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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: Boom Boom Gems (iPhone)

Boom Boom Gems plays on our love of popping bubbles (they’re meant to be gems, but they look like bubbles). Brightly coloured floating bubbles. It’s not the first bubbly game on the iPhone, and stacked against competition such as Nnooo’s Pop, it’s not the best, but it is still good fun.

Streaks of lighting like this are good news. It means you've chained a lot of gems


There are just the two game modes, and of those one is multiplayer via Game Center and the other is a score attack. A little disappointing initially, as the main menu makes the game look more full-featured than it is, but those game modes work pretty well.

Inside the game itself, you’ll be faced with a stream of bubbles floating in towards the centre of the playing surface. You can make them disappear by linking (via a quick tap) bubbles of the same colour. The more you link together, the greater the score. Once there’s the screen is filled with bubbles, it’s game over.

So far so standard, but developers, EzMoBo, throws in a few curve balls to spice the action up. Every so often a bubble will appear with a number on it. You’ll need to link together the exact number of same-coloured bubbles that the number states, or the bubble with gain itself a rock coating, making it obnoxious to remove. There’s also a couple of ‘special event’ bubbles that will require you to remove using unique conditions, or suffer some nasty side effects (such as a huge surge of bubbles).

By "as time passes" they mean "shortly after you start"

In multiplayer, you can send those irritating special bubbles as “weapons” against your hapless opponent, but otherwise the game is a similar set-up.

But it’s not perfect. The game gets very difficult, very quickly – evidently EzMoBo wanted to keep games to a few minutes at a time because the speed in which bubbles enter the play field escalates very quickly. Trying to stem the flow of bubbles then quickly becomes a stressful experience – a far cry for the more relaxed style of other bubble-popping games, such as Pop.

The other major flaw with the game is more to do with the iPhone’s limitations than the coding itself. Because the bubbles are a nice size to allow easy tapping, it doesn’t take long for the play field to fill up – compounding the difficulty level spike. And, despite this, it is all-too-easy to accidentally tap the wrong thing, or think you’ve tapped something, only to find out you’ve actually missed the spot. This is a game that needed more real estate to really work.

Despite that it’s a fun game in short bursts, and one of those games you can pull out when stuck on a bus. The colours are bright, the music is catchy, and the gameplay resembles the kind of addictive qualities that makes match-3 puzzlers so popular. With a bit of refinement (or better yet a larger play field on the iPad), this game would be so much better.


Review: Boom Boom Gems (iPhone)
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