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Balloon Pop Remix (3DS) artwork

Balloon Pop Remix (3DS) review

"Those balloons surely had it coming."

Loud popping noises aside, there’s something relaxing about bursting balloons. Balloon Pop Remix, a puzzle title from UFO Interactive, recognizes that fact and builds a game around it. The result is a unique matching experience that might relax you, if it doesn’t drive you nuts first.

There’s a story, but you probably won’t care about it because it’s not exactly fantastic. Apparently, an alien was flying past Earth in its spaceship and happened to notice how pretty our planet is. Unfortunately, while said extra-terrestrial was taking in the sights, a comet hit its ship. Just like that, a crash landing proved necessary. And then a scavenger hunt, of course, to find the scattered parts.

Balloon Pop Remix (3DS) imageBalloon Pop Remix (3DS) image

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, popping balloons makes that search possible. Which is where things get interesting, because this is no Bust-a-Moove or Bejeweled clone. You can burst whatever balloons you like, even if they aren’t the same color, provided they are next to or above or below one another (or diagonally aligned, when the appropriate power-up in play).

As you take out balloons, you’ll find the effort quickly drains your stamina meter. If the meter empties, that’s the end of your run. However, you get a boost of welcome energy if you cause three or more of the same color to connect and burst. Clearing a few balloons might also cause more of them to float into place and burst, which gets a combo going. Combos do considerably more to improve your condition even before you potentially use items to multiply points gained. As you can imagine, it’s important to facilitate such occurrences whenever possible.

Although the “Story” mode is the main draw and allows you to unlock mini-games and additional stages (with new wrinkles such as balloons that only burst when they are next to others that you manage to pop), there are other diversions also. “Puzzle” mode presents you with an assortment of challenges where the goal is to decide which couple of balloons to pop in order to produce a chain that completely clears the board. Things get devious in a hurry, so you really must put your gray matter to use. “Endless” lets you select a stage you’ve already cleared and play it for as long as you can endure.

Balloon Pop Remix (3DS) imageBalloon Pop Remix (3DS) image

Naturally, score chasing is a big deal in Balloon Pop Remix, though you only compete with yourself. There’s no online leaderboard. Racking up a serious score takes long enough (even when you manage a bunch of “unbelievable” combos) that trying to beat an old high score quickly loses its appeal. In later stages, that pursuit can also be nerve-wracking. Stamina drains quickly, even when you’re not making moves because you’re busy scanning the board for your next triumph, and a few quick pops don’t feel like they make enough difference to keep a person in good shape for long.

As a quick diversion, Balloon Pop Remix warrants a purchase for puzzle enthusiasts ready to experience something unique in a genre that doesn’t always offer that quality. In later stages, the action gets downright frantic, while playing the earlier stages on “Endless” mode is a good way to soothe nerves and engineer the occasional dopamine burst by setting off fantastic chains. Cutesy visuals and solid background music help this effect along considerably. But if you’re looking for something with the immediate and lasting appeal of a Tetris or a Bust-a-Move title, you’re better off focusing your attention elsewhere. There’s no shame in being quite good, which this game is, but don’t expect it to produce a lingering addiction.

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Staff review by Jason Venter (February 23, 2022)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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