Reviewed: November 3, 2002
Reviewed by: Mark Smith
Super Bust-A-Move 2 is the sequel to the highly addictive screen-clearing puzzle game that rivals the popularity of Tetris. It makes a great party game or you can simply sit back and play by yourself as you compete in four challenging modes, including the new edit mode where you design your own levels for unlimited replayability.
Since the first Bust-A-Move game launched in 1993, more than 3 million people have been hooked by its fun and challenging gameplay. Super Bust-A-Move 2 takes the series to a whole new level with more characters, better graphics, new modes and nearly limitless replayability. The only thing lacking with this latest version is a 4-player mode, but with a GameCube version scheduled for a December, 2002 release, we can only hope this is finally added.
If you've played the original Bust-A-Move then you will slip right into this game like an old pro. Despite the vast array of improvements and new gameplay modes, the basic premise remains unchanged. For those of you unfamiliar with the franchise, the game plays something like this.
You start each level with an assortment of multi-colored bubbles arranged above you in a random pattern. You then fire your own randomly selected bubbles into the cluster above trying to create a matching 3-bubble cluster. When this happens that cluster will pop and release anything that may have been attached beneath it.
Sure it sounds simple, but as the levels progress you start getting some wild bubbles thrown into the mix that randomly change colors, not to mention the timer that is always ticking away. There’s even a bit of geometric prowess required when you start having to bank your shots off the sides and top of the playfield.
Bust-A-Move 2 is heavily influenced by Japanese culture, which means that most of us simply won’t get the bizarre creatures, hyper-excited voices, and funky synthesized music. Fortunately, this does not detract from the addictive nature of the gameplay, which now includes a story-mode. This is basically a series of levels that are unique to each of the 12 characters with cutscenes between the puzzles. These subtitled stories make no sense whatsoever, but they are still humorous in a demented kind of way.
There is a nice Puzzle Edit mode that lets you create your own challenging levels for your friends or family, but once you fire up the Chain Reaction mode, prepare to lose sleep. You may even want to schedule some vacation time from work. And be warned, once you play Chain Reaction, the original game just won’t seem as much fun.
Chain Reaction is a hyperactive mode that takes the bottom marble from your last completed line and reassigns it to another location in the puzzle board. This presents a mind-boggling array of puzzle opportunities that will keep you challenged for hours upon hours.
The graphics are nothing state-of-the-art, but they are a definite step up in quality from the previous Bust-A-Move game released on the PS2, and certainly better than the SNES version. The colors are rich and vibrant and the animations are very nice with great special effects. The characters are charming in a disturbing Japanese kind of way and they feature humorous animations that are almost distracting.
The playing fields are alive with colors and designs but they are subdued enough so the bubbles are easily identified. Even in the two-player split-screen games, everything manages to be well organzied and easy to play. Due to the simple nature of the game graphics there is never any slowdown, even with two players and screens that are alive with animation and special effects.
The sound ranges from annoying to disturbing. You have the standard blips and beeps as you pop the bubbles and your chosen character will often shout out unintelligible phrases. The music is pretty simple and generic stuff targeted to the younger kids. It never got terribly annoying, but it won't win any awards for quality either. The best thing I can say is that the music and sound matches the quirky nature of the Pokemon-style graphics.
There are five levels for each of the 12 characters in the Story mode. Combined with the multiplayer modes, Puzzle Edit mode, and the amazing Chain Reaction mode, the gameplay potential is virtually unlimited. You will probably get tired of the game before you ever exhaust the potential of this title.
Super Bust-A-Move 2 is a quirky little game that is fun and challenging for the entire family. The game is simple enough that even the younger kids will be able to figure it out, while the increasing challenges of the Chain Reaction mode will keep adults glued to the TV for hours at a time. It's rich with Japanese culture, so if you are into that then that is a plus, otherwise the offbeat characters may just freak you out, but ultimately they will have you smiling and probably even laughing.
At only $19, I can't think of another puzzle game out there for your PS2 that offers this much gameplay with such a variety of challenges and game modes. If you enjoy puzzle games or simply want to get a niche game to fill in the gaps between your other big titles then Super Bust-A-Move 2 would be the one to get.