Utilizing simple controls and playful characters and environments, the Bust-A-Move series has made its appearance on nearly all consoles and handhelds since its American debut in 1994. Square Enix has now taken its puzzle series to the Nintendo 3DS in Bust-A-Move Universe. But does the game provide enough new features to take it to next dimension, or does it fall flat?
Sadly, the game doesn’t offer much to keep fans of the series satisfied. And even newcomers will wonder where the rest of the game is. The game may be fun, but a lack of several modes keep it from truly shining on the 3DS.
For those of you who are new to the Bust-A-Move series, the premise of the game involves grouping at least three same-colored bubbles together to pop them and clear them from your screen. Your two characters Bub and Bob man your bubble cannon which you can aim using the Circle Pad or D-Pad. You can also fine-tune your aiming by using the shoulder buttons and bounce your bubbles off the walls for a range of trajectories and angles. As you pop bubbles, your power gauge fills up and you can use certain items like lasers to clear the stage more quickly. The ceiling also begins to fall down after a while so you need to hurry or else your bubbles will be pushed past a fault line and you will lose.
Bust-A-Move Universe may have “universe” in its title, but you really don’t get a huge amount of modes for you to play with. In fact, the game is more of a budding nebula than a universe since you only get two gameplay modes. With a total of eight worlds each having 10 levels apiece, you will definitely finish the game’s main Puzzle mode in a few hours, and after you’re done with that, all you have left is Challenge mode which offers you two timed games and an endless mode.
While previous titles offered some form of multiplayer mode, Universe, does not. This really hurts the game’s replay value since Challenge mode can only entertain you for so long. The game does give you achievements to unlock as you play such as bursting a set number of bubbles or playing it for a set number of time, but you don’t get anything with each award you unlock. All you get is a little icon stating you completed its requirement.
The best part of the game though is its simple presentation. Each stage you play through has the same song remixed differently depending on the stage’s theme. You’ll hear eclectic remixes of the same song that surprisingly do not get old and give the game a very relaxing experience. The graphics are also simple, but colorful enough to catch your attention. When you turn on the 3D effects, the flat graphics jump out at you like in a pop-up book and have great depth amidst the backgrounds.
Despite its charm and addictive puzzles, Bust-A-Move Universe seems to miss a lot of features that really could have made it a great title. If you haven’t played this series before, you might think twice about picking up Universe since you can’t play it with anyone else. But if you’re simply looking for a relaxing one-player puzzle game for your 3DS, then this game might satisfy you for a few hours. Plus if it makes you feel any better, it’s $10 cheaper than the other 3DS launch titles.
A copy of Bust-A-Move Universe for 3DS was provided to us for this review from Square Enix.