Puzzle Bobble EveryBubble! (Switch) Review
The Bust-A-Move meets Space Invaders mode is cool and creative
4-player co-op is great even when filling the roster with competent AI
Colorful visuals ooze schoolyard charm
Lack of overall depth and replay value – no significant unlockables or extensive leaderboards
No puzzle mode or editor either
Some sharp difficulty spikes
Give us more Chack’n!
Now being officially recognized as Puzzle Bobble instead of Bust-A-Move here in the States, Puzzle Bobble EveryBubble! is a colorful sequel starring Bub, Bob, Peb, and Pab while featuring some new and welcomed multiplayer modes into the classic bubble matching gameplay.
Rainbow Islands has been covered in bubbles and it is up to the four chibi dragons to save the day. For the first time in this long running franchise, the story mode can be played entirely in 4-player co-op! The coolest part? AI can optionally fill the shoes of missing human players. Meaning, you can request that three bots help when playing solo. The best part though, the AI is actually competent. I was shocked when they were bouncing shots off the wall to sneak bubbles into those tiny crevasses to drop a strategic pile. In fact, the AI would sometimes act fast and shoot a bubble just as I shot mine, leaving an extra bubble on the gameboard. While you cannot command the AI, they do a good job which makes the game more fun.
The co-op feature not only makes the game more enjoyable, it was also designed with care as the game scales to the number of players. For example, if playing solo, the screen is composed of typical Bust-A-Move size. However, a full roster makes the game board stretch to the edge of the screen, filling the well with many more bubbles. This means that each puzzle has essentially been designed four times depending on the number of available players.
In addition to the standard VS mode, which supports online play, the other creative new feature is the Puzzle Bobble Vs Space Invaders mode and it is exactly what you think it is. Instead of shooting down aliens, the dragons shoot their bubbles vertically and must stop incoming rows of pieces from reaching the safe line. I must admit, it is a little weird moving the dragons horizontally on the bottom of the screen just like your ship in Space Invaders. I can’t help but think how much different this mode would have been if it used the typical stationary bubble shooter instead. Therefore, it is basically Space Invaders with bubbles as opposed to Puzzle Bobble with Space Invaders. Like the story mode, this is best played in multiplayer even if they are AI buddies. Either way, this is a creative crossover that works well, so much so that it is a wonder why it took this long. And speaking of crossovers, Bub and Bob have to rescue Chack’n, a round chicken-thing from Chack’n Pop, another Taito IP. If anything, this makes me just want more Taito characters in the Bust-A-Move universe. Why not Pocky, Rocky, or even Agent 17 from Elevator Action?
One quality of life feature that needs to be highlighted, especially for long time fans, is the friendly auto-bubble placement. In previous games, you need to launch bubbles with pixel perfection to sneak them into those “just big enough” openings. With this sequel, the game knowns you are aiming for these tough spots and magnetically slides them into the places where they need to go. While skill is definitely a factor, aiming is now friendlier than ever and reduces those frustrating moments. This makes each defeat much more the player’s fault. This bullet point isn’t listed on the back of the box but something long time players will notice and appreciate.
While the aiming has been enhanced, there are some annoyingly steep difficulty spikes that really test the player’s skill. For example, when playing the limited endurance mode to get your score published to the online leaderboard, there is a sharp spike right at the beginning of the match. If you can clear the first 20 seconds, the next spike always hits around the 3-minute mark. Some later stages in the main story mode are like this too. Also, to unlock the next playable option in the online mode, players need to reach an impossibly high score. While I am playing this pre-release (so there currently are not many scores published to the leaderboard), I am ranked 2nd on the chart and nowhere near the score to unlock the next difficulty. Maybe this will be reduced with a patch but only the best Puzzle Bobble players in the world will be able to see some of this content (maybe).
As uncomplicated and relaxing as the Puzzle Bobble is, it unfortunately lacks meat on the bone. Sure, Vs mode checks the main boxes and the Space Invaders game is fun, but these act as glorified mini games that are best played in short bursts. Without extensive extras and unlockables, this is one of those games that is fun for a few rounds before moving onto to anything else. There is no Puzzle Mode, no level editor, and even the special bubbles are scarce, keeping gameplay simple and standard. For a $40 release, I was hoping for a bit more even though what is here is entertaining, colorful, and can be a fun local party game with 4 players.
Puzzle Bobble EveryBubble! nails the multiplayer aspect firmly on the head and it deserves a lot of credit for it, especially considering the intelligent AI and scaling. The included Space Invaders game is unexpected and welcomed surprise too. But once you play a round, you’ll be asking yourself “now what?” since the game doesn’t provide a reason to keep playing – no worthwhile unlockables, no rewards, or extras of any kind. Replaying stages in the story mode to aim for a 3-star rating and the EX mode also isn’t enough incentive since most stages will unlock the 3-stars with ease thanks to the well playing AI.
Even though this is probably the best Puzzle Bobble game yet from a multiplayer perspective, there isn’t much there once those bubbles pop a few times.
Don’t Forget About: Bust-A-Move Plus! with the optional DLC (WiiWare)
Better Than: Puzzle Bobble 3D: Vacation Odyssey
Wait For It: Puzzle Bobble Battle Royal with 100 players
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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