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Bust-A-Move Live! Taito, Microsoft Xbox 360 Live Arcade, September 2009

Bust-A-Move Live!
Developer
Year
Players
Price
Taito
2009
1-2
$10 (800 MS points)
Depending on where you're from, you know this game as Bust-A-Move Live! or Puzzle Bobble. In the USA, it's Bust-A-Move, a classic arcade game ported to nearly every platform (yes, even Neo Geo and Neo Geo Pocket Color) for you to enjoy. If you're familiar with the gameplay, this has more of it. If not, the dinosaurs from Bubble Bobble shoot little bubbles at other bubbles, and if you combine a string of 3 together, they disappear. It's a fairly straightforward puzzle game, and there are a lot of other similar games out there-- but this one works pretty darned well.

What you need to know: it's Bust-A-Move, with 135 stages, more via DLC, versus play locally or via Xbox Live, and there's an infinity mode. If you like the game in general, and would like to play it on Xbox Live, this isn't going to disappoint.

Control

Aim, shoot. Seriously, it's incredibly simple to figure it out but somewhat difficult to master, unless you're really good at pool or Peggle or games of this nature. If you've got a problem with too many buttons, this game will be a welcome change in that you point and shoot and that's pretty much all there is too it. (I know that makes it sound simple, but trust me, it's an experience worth having.)

The levels are all built on the same structure, which involves shooting bubbles at the top of the screen. Since the bubbles eventually get pushed down, it's sort of like Tetris in the sense that there's an increasing sense of urgency. Candy-coated, sugary urgency. The game doesn't exactly reward you with amazingly new scenarios as you go, it's a lot of "more of the same," although with a lot of these classic arcade games, that's pretty much what you should expect.

If a dinosaur popped out with a chainsaw and hacked away at the bubbles, it might seem a little out of character. But now that it's out there, wouldn't that be awesome?


Graphics & Sound

The game works on nearly every platform and hi-def graphics are completely totally unnecessary for this one. On the Sega Saturn, GameBoy, Neo Geo Pocket Color, or any platform really, you just need a few pixels and a few colors. The game has never looked better here, and its 720p graphics look nice on a hi-def screen. There's not a lot of animation necessary to enjoy the game, but the colorful stages and dinosaurs are attractive enough that you won't feel cheated or that this was a cheapo port. Ten bucks is about right.

Multiplayer and Achievements

While not tested, the game boasts local and Xbox Live multiplayer game. We'd have tested it, but our buddies do not cave easily to our "please buy this game" requests. We were not able to find other players on Live! when we were looking, so you may want to be sure someone in your social circle has it before you pick it up if online play is important to you. Also, it supports avatars, giving you a reason to trick out the fake, adorable you that you send out into the cold harsh virtual world.

Achievements are pretty straightforward-- some of which you're likely to get by accident, like "Clear 1 Zone in 1P Puzzle mode" or "Destroy bubbles by bouncing a bubble 3 times." Others are not so easy-- "Play in Infinity mode for 60 consecutive minutes" and "Clear any stage in 5 seconds or less" may prove tricky. Like all Arcade titles, 200 points are up for grabs, and you're going to have to work for them as online matches are required for 45 of them.

Is it worth buying?

PASS OR FAIL?
PASS!
WE LIKED IT!
Writing a review of Bust-A-Move Live! was easy because, in all fairness, you've probably played one or more versions of the game. (The 16bit.com library has no fewer than 4 versions including this one.) This one is clearly the best as online features, graphics, and sound go, plus it had the best retail price as of its release date. $10 is totally reasonable for this game, unless you have too many good games to play, which is really the one big problem affecting Xbox 360 owners today. This title is totally worth grabbing the demo, it should grab you pretty quick. As another of Taito's classics, I almost wish they just put this and their other recent downloadables like Bubble Bobble Neo, Space Invaders Extreme, and the like on a retail collection disc. $10 here and there isn't so bad, but really, this is a game that belongs as part of your gaming library if you enjoy the classic puzzlers. And you should.

--Adam Pawlus
Review posted November 17, 2009
Review copy provided by the developer

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