Did you know that the walls of a soap bubble can be only a few millionths of an inch thick? It’s hard to imagine anything being trapped in a real bubble, but that is the premise of Bibo Game’s new release, BubbleWorld. In BubbleWorld, you are a beautiful fairy named Cindy who has to save her friends who are trapped in bubbles by an evil spell that was cruelly cast by a wicked witch named Makeeba.
The objective is simple: to rescue all of the items trapped in bubbles. This begins with saving cuddly animals, and continues to include symbols and other icons. You accomplish these rescues by matching items in pairs. Items in red bubbles must be dealt with as a priority. If you fail to match red bubbles quickly, they burst along with their counterpart, and you lose valuable time. You can sometimes make up this loss by matching blue or green bubbles, which give you additional time. To pass each level you need to clear all of the bubbles before the timer runs out.
It’s nice to see more original content in casual games, which BubbleWorld attempts to offer. It takes the stale concept of tile matching, and puts a new spin on things by having the user sift through moving images to find pairs under intense time pressure. It’s very fast paced, particularly after level 15 or so, so it definitely gets your adrenaline pumping.
Most of the challenge in BubbleWorld has to do with how the brain recognizes objects and patterns. Because the bubbles are different sizes, you cannot use size, and latter graphics remove color as well. Location is not consistent, because the bubbles move as you pop them. Hence, you must look at every object instead of scanning over them to find the perfect match.
While I give the developers credit for creating something different, there are several notable shortcomings in the execution. For one, having only two power-ups (blue or green bubbles) is very limiting. Because the game play is the same level after level, as is the music, it very quickly becomes monotonous. The graphics start off with really cute Japanese style animals, but then graduate to disappointing and iconic font-like medical symbols. The strict time pressure makes it extremely difficult to surpass level 25, and there’s no "relaxed" mode for those players who prefer less of a challenge. And, there is no way to switch between users, so you lose all of your progress if another player tries to start a new game. About the story… well, its never really addressed.
On the whole, the game struggles to find its audience, at first seeming geared towards children with simple rules and cartoon artwork, but then proceeds to become extremely difficult and make use of art that would only appeal more to mature audiences. It would be really interesting to see a sequel that offers a variety of power-ups and graphics for adult audiences, or is instead further simplified for the kiddies.