Puzzle Bobble Everybubble!! is the latest addition to the bubble-shooting game series featuring Bub and Bob from the Bubble Bobble game series. If "Puzzle Bobble" doesn't sound familiar to you, that might be because you know it as Bust-A-Move, the name used for international releases. Puzzle Bobble Everybubble! brings back not only the main stars but also their friends Peb and Pab as they travel to Rainbow Island, where the Miniroons live. You may be wondering what a Miniroon is — they are a race of little dinosaurs that resemble Bub and Bob but can't blow bubbles like them, or at least, they couldn't until now. Everything changed when they met a sorcerer who granted them one wish — to have the ability to blow bubbles. He granted their wish, but he failed to tell them how to stop, resulting in the bubbles quickly taking over the land.
The original Puzzle Bobble was released by Taito in 1994 for arcades and spawned numerous ports and sequels, all featuring the same style of gameplay. Unlike the platforming approach of the Bubble Bobble game, in Puzzle Bobble, you play in a rectangular-shaped playing zone. The area is filled with coloured orbs that you must clear using your bubble pointer (which I like to call the bubble shooter, as it sounds cooler). The balls you shoot are randomly generated from the colours of the remaining bubbles on the screen, so the tones/hues are always changing. However, you can see which one you will throw next, and if you clear all bubbles of one colour, you don't need to worry about it reappearing. Aim and shoot them at the placed ones, and if you create a group of three, they will pop. The shots you fire move in straight lines and can be angled and bounced off the sides of the play area if you're trying to reach a spot that you can't access by shooting straight. Strategy plays a significant role here — depending on where you place your bubble, you can take out a large group of the same colour or just a small group of three. You'll need to figure out the best technique to eliminate these larger clusters before they cross the fail line. A new line of bubbles are added to the top every few shots, pushing the ones below it down. If any bubble touches that line, you fail and have to restart the puzzle.
You travel through various areas on Rainbow Island, each of which consists of 15 different puzzles to solve before you can move on to the next one. When you complete a level, you earn between one and three stars based on how long it took you to solve; a bar in the top left of the screen counts down, showing how many you would earn at that moment if you cleared the puzzle. If you fail the puzzle and use the Guide Bubble item they offer you, the maximum number of stars you can get is limited to one, regardless of how fast you complete it.
The puzzles in each area start off incredibly easy but increase in difficulty as you progress. While playing the levels, you can obtain items that will assist you, such as the Guide Bubbles which extend the "guide line" that shows you where your bubble will land, making it easier to determine where it will hit. I found this incredibly useful for shots that I was trying to bounce off walls to reach tight spots. There are others, such as the blue ball with a star on it that will clear out the remaining puzzle, the paint bubble that will change the colour of all the balls/orbs in the area it hits, and the bomb, which will destroy a small cluster of bubbles or the metal-looking supports.
Each area on the map has its own unique music playing throughout the 15 different levels at that location. I didn't like the soundtrack that much; the odd mixes of acoustic guitar mixed with steel drums become very repetitive, especially when you get stuck on a stage for hours; it was so annoying that I ended up turning the sound off because I couldn't stand to listen to it anymore. At least as you travel to new areas, there will be different music, and you unlock new characters, sidekicks, and accessories for both. There are even sidekicks from other Taito games, like Chack'n the bird from the Famicom-only game called Chack'n Pop. Having an adorable Miniroon wearing goggles as your assistant is sure to put a smile on your face! But that's not the only reference to other Taito games you'll find in Puzzle Bobble Everybubble!
My favourite aspect of the game is the multiplayer modes. There's a versus mode that allows you to play with friends locally or online. In the traditional Puzzle Bobble style, there are 1 vs. 1 and 2 vs. 2 modes available. Teaming up with a friend to go head-to-head with another pair was incredibly fun! It kept us entertained for hours, and I can't wait for our next face-off! There's also another mode that features another one of Taito's franchises, called "Puzzle Bobble vs. Space Invaders." In this mode, you and three friends work together to destroy the space invader ships trapped in bubbles before they reach the bottom of the screen. Instead of using a stationary bubble shooter and adjusting the angle, you run from one side of the screen to the other, throwing bubbles at the incoming enemies. If you don't have three friends to play with, you can assign computer characters to help you out; I will warn you, though, they are aggressive and will try to steal as many points as possible. Once you complete the stage or are defeated, you'll see a summary screen that ranks each player based on their points. Making combos that take out large clusters will earn you more points than shots that only pop three bubbles.
There's so much bubble-themed fun to be had, both alone and with friends, in Puzzle Bobble Everybubble!. Whether you've played any of the other Puzzle Bobble or Bust-A-Move games in the past or if you're new to the series, you're sure to enjoy this title with its adorable characters and addictive game modes.
Puzzle Bobble Everybubble! (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Puzzle Bobble Everybubble! is a super addictive and cutesy game that's fun to play both single-player and with friends. I would have loved the option to change the music as it becomes quite irritating when you hear it repeatedly due to difficult stages.