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Puzzle Bobble



1999 SNK

Neo Geo Pocket Color


One of the few non-fighting games to grace Neo-Geo screens was Puzzle Bobble (otherwise known here in the states as Bust-A-Move,) which is a spin-off from the Bubble Bobble/Rainbow Islands/Parasol Stars series of games that first appeared on the 8-bit systems back in the day. The concept is simple, you help Bub and Bob shoot different colored globes in order to gather three of like together and thereby clear the level. It's easy on the surface to compare this game to other puzzlers of the time like Columns, or Dr. Mario. This game however is ten times more fun than the usual Tetris clone.

Bub and Bob have their cute animations as they load their ball throwing cannon-thing to hit the next bubble. As per usual with these games the next color is previewed so you can think one move ahead. Get three of the same color together and they are cleared, which also knocks out any bubbles which were hanging underneath them. Pile up too many past the endzone and it's game over.

Not much happening here to distinguish this version from others out there. Biggest difference is probably the ability to play as other teams besides Bub and Bob, although the other teams are made up of no-name enemy characters from the other games. There are also different powerups, such as bubbles of water that wash out any balls below them or lightning bolts that clear entire rows.

Graphics wise the system is held back by the hardware. The amount of onscreen colors is limited (sometimes where it can be difficult to tell which color is which depending on how good your light source is) but this is made up by superior sprite animation. Sound, like other NGPC games, is weak but compares to what was on the Gameboy Color at the time.

Is it worth buying a system just for this game? Probably not when there are console versions that look and sound better. For the 42 people or so in North America who actually bought a Neo Geo Pocket color the title is a must have. Puzzle Bobble is one of those perfect time waster games, where you get slightly better and slightly farther each time but it never gets boring. What's the last multi-million dollar console game that can make that claim?

Graphics: Small amount of colors makes everything look slightly drab. Good animation in the characters and backgrounds.

Sound: A very 8-bit rendition of the Puzzle Bobble theme. Adequate, but people used to full orchestrated music in their portable games may be disappointed.

Gameplay: This version seems slightly easier than most (and past round 50 or so the rooms seem to repeat themselves.) For the most part everything is Sweet, like chocolate covered things that are sweet.

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