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Bust-A-Move Live! (Xbox 360) artwork

Bust-A-Move Live! (Xbox 360) review


"I've played plenty of puzzle titles over the decades, like Tetris, Columns, Tube-It, Kunio no Oden, Puyo Puyo, Klax, Baku Baku Animal... I could go on for the entire paragraph. Out of all the games I've played, however, there is one puzzle title that I enjoy the most: Bust-A-Move 2. As with most puzzlers, the gameplay in this one is really simplistic, asking the player to clear each map of designs consisting of bubbles of many colors, which you do by matching up three bubbles of the same color. ..."



I've played plenty of puzzle titles over the decades, like Tetris, Columns, Tube-It, Kunio no Oden, Puyo Puyo, Klax, Baku Baku Animal... I could go on for the entire paragraph. Out of all the games I've played, however, there is one puzzle title that I enjoy the most: Bust-A-Move 2. As with most puzzlers, the gameplay in this one is really simplistic, asking the player to clear each map of designs consisting of bubbles of many colors, which you do by matching up three bubbles of the same color. So why do I love this one so much if it sounds like every other puzzle game? For me, everything about it melds so well together. Its cheery presentation draws you in, with cutesy characters from Bubble Bobble that are vibrant and full of life. Then you'll quickly come to love the unforgettable, charming soundtrack, which stays in your head long after finishing a session. And the gameplay, which conforms to the basic formula that many puzzlers use, still feels refreshing. Instead of using the typical drop-down method, BAM2 makes you aim and shoot up at bubbles in a fixed location, providing a welcomed change of pace and challenge. Everything about Bust-A-Move 2 just feels right, and that's why I love coming back to it whenever I can.

Now, Bust-A-Move 2 was released during the mid 1990s, and a lot of Bust-A-Move titles were released in the following years. Jump to the year 2009, the September release of Bust-A-Move Live! for the Xbox 360. Does this latest release feature anything new and interesting? Other than the ability to play vs. battles online, there hasn't been any major changes or additions made to this game, which is disappointing. Right now, you're probably thinking that this can't be such a bad thing, because it sounds like Bust-A-Move 2 with online capabilities. Well, it is like Bust-A-Move 2, except it comes off more like an imitation that failed to recapture the spirit of that game.

How so? To start off, the one player puzzle mode is pretty underwhelming, due to its bizarre difficulty curve. No matter which route I took, most routes are easy to complete without losing. It's only until I arrived at a final route that there was a noticeable change in difficulty, and it's a pretty jarring one at that. I can breeze through five or so routes in 30 minutes, but when I get to those final routes, it normally takes me up to 15 minutes just to clear one puzzle map within a route. I tried both the easy and hard difficulty settings in an attempt to see if I can get a balanced challenge, but no visible changes were seen. Another annoying aspect I discovered was the cheapness of the random bubble selection you have to work with. There were some instances where I would play a puzzle as flawless as possible, yet still lose, because I kept receiving bubbles that I didn't need. In constant rows, no less. This isn't apparent on the easy puzzles, but you better believe it becomes an issue on the harder puzzles, as well as the Bust-A-Move 2 maps.

Oh, that's right, you can download the Bust-A-Move 2 maps. As fantastic as that sounds, there's a problem with this: you only get the puzzle layouts. You'll still be playing with Live!'s backgrounds, the 3D character models that act so robotic, and be listening to the subdued, dream-like soundtrack. The whole thing just comes off feeling lazy. At least include the original soundtrack!

There's also an Infinity mode, which, again, sounds like it would be interesting to play. But it actually gets tiring after 10 minutes, since you're only presented with simple rows of bubbles dropping down. It's amazing how boring a one player game of Bust-A-Move gets when you're not constantly presented with unique puzzle maps. So that really only leaves the vs. modes to look forward to. Playing against computer opponents provide some challenge, and keeps you occupied for a bit, but playing against real opponents online is where the real attraction lies. How does the game's namesake hold up? It's not going to revolutionize online gaming for years to come, since all it offers is the simple method of getting rid of bubbles in an attempt to clog your opponent's side with unwanted bubbles. Though very basic, I did find myself having fun. Shoot, I actually played against a player for over one hour. I lost about 20 times, but that's beside the point. However... the desire to play for that long stemmed from having to wait for over an hour and a half before someone else actually came on. During a Sunday.

Because it's going to be tough finding someone to play against in Bust-A-Move Live!'s online vs. mode, probably due to a lack of interest, you're going to play the one player modes a lot. With that in mind, you're better off just playing the original Bust-A-Move 2 on one of those Old Timey game consoles that had a bunch of ugly 3D games.

Rating: 5/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (November 30, 2009)

PickHut has this weird fondness for the Sega Saturn. Even though he's aware that most of the game's are either decent or terrible, he still wants to play them.

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