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Puzzle Bobble VR – Review

Puzzle Bobble VR is a game that anyone who grew up in the 80’s can easily relate to. The game plays very similar to the original, but with a few modern improvements, like in-game voice chat and a new graphics engine.

VR is no longer the strange new kid on the block. Google’s Daydream platform is established, Nintendo is preparing to release its VR headset, and more and more popular indie games are incorporating virtual reality features. It’s clear that VR is here to stay, but what’s next for VR?

As Virtual Reality technology continues to develop, so too has the quality of content available for the devices. Many developers have enlisted the help of some of the most famous names in the industry to bring their games to the PlayStation VR. One such game is Puzzle Bobble, which was originally released in 1994 as a home console game. However, this version of the game does not feature bobble heads, but rather the characters are now based on their 3D counterparts, giving rise to the title Puzzle Bobble VR.

Arcade games are seldom seen in virtual reality settings, and “Puzzle Bobble VR” is no exception. It’s a basic game, but it’s a lot of fun to play and a new way to experience virtual reality. It’s also the kind of game that’s difficult to describe while still being simple to play, which is why I want to write a review for you.

This smorgasbord of a game, like many others on the Play Store, has a virtual reality version. Puzzler Bobble is a classic arcade game that was first published in 1987. You play the titular role of Puzzle Bobble’s hero, Bobble, a cute little blue creature that is continuously popping and bobbling in a manner that is guaranteed to bring smiles to all his admirers in this newest version.

“Puzzle Bobble VR” is a new Konami game that will put your puzzle-solving skills to the test like never before. It’s a game that pays homage to the original “Puzzle Bobble” game, which was launched during the NES’s most significant and cherished period. You’ll be tilting and twisting your head in “Puzzle Bobble VR” to aim a cannon at matching colored bobbles. The bobble must be destroyed after the colors coincide. More bobbles appear on the screen at a quicker rate than you can destroy them, so you must be alert to avoid bullets and oncoming missiles.

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In the West, Puzzle Bobble (1994), sometimes known as Bust-a-Move, was the first game to introduce the tile-matching puzzle genre, inspiring decades of mobile games like Candy Crush Saga and spawning countless clones. Puzzle Bobble VR: Vacation Odyssey is a valiant effort to bring the 2D game’s tried-and-true elements to a 3D environment for the first time. Puzzle Bobble VR’s many and sometimes simple levels may not instantly grab your attention, but there’s something about this tiny bubble-popping version that makes it feel like it might take off in the future.

Gameplay

Puzzle Bobble VR, like Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs (2019), takes a virtual spin on its arcade tile-matching forebear by placing a bubble cannon in your hands and converting the neat rows of bubbles into globular 3D masses.

The objective is to fire color-coordinated ammo at all of the bubbles in each level, breaking the puzzle’s core in the process. Most levels feature a time limit or a maximum bubble limit to take into account. Score as many points as possible to earn money, which you can use to unlock special abilities like explosives, a paint swatch that lets you change the color of your ammo, and a system that lets you rotate the puzzles as much as you like. That latter point is important since all of the problems seem to have their own brains, and the only way to change them in 3D space is to shoot a bubble at them and turn them in the air on their main axis.

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Similar to Angry Birds, you only need one star to progress to the next level, but in Puzzle Bobble VR, it pays to be kind and pick up extra coins everywhere you can to guarantee a steady supply of power-ups. You’ll need them to solve some of the more challenging puzzles that appear from time to time.

On paper, this seems to be a fantastic recipe for casual pleasure. And it does, on sometimes, fulfill this promise. However, as you work your way through the overwhelming number of basic issues, getting to that perfect combination of clever bubble-popping seems to be a labor of love. I took nearly an hour to get to a challenge that required a gaming strategy beyond simple color matching around a third of the way through the story mode. For that hour of play, it seems that you must earn your enjoyment slowly and deliberately. The game starts to flow more easily as more bubble modifier pieces arrive. You’ll have to put in some work if you want a challenge straight now.

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Okay, the assertion about difficulty isn’t entirely true: there are more challenging levels throughout the game, not only in the second half. The fact that some issues follow their own wacky routes across the sky adds to the complication. It’s a cheap technique to make a basic issue more difficult, but it irritated me even more since the two-handed manual bubble launcher isn’t very pleasant to use.

Because there are so many potential targets to hit and aiming is reliant on aligning your hands like a bow and arrow, shooting may be finicky as the preview of your bubble bounces about erratically, sometimes clicking into place when it shouldn’t. I’d want a cannon that didn’t take up so much precious FOV area, as well as a more solid and tactile firing experience that wasn’t as unstable. It’s a massive undertaking.

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It’s not that the game isn’t fun; the first half of the game is filled with challenging puzzles that need planning and strategy to answer. These were few and far between, and as I previously said, you’ll just have to grin and suffer it until the game’s end, when you’ll start hitting the genuine gems.

You may play in ‘Infinite Mode,’ which enables you to battle an unending wave of bubbles slowly ascending up to a black hole, after finishing narrative mode. There’s also an online 1v1 mode in which you fight against an opponent to solve similar problems. This, like infinite mode, would have been more of the same, but with another person at your side, I reasoned. I really wanted to include this in my review, but even after the game was out, I couldn’t find a match. Because the focus on single-player material is the primary attraction, this is likely to be true for many people interested in playing the game.

Immersion

Colorful, low-poly, and faithful to the concept, Puzzle Bobble VR is a must-have for fans of the franchise. The music is also pleasant to listen to, which comes as no surprise considering that Zuntata, TAITO’s in-house band, produced it. The entrance to the world is unceremonious—you’re just thrown into a menu where you must choose a game mode—but I wasn’t expecting anything more.

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In the narrative mode, you’ll be shuttled from level to level over a world with numerous islands in a chronological order. Environments may seem flat and of lower quality than they should be at times, but they are well-made and serve as simple backgrounds to the main task at hand. They also serve as a point of reference, since bubble puzzles tend to appear the same after a while. After playing, you may not remember the design of a specific issue, but you may recall having a tough time on the lava island with a puzzle including too many poison bubbles.

You must be cautious not to draw the slingshot back too far beyond your head or too close to your chest since the game uses a slingshot mechanism. You’ll lose part of your tracking if you don’t, making aiming considerably more difficult.

Comfort

The game may be played in both sitting and standing modes since the auto calibration detects the user’s height. You just need a little amount of room to shoot bubbles, but you should avoid playing in front of a monitor or TV to prevent accidentally touching it with your non-dominant shooting hand.

The risk of neck strain is minimal since the puzzles are scattered out in front of you at a comfortable height. There is no artificial movement in each level since you are always standing in the same spot, making it a delightfully peaceful game.

It’s only been a month since Puzzle Bobble VR launched on Steam, but we’ve already seen some incredible things from the game. What, after all, is in a name? As you travel through a succession of bubble-shaped landscapes and burst bubbles to clear a route to the exit, “Puzzle Bobble VR” is a basic game that needs you to be excellent at action, puzzle, and arcade games. The game is absolutely enjoyable with just a single Joy-Con controller, but having the option to play with a VR headset like the Oculus Go will undoubtedly add some dizzying action to the mix.

What do you think?

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Written by Vaibhav Sharda