Game Review

Bust-A-Move Universe Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Burst bubble

Bub and Bob may have started out capturing foes with their crazy dinosaur bubble breath by day and moonlighting as arcade puzzle game stars, but the latter of which we can only imagine to be the more lucrative field as it morphed into their full-time job. It's easy to see how this happened: Bust-A-Move/Puzzle Bobble is incredibly fun and addictive.

So it's with mixed feelings that the budget-priced Bust-A-Move Universe arrives alongside the 3DS. It still has that same great fun at its core, but it's a disappointingly thin package as it offers virtually nothing new to the series or long-time fans.

Bust-A-Move is a match-three game where enemy-filled bubbles approach from the top of the screen, at which you fire more bubbles to make disappear. Gravity is also at play, meaning that if you pop a set of bubbles with more hanging off, the whole stalactite will fall. Every so many turns a new layer will descend from above, so it's in your best interest to clear the field quickly through standard matching or with the help of assorted power-ups. Like all puzzlers worth their grey matter, it's a simple concept that leaves a lot of room for strategy and panicked goofs. Its super-cheery ambience helps too.

Disappointingly, there are but two ways to play in Universe. There's Puzzle, a campaign-type mode where players figure their way through eight planets with ten puzzles each and a "boss" at the end. Along the way you're given the opportunity to collect keys to free your captured dinosaur buddies. These puzzles are not terribly difficult for the most part, and clever use of colour-changing and wild bubbles or a devastating laser will get you through with little effort. Boss battles are somewhat silly; one big bubbled enemy jumps around the screen and you stick bombs to it. Freeing the planet's dino friend will allow you to use rapid-fire, essentially letting you hold down the A button and follow its movement pattern to win. These battles feel tacked on as a gimmicky way to have stuff flyin' at ya in 3D instead of a valuable and fun addition.

The only other way to play is Challenge, which is bog-standard timed or til-death play. There's a distinct and unfortunate lack of multiplayer, and the package doesn't even attempt to take advantage of any of the handheld's communication features like StreetPass, or even multiple profiles for local high score tracking. Hell, you can't even play as a different character. Universe is the most isolated Bust-A-Move has felt in a very long time, perhaps ever.

Perhaps the only indication that Universe is on 3DS is the use of stereoscopy. Adding a nice and subtle effect, it mostly comes into play when bosses leap, power-ups bounce and bubbles fall. It's not the type of game you use to show off your new hardware, but it gets the job done just fine without bragging.


Bust-A-Move Universe is a very thin package that feels almost aggressively old-school through its distinct lack of features. While the core game is addictive as ever, the puzzles end too soon and the rest of the content is so underwhelming that you’ll wonder how much time it actually spent in the kitchen. On the bright side, though, things can only improve from here for Bub and Bob.

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User Comments (24)



Detective_TeeJay said:

That's what happens when you rush to make the launch window. Games that we wait a bit for, like Ocarina of Time, will be phenomenal.
@2 And why is that? I enjoy Pilotwings Resort and Nintendogs + Cats very much, thank you. >: (



nazzyboy22 said:

What game would anyone recommend me getting i have:
Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition
Nintendogs + Cats Golden Retriever
Pilotwings Resort
Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D
So any game apart from these.
Please comment.



J-Forest-Esq said:

All these middling to rubbish scores just keep on coming...
@4 Well, Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars is meant to be quite good, but from the looks of things, you've pretty much got the cream of the current crop already.



Megumi said:

I have it...makes a good placeholder game until the real fun that starts in June.




I used to have Puzzle Bobble Galaxy DS up until recently. That got a 9/10 on here. You might as well get that and forget the 3D if u can finf it . Great game.



StarDust4Ever said:

Yet another lackluster title to add to the launch list.

Update (Sept 4th): I finally hunted down the "Bust-a-Move" cartridge for my SNES and am having a blast with it. So perhaps if you've never played the original on SNES, then maybe it is worth a try. Otherwise, give the 3DS version a pass.



WaveBoy said:

Has Bust A Move even evolved since the PS1/Arcade days? And I don't ever remember facing off against any Bosses that's for sure. Either way, looks like I'm going to pass on this one. The 3D pop out effect on the other hand's definitly got me a smidge interested.

I just wan't to experience the trippy 3D effects for 10 minutes and then throw the game away.lol



R-L-A-George said:

I love bust-a-move and I was hoping it would be an good game....Of coarse the score beat Sims.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Thanks for the review, Jon.
Well, it's disappointing to see such a lackluster rendition of Bust-A-Move after the genious Galaxy title on the DS.
With so little content it would have been a better fit for a cheap 3DS-Ware release. Where the lack of multiplayer would still have been a bummer though.

@ 11. WaveBoy: I that the previous installment on the DS (Galaxy) had very cool modes i haven't seen in any other Bust-A-Move game yet. But i guess that's the exception.

@ 4. nazzyboy22: I've only played Ridge Racer 3D yet. I can recommend it for it's good 3D effects and the typical Ridge Racer gameplay. But if you want online multiplayer you better look elsewhere.



Samholy said:

,what the...
i wouldnt mind paying 5 or 10 bucks for a WARE game, but this as a launch title, 40$ ? man...
I cant believe how almost all developers rush their title. else than street fighter, almost every games seem bland of unfinished... take your time and launch it a month later, why the urge anyway.




Puzzle Bobble Galaxy wwas £16 at lauch on line and had quite decent content including bosses. Like I said, got a 9/10 NL revw. Look it uo if you're interested!

7 launch games with 7/10 or above (two at 9/10). Better than the majority of launch line-ups on any console in history isn't it?



Tate24 said:

Why all launch games got barely no content and charging full price for them big rip off:-(



Millie said:

5/10? No thanks. I'll wait for better titles like the upcoming Animal Crossing



jerryo said:

This game definitely is not the best of the bunch but i haven't played Puzzle Bobble for many years and this one is definitely a good one! It was exactly what i expected it to be and a tiny bit more. I was thinking of this as a 6/10.

I picked it up mainly out of curiosity and turned out to be quite addictive. It has only two modes, and i would love to have the platform mode of the game on the same package, world ranking wouldn't be bad either! but these modes it has are very well made with subtle yet effective 3D nice levels and super bubbles, and it can offer many hours of great time pass.

I understand some might be bored of playing puzzle bobble or expected a whole bunch of features for the price asked but for me this one is definitely a keeper which is going to last for many many months if not years.

And Millie do not compare animal crossing with puzzle bobble.
They have nothing in common.

I would give this one a 8/10 for what it is. Not what it should be.

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