When a review is marked as ‘in progress’, it is done on the basis that enough time has been invested to obtain solid impressions even though we have been unable to beat it. This may be down to an extreme length or brutal difficulty, but either way it is a title that has overcome us… at least for a period of time.
Games marked as such will receive the usual review treatment, plus some additional footage to help give you a general idea of what to expect. These games will likely be finished at some point, and the review will be updated accordingly. As such, keep checking back if you want to keep a track of our full final thoughts when we have them!
Many thanks to the publisher for the review code
Puzzle Bobble is one of those series that everyone knows about, yet hasn’t been in circulation for quite some time. You’d be hard pressed to find a gamer that doesn’t recognise the cute little dinosaurs and their bubble blowing antics. It was inevitable then that the franchise would receive a modern revival at some point, and here it is with Puzzle Bobble Everybubble. With a hefty price tag, it has a lot to do to prove its worth to fans of the series.
As the game opens up with its bright and colourful presentation, its clear to see that the developers have a lot of love for the series and have updated it to both look modern whilst still retaining that classic feel. The days of Bust a Move are over, however, as it isn’t only the Japanese name that has carried over – our prehistoric pals are voiced completely in Japanese too. It’s unfortunate that the localisation hasn’t stretched as far as the voice acting, but it’s not that much of a loss considering that the story is essentially nonsensical tripe about some fella blowing bubbles that are trapping inhabitants of the island. There’s plenty of dialogue, although none of it really goes anywhere and will have you quickly reaching for the skip button so that you can get straight to the action.
For those unfamiliar with the format, Puzzle Bobble Everybubble has your dinosaur rooted in the middle of the screen, and has to aim and shoot coloured bubbles overhead in order to try and connect three or more of the same colour together. The goal is to save the inhabitants that are trapped in some of the bubbles, so it isn’t quite necessary to destroy them all – but you’ll probably clear out most in your effort to clear the stage regardless.
To make things harder, the branch holding up the bubbles will gradually lower, thus forcing you to clear out the bubbles quickly so that they don’t reach the floor and force a game over. Taking out the bubbles efficiently is thus the key to success, and the ability to keep one of your bubbles in reserve will help more advanced strategists clear even the hardest of levels in record time. Clearing stages fast has the added benefit of granting you star bonuses, which will unlock an extra set of challenging levels for you to play through should you be able to master all the normal stages.
To add to the strategy, there are different curveballs that the game throws at you to force you to think differently. Bombs will explode bubbles in the nearby vicinity, and special star bubbles will remove all colours matching the bubble you hit it with. There are also neutral bubbles that change colour depending on what bubble touches them, allowing you to create your own path to the trapped residents.
Each area has plenty of stages for you to play through, in addition to those EX variants, and all of them can also be played with up to four players locally. It’s a nice little addition for those wanting to play through with friends, and I personally found it was a good way to prevent it from feeling repetitive too soon.
In addition to the rather robust story mode, you can also go head to head with a friend in the online versus mode. Considering this is where most longtime fans will probably spend most of the time, it works rather well – although unfortunately it’s only limited to 1 v1. It’s a shame that they didn’t allow up to four players, like with the story mode, as that would have been a good way to make it feel like a fresh experience when compared to the older titles in the franchise.
As one who doesn’t care much for multiplayer, I found myself more enticed by the other bonus mode, entitled Puzzle Bobble Vs Space Invaders. As the name suggests, this is a mashup of the two games, with the rows of aliens being replaced by coloured bubbles. Both you and your foes can only move horizontally, and your shots will only destroy groups of bubbles. Enemies will fire back at you too, forcing you to play carefully yet fast enough to be able to destroy the incoming attack. It works surprisingly well too and offers a fun diversion from the main game.
Does all of this content help justify the price-tag? Well, perhaps. If you’re a big enough fan of the series, then doing everything the game has to offer will take quite a lot of time, and the multiplayer mode will offer additional hours of fun. Sure, the menu screens could do with a patch to get rid of the questionable framerate and stuttering animations, but given that it performs well in-game, it’s not much of a deal-breaker.
Overall, Puzzle Bobble Everybubble is a neat new addition to the franchise. With a long story mode, versus mode, and even a cool little crossover with Space Invaders, there’s certainly enough here to keep fans busy for a while.