Bust-A-Move Universe Review

By Jason D'Aprile - Posted Apr 04, 2011

The venerable classic of the connect-three puzzle genre returns for another outing. Now in 3D, Bust-a-Move's gameplay remains classic, but the 3DS version's omission of multiplayer assures that bursting bubbles on the go will be a lonely endeavor.

The Pros
  • Classic connect-three gameplay still great
  • Plenty of levels
  • 3D adds surprising amounts of visual interest
The Cons
  • No multiplayer
  • Lacks innovation. It's the same old Bust-A-Move.

Bust-A-Move Universe 3DS Review: 

Bust-a-Move certainly wasn’t a game shouting out for the 3D treatment, but that hasn’t stopped Square Enix from releasing the latest in the long line of bubble-bursting games on Nintendo’s 3DS. While you could easily argue that the game’s decidedly 2D gameplay doesn’t benefit much from the illusion of screen depth, Bust-a-Move Universe is still a solid entry for the series. Unfortunately, like so many of the new system’s launch titles, it’s not as complete an experience as we would have hoped.

Bust-A-Move Universe

Pop. Pop. Pop.

If you’ve kept up with the Bust-a-Move series over the years, there aren’t any surprises here beyond the use of the system’s stereoscopic 3D abilities. The 3D adds a nice layering effect between the game board and the backdrop, and is certainly a visually appealing gimmick. That said, it doesn’t add anything to the actual gameplay. Still, the graphics are sharp and colorful, with some creative backgrounds.

Beyond that, however, this is the same old game it’s always been. For fans of the series, that’s a good thing. Bust-a-Move remains a great puzzle game, even if there’s been little in the way of innovation in the gameplay over the many years it’s been circulating. The concept is simple. Bub and Bob are two little dinosaurs who use a crossbow to shoot bubbles of various colors and types at lines of colored bubbles above them. Shot at least two of the same type of bubble with a third matching bubble, and they all pop.

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This connect-three gameplay has been used countless times, especially in recent years thanks to the popularity of games like Bejeweled. Just the same, Bust-a-Move has managed to retain a charm and appeal all its own. It’s fun, it’s simple, it’s addictive—exactly what a good puzzle game should be. The 3DS version has a puzzle mode and challenge modes, where you go for high scores within either two time limits or an infinite mode.

Bust-A-Move Universe

Three Bubbles Are the Loneliest Number

The puzzle mode takes a level-by-level approach, complete with world maps, and tasks players with clearing out pre-set levels within a time limit. The gameplay remains the same no matter how you play, and the end result is tons of color-coordinated bubbles to pop. The one major disappointment with Bust-a-Movie Universe is the lack of multiplayer.

Given the 3DS’s potential online abilities, this would have been a perfect candidate for internet play. Unfortunately, there’s not even an option for local multiplayer games. It’s definitely a sore point, especially given how much fun competitive Bust-a-Move can be.

Bust-A-Move Universe

Just Bust-A-Move

Aside from the lack of multiplayer, Bust-a-Move Universe is a fine example of the game. Admittedly, if you already have any of the other versions, the mere addition of shiny 3D visuals is hardly a reason to purchase yet another copy. If you’re hunting for a good puzzler specifically for the 3DS however, this is it.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?