Bust-a-Move DS Review

Developer: Taito Publisher: Majesco
Release Date: December 13, 2005 Also On: None

Taito’s Bust-a-Move came into the gaming world in the Tetris era. Falling blocks and repetitive MIDI techno music were made a puzzle genre staple. Though this was the mold, Bust-a-Move was different. Rather than controlling falling blocks, the player had to shoot colorful bubbles into a box of other colorful bubbles. The goal was to link similarly-colored bubbles together, forming chains that broke away and made the blobs disappear. This core mechanic of Bust-a-Move allowed for intense multiplayer matches and addictive gameplay that has lived down throughout the years as a classic.

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Of course, this calls for a handheld recreation of the experience. And of course, the best system for it is the Nintendo DS. Bust-a-Move DS does a great job in bringing the gameplay to your hands but it doesn’t offer anything special whatsoever. There are three gameplay modes in Bust-a-Move DS, and in all of them, you’ll play the same basic idea over and over until you get tired. There’s the Puzzle mode, where you select one of 25 different challenges to play. Then there’s Endless mode, which has a name that explains itself. Last of all is the “Vs. CPU” mode, where you’ll go head-to-head against a CPU opponent similar to how you’d play against another person. All three modes offer an excuse to waste time but unless you love playing the same thing over and over without any variation, you’ll get pretty tired of doing the same thing forty or fifty times.

The gameplay itself is pretty fun to control. In the original Bust-a-Move, players controlled a bubble shooter that had a standard speed of rotation, which really limited the speed that a player could spit those bubbles out and clear puzzles. This isn’t the case in the DS version. To shoot bubbles in Bust-a-Move DS, the player holds back on the stylus and then shoots it forward like a slingshot. To aim, the player has to judge the bounce of the bubble or its placement by aiming it based on its trajectory. The DS version is quicker and easier than its retro predecessors. This enhanced speed makes the game a lot more interesting.

Unfortunately there isn’t anything visually or aurally to impress newcomers, and unless you’re a big fan of the cavity-causing sweetness of Bust-a-Move’s characters, there isn’t anything worth caring about here. All of the characters do the same thing on-screen: shoot bubbles. There’s no way I could force myself to care about them because of that. The colors are bright and…uh…colorful. I mean, just look at the game box. It’s more colorful than a huge set of Crayola Crayons. The music is cute and repetitive. It isn’t hum-worthy but it fits the bill for being a cute puzzle genre cliché. That’s about all there is to it. Other than the gameplay that you control, there isn’t anything special here.

For these reasons I can’t recommend that you purchase Bust-a-Move DS, even at its bargain-bin price of $20. It’s a budget puzzle title but stuff like Meteos, Lumines, and even Zoo Keeper do a better job at being quick distractions. The Bust-a-Move multiplayer is included here but that’s the only thing I could foresee taking up your time beyond a few quick puzzles. If you’re really desperate for a retro fix, Bust-a-Move DS might do the job but I’d look elsewhere otherwise.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 4
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 4
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 5.5
Written by Cliff Review Guide

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