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Puzzle Bobble

Oh no not another multi-coloured bubble game featuring cute dragons!

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Put aside the basic questions that confront any newcomer to Puzzle Bobble (like who trained dragons to use bubble-firing weaponry, why don't they just breathe fire on them and who attached the bubbles to the ceiling in the first place?) and you're left with a very simple puzzle game premise. Link together three or more bubbles of the same colour and they disappear, fail to link them together and they build an ever bigger chain which eventually reaches the bottom of the screen, at which point you die and your miniature on screen dragon cries.

Now there's nothing wrong with a simple premise - most of our very favourite mobile titles are simple to pick up and play. Nor is there anything especially awry with the presentation here - the visuals are as bold and colourful as they were on the console original, there's a jaunty sound track and the screen is bright and clear. Yet there is nonetheless something amiss here, or more pointedly something missing which prevents you from really enjoying your time spent bursting bubbles, and makes it unlikely that you'll return.

In part this could be down to the control system. The subtle movements of the aiming arrow, which worked effortlessly on the bigger screen, feel rather clunkier on the micro mobile playing space and more complex shots like bouncing the ball off a wall into an empty space prove more miss than hit.

More problematic is the lack of any variation in play as the game is essentially played out on level which you can never really clear. Although you may successfully group and pop most bubbles, when you've fired a certain number the screen starts to shake and a frustrating new line appears at the top. Hence, in place of the usual gaming frenzy rewarded by a small satisfaction break from a cleared level, here you're constantly fire-fighting and have no fresh challenges to look forward to. This is further compounded by the lack of multiplayer challenges that added playtime to the console version.

Hence, though there this maybe a relatively good conversion, all but the real die-hard fans will find Puzzle Bobble is rather too much like the diminutive dragon hero, cute but lacking in depth.

4 / 10

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