Over the years, Taito has quietly been
pumping out annual makeovers of its arcade
puzzle classic, Bust-A-Move (Puzzle Bobble
in Japan). And though each title in the series
does little to break the mold of previous
offerings, the core concept of the game is so
solid and addictive that there's really little to
no reason to change it.
In its fourth incarnation, Taito has adjusted
the original make-up of the game to include a
few slightly different game options as well as
a "pulley" strategy to increase the
competition in one-player and two-player
mode. But in essence, the game remains
largely the same as ever, even including
familiar characters from the preceding titles.
Gameplay still consists of shooting bubbles
at like-colored bubbles on a screen to clear
the stage and reap a high score. But with the inclusion of a "pulley", players
must now balance both ends of the rope by adding or taking away rows of
bubbles. Take away too many from one side and the pulley will sink below
the bottom line, causing the round to be lost. Keep them balanced while
carefully picking away at each side and you'll emerge a winner. It's a tough
new addition which injects a bit more strategy into the gameplay and forces
the player to plan his or her moves much more carefully.
Bust-A-Move 4 also includes more modes than before with a Puzzle mode
that allows players to participate in a Story or Arcade set up. And in the
game's trademark cutesy style, players who finish the Story Mode will be able
to perform an electronic Tarot reading through the Options menu. Though
the feature is more of a tacked on bonus for fans of the series, the Tarot card
reading option epitomizes the spirit of the game and its series: simple, but
addictive gameplay with enough character to charm the socks off gamers.
But the major draw to a game like Bust-A-Move 4 is its lack of pretension
gameplay. This is a game that novice and veteran gamers alike can play,
regularly being included in lists of titles that are both highly revered for their
solid gameplay, but also for their mass appeal. And with Acclaim's
Bust-A-Move 2: Arcade Edition just now being reprinted for PlayStation
owners, Bust-A-Move 4 gives players an opportunity to make a solid choice
for the holidays for multi-player gaming as well as for the younger gamers on
the gift list.