Thursday, 14 August 2014

Bubble Witch 2 (iOS)

ADVENTURE!!! No, it's bubbles.

There's something about King that means their games are the equivalent of gaming cocaine. Whatever it is that there company agenda is, I hope it's not sinister as their approach to integrate themselves into items and devices has gotten themselves a potential method of taking over the planet. Not through violence but by distracting everyone with brightly coloured games that are a piece of piss of to start playing but quickly becomes a nightmare in trying to master and progress beyond a certain point. Bubble Witch 2 is no different.

What type of tree was that?

Bubble Witch 2 is a bubble popper game which was made popular by the game series Bust A Move, where you have a selection of brightly coloured balls in an arena and get to fire upwards into that arena, more balls to try and pop the balls that are there, by colliding balls of the same colour together in sets of 3 or higher. That's basically it. You can bank shots off the sides, slip them between other bubbles and use special bubbles if you need which can count as blank bubbles that connect and cause an instant correct colour to align. Failure to hit the right bubble will cause that bubble to be "stuck" and the game carries on until you run out of bubbles or achieve the objective.

You WON! Everything falls and gains points.

Thankfully in Bubble Witch 2, there's multiple objectives to be met from "Free the Ghost" Where there's a single ghost block in the middle surrounded by bubbles, all you've got to do is break the 6 bubbles surrounding it to free the ghost, within a very tight limit of bubbles. Other modes include "Get to the top" where you just get 6 bubbles removed from the uppermost line of the field, and "Free the Animals" where you've got to release multiple bubbles that have animals trapped in them. At the time of playing, I've yet to encounter more modes but there could be future levels and updates.

...So here's a witch in a fashion crisis

The first levels ease you in gradually, showing you the ropes and making it almost impossible to lose unless you're going WAY out of your way to deliberately scupper yourself, though if you've got yourself linked into Face book you can also compete with other like-minded 'socialites' for the best score though most will just be glad to have gotten through the level by that point. You can also donate gifts of lives and such for the other players or if they ask for it, tickets to get through to the next set of levels. Thankfully even nobby-no-mates can progress as once you hit the end of a level and win, you automatically go through after a day of waiting. Or pay...

Lesson 2: Grandma and sucking eggs.

Yes it's a freemium game. You can pay for bonus time, bonus balls, extra moves and special and almost anything else you can think of save from actually BEATING the level itself. With enough cash you can pass most things but the challenge is to get through the game without paying a penny. Which makes the harder levels even harder. It becomes a point that you're going to NEED to be lucky to make much progress in the harder levels as you'll be stripped down to the bare minimum of balls needed to beat a level and THEN you better hope it's the right sequence of ball colours. Thankfully, removal of ALL of a colour negates any more from turning up, even if they're already in the "Next to play" position.

Lots of levels, you likely won't see them all.

The game is banking of frustration to make money. "I just nearly beat this level and need one more bubble that's red to beat this, I'll pay for the 5 more bubbles" no reds show up. Or it will after 15 bubbles, you've no real control on that front. It makes a nice change though to see that there's no block on people progressing and nor is there a compulsory purchase, but the structure and difficulty means that you will feel very pressured by the game to buy things you don't really want to. Be careful as well when playing as the game gives you a small amount of in-game cash and there's no "Are you sure?" if you go to spend it, it will just take it on the first button press.

Multiple ball types keep the variation going

The game looks lovely, but then it should do given the simplicity of the underlying engine, the company has made a living out of looking nice and accessible and once again, they've done it here too. Bright, colourful and pleasantly appealing to the eye for almost all ages. A solid core of a puzzle game with just enough unique things to separate it from the others but having said that, I'd personally prefer to see Bub and Bob on either side of the bubble cannon and fight it out with Baron Von Blubba once again.

...someone kill the writer.

It's nice and it'll make them a fortune, but it's the same structure used once again. I suppose if it works, there's no need to fix it.