HomeReviews4/5 ReviewPuzzle Bobble 2X/BUST-A-MOVE 2 Arcade Edition & Puzzle Bobble...

Puzzle Bobble 2X/BUST-A-MOVE 2 Arcade Edition & Puzzle Bobble 3/BUST-A-MOVE 3 S-Tribute Review

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For gamers of a certain age, these games should need no introduction. 

As well as having the longest title I have ever had to type out, Puzzle Bobble 2X/BUST-A-MOVE 2 Arcade Edition & Puzzle Bobble 3/BUST-A-MOVE 3 S-Tribute is a port of two arcade games from City Connection, originally made by Taito. The games were first released in 1995 and 1996 respectively, and while they were big in the arcades of the time, it was when they made the move to home consoles that they really hit the big time. 

Is it worth playing Puzzle Bobble/BUST-A-MOVE today though? Let’s go pop some bubbles and find out!

puzzle bobble review 1

Now, if you’re here for some kind of narrative, you’re going to be disappointed. We play as either Bub or Bob in Puzzle Bobble/BUST-A-MOVE 2, or any one of a number of different characters in Puzzle Bobble/BUST-A-MOVE 3, but the reasons why we have a gun that fires coloured bubbles, and why these bubble then burst if they are combined with others of the same the colour, are left unclear. 

What we do know is that both games look as cute and cuddly now as they did all those years ago. From what I can tell, dredging up the memories I have of these games from back in the day, this is pretty much arcade perfect. Which isn’t saying much, as the ‘90s were no kind of high water mark for graphics! However, the whole presentation here is absolutely bang on, from the way the characters look to the cute voice overs and all the rest of it. It is like slipping into a warm bath of 90’s nostalgia, and I for one am here for it. Who needs whizz bang, AAA graphics? Happiness is a warm bubble gun and a cute little dragon to fire it. 

Seriously though, the conversion found in Puzzle Bobble 2X/BUST-A-MOVE 2 Arcade Edition & Puzzle Bobble 3/BUST-A-MOVE 3 S-Tribute is absolutely bang on, right down to the little countdown when you start a new level. A huge tick for making this as good as I remember it for City Connection there. 

So, let’s have a look at what these games are all about, shall we? Well, just in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last thirty years or so, Puzzle Bobble as an entity and at heart is a colour matching game. You have a screen full of bubbles of various different hues, and you have a gun at the bottom of the screen that can be tilted and angled to fire bubbles up the screen. If you can get a chain of three or more of the same colour bubble, they will burst, sending any bubbles that were depending on them for support to the bottom of the screen. The ultimate goal is to clear the screen of bubbles in as fast a time as possible (in the Puzzle mode) or to clear more bubbles than your opponent (in multiplayer mode), sending some of your bubbles to your foe’s screen. 

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And that is, pretty much, your lot with Puzzle Bobble 2X/BUST-A-MOVE 2 Arcade Edition & Puzzle Bobble 3/BUST-A-MOVE 3 S-Tribute – it really is a simple game from a time where gameplay was king. 

But looking at what we get in the whole package and it’s pretty neat. As you can probably tell from the name, Puzzle Bobble 2X/BUST-A-MOVE 2 Arcade Edition & Puzzle Bobble 3/BUST-A-MOVE 3 S-Tribute contains both games. But, better than that, it also includes the Japanese and American versions of both games. You see, in Japan, these games go by the name Puzzle Bobble, but internationally they are better known as BUST-A-MOVE. This difference is reflected in this package, as if you fire up a Puzzle Bobble game, I hope your Japanese translation skills are better than mine. Things are easier if you play BUST-A-MOVE, whichever one, as at least they are in English so we have a chance of finding out what is going on. 

Both games have a variety of modes to play, and you are never short of something to do. Both games have modes in common, such as the puzzle mode, which is just you against a screen full of bubbles, and then there are the battle modes. You can either play these battled against a real live person should you have one on hand, or against the computer, and they put up a stiff challenge. 

Three is more though and in Puzzle Bobble 2X/BUST-A-MOVE 2 Arcade Edition is an edit mode, where you can create your own stages to try and make your friends sad. I think this is a nice addition, whereas in Puzzle Bobble 3/BUST-A-MOVE 3 S-Tribute, there are a couple of new modes: Challenge Mode, where you are given a variety of scenarios to go through and try to clear; and Collection mode, which is a collection of over 1000 stages designed by players of the game back in the day. As you can see, there’s a lot to do!

puzzle bobble review 3

Luckily, the way the games play has been overhauled somewhat, with the usual kind of abilities that these ports bring. You can play in slow motion, for instance, which is helpful when facing the computer on the harder levels of difficulty, and there is also the ability to rewind time a little, if you make a mistake. Best of all you can save the game at any point, so if you suddenly realise it is midnight and you have to be up in a couple of hours, you don’t lose your progress. 

Silly long name aside, Puzzle Bobble 2X/BUST-A-MOVE 2 Arcade Edition & Puzzle Bobble 3/BUST-A-MOVE 3 S-Tribute is a very good port of a franchise from decades gone by; one that I enjoyed as a younger man, ensuring the rose tinted glasses have been placed firmly on my nose throughout this review. If you like a puzzle game, for £12.49, you are getting a lot of content. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but my strong advice is that you should give this a try.  

Puzzle Bobble 2X/BUST-A-MOVE 2 Arcade Edition & Puzzle Bobble 3/BUST-A-MOVE 3 S-Tribute is on the Xbox Store

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