June 25, 2000

Bust-A-Move 4 - Review

Release Date Publisher Developer Players Rating RRP
22/6/2000Club AcclaimTaito1-2G$89.95
VMU Game Difficulty Save Size Vibration 60Hz 50Hz Border
NoEasy15 BlocksYesNoSmall

Whenever you ask someone to list thier favourite puzzle type games the typical response is Tetris or Columns with even IQ or Kurushi on the Playstation getting a mention. One title that should rank up their with Tetris is Taito's classic bubble bursting game, Bust-A-Move. This game has been released on almost every game system with the fourth game also headed to the Sega Dreamcast in Australia, thanks to Club Acclaim.

The aim of Bust-A-Move 4 is simple, you must remove all the bubbles on the screen. This is done by shooting colored bubbles from a gun at the bottom of the screen. Every time 3 or more of the same colour are joined they burst which can remove other bubbles no longer attached to the pile. There are bonus bubbles which burst all the same colour as well as puzzles to overcome such as the pulley puzzles where two groups of bubbles are balancing each other out with similar weights.

The game also includes some impressive 2 player action. As with most puzzle games there is much more excitement with a human opponent. This is when the games combos really come into play. As you begin to burst several colours of bubbles in one shot this affects your opponent by making several rows of bubbles appear on his side. Each character has a different combo to hinder your opponents progress.

Bust-A-Move 4 also includes and editing mode where it is possible to design your own puzzles. This editing mode is very simple to use and it is possible to save your designed puzzles for use later on into the memory card. The game itself is choc full of over 200 puzzles which will take some time to complete in themselves.

The biggest diappointment with this game is the lack of 4 player mode. The Nintendo 64 version released some time ago supported this and there is no reason at all why Taito would release this game without 4 player support on the Dreamcast. This game is just screaming out for 2 on 2 team play. Also surprising is the fact that there is no analogue control option in the game. It would have made the control a little more precise then the digital controller. Another disappointment is the lack of a 60Hz mode and VGA Support. While the game is fine in 50Hz, a little more effort would have been nice.

Graphically, Taito aren't going to win any awards for this game. Then again they don't need to. The graphics serve their purpose well and are clearly defined. At times the screen can become a little confusing and there is the slightst hint of slowdown, especially when groups of bubbles are being burst. The characters are very cartoony which may be off putting to some, but the gameplay, which is the most important thing in a puzzle game, remains as solid as ever.

Sound in Bust-A-Move 4 is probably the games weakest point. The music is adequate with cutsey music that does little to stir the imagination while never becoming boring. The sound effects are very repeative (what do you expect with bursting bubbles!) and the characters don't speak English which is a little disappointing and annoying at times.

Bust-A-Move 4 is an update of a classic series that fails to live up to potential. Just why Taito didn't include a 4 player mode is beyond comprehension, especially with the 4 controller ports in the Dreamcast. If you've never owned a Bust-A-Move game in the past there really is no reason not to have a this title in your collection. It may not push the system to its limits, but it is guaranteed to provide hours of fun.

Graphics Sound Gameplay Value Overall