Pop Boom explodes on the three in a row game scene

The 3-in-a-row puzzle, with its many varieties and twists and turns, has been among the most popular genres for casual games on every single device and platform, except for Facebook. PopCap Games have enjoyed success with its Facebook version of Bejeweled (“Bejeweled Blitz“), but for the most part, developers have been more focused on re-iterating farming, restaurant games, and pet sims.

CrowdStar aims to change that with their latest game, Pop Boom. Though not revolutionary, Pop Boom adds enough twists to stand out in the 3-in-row puzzle crowd.

Similar to Bejeweled Blitz, players have 60 seconds to make as many three or more in a row matches as possible. The slower it takes you to make matches, the lower your multiplier; the faster and more numerous the matches, the higher the multiplier and the more coins the player will earn.

Pop Boom

Here’s the twist: instead of only being able to flip the bubbles with adjacent ones, players can pick up and place the bubble anywhere on the board to create a combo. When the player picks a balloon to move around the game screen, the next balloon is based on what balloon is swapped out. In this way, the next move is limited or tied to the previous move, adding a level of strategy to the game that can be quite addictive.

The boom part of the game derives from the bombs on the board. When you make combinations of balloons surrounding a bomb icon, the bomb blows up surrounding balloons, creating cascading new combination of balloons and racking up the points.

Pop Boom

Right now, you can purchase two items with coins: hourglasses and bombs. The hourglass adds five seconds to the next game and bomb power-up adds additional bombs to the beginning of the game.

Pop Boom is visually appealing and the controls are easy to learn, once you get used to the fact that you are swapping balloons anywhere on the board instead of adjacent to each other. The social aspects of the game are adequate. You can challenge your friends and compare high scores, but the game does not socially break any new ground.

The same can be said with the time limit. 60 seconds appears to be the standard for puzzle games on Facebook these days. Though 60 seconds feels like a lot of time, but when the bubbles start to fall and that multiplier starts to climb, it easy to lose track of time. It would be nice if you could redeem coins for more time (which I am sure will be added in the future) or if there was a relax mode for you to practice on your own.

Pop Boom

Pop Boom is a fun and addictive distraction on Facebook. Though it does not break any new ground, Pop Boom is not your run-of-the-mill 3-in-a-row puzzle game either. In a social gaming world there are hundreds of farming games and not enough fun and entertaining puzzle games, Pop Boom is a breadth of fresh air.