Bubble Saga is an excellent bubble-popping game sure to please match-3 fans
There are a lot of really good bubble-pop match-3 games on Facebook, which makes it all the more impressive that Bubble Saga still manages to feel especially noteworthy. Where most bubble-pop games use 2D graphics, Bubble Saga uses an entirely browser-based 3D graphics engine that models the bubbles as solid objects with appropriate physics. This may sound like a very minor change, but it makes Bubble Saga feel like a very different and perhaps more engaging game than 2D-based bubble-pop games like, say, Wooga’s Bubble Island.
Bubble Saga attempts to offer the level-based play of downloadable casual games and even attempts to give the game a narrative. You’re apparently a princess trying to rescue the prince of her dreams from a floating island by… shooting bubbles at him with a cannon? Sure, whatever. The important thing here is that the princess’s pursuit of love gives you a reason to make her launch colored bubbles in an attempt to clear circular levels made up of semi-random collections of brightly colored bubbles.
The bubbles are mounted around a solid central axis and rotate around the axis when you make matches using angled shots. The level designs actually swing freely around the center, making it much more challenging to complete levels. You can also auto-lose a level if you pile up so many bubbles that the level can no longer swing freely. When you lose a level, you lose a life. You can buy more lives or simply use the ones that generate automatically every half-hour.
You have to earn the right to play more challenging levels in Bubble Saga. Simply clearing the level is not enough. You need to clear the level while gaining enough points to be awarded anywhere from one to three stars for your performance. This involves purposefully manipulating the game’s bonus system. Subsequent shots that successfully result in matches fill the bonus meter. When the meter is maxed out, you earn double points for each match. The way to maximize your points in each level is to fill up the bonus meter with smaller matches before you start making more valuable matches. As in most other bubble-pop match-3 games, you get bonus points for matches that eliminate large groups of bubbles.
While you play Bubble Saga, you earn coins that you can spend on power-ups that you slowly unlock during gameplay. During the test period, for instance, we unlocked a power-up that would automatically match any bubble it was shot at. You can spend real money on the coins or earn them by getting high scores on levels. You also can earn coins through the game’s social mechanics, gaining coins whenever you pass a friend’s high score or unlock more levels. This makes for a very satisfying social experience, as the game doesn’t demand you spam your friends with invites in order to play with them.
The worst that can be said about Bubble Saga is that the game’s difficulty curve is occasionally baffling. A super-hard level that requires several tries to beat may then be followed by a long series of levels that you can clear easily on the first try. It lacks the smoothness of, say, a PopCap downloadable game, where level difficulty will slowly ramp up to prepare you for the challenges that await at the end. This is an extremely minor complaint, though. Bubble Saga is a genuinely appealing and compelling game that can offer a lot to puzzle gamers who like a good challenge.