The latest installment in Acclaim's
Taito-licensed puzzle series has finally
arrived on Nintendo's little one ? and
although we're not sure what justifies the
"4" in the title, it remains one of the more
enjoyable puzzle games on the market.
More than 10 classic BAM
characters with different attributes,
such as Bub, Develon, Alkanet,
Marino, Kurol, Tam-Tam, Cleon,
G, Bramb and Gigant.
Puzzle, Vs. CPU and Challenge
Compatible with Game Boy and
Game Boy Color.
The Bust-A-Move series is definitely not
about evolution. Since Taito published the
first title in the series years ago, the gameplay has virtually remained the
same. Basically, players launch bubbles from the bottom of the screen to
the top and try to align three bubbles of the same color to erase them.
Once the wall of bubbles reaches the bottom, the game ends.
In addition to special "Balance Fields", weight scales with pulleys that
appear during certain rounds, BAM 4 features a number of special
bubbles to liven up the gameplay. Star Bubbles eliminate same color
bubbles as the launched one; Rainbow Bubbles will change colors;
Jama-Blocks ("jama" is Japanese for "hindrance") cannot be popped, only
dropped; Fulcrum Blocks can only be erased if all attached bubbles are
eliminated; Anti-Gravity Blocks try to float upwards, along with any other
bubbles attached to them.
There are three gameplay modes:
Puzzle requires you to clear the screen and doesn't depend at all on
which one of the classic BAM characters you have selected.
Player Vs. CPU pits players in 16 split-screen matches against the
computer. Beating the computer unlocks hidden characters.
Challenge Mode evaluates players based on how well they play
and how far they can get.
Like every other Bust-A-Move game out there, BAM 4 is easy to pick up
and highly addictive. Controls and game speed are spot on, but less than
favorable use of color for the bubbles makes them a bit hard to tell apart.
Developer Crawfish should have realized that it's more important to have
recognizable colors for the bubbles than color variety on the characters on
screen or the walls. As with its console counterparts, BAM 4 displays the
franchise's cute characters all throughout the action, working the bubble
launching controls toward the bottom of the screen.
Music and sound effects are nothing spectacular, but fit the puzzle action
just right. Sadly, everyone's favorite "bakaaaaak!" sound is nowhere to be
found, and neither is the series' best feature: the multiplayer mode. C'mon
folks, how much work is it to add a simple link-up mode, especially in light
of the existing vs. CPU split-screen mode?
I've been looking forward to a decent portable Bust-A-Move for a
while and BAM 4 fits the bill just right. Apart from the disappointing
lack of a two-player mode (why, Acclaim, why?) and the weak use of
color, Bust-A-Move 4 plays almost as well as its console and arcade
competition. It would have been nice if the puzzle creation mode of
BAM '99 (along with link-up/swap and print-out capabilities) had also
been included -- but even without all the extra stuff, BAM 4 is just the
right entertainment for a long trip. Let's just hope this is the last
single-player conversion of a classic multiplayer hit we see from