I've been a fan of the Bust-A-Move series for a while now. You may also know these games as Puzzle Bubble. Or maybe more likely now, as those mobile Bubble Witch games that ripped off the original Taito series wholesale. But to me, Puzzle Bobble was one of the big highlights of the Neo Geo Pocket Color library. And as such, I have some very fond memories of that cutesy little puzzle game on a tiny little screen.
Bust-A-Move Universe (or, Puzzle Bobble 3D) is yet another entry in the long running series and... I can't say it's perfect. I mean, Puzzle Bobble in general is always going to be fun. If you're not familiar, there's a bunch of bubbles up at the top of the screen in clusters, and you (or rather Bub or Bob from Bubble Bobble) are down below using a little cannon thingy to fire colored bubbles up above at them to burst them. It's just the right blend of SIMPLE and STRATEGY to zone out with. As such, the series has always been a go-to game for me to play while listening to the TV.
Universe does very little to differentiate itself from the rest of the series. Which is fine. But even as a standard Puzzle Bobble game, it's just kind of mediocre. My main plight is the lack of real content. There are eight worlds to beat in the main Puzzle mode - each with a handful of levels - but I blew through these and watched the credits roll in probably less than two hours. Sure there's sort of completionist achievements to attempt that MAY keep you playing, but truthfully, I'd rather just have a lot more levels to play once. And preferably more interesting, memorable and challenging ones. Especially when you consider that that's exactly what those mobile Bubble Witch games do indeed offer.
There are special powers you can use in each world, but I never found the game challenging enough to really bother using any of these. There are also boss battles at the end of each world but these are super yawn-worthy. You literally just fire bombs at a moving object boss and try to deplete its life in a short time limit. The weird thing is it doesn't even matter if you succeed or not - you still proceed to the next level. So again, replayability is handled horribly here.
And the controls are iffy as well. The dpad is too finicky, and using the L and R buttons to fine tune still isn't fine tuney enough. It honestly just feels like a thrown together attempt at a Puzzle Bobble entry. And while the formula is no doubt fun, I have to think that there's got to be a better option on DS or 3DS out there than Universe. I just don't have the interest in going for those extra achievements. I guess I could check out Challenge mode, but really I just wanted better (and more) levels in the base game and slightly more respect paid to the series on this one.