Your company doesn’t have a real gaming console until it has a version of Bust-A-Move. Born out of the Tetris craze, this Taito-developed piece of puzzle action is one of the few to continue based on sheer quality. As such, gamers are bombarded with it. It’s been on so many different platforms, there’s an off chance a few toasters out there may have a built in version. Yet, we continue to play it, original or not. And while this DS version has some of the best core game play of any version, its disappointing lack of features make it a tough purchase.
The biggest difference here is the touch screen control. Instead of using some mechanical contraption to shoot colored bubbles upward to match three-in-a-row, you’ll use a slingshot. Pull back, aim, and let go. It’s simple, and the increased accuracy and control adds a new angle to this never aging franchise.
Stubborn players can also use the d-pad if they wish, though the control schemes are separate. You can’t have them both turned on at the same time, which could come in handy since aiming with the touch screen does take a little longer thanks to the increased range of accuracy (you’ll slow the pace to always aim properly). Still, the default control set is the one to use for this latest edition.
You’ll be using it in a slim number of modes. Solo players can tackle endless mode, try to complete 500 puzzles, or take on up to four AI opponents. For a bigger challenge, since the AI is weak at best, single card play allows for up to five players at once. That’s convenience.
Baffling exclusions include a total lack of score keeping and extras like new characters (there’s only one). It’s completely unforgivable not to offer score tracking in a puzzle game, rendering the endless mode useless unless you’re willing to keep a running tab on paper. The calming music, which for some reason brings back memories of the obscure Turbo Duo classic Star Parodius, will at least keep you playing in long sessions.
The game play itself has hardly changed over the years, and there’s no reason why it should. A combo system was recently introduced, allowing dropped blocks to re-enter the playfield to take out more of the same color. Versus play has the player earning diamonds that can then be dragged via the touch screen to an opponent’s avatar. This increases the number of bubbles on their screen. It adds an extra layer to the multi-player since you know specifically whom you’re attacking. When you’re simply eliminating bubbles, the system seems to randomly dish out punishment at its discretion.
The new game play additions aside, this is Bust-A-Move… again. It’s been portable before (Game Gear, N-Gage, GB, GBA, GBC, and Neo Geo Pocket), so that’s not much of an advantage either. The touch screen controls aren’t worth the price, and unless you’re definitely able to play some multi-player, this is a close pass.
Bust-A-Move DS is a rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.