, it's addictive, and it gives you several different options. If you feel like an adventure, tackle the Main Game. If you'd rather just blast as many bubbles as possible, give the Challenge game a try. And lastly, if you're up for a little competition, challenge the computer to a game or two (or three...) Although the game isn't cheap (you're lucky if you find it for less than $30), it's worth a shot.

Negatives: As I mentioned before, a wider variety of music would have been a big plus. I guess that I was just spoiled by Bust-a-Move 2; that game had a lot of music (and good music at that). Ironically, the game seems to be way too challenging in the versus mode. I always seem to get flustered when I play this mode. It just seems like you have to be downright perfect to win (and then some!) Maybe I just need more practice.


Ratings: Graphics: 3.5 Music: 3.2 Play Control: 4.3 Challenge: 4.0 Storyline: N/A Funfactor: 4.2 Overall Score: 19.2 out of 25.0 (3.84 average) Overall Rating: Unsung Hero


Last Updated: October 23, 2009
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