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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review: Bubble Trolls (iPhone)

Who'd have thought that pushing a bubble with a troll in it down a river with a tap of your finger could make for an interesting game? Certainly not me. As such, I was pleasantly surprised to find this perpetual-motion physics-based side-scroller both enjoyable in its simplicity while providing a challenge for experienced gamers.

This looks painful...


Grunget the Troll needs your help to safely navigate his Bubble Taxi down the river while avoiding obstacles and various animal baddies out to burst his bubble. Achieve this by tapping near him to create ripples in the water and push him along in the right direction; the nearer you tap to him, the further he'll travel. Grunget is an irritable little beast though who doesn't take kindly to your misplaced digital ministrations and he'll let you know in no uncertain terms that he disapproves of your nautical naivety by gesticulating wildly and making his bubble flash red.

To make matters worse there are rapid currents, rocks, logs, whirlpools and dams to contend with as well as frogs, turtles, fish and a dragon-type monster-thing called “Dylan Gator” (presumably named in homage to Dylan E. Cristy, one of the developers) which will all serve to irritate and thwart you as they invariably burst your bubble just before you reach a checkpoint. You're not completely defenceless though as you have the option of collecting a couple of power-ups, namely a Tough Bubble and a Float Bubble which, as their names appropriately suggest, respectively make your bubble indestructible and give you the ability to fly. Be warned though: the Float Bubble is controlled by tilting your device in the direction you'd like to send Grunget which can occasionally be unresponsive, making both travelling and landing a bit tricky.

This is going to take some skill


Other features that serve to make the game more challenging is a rewards system based on how well the player does on each stage as well as the stages themselves. Collect all the legs of ham, finish the stage quickly and don't use up any of your lives to get a higher score and get a rating out of three, then compare your achievements with other players in the Game Center in a variety of areas such as high scores and best times. The 25 stages are split into three difficulty levels (Serene Stream, Crooked Creek and Raging Rapids) giving the player a chance to get to grips with the controls and familiarise themselves with the enemies before attempting some of the harder and more action-packed (read: frustrating and rage-inducing) stages.

If your plan is to get the very most out of every stage then prepare to be discomfited and annoyed as your bubble bursts time and time again. Thankfully you can replay each stage as often as you like and the stages themselves can often be completed in only a minute or two (once you've mastered it, that is!) making Bubble Trolls the perfect game for a work commute or to while away the half hour wait for the doctor. With plans to make available more levels in the future Broken Switch Studios have packaged a cute, addictive, entertaining game which is both simple to play yet deceptively difficult to master with hours of replayability, suitable for all ages and more than complicated enough for even die-hards.

- Dom S

Review: Bubble Trolls (iPhone)
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