Developer: Happy Happening
Release Date: April 17, 2007
Bust-a-Move Bash! is a game that offers eight-player fun with Wii controls. What could possibly go wrong? Well, with this aging game, a lot. The developer tried to innovate the controls and several gameplay aspects, including the versus mode, but unfortunately, these innovations did not work out for the best. Bust-a-Move Bash! is just another repackaged bubble-shooting game with Wiimote controls. A repackaged game isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as it is still fun and keeps the winning formula. The Bust-a-Move has been around for the past 13 years, with hardcore and casual gamers alike adoring the series. However, this time around wasn't too favorable because too many changes were made to Bust-a-Move Bash!, and the steps were taken in the wrong direction.
We will start off with the seemingly endless puzzle mode. There are 500 puzzles to solve, none of which give you the slightest challenge because the reticle shows you exactly where the bubble will land. You can turn off the reticle, but you can't turn off the guiding light beam that takes its place. Instead of opting for quantity over quality, the difficulty settings could have been increased, rather than inundating the player with 500 levels.
If 500 levels aren't enough to keep you busy, the endless game mode is just that: endless. It also does not offer any challenge, so you'll become dangerously bored after a very short while. Endless mode just isn't as fun as it used to be, mostly because of the lack of skill needed to play it. If you can manage to stay awake and play through 30 minutes, the game does eventually become more difficult, but by then, your wrist just can't take it. Though the controls of Bust-a-Move Bash! do not wear down your wrist all that much, it does become a problem with extended playtime.
Then we move onward to versus mode, which you can play with up to seven friends! In this remodeled versus mode, you and your friends shoot at the same mass of bubbles and try to get the most jewels. Soon after you begin playing, madness consumes the screen with bubble explosions every which way, leaving you blinded and just shooting bubbles, hoping for the best. The madness will only last a few minutes, as the developers figured they should set a timer rather than have people pass out from the blur of colors on the screen.
If you don't have seven friends handy, or if you can't afford seven additional sets of Wiimotes/Nunchucks/classic controllers for these friends, you can always assign AI players. (Don't worry, you will win every time you play against the AI.) What happened to the classic versus mode, where each player had a separate screen and could play for hours on end?
Lastly, we finally have a new game mode, shooting, in which you must line up your reticle with the bubbles floating across the screen and … well, shoot them. This actually sounds like fun until you find out there are four color bubbles, and you can only shoot the bubbles that are the same color as your reticle. You can change your reticle color by pressing the left or right button on the d-pad, turning the once fun-sounding game into a tedious monstrosity. You'll be happy to know that this painful game mode has a timer. However, this mode will also appear in the puzzle mode after every 10 missions, which means you will be playing this troublesome shooting game more than 50 times within puzzle mode!
Bust-a-Move Bash! also has several power-up balls which make the gameplay even easier. These balls range from bomb bubbles, which destroy bubbles within a blast radius, to star bubbles, which destroy all bubbles of the same color as the one on which it lands. You can store one of these bubbles or a normal-colored bubble in the cannon's secondary slot; the power-ups are really nice to have in clutch situations.
The graphics on this game look like they have only improved slightly over the classic arcade version made nearly 13 years ago. Sure, the bubbles are a bit shinier and the bubble cannon has been redesigned, but it's not a large improvement. The 2D sliding and distracting background are graphically the worst parts of Bust-a-Move Bash!. The sound effects are fairly good, with the bubble explosions going off with a very charming sound. However, the background music sounds good at first, but it lacks such variety that listening to the same song for oh, say, 500 levels would be enough to drive you batty.
The title has several unlockables, including two characters, a ton of pictures, and other artwork. The only problem with the unlockables is you have no understanding on how to unlock them. Even after you somehow magically manage to unlock a character, nothing shows up on the screen telling you that you've done so.
The most impressive aspect of the game is that the controls handle really well. From the gun to the baton, every control mode is very precise and accurate. The classic controller may be the only missed opportunity. While using the classic controller, you would think you would use the thumbsticks, right? Wrong — you get stuck using the d-pad to control the bubble gun. It's not exactly bad, but it would have been a lot better to employ the thumbsticks.
Bust-a-Move Bash! seems to have been carelessly thrown together with little understanding of what made the previous versions so much fun. With constantly cheery background music and generally joyful appeal, Bust-a-Move Blast! tries really hard to be a good game but just cannot pull it off. I would only recommend this title if you are addicted to the Bust-a-Move series; otherwise, stay away, far away.
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