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Bust-A-Move DS Package Art

Bust-A-Move DS

If there's one thing that the DS has in abundance, it's quirky puzzlers. That said, is another one really necessary? Majesco evidently thinks so with its Bust-A-Move DS busting on to store shelves. While the first impression the title leaves is a rather minimalist presentation, this entry is actually up to snuff.


Bust-A-Move DS doesn't really demonstrate that much graphical prowess, but high-octane graphics aren't really requisite for a title in this series. Stars Bub and Bob look cute and perky as always, and a supporting cast made up of original characters and a few returnees from the Bubble Bobble series show up as well. The differently-colored bubbles have a different design inside of them in addition to their shades, which helps differentiate them. Interface menus are interesting, but the backgrounds of actual stages are a little sparse and could have used a little more attention to detail.


The game continues the Bust-A-Move musical tradition of lively, pep-filled tunes that accompany the game's levels. While the tunes are acceptable, a few more background themes for each mode of play would have been nice as there seems to be only one for each. Voice synthesization is limited to a voice shouting "Go!" at the beginning of the game.


The Bust-A-Move formula is in top form here. Differently-colored bubbles are shot up from the bottom of the playing field into the cluster of the spheres which are constantly descending from the ceiling. When three or more bubbles of the same color touch, they burst, and any superfluously attached bubbles fall off the playing field. If the encroaching bubbles sink all the way, the game is over. Three game modes are available: Puzzle, in which players must clear ten stages of all bubbles in succession; Endless, where one player attempts to keep clearing the screen until he loses; and Versus, which can be played against the computer or human opponents.

The only real difference here is a DS-specific one, as Bust-A-Move DS is fully playable with the touch screen. In fact, the addition of stylus control is wonderful addition to the game. Instead of aiming with the Control Pad and firing with the face buttons, two of the game's characters will hold a slingshot on the bottom screen, which can be pulled back and released with the stylus, a mechanic which may be familiar to those who have played Wario's mini-games in Super Mario 64 DS. The shot's speed is not affected by the strength of the pull, but being able to shift aim manually via sliding the stylus swiftly across the screen really makes the game flow better. Sticklers can still play with the regular button controls if they wish, but in this case, the touch control is actually signficantly better than the traditional.


Up to five players can participate in Versus Mode in either Single-Card or Multi-Card play. Five players sure is an odd number, isn't it? In this case, the limitation makes a little sense, though. In Versus Mode, each player's game is presented on the left half of both screens, while players can keep an eye on each of their opponents' progress in the upper right corner of the top screen. A portrait of each character is shown in a similar fashion on the lower screen, and players can attack their opponents by successfully completing combos and then touching the portraits to choose a target. An attack results in random bubbles being thrown up on the opponent's screen; and of course, the objective is to force them to lose. It had to be five players, since there is just enough room for for mini-screens and four character portraits; supporting any larger number of players would not be feasible.


Bust-A-Move DS would seem like a mixed bag, but the truth is, the intuitive touch control and signature gameplay far outweigh the bare-bones presentation and lack of any new game modes. The truth is that, even for veterans, the Bust-A-Move style of gameplay is still endlessly addictive, which is why the series is so successful and has spawned so many imitators. Don't be fooled, though; the original is still the best. There are over five hundred puzzles to challenge in one-player mode, and at a bargain-bin MSRP of $19.99, Bust-A-Move DS could be one of the best DS titles to take a gamble on this winter.

final score 8.1/10

Staff Avatar Aaron Roberts
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