If there’s one stereotype that the PSP consistently fails to break free of, it would have to be the one about how its library consists of little more than ports, sequels, remakes and compilation games.
What? Were you expecting me to say this game breaks that stereotype? It obviously doesn’t – I mean, this is another sequel in the well-known Bust-A-Move series, which has crept its way onto several systems in the past. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, well, that isn’t really always a bad thing. Sure, Bust-A-Move Deluxe falls short in some areas, but it still delivers a nice take on the BAM series, as well as offering a few twists to the classic puzzler.
Now for anyone whose experience with classic puzzle games goes beyond Tetris, the system behind Bust-A-Move should be fairly obvious. For those who weren’t so lucky, I’ll explain. It’s not your standard “stack-‘em-up” style puzzler, instead, players take control of Bubblen (Bub), Bobblen (Bob) (both of Bubble Bobble fame) or any of the six new characters exclusive to BAMDX, and try to connect bubbles of the same color. The set-up’s pretty different compared to most puzzle games. While generally, players are forced to arrange groups of pieces together as they fall from the bottom, BAM takes things in a different direction. As opposed to stacking pieces upward as they fall from the top of the screen, the game field is filled with bubbles, all hanging from the field’s ceiling. Pieces don’t come out in pairs, triads or tetrads in this case: they come out as singles, as they are fired from the bottom of the screen. Players are allowed to aim each bubble’s trajectory, but it’s a little hard to tell which way it’s going. Connect three or more bubbles of the same color and they explode – and as a bonus, if any pieces are hanging solely on those destroyed pieces, they fall as well.
Deluxe changes a few facets of the classic Bust-A-Move engine. Don’t worry though – it’s nothing major, just a few tweaks. For starters, while in the earlier games, pieces that hit the ceiling were stuck there, DX elects to allow them to simply ricochet, much like they would off of the walls. There’s a pretty good reason for this, but we’ll get to that later. Secondly, while those falling pieces would generally just fall to oblivion, DX gives them new purpose: they can act as fodder for “chain attacks”. If any of those falling pieces are of the same color as any grouping of two or more congruent bubbles, that piece will come flying back up and destroy them. Nice trick, huh?
In addition to the classic game mode, BAM Deluxe elects to add seven [!!] additional ways to play, each offering their own unique take on the classic puzzle game. There’s Blind Mode, where each stationary piece on the field is unknown until they either are congruent with a fired bubble or in proximity of some reaction; Seesaw Puzzle, where the arena tips, based on the balance of “weight” on the field; Time Warp Puzzle, where the speed of the player’s shots vary from lightning-quick to wading-in-molasses-slow; and three others. My personal favorite among these new modes would have to be Shot Mode – where players are only allowed one shot to complete each stage, but the real star attraction would be Ghost Mode, where each piece is intangible until it makes contact with the playing field’s ceiling or walls. This is especially evident in the European version of the game, which is known as Bust-A-Move Ghost.
To add even more variety to the game, each of the eight modes has three ways to play: single-player, a competition with a CPU-controlled opponent, or a competition with a friend – with a grand total of 24 possibly modes of play. Unfortunately, BAMDX lacks Wi-Fi connectivity, which is in all likelihood the game’s Achilles’ heel, at least when it comes to gameplay.
Let’s just say that the graphics are the major reason I prefer referring to this game as BAM Ghost. Sure, they remain as nauseatingly cutesy as the earlier games in the series, but BAMDX trades out the bright backgrounds for a spookier motif, trading the colorful areas of the earlier games for cemeteries and haunted houses. Despite the new look, the game’s graphics haven’t really improved that much. Sure, they look nice, but they’re not at all impressive.
The same can be said for the sound. It’s an okay soundtrack, fitting with the spooky motif of the graphics, but the music doesn’t live up to earlier games. It’s fairly generic and at times, it even gets a little annoying. The same can be said about the sound effects – hearing my character’s death rattle once in a while is okay, but when it goes beyond five times in a row, it starts grating my nerves.
This game has a lot of replay value going for it. In addition to those 24 modes of play I mentioned earlier, there are also unlockable characters, hidden in various vs. CPU modes for the most part, as well as unlockable alternate attack patterns for each character. There’s also the fact that the game’s got inherent replayability simply because it is Bust-A-Move. However, there is that one aforementioned blemish keeping this game’s replay at a meager eight: lack of online play. It’s a shame really. Ah well, maybe next time.
-Originally Posted by Wolfdogg