Developer: Ilkay Benian
Price: free Download on the App Store
Ever since the fateful day in 1994 when the Taito Corporation released the iconic bubble popping puzzle game Puzzle Bobble, hundreds of clones have erupted from the mill for all platforms - from Android, to flash games on the PC, and of course to iOS. While you can still get Taito's version of Puzzle Bobble on the market (named Bust-A-Move), Bubbly Eyes Free is here to offer you a less competitive, cuter, and more casual experience for your iPhone or iPad.
While it's been a paid game for some time on the appstore, Bubbly Eyes Free was released to help give the game perhaps an edge in popularity as it offers all the features of the regular $.99 game with ingame advertising as the only caveat. Free is always a good thing in these parts, especially when you have no feeling of attachment to a ingame item mall or 'pay-to-access' feeling out of the game, where content is restricted for installment buying. Instead, Bubbly Eyes Free gives you a great taste of the game and dives you right into what it offers and the sort of feeling you get of it.
Just opening up the menu screen will show you this app isn't like it's Bust-A-Move counterpart. For one, the homepage shows in cute and friendly text the logo accompanied by a recent high score. As there is no way to bump scores or inflate your points with paid bonuses, all the scores are from real players playing the same real game as you - which really adds to the feeling of satisfaction. To add, while playing, you get an easy to read bottom part of your screen that tells you where you're at in your ranking and what it'll take to work your way up, all adding a lot to the competitive aspects behind the game. As you may expect.
This game is, in essence, a fork, (or for a better word, clone) off of Bust-A-Move / Puzzle Bopper involving the need to pop bubbles in three or more combos and to rack points up along the way. While competition runs in a very strict game environment, Bubble Eyes Free actually take easy street in mind and lets bubbles pop the button - so long as they don't touch your center bubble glass. To add, hitting the pendulum on your glass does not end the game, instead it advances you to the next round.
While, unlike Bust-A-Move, the pendulum is constantly in motion, this gives a feeling of satisfaction and greater safety in gameplay, adding the casual atmosphere you'd expect. Plus it helps a lot to show a casual feeling to the player when pictures of dogs in cute outfits sit around in the background as you play, among other similar wallpapers. It makes the game feel a bit 2005ish, but it's certainly a nice addition compared to just some boring abstract background, though sadly it appears the wallpapers are not really dependent on the levels, like how Tetris or other arcade games theme themselves along the way.
In the end, a clone is a clone is a clone - but like the generic name you can certainly win some and lose some at the same time. While Bust-A-Move retails for $4.99, this very fair and comparable game only costs $.99 - and that's assuming you want the paid version! Bubbly Eyes Free is a great bet no matter the occasion and certainly worth a try - who knows, maybe you'll like the cute style that it offers! It's a universal app and can be run on all iOS devices running iOS 5 or later.