LadiesGamers Puzzle Bobble

Puzzle Bobble Everybubble! Review

Game: Puzzle Bobble Everybubble!
Genre: Action, Arcade, Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer|Publisher: Taito | ININ Games
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US E
Price: US $39.99 | UK £34.99 | EU € 39,99
Release Date: May 23rd, 2023

Review code provided with many thanks to PR Hound. 

Hello, Old Bubbly Friend

To me, Puzzle Bobble will always be known as Bust a Move, the older, better Western title for this series. I love this series, ever since I played Bust a Move 2 at the arcades all those years ago on the Isle of Wight, I have always had a fondness for it. In fact, when I married the love of my life, we played Bust a Move 4 in front of all our wedding guests to prove who was the greatest. Unfortunately, it wasn’t me in this instance.

Just like life in general this series of games has seen many highs and some pretty bad lows including a terrible IOS gatcha game. Over the last few years, we have seen a resurgence of the series with the first two arcade games releasing the Arcade Archives on Switch and even Bust a Move 3 getting a somewhat remastered version. Puzzle Bobble Everybubble! feels like a celebration of the series. Though probably not my favourite in the game’s long history, this is a great place to start for newbies or those that have been away from the series for some time.

LadiesGamers Puzzle Bobble
Under pressure but with a cool hairdo

Matched 3 Before it Was Cool

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, I’ll give you a quick rundown. Puzzle Bobble is an action puzzle game. The game aims to shoot coloured bubbles from the bottom of the screen towards the mass at the top. Match three of the same colour, and they will pop, but there are a few more tricks to the gameplay than this. The most notable is creating a clump of various coloured bubbles and then popping the branch holding them together, causing a glorious cascade of bubbles. This will net you a nice score, but if you play in Versus mode, it will send bubbles to your opponent, making their popping escapes much tougher. 

The main event is the story mode which is reminiscent of the puzzle mode seen in older entries of the series. This sees you engage in several small single-screen levels where the goal is to clear the board of bubbles. If you’re a newbie to the series, this does an ample job of getting you used to the game’s general mechanics and power-ups. Controls could not be easier to point and shoot your bubbles from the bottom of the screen using a handy guide arrow.

Difficulty Ramps Up

Unlike previous entries in the series, I was genuinely surprised by the challenge on offer in story mode. The first few levels of each new island you take on are a total cakewalk. The difficulty does quickly ramp up, throwing plenty of curve bubbles into the mix to test your skills. If you’re not the biggest fan of puzzle games, don’t let the label put you off. The beauty of this series is that you can figure solutions out for yourself. It’s you against the timer more than anything, allowing multiple ways to clear the board but the incentive to return if you want to go for the 3-star rating.

This is a great game to dip in and out of, even if you only have small bubbles of time available. A niggle I have with the flow of the game is that it jumps you back to the menu every time you finish a level leading to a lot of pointless selecting of the next one and loading. It would have made more sense to lead into the next level until you decided to quit. 

LadiesGamers Puzzle Bobble
Need a hand? Bring a friend locally, or AI controlled

Extra Modes

For me, where the game falls a little short is in the versus mode. Older entries in the series put a lot more effort into this mode from a single-player perspective. There, you would face off against another character across several levels with difficulty gradually increasing. In this game, there’s more of a focus on single matches. Simply select your opponent, choose their difficulty and play a match.

It just doesn’t have the same arcade feel I used to love. Regardless, playing this with friends is still brilliant. You can also put your skills to the test online. But during the review, I could not find any matches, so I can’t comment on how well this runs. All I can say is it has a ranked matchmaking system. So provided the game has a decent fan base, you may at least be pitted against someone of a similar skill level.

LadiesGamers Puzzle Bobble
Versus is best with a human.

Pick-up-and-play Arcade Fix

The last mode added is Puzzle Bubble Vs Space Invaders, a combination of two games that works surprisingly well. The player is now mobile at the bottom of the screen, able to throw up bubbles towards the now colour-coded Space Invaders to clear the board. It’s an addictive pick-up-and-play arcade fix that fits into a generous package. 

Probably the best feature of Every Bubble is the ability to play with others locally; it’s up to 4 players across all modes. The difficulty is appropriately increased in story mode with more players increasing the board size. A fascinating feature is if you want to see these larger boards but lack friends, you can add in AI buddies instead. Unfortunately, the AI is pretty mixed in terms of cooperation, acting more as a hindrance than a help, so maybe stick with humans for this one.

LadiesGamers Puzzle Bobble
A neat spin on two retro classics

Return to Rainbow Islands

The game has a story, but much like every entry of this series, it acts more like chocolate sprinkles on a cappuccino. It’s there, but you’re really here for the caffeinated goodness that makes up the brew or, in this case, the gameplay. Coffee talk aside, you follow the familiar dinosaurs Bub and Bob and friends as they have to deal with a large-scale bubble crisis created by the bad wizard. It’s up to the overly happy dinosaurs to pop the bubbles across Rainbow Islands and save the day. The story is presented in the short cutscene with rather high-pitched squeaking, very much included to pierce the ear drums. This design is nothing new for the series, and it can be skipped. Let’s just say I don’t know any gamer that plays Puzzle Bobble for the compelling story. 

The presentation of the game is excellent. Bright colours and happy tunes vibrate positivity and a welcoming experience that is for all audiences. You can unlock new characters, including some familiar faces from the series, as well as cosmetics like goggles and silly wigs. Seeing the happy dinosaurs feels like seeing an old friend. While the overall tone doesn’t quite replicate the arcade experience, it was hard not to draw a smile each time I picked up this game. The game’s performance on Switch is great, playing in TV and handheld modes.

LadiesGamers Puzzle Bobble
Can you feel the excitement?

Conclusion: Bubbles For Everybody

Bust of Move Everybubble! (sorry, Puzzle Bobble) is a solid return to a much-loved arcade puzzler. If you have been away from the series for a while, this is a welcome return to see an old friend. If you’re new, this is a great jumping-on point if you’re looking for one of the best arcade puzzlers in the genre. A hearty challenge to enjoy alone or with friends. It falters a little for me by its lacklustre Versus mode, which doesn’t quite recapture the thrill of the arcade games. Still, the experience was enough to bubble up all the warm moments I have had playing previous entries in the series with my wife. And in time, I hope to share this with my boy.

Now, for the love of all that is bubbly, can we have a new Rainbow Islands game Taito? 

Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot

I like it a lot

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