In the early days of electronic gaming, the biggest challenge game developers faced was coming up with new and exciting games to market to consumers. These days, their biggest challenge has become finding new ways to convince consumers to buy the same games over and over each time they are re-released for a new generation of consoles.
Take Bust-A-Move (originally Puzzle Bobble), for example. Since the game’s 1994 arcade debut, it has been ported to over a dozen different consoles, including the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn, Sega Dreamcast, Gameboy Advance, Gamecube, Playstation 2, and many more. And just when you swore you’d never buy another port of this game again, along comes Ultra Bust-A-Move for the Xbox, which offers a feature many gamers have been hoping to get for years: online play.
Ultra Bust-A-Move makes no attempt to reinvent the bubble, er, wheel. Like every previous incarnation, the object of the game is to clear all the colored bubbles stuck to the top of the play area by launching other colored bubbles at them. Sticking three bubbles of the same color together causes them to pop, dropping any other bubbles hanging off of the cluster. In one player mode your goal is to clear each stage of all bubbles and continue on to the next. With two players, you’ll need to clear your side of bubbles faster than your opponent.
Various game modes from past versions (including four-player mode from the N64 version) have been stripped, making this particular port relatively lean. Also missing are Bub and Bob, the cute dinosaurs from the Bubble Bobble franchise who have appeared in all previous incarnations of the game. This time around they’ve been replaced by generic looking bubble-headed people.
Without any new in-game features, Taito is betting people will be interested in Ultra Bust-A-Move solely for the online experience. The Xbox Live portion offers a simple head-to-head experience that works as advertised. Again there are no surprises or special features to be found here, but if you’ve been dying to play Bust-A-Move online against other people via a console gaming system, here’s your chance.
And to be honest, that’s really the only reason to purchase Ultra Bust-A-Move. Not to burst your bubble, but if you aren’t interested in online play and already own another version of this game, you can skip this one.