Pop (WiiWare)

Game Review

Pop Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Stephen Witkowski

'Once you pop, you just can't stop' is proved to be true in this excellent WiiWare launch title.

Pop, as the title suggests, is a game where you pop bubbles. But don’t be fooled by the deceptive simplicity of this idea; there’s more to it than might be apparent at first glance. First of all, Pop has a timer that counts down; if you don't pop bubbles, the game will end. Create chains of the same coloured bubbles fast enough and you’ll quickly become a master at keeping the timer up. The game doesn’t end there though.

There are several types of bubbles and game mechanics to consider in Pop, besides the obvious ones. Take the power ups for example. Pop the bubble with the radioactive symbol and it expands, taking out all the same coloured bubbles in its path. Pop the target-like symbol and your cursor grows larger, enabling you to pop more bubbles at once. Pop the bubble with the swirl symbol to temporarily slow time. You can even grab onto a bubble and pump it up by shaking the Wii remote up and down. After it pops, it will serve the same function as the radioactive bubble. There are things that don’t favour the player though. If you pop a bubble with a skull symbol on it, time will be deducted from the counter. Missing bubbles also costs you time.

Play the game with more people and a few more types of bubbles appear. Pop the electric bubble and touch other players’ cursors to disable them. The same happens when you pop the bubble that slows down time, while the flashlight bubble blackens the screen, save for a circle of light around your cursor. Not everybody is going to like these multiplayer bubbles, because while they do facilitate competitive play, some may find that they need to work together to keep the timer from running out.

The gameplay modes are straightforward. “Training” mode is self-explanatory. It shows players the basics of popping. “Normal” mode allows you to play through 16 levels called “waves”. While most of the waves are similar in nature, they do have their own nuances. In some, you may find that the bubbles move faster or that it’s best to avoid a certain kind of bubble. After a certain number of waves, the game rewards you with a bonus round in which you pop as many bubbles as possible with no penalty for missing. After all 16 waves, the game loops back to the first wave. “Advanced” mode will challenge players with a new goal – to see how long it takes to get 9,999,999 points! The only real difference in this mode is that it’s the time that matters in the end and not so much the points. Lastly, there is “chill” mode. Easily the simplest of the whole lot, it has no rules, no points, and no timer. Just pop bubbles to your heart’s content.

Outside of the actual gameplay, there other things that merit mentioning. The interface, for example, is very nicely done. There isn’t a whole lot to see, but everything stands out well against the bubbly background. The in-game graphics pretty much consist of bubbles, but they do catch your eye as they are always moving. You may find the music catching your attention as well. Composed by Game Audio Australia, which has done some high profile work with games like Tekken: Dark Resurrection and SOCOM 3, it serves as an example of the diverse compositions the company can produce, considering the music is very relaxing. The sound design is strong as well, although possibly not as strong as the music. While creating chains enables the player to hear more layers of the music (very cool), there are few sound effects, and your ears may grow tired of them after awhile. There are also badges to be earned by completing certain objectives, like lasting for 30 minutes, and there are worldwide high scoreboards via Wi-Fi. While these additions are small, they serve as motivation to give Pop more of your gameplay time.


The bottom line is that this game is certainly well worth the 700 wii point asking price, particularly if you have other people to play with. Developer Nnooo has certainly balanced the title well and while it's unlikely to withstand prolonged play, it offers enough depth and enjoyment to keep you coming back for short bursts. All in all, this is a very positive start for Nnooo and singles out this Aussie developer as one to watch in the future.

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User Comments (61)



Juampi said:

Good review. This is the only WiiWare game I have downloaded so far and I am enjoying it a lot.



Villain said:

I might consider this I always loved the shooting mini-game in Wii Play, and this seems like an enjoyable little title. The design kinda reminds med of the PSP's XMB menu...

Great review.



Kevin said:

Since its getting good reviews and remarks I will download this soon. Maybe with Dr. Mario monday. Sorry, Mario Kart is just too much fun!



Nnooo said:

Nice review! Thanks guys

We are really pleased with the game and hope you all really enjoy it.



ChocoDK said:

Nice review but I am still not sure to purchase this game or not. I am still trying to get over GTAIV and wanting FFCC.



Objection said:

700 is a decent price, but the way Wii Cards are (only 2000, at least in the US) I cant get this right now. If it was 500, it'd fit perfectly with Defend and LostWinds (I dont like extra points left over lol) I want to play a demo of this though.



DaVeMaN99 said:

Great review, but i still haven't decided if i should download Lost Winds, Defend Your Castle and River City Ransom, or Lost Winds And Pop.



Corbs said:

Great review! I just downloaded this game after reading this review. Can't wait to give it a go later tonight.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Can't wait until I can get this. I had hoped to buy this before the Review but you reaffirmed for me how great and addictive it seems/is. Thank you for your work.



Clayfrd said:

This game is amazing! I love it! I spent a LOT of time playing this. I find it funny that there aren't enough people worldwide to even compile a top 10 list for advanced mode. I tried, and I didn't even come close. I love the badges; I love everything about this game! For the record, I am 826th in the world as of now. That was after my first try. Thank you nnooo, This game is absolute perfection! I could play this for hours! This is far better than Tetris, but so is Dr. Mario. That said, this easily competes with Dr. Mario. I absolutely love this game!



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Pssh. Lol @ your Worldwide sentence.

I'm so glad to hear you enjoy it so much!!! All this great news is getting me more excited for when someone may be gifting it to me. I can't wait!!!



Juampi said:

I just got 17.207.014 points on Normal and ranked #6 in the world. And the funny thing is, I lost on purpose, as I was getting really tired. This game is good, but Normal mode is flawed. If you manage to beat all 16 waves, it loops back to wave 1. And the difficulty level doesn't increase after each loop, it's exactly the same. So you can imagine that if someone is able to beat all 16 waves once, they obviously could beat them twice, and so on. It really makes no sense.

Oh well... at least Advanced Mode does have an end... I guess I'll have no choice but to play that mode from now on.

EDIT: I just played Advanced Mode for the first time and ranked #4 in the world. =)



thewiirocks said:

Ok, so I got this game. And I'm REALLY trying to like it. But for some reason, I. just. don't. get. it.

Ok, so I pop bubbles, right? And keep the timer up, right? Ok. Then what? I suppose I can do the chain thing, but it gets hard to maintain with all the bubbles overlapping. It's also really hard to hit anything because the bubbles pop on the release of the button rather than the press. That gives the firing mechanism as rather wishy-washy feel. It also makes it hard to target items on screen. Especially with the cursor whipping around like an egg beater.

Worse yet, there really is no feedback on whether something is 'good' or 'bad'. e.g. When I click on the 2x, 3x, 10x, whatever, I get different sounds depending on... um... I dunno. Worse yet, was that a good sound or a bad sound? Heck if I know. At least I know that hitting a skull is bad, right? Right? I dunno, it doesn't seem to do much other than inflate a transparent skull on the screen. No real feedback on what the penalty is. (I had to track down the manual to find out that it acts like a miss. Which I suspected, but wasn't sure of.)

The colors are another annoying point. Some of the bubbles are clearly colored. Others get kind of confusing as they overlap. e.g. Blue vs. Red is fine, but light purple vs. dark purple? Seriously? And white pretty much disappears when it is overlapped by anything.

Maybe the game will be more fun in multiplayer. And maybe the inflate mechanism will make it more fun now that I understand how to use it better. (Had to read the manual VERY carefully. )

IMHO, Defend Your Castle provides a far better experience for first-time WiiWare players. Pop looks nice, but you may not feel like you got your money's worth. Of course, I love light-gun games, so maybe I've just become a gun-game-snob. So take my review with a grain of salt. Others certainly seem to like the game.



Clayfrd said:

@Juampi- I envy you! I'm not very good at this game! I try, and as I play more, I learn more strategies. I've found that, at least in later levels, the "Nukes" should be avoided. There are simply too many skulls to drain your time. I... must... get better! I actually find advanced mode a bit more fun because it's goal oriented, but I've only gotten about 4,500,000 pts. (about half way). If I put in a few hours this weekend, though, I may be able to secure a spot on the World Wide leaderboard. I haven't gotten to show this game to any friends or family, but I think my sister might like it, just a hunch. I think the "Chill" mode is actually right on its purpose. It actually kind of mellows me out when I just watch an inflated bubble take out a whole bunch of others. I guess that's a little weird.
@thewiirocks- I agree... with your username. I respectfully disagree with your rant. Use a little intuition. It took me a nanosecond to figure out what the sounds mean. A boxing bell means you hit a 2x bubble (or whateverx). That sound effect that happens right when you pop a bubble is the bubble popping (okay, that was a little rude ). The sound effect that you probably hear the most is the sound effect played when you break a chain, that means all of the points from that chain are added to your score. You probably know the sound made when you miss. I'm leaving it up to you to figure out the rest. Sorry for getting a little snappy, but I just felt like you were being a little whiny about a launch title. Also, you mentioned having to use the manual. That's what it's for! I also love Defend Your Castle, and I couldn't make up my mind on which I like better. The only two WiiWare games I have are Pop and DYC, and they're both so good. I am really looking forward to future releases!
@KnucklesSonic8- I hope you get the opportunity to play it some time. It really is a fantastic game, and if you like games with highscore lists, you'll love this. The puzzling is just plain fun, and I believe you mentioned you liked puzzlers, so you really can't miss with this.



thewiirocks said:

@Clayfrd - Like I said, I want to like this game. I realize it might come off as a little whiny, but it's mostly because I'm trying not to blast the game. If I was completely and totally honest, I'd say I just wasted $7.

When I say there are different sounds, I mean that sometimes when I hit the bubbles with a [num]x on them, they make a grating sound that sounds somewhat positive, and sometimes they make just as grating of a sound that sounds negative. The audio feedback provided is unclear, however, and there is no visual feedback to tell me more.

As for reading the manual, my point is that the game is unintuitive. Games like this SHOULD be intuitive. It's part of the pick-up-and-play aspect. Having to dig through the manual is something I only want to do AFTER I have decided I like the game. If I need to read the manual to figure out if I like it, it had better be a turn-based Wargame!

Of course, this is compounded by the fact that the manual is a bit weak. e.g. The multiplier bubbles are not explained at all. Even the chain instructions are kind of wishy-washy. "Oh, if you pop lotsa bubbles, you'll get a thingy that makes your score bigger. Weeeee!" Seriously, not helpful from a strategy perspective. A FAQ would be a big help here. (I checked the Intertubes. No one has written one yet. )

The key point that I think I will always come back to, though, is that it really is not a traditional light-gun game. Light-gun games should be tight, with INSTANT response to trigger pulls. Pop isn't that sort of game. In comparison to something like Ghost Squad or Link's Crossbow Training, it feels sloppy and all over the place. Which probably just means that it's a different type of game. There's nothing wrong with that except that it "feels" incorrect to me. (I even tried using the Zapper shell on this game. Big mistake. )

That being said, I'm gonna keep playing it until SOMETHING hits me over the head with it. I'm not going to spend $7 for nothing!

(Oh, and @Nooo. Don't take my comments personally. Like I said, I just don't think it's my type of game. Everyone else seems to like it. )



sportymariosonichybr said:

While this game looks like it SHOULD have enough to break the 3.5 hour threshold, it seems very similiar to the full fledged Boom Blox on the Wii, which has WAY more content: 400 puzzles VS 16 PLUS a level creator!

400 / 16 = 25. $50 (assuming Boom Blox is $50) / 25 = $2

And that is not taking into account the level creator and the other modes I am probably forgetting!

So while the game may be an 8/10, there is a more robust option available, that pretty much cancels this game out, for me!



trinest1 said:

I'm liking what I see, I will get this and Lost Winds when the service is out in Australia.



Clayfrd said:

@sportymariosonichybrid- Basically what you're saying is that you are going to limit your gaming library. Just because you think one game is better than the other doesn't mean you shouldn't try both! Just because I like Mario 3/Mario World a bit better than the other Mario games doesn't mean I shouldn't try them all! I'd be missing out on great games like Mario Galaxy or the original Super Mario Bros. This game is superb, and just because it doesn't stack up to Boom Blox (pun) doesn't mean it isn't worth unloading seven measly bucks on! I have spent far more than 3.5 hours on this game, and I have introduced some of my non-gamer friends to this game, and I can even get them to enjoy a round of single or multiplayer games. I urge you to reconsider, or else you'll miss out on a lot.

By the way, I finally beat advanced mode! I was only 6 minutes off the international top 10! I got about 63 minutes, and the 10th spot was 57 minutes. Gah! Oh, well. At least I got that badge for playing in a round for an hour. My dad's actually quite (surprisingly) good at this game. He got a better score his first go than I did my first go. He's one of those people that's really good at 2 or 3 games, but pretty bad at all the others. That's a little threatening, but now that I know I can score 9,999,999+ points, I feel I can safely secure my #1 spot on the Normal Mode local leaderboard. I just hope none of my friends dethrone me.



Boo said:

Awesome Awesome Awesome _

I don't play this A LOT, but this is THE PERFECT spare time killer. I can't see myself doing a marathon play of this game ever, only because my arm would fall off, LOL. I only have 1 friend on my Wii list who we send scores to each other, but it's still fun. I was surprised about the amount of replay value this game has.

I would look forward to a sequal. Nnooo if you're still reading these comments, work on a part 2
...even a DS version could be interesting. Hmmm...



SmaMan said:

Yes...very, very nice game. If you have any sort of fondness toward score-attack games then this is a must have!

The soundtrack is really nice too. I would buy the OST if it ever came out. (hint hint Nnooo)

The one thing I don't get is how is the next wave triggered? I once was on Wave 5 for only a few seconds and it jumped into Wave 6. At the end of the game it said I got 0 points in it too.

Also, the worldwide high scores look like they've been hacked or something. There's one guy named AxemRed who has over 10 million points but the guy under him has about 30 million. (Maybe a lot more, I'm not totally sure, I just know that it's more than #1 has.) And yes I counted the digits several times, the #2 score is higher than the #1 score! You may want to check this out Nnooo.

But other than that, it's an awesome game! Definitely worth 700 points.



sportymariosonichybr said:


I know what you are saying and if I had an endless supply of cash or even just time, I would download it.

But I am behind already, in that I have not completed several games I already own and still have not gotten a few Wii games out there at all yet, so I need to pick and choose among my available options.

For instance, I have not finished Geometry Wars: Galaxies yet on Wii, which blows this out of the water. Getting Boom Blox is already pushing it in that genre, but they are on opposite ends of the hardcore spectrum, so it works out.

I also am probably getting a 360 soon, so there is only so much I can get.

If the Wii Ware service turns out to be crap, I will certainly revisit this game later down the line...if I ever catch up!



Nnooo said:

Hey it would be great if you could get your reviews up on metacritic!

Also thanks to all the above who seem to be enjoying Pop. Reading these comments makes it all worth while!



KnucklesSonic8 said:

I still haven't gotten it, Nnooo.. I'm looking forward to the day when I can finally play it.

Oh and btw, my friend was laughing when he saw the trailer of the two women shaking the remote and kinda making a fool of themselves. XD



Clayfrd said:

@sportymario...- I guess I see what you're saying. I must admit I am a bit excessive in my game purchasing. I am also trying to collect every piece of Nintendo hardware. I don't hold back

Also, I spell Clayfrd with no vowel after f intentionally. Inside joke.



ACK said:

Finally picked this up the other day and, good lord, is the music excellent. Seriously, this game is worth it for the soundtrack alone. The only caveat is that you have to maintain long combos to appreciate the delicious breakbeat tracks in all their glory, but that's just more motivation to pop bubbles like nobody's business.



TRON said:

A surprisingly fun game thats deeper than it may initially appear. It's a bit long winded for what it is (an average play will take around 30-60 minutes) but it has a trance quality to it that is slightly meditative, in an ADHD kinda way.



ACK said:

@KnucklesSonic8: Very similar.

At first, each track is stripped down to a few ambient elements that create a nice, relaxed vibe (almost like you are hearing parts of the track underwater or off in the distance). As you extend your combos (pop bubbles of the same color), those relaxed tracks evolve into full-on breakbeat masterpieces. Unfortunately, it can actually be pretty difficult to maintain a long combo, so the music suffers along with your performance. What's more, if you focus only on popping as much bubbles as possible to extend your time, you'll never appreciate the tracks in all their glory.

What's more, each color essentially builds a different version of that wave’s song. So on a wave with white/purple/red, linking a white chain might create a beat and a bassline, while the purple changes the beat and adds a melody, and the red adds vocals and a different bassline. That’s a pretty contrived example, but I think it gets the point across.

This all leads to an extremely diverse soundtrack that adapts seamlessly your to your performance to create a truly unique experience each time you play. Also, it provides a compelling incentive to strive for ever longer combos.

EDIT: So, I played for almost two hours straight on normal mode and got a new high score of 25,403,478...

The weird thing is that my highest score according to the singleplayer leaderboard is 12,110,735, with my real highscore right below it. The only reason I can think of is that I scored the lower high score in about a quarter of the time (until I let myself die because I had to go to work, ironically), so maybe the game considers that a more impressive feat...?



KnucklesSonic8 said:

I got Pop two days ago! Nnooo, I know you wanted my thoughts on it and I must say, I was really impressed with the game (obviously, I still am). I had a lot of fun yesterday and this was only playing by myself!!

I can't WAIT to try multiplayer. The game is worth 700, no doubt. Some may criticize the game for its simplicity but what they don't know is that it contains quite a bit of depth and strategy and I'm glad the reviewer got this point across.

Nnooo, once again, thanks for such a great game and I look forward to further WiiWare entries by you guys!!



Nnooo said:

Glad you like it and are enjoying it KnuclesSonic8 (well and everyone else!).

Please pass on the favourable comments and feel free to gift Pop to your friends

We are hoping to do a post mortem with Darren and crew once I get back from my holidays. Hopefully the game will be out in Japan and Europe quite soon. I'll keep you posted.



Dazza said:

Ha you are splitting hairs over 200 points mate, hardly gonna break the bank is it?



Objection said:

@Dazza 700 is just annoying since you can only buy in increments of 2000 and it throws you off instead of 500 because you have to buy another card (or have points left over)



pagster said:

i just got it today. im disappointed with the multiplayer by a lot. i just saw IGN's review and agree that it's completely flawed. in short, once you're in the lead with points, you purposely miss and run the timer to zero instantly - and then you win. if you agree to help each other, EVERY powerup hurts you. get a flashlight? your friend can't contribute to the timer anymore. make their aim smaller? they'll miss more and end the game faster. really really poor multiplayer.

i havent tried single player - which seems to the be redeeming quality of this game.



Ricardo91 said:

Games like these make me wish that wiiware games had free trials. I'm curious about this game, but it looks a bit too simplistic and repetitive to actually put 7 bucks down for, no offense to Nnooo.



supermario2 said:

Nice review although I was a bit sceptical about shooting bubbles, I downloaded it and found that the game has some real depth and that it's the greatest game I've ever seen especially with the online leaderboards and wiiconnect24 to send your point updates to both u and your friends apsolutely brilliant unfortunately there's bad news that when u lose and go to the leaderboards it has a glitch and crahes at least Nnooo is making a change to it.



Bahamut_ZERO said:

I'm not so sure about this. I just spent 18 bucks on Toki Tori and Star Soldier R last week. It seems too simple for 700 points.

Really what it all boils down to is if Nintendo has a storage solution coming because I'm tired of deleting stuff for games.



CrouchingBruin said:

@Bahamut ZERO wrote: Really what it all boils down to is if Nintendo has a storage solution coming because I'm tired of deleting stuff for games.

Isn't that what the SD card slot is for? If you run out of storage, just pop in a new SD card.



RedStripedd said:

Downloaded it today and I am pretty impressed. for 700 points its a total bargain. The leaderboards and achievements are especially cool. This game won't blow you away but it is definitely a good purchase



You know, this actually sounds interesting to me now. I have a good friend on a message board, sort of a Wii penpal if you will, that pirated it and said it sucked (and how bias can you be at the price of free, right?).

Now, I can do that, very easily to boot as I have the knowledge and means to, but for some reason I just don't want to do that. I wish we could demo these things, but unfortunately we can't.

I am a S-U-C-K-E-R for score-centric games and achievements. I've got Geometry Wars: Galaxies and NiGHTS on Wii, which I enjoy competing for high-scores in. I also like beating my personal bests in the Kenta Cho games on Blast Works, and I play Meteos on Cyberscore a lot, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

From what I've read here, there's some good offerings for gamers like myself, but at the same time I'm still pretty inconclusive. The $7 price tag is nice though, so I'll look into things when I can. It sounds like something fun, simple, and addictive.



DoctorJest said:

On the one hand, this game's a great, simple score-based game.

On the other hand, on chill mode, you can play this even when you're drunk and trip off of the airy music. Totally worth the points!



EJD said:

I would give Pop a 7/10. It gets repetitive quickly and I get bored after 15 minutes of constant bubble popping. That said, it's not bad for 700 points and you could do a lot worse.



dfalco said:

I just brought pop its very good game but i understand what EJD means after about half hour it get repetitive but still quiet a good game. But i don;t think it wroth 700 points i say about 500 points because the game is very samer and very small .



Latias said:

I'm not even that much of a fan of score based games, and I really like Pop. Good job Nnooo, I'll look forward to future games



MexicanJonny10 said:


this review makes the game look awesome but the review of the game in my nintendo power magazine gave it a "grumble grumble" which is bad so i dont know if i should buy it or not...



KnucklesSonic8 said:

@MexicanJonny10: Read the comments on this page. Some say it's not worth it and some say its awesome.

I say its great. And definitely worth it for only 700 Points!

Hey guys, Nnooo has some more titles coming to WiiWare and DSiWare. Looking forward to hearing more!!



wiiwareaddict said:

Biggest waste of 700 points so far it is for reasons like this that I wish there were wiiware demos that you could try before you buy.I regret buying this one. 1/10 If you want a shooting game get WIld West Guns instead.



pagster said:

This game is WAY overrated. I'd say maybe 6/10 considering its release time when there were few other games.

My main complaint is the competitive-cooperative aspect. When you play with 4 players, you're trying to get the highest score when the timer ends. However, since you share the timer and anyone that misses reduces the timer, all smart players do is get the highest score as quick as possible and then end the game by missing intentionally.
Makes every competitive play last about 3 seconds.

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