Color Bubble Pop+ is a arcade style puzzle game that has you turning bubbles (icons) into the color of the background. I make it sound simple, but its complex and engrossing. The bubbles come in four colors, at least from the start. Red, blue (cyan) and yellow, Then you select one of four colors to add with these balls. You’ve got blue, yellow, red and white. So if the background is orange, you’ll mix your red with a yellow bubble or your yellow with a red bubble. You need to click an bubble to mix it with your color and if you mix it with the correct color the bubble disappears and the next one falls in place. Its brilliant, beautiful and colorful.
You can mess it up though, like if you add blue to a yellow bubble making green without the background being green. You can then add some red to make it a black bubble. Well if you’ve made it black, then you need to turn the bubble white in order to reset it. From there, you add color. Its a quick process that still amounts to extra steps.
If you ever have no playable bubbles, you can go for the challenge and start turning the bubbles white before turning them a different color in order to make them match the background. Its a challenging three step process instead of a simple one step click the bubbles. Changing the colors to white in order to reset the bubbles makes this game go further for experts, yet its still easy and accessible to novices.
After a certain amount of seconds, you’ll hear the clock tick and the background changes to a different color. In order to make it to the next round you’ll need to reach a score within the one minute time limit. When you advance a round, the timer resets and the background will change in less time.
To make the game more approachable, Color Bubble Pop+ will bluntly tell you at the top of the screen what colors you’ll need to match the current background. While this does make it a lot easier, I’d like the ability to turn it off for the extra challenge. In my mind I know what colors make the background, but it does take an extra moment for me to calculate in my head.
As for the controls, you can use a mouse to click on each bubble which causes your color ship (star) to align itself with the column you clicked on and fire the paint you’ve selected. If you like more of a challenge, you can use the arrow keys to move the ship, but I don’t recommend that. In order to select from your color wheel, you can either use the WSAD keys or click on them. It feels natural just to have one hand on the mouse and the other on the WSAD. There’s an easy to understand instructions that explain it all. Since this is a Unity game, there is a way to change the controls, but changing them does nothing. In fact the controls in the configuration contradict one another and that’s a detail that needs to be changed.
According to the instructions there are combo bonuses if you score points quickly. While I’ve managed to pull this off, it feels very vague. How many points do I need to have and how quick do I need to achieve them? I became very efficient at the game and can make it pretty far where you need to be efficient, but I never felt like I found a definitive way to get the combo bonus.
Its more than just classic mode, there are four other modes. Insanity will change the color of the bubbles every time the background changes. While its for advanced players, its still manageable. There’s just no way to plan ahead. Freefall clears out the board and drops bubbles one by one, forcing you to match their colors before they get to the bottom. This is more challenging, because if you need to make an bubble purple when its yellow, you’ll need to reset it white, make it red, then add blue to make it purple. You’re allowed three strikes for each round and again the further you go, the more the backgrounds change color. Quick Play is just a 90 second game. Its an extra mode I guess.
Last but not least is Adrenaline, which has power ups and two timers. You have the standard timer that you can now beef up with clock power ups, but there’s an adrenaline meter. That’s the tricky part, you need to maintain your speed to keep this from dropping. Shooting bubbles with stars will bolster the meter. There are even combo bonuses inside of the bubbles. Its a more challenging mode that is less relaxing since it require so much speed. Its a good challenge and the power ups make it interesting and different than the other modes. Each mode keeps track of your high score, but there are no online leader boards or anything.
You can change the bubbles in the settings to one of six icons. Anything from a simple colored ball to a smiley face or paw print. There’s even a gingerbread and candy setting to make it look really appealing. In a way, these icons add to the difficulty by look alone. The ball shows bold vivid color, while the heart is just an outline of a heart with a transparent center. I much prefer the default bubble, it looks much better with the background. Just imagine a green background with a bunch of paw print outlines on it.
In terms of sound and music, I’d say the music is strong, enjoyable and keeps up with the upbeat pace of the game. Its done really well and the sound design too. You’ll hear a lot of pleasant sounds that really add to the experience. The sound effects are pleasing almost in a way that a casino is pleasing. There are plings and blips, but rather than being over the top with noise, they’re more subtle and pleasant. It really adds to the experience.
What doesn’t add to the experience are the graphics. The game has a beautiful clean look with vibrant colors, and vivid beautiful backgrounds. So what’s the problem. Its everything but the backgrounds. Its the bubbles, the icons, the rainbow menus make the game look cheap and I think that’s what holds back Color Bubble Pop+. The comic sans font doesn’t help either. The beautiful backgrounds coupled with the plain clean graphics over top just doesn’t look right. In game its perfectly fine and manageable, I’d rather have that because I can clearly see it, but looking at screen shots I just think it puts me off from the game.
I also think that more could be done to enhance a sort of arcade feel good experience like telling me the points I’m putting in rather than having them show up on my score. Like I got 10 points for this x2 for having the combo bonus! There were also a few times here and there where I felt like I clicked a bubble, but the one to the left of it was shot at and changed. Maybe its me, but I noticed it a few times. Its nothing game breaking, its just noticeable. There’s also no way to exit the game when you’re in full screen mode other than Alt + F4.
Color Bubble Pop+ is a fun, enjoyable puzzler that fifteen years ago on the Game Boy Advance, this would have been a huge seller and made a lot of people rich. While most people feel puzzle games like this are more suited for mobile devices, I think the computer controls are done surprisingly well to make me an efficient player. $2 puts it at the right price range, but I feel like its worth more. I’d like to thank Bruce for giving me a copy of the game.