Review: Puzzle Bobble VS
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Ah, Puzzle Bobble. There's a whole history book behind this game, what with official ports to every single platform known to man. And if that's not enough, there's enough clone versions so you can always get a game of Puzzle-Bobble-Ish no matter what you have.
So the N-Gage version has a lot to live up to; Puzzle Bobble is a very old game, first appearing in the arcades in 1993 (as bust-A-Move) and with everyone having played it, they've got to get the controls and gameplay right.
Looking at it objectivly, they've managed to fail on all counts. Let's have a glance at the arcade machine screenshot (on the KLOV site). Note that in the one player game you can see one game grid. Now let's have a look at the screen on the Nokia N-Gage below.
For some unknown reason, they've decided that rather than a sensible coutndown timer option to play against, you get to fight a computer controlled opponent. Who isn't that good,so youcan forget that as a challenge. What it does mean is the game grid is squished into a column of only 88 pixels, including all the twiddly bits at the side that serve no purpose. So the gameplay of matching coloured balls up that you throw from a catapult is incredibly difficult in a frustrating kind of way. you can't make out the colous, it's hard to aim correctly... basically, it's a mess.
When designing for a computer system, you should always play to the strengths and minimise the weaknesses. Taito seem to have done the exact opposite. Here's the oter big problem with Puzzle Bobble. If I've spent £30 on an MMC Card game, I expect a little bit more thought from the programmer than defaulting back to the standard Series 60 user interface menus. When I hit one of the side buttons, I don't expect a standard menu to pop up. Worse than that, the Main Menu is a delightful full screen view. I obviously use the term delightful here with a heavy dose of irony, because this 'quick and dirty' programming destroys the feel of the game.
Some games and applications do benefit from the standard interface - but not one of the Launch Titles for crying out loud! No wonder the N-Gage got some bad press if this was used to show what the platform could do.
This title is a huge dissapointment. The Sega Game Gear version of Puzzle Bobble works really well - and the N-Gage has much more capability than the old 8-bit portable system. Whoever decided Puzzle Bobble was ready for release into the wild needs to get out more. Too many compromises, not enough thought to the user, and by keeping the split view they've made an unplayable mess.
At £4 it would still be unacceptable. Puzzle Bobble is deep into Zepplin Award territory, may it never escape.
22% - Take it outside into the Antarctic Winter with Mr Oates so the honour of this franchise can be restored.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at