David Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2009-07-09 18:41:17
Bust-A-Move Plus! (WiiWare) - Rank C
Bust-A-Move is an inarguable classic. If I were to assemble a list of the greatest puzzle games of all time, Tetris would stand alone at the top. After that, I'd tear my hair out trying to determine the order of the next several, among which Bust-A-Move definitely resides.
If you're new to gaming, Bust-A-Move is conceptually simple. A wall of multi-colored bubbles slowly pushes down toward you. Before they reach you, you must pop them by matching up three or more like-colored bubbles by shooting more bubbles up at them. Unlike most of its brethren, Bust-A-Move requires some amount of hand-eye coordination, as shots can definitely be missed. I've lost track of how many times I've hooted after making a difficult bank shot, or groaned in despair after botching the simplest direct shot.
If you manage to eliminate higher bubbles that anchor others, they all clear, incentivizing gambles to score bigger clears. This balance between risk and reward is even more keenly felt in multiplayer games, where cleared bubbles create more junk bubbles on your opponent's screen.
I also feel compelled to note that chicks dig this game. I'm not talking about gamer girls; Bust-A-Move has universal appeal. There's something magical about the combination of cute characters and simple gameplay that makes this so accessible. More generally speaking, Bust-A-Move is a great way to evangelize to any non-gamer - it's just that I have fond memories of low-key chill-at-home successful dates around this game.
Bust-A-Move has been released in multiple iterations on just about every conceivable platform prior to this current generation. I'm glad Taito hasn't been milking this game as full retail releases this time around, and are looking to publish it in the downloadable spaces instead. WiiWare is an ideal place for it. You'll note, however, the mediocre grade I gave this release. There are three reasons for this:
Firstly, Taito added annoying unbreakable blocks. There's nothing wrong with a challenge, but I feel that these stifle the flow of the game, and add unbalanced difficulty. It sometimes feels like luck is required to negotiate these pieces. Secondly, there's no online play. An Xbox Live version of the game is forthcoming, and I'd be shocked if that lacked online play. Lastly, Taito is charging more for extra levels. Bust-A-Move is such a simple game that they should have simply included these into a singular package.
If you've never experienced Bust-A-Move, it's a title that belongs in the library of any well-rounded gamer. However, with so many superior ways to experience it (I'm partial to the Sega Dreamcast's Bust-A-Move 4 myself) including the upcoming Bust-A-Move Live!, I would skip this Wii version.