Space Bust-A-Move for Nintendo DS has you going on an adventure again with your dragon friends, Bub and Bob. This time they are on a mission to collect “Cosmo Bubbles” in order to stop the evil Devilin from taking over the galaxy and they need your help. Travel from planet-to-planet busting bubbles as they move down the screen. Match three or more bubbles and you knock them out just like in Tetris, Bejeweled, Lumines, and lots of other puzzle games.
The difference between Bust-A-Move and other puzzle games is that you are shooting the next bubble from your arrow at the bottom of the screen instead of waiting for the next piece to fall from the top of the screen. This adds another layer of strategy, since you have to aim at the correct location you want the bubbles to go and you can also bounce the bubbles off the walls to get them into the right spot. The bubbles move down the screen at set intervals and if you let them get all the way to the bottom of the screen then it is game over.
The adventure of Bub and Bob in Space Bust-A-Move is lighthearted and the game features cute graphics that should appeal to everyone. These graphics look good for a puzzle game and everything is detailed and well animated. You can choose from different characters in single-player and multiplayer modes to represent you on-screen. You can also earn money to buy new arrow and bubble designs, new challenges, and mini games. This gives you something extra to work for as you progress through the game revealing the story.
The different modes of play in Space Bust-A-Move include the following:
- Story - The Story mode has you progressing through three stages that include five levels each before you battle against a boss in the final stage of that planet. This mode also reveals the game’s story as you travel from planet to planet as expected.
- Versus - Versus lets you battle against computer controlled opponents in a mode that is similar to the games multiplayer mode that I will touch on in a bit.
- Endless - The Endless mode allows you to play as long as you want on one level as it progressively gets harder and harder. If your bubbles reach the bottom of the screen in this mode then it is game over. Endless reminded me a lot of the old Tetris game on Game Boy that I used to play over-and-over again.
- Challenge - Challenge mode has you trying to burst as many bubbles as possible in three or five minutes to set the record. The game encourages you to come back and try to beat your previous record in this mode.
- Extra (Mini Games) - The last single-player mode is called “Extra” and is made up of mini games you unlock by buying them in the Shop using your points you earn while playing the game. These mini games will have you trying to clear a whole level with one shot, burst all the bubbles with a set number of bubbles, and playing through selected stages.
All of these single-player modes are fun, challenging, and enjoyable to play to past the time. Space Bust-A-Move is a fun pick-up-and-play game that can be enjoyed in short bursts, but can suck you in for an hour or two at a time if you are really good at Endless mode or if you are trying to progress through the Story mode.
Space Bust-A-Move also features a multiplayer mode that allows you to play with up to four people local via Wireless DS Single-Card Download Play or over the Internet. My wife, son, and I played the offline multiplayer mode for a little while and enjoyed it. You can be on teams and gang up on each other or you can set it to be every man/woman for themselves. You also get power-ups in Multiplayer and Versus mode that allow you to attack your opponents. These reminded me of the power ups you get in Mario Kart that disrupt the gameplay of your opponent or help you with clearing your board. One of the power-ups erases your opponent’s arrow so they can’t see where they are aiming. Another blocks part of the screen so your opponent cannot see most of their bubbles for a period of time. There is also a power-up that helps you by providing a guideline that allows you to aim easier. There are more power-ups, but I will let you find and use them yourself.
Executing these power-ups and defeating your opponents requires easy game controls and Space Bust-A-Move provides them too. You can use either the digital pad and the buttons or the stylus to control the aiming of your arrow. I used the digital pad and buttons and had no problems controlling everything. I will admit that sometimes it is hard to aim exactly where you want the bubble to go, but I think that is part of the challenge of the game more than a control problem.
To go along with all of this fun are the music and sound effects in Space Bust-A-Move. These were your standard sounds expected from a puzzle game on the Nintendo DS. The music is sythesized but enjoyable to listen to throughout the levels. I can’t remember any of the tunes as I write this, but I don’t remember any of them being annoying where I wanted to turn the volume down while playing. The sound effects of the bubbles bursting are as expected and everything seems to fit well within the game.
The Bust-A-Move series has been around for a long time and I can see why it continues to be popular. It has the same classic puzzle game appeal that keeps Tetris and Bejeweled players coming back for more. It is easy to play in short bursts, but can also suck you in for a few hours per sitting. Space Bust-A-Move has colorful and cute graphics that should appeal to most people and also has a simple, but enjoyable storyline. The controls are simple, but still involve using strategy and require you to think the whole time you are playing. If you are looking for a new puzzle game for your Nintendo DS, then you can’t go wrong with Space Bust-A-Move.
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