Bust-A-Move 2: Arcade Edition
Reviewed by Scott McCall
It was originally developed by Taito, the same company who
made classics such as Space Invaders, Arkanoid, Chase HQ,
Bubble Bobble, Elevator Action, Operation Wolf, and Darius. It has
appeared on lots of platforms since its arcade inception many
years ago, including the Super NES, Game Boy, PC, PlayStation,
and Saturn. It is generally referred to as one of the best puzzle
games of all-time by hard-core gaming fans. It has nothing to
do with the recently released Japanese PlayStation game of the
same name. (The series is called "Puzzle Bobble" in Japan.) And
now it has surprisingly found a home on the Nintendo 64. The
game is called Bust-A-Move 2, and puzzle-starved N64 fans
should thank Acclaim for porting it to their system.
More than likely, if you're reading this, then you probably already
know what Bust-A-Move 2 is about. But for the newbies out there,
I'll describe the concept. Basically, there is a group of randomly
colored bubbles at the top of the screen on each stage. This group
slowly moves closer and closer to the bottom of the screen. Your
job is to get rid of every single bubble. To get rid of these bubbles,
you must make three (or more) bubbles of the same color touch so
they can burst and disappear. So you have to shoot bubbles at the
like-colored bubbles on the screen. In order to do this, you have
control of a bubble machine that lets you shoot out one bubble at a time.
This machine has 180* of aiming power. Bubbles can even be shot
off the side walls in order for them to bounce to reach difficult
angles. Once a bubble goes underneath the "deadline" at the bottom
of the screen, your game is over. There are also combos in the game.
If there are extra bubbles attached to the underneath of a cluster you
shoot, then the extra ones will fall off, too, resulting in "garbage"
being sent to your opponent in the Vs. modes and bonus points in the
Bust-A-Move 2: Arcade Edition contains several modes of play.
There's the Puzzle Mode, a Vs. the Computer mode, a Player vs.
Player mode, and a Time Attack mode, which can be played by
one or two players. The Puzzle Mode is the main mode for one
player. You go from stage-to-stage, getting rid of progressively
larger, faster-dropping, and more mixed groups of bubbles. There's
a map in which you get to choose your path. Each world is just
known as a letter. There are several stages for you to complete
inside each letter. The object of the Time Attack mode is to finish
a stage as fast as you can. The stages are set up so that chain-reaction
bursts can be triggered if bubbles are shot to the proper place. The
two Vs. modes are self-explanatory and are the heart and soul of
the game's replay value.
By the way, the control in Bust-A-Move 2 couldn't get any better.
First of all, you have the option between the Control Pad and the
Control Stick, which was a great idea. You also have the ability
to use the L and R buttons to get that pin-point accuracy you might
need if you can't get the Control Stick or Pad where you want it.
Then you just press the A button to launch a bubble. You might also
want to press the Right C button during the game to bring up a
menu that will show you how to center the screen and score for your TV.
There are quite a few options that can be toggled in Bust-A-Move
2: Arcade Edition as well. You can change how many continues you
get (3, 6, or 9), you can change the difficulty level, you can change
how many match points are needed for a win in the two-player mode,
you can listen to the various sound effects and musical tracks, and
you can change the sound type between stereo and mono.
Interestingly enough, Bust-A-Move 2 is also the first N64 game to
feature a screen saver! You can change how many minutes it takes
until it comes on. Besides the screen saver, one other nice thing
about the N64 version of Bust-A-Move 2 is the Controller Pak support.
The game will save all of your options and all of your best times and scores.
Understandably, the graphics and sound in Bust-A-Move 2 are secondary
to the gameplay. So you shouldn't expect any N64-specific enhancements
to the graphics. In fact, the same cheesy sprite animation and the
same low-res backgrounds are used; it basically looks no better than a
16-bit game. I was disappointed, however, in the sound department.
Although the game is supposedly in stereo, there is absolutely no
separation in the background music. Speaking of which, the MIDI
music isn't all that good. It's faithful to previous versions, maybe
with a little more bass, but it just wasn't as robust as I expected.
Apparently, there are more sound effects in the N64 version than
the CD versions, but the samples aren't quite as good.
Fans of the game will be happy to know that the N64 version of
Bust-A-Move 2 is a carbon copy of the arcade and all previous
versions. So if you own the game on another system, there's no
reason to get this version. But if you've never played Bust-A-Move 2
before, then you should definitely give it a try. It's one of the better
puzzle games ever made, especially in the two-player mode. You
might have a hard time finding a copy, as it seems to have been released
in limited quantities, but you may find it was well worth the effort.
Graphics: 1.5 out of 5
Sound: 2.2 out of 5
Control: 4.2 out of 5
Gameplay: 4.0 out of 5
Lastability: 4.4 out of 5
Overall: 4.0 out of 5