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Bust-A-Move 2: Arcade Edition

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Reviewed by Raymond Almeda Bust a move is a great puzzle game for both beginners and advanced players. There are several reasons why Bust-A-Move 2: Arcade Edition has an "E" (as in "Everyone") rating. The hero of the game is a dumpy little green dinosaur whose most violent acts are bursting bubbles. His enemies are cutesy monster-ish things that look like they spend their weekends swimming in pastel paint vats. Even if Bust-A-Move 2 wanted to have offensive content, it would be far too abstract for anyone to understand. However, the content coming from a Bust-A-Move 2 player merits, in my experience, an "M" (as in "Make sure your parents/children aren't around"). Never before has such a cute little bauble of a game been able to produce such a foul and loathsome stream of expletives. Not to mention the violent tantrums and incensed controller slams the single Bust-A-Move 2 player is sure to experience. And the two-player fights-- well, let's just say that swift homicide is usually the lightest subject on a losing player's mind. The gameplay in Bust-A-Move 2 is innocent enough. As in the long line of bubble puzzle games that have preceded it, your object is to clear away a vertical wall of multi-colored bubbles. As you play, the wall ticks ever closer to the bottom of the screen. When a bubble crosses a certain line, it's game over. Now here's the fun part-- to burst the bubbles, you launch more bubbles at them (bad logic, but it makes for a good game). When three bubbles of the same color touch each other, they all pop. Any bubbles that are below those and attached to them also fall and burst. You, of course, don't get to select the colors of the bubbles you want. As this is a puzzle game, you have to deal with whatever the computer gives you and figure out what do with the bubbles you can't match and where to best use the bubbles you can. Sounds easy, right? Well, for about the first five minutes of play, it is. After that, the game moves on from the five bubble colors you begin with to nine or so, throws in a few "special bubbles," and cranks up the speed until the wall is racing for the bottom of the screen. You have to perfectly aim every shot, ricochet bubbles off the sides of the screen to get them in the right places, and express your frustration as nastily and loudly as possible to get to the next shot. As difficult as Bust-A-Move 2 can be, it's always challenging. You know that you'll always be able to clear a board and make the dumpy dinosaur giggle with delight if you can just come up with a better strategy, shoot a little straighter, and think a little faster. It's that possibility of success (along with the extreme certainty that, somewhere in the world, there are four-year-olds who are better at this game than you are) that makes Bust-A-Move 2 so addictive. Unfortunately, Bust-A-Move 2 hits have to be spread out. It's difficult to sit down at this game for more than thirty minutes at a time. After a while, the no- frills graphics, cheesy mock-calypso music, and endless walls of bubbles blend into a single, quivering primary-colored blob. There's only so much bubble popping one person can stand. Bust-A-Move 2 tries to alleviate this inevitable monotony by offering several different bubble-popping situations. You can go through the main puzzle mode of the game, in which you have to move from point A to point B (literally) by clearing progressively harder screens of bubbles. Once you get tired of that, there's the "Timed Attack Mode" in which you see how quickly you clear progressively harder screens of bubbles. Finally, there's a versus mode, in which you compete with the computer or a human opponent to (brace yourself) clear progressively harder screens of bubbles. Fortunately, this last mode does add something to the mix. In versus mode, when you make bubbles drop, they crowd over to your opponent's screen. This nasty little feature results in more expletives, enhanced violent tendencies, and darn fun multiplayer games (unless you're up against one of those four- year-olds I talked about before). Versus mode also delivers Bust-A-Move 2's cutscene equivalents. In these sequences, your dumpy dinosaur avatar meets up with the other monsters and goofy zaniness ensues. I have to admit that these scenes are some of the most bizarre things I've ever seen in a video game. If anyone can make sense out of them, please let me know. On second thought, don't-- I want to preserve their kooky mystery. All in all, Bust-A-Move 2 is a fun little game and nothing more. It won't awe or inspire, but it will entertain. Rent it for kicks, and if you like it, wait until it hits the bargain racks and buy it cheap. Otherwise, you'll probably be hoping for a little more than a dumpy dinosaur, lots of colored bubbles, and "M" reactions can bring.

Graphics: 8.7 out of 10 Sound: 9.1 out of 10 Challenge: 7.9 out of 10 Entertainment: 8.0 out of 10 Replay Value: 9.1 out of 10 Overall: 8.7 out of 10

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