Bubblis Review

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Developer(s): On Game Creative
Publisher(s): On Game Creative
Platform(s): iOS, PC, Mac
Release Date: August 2012

Bubblis, like many games for smart phones, can be picked up and put down at any time. There’s no deep gameplay here, but that’s not a bad thing, as phone games are most successful when there is no deep commitment. The problem with Bubblis being a pick up and put down kind of game is that there is little reason to pick it back up.
  • Easy to master
  • Available in forty-four languages
  • No challenge
  • No sense of accomplishment
  • No fun
The gameplay of Bubblis consists of placing letters in a row to spell out words. There are many layers of rows, each needing their own words spelled. The letters are selected from a rotating bank at the top of the screen: once a letter is placed in a row at the bottom, the next letter in rotation at the top is automatically selected. This gameplay requires players to place the letters at the proper time so as to select another useful letter. It is somewhat satisfying to get into a groove of getting the placing and timing down. However, this groove will be ended due to errors in the game causing the letter to be placed but the game not registering it right away, forcing an undesirable letter to be selected, and ruining the small amounts of fun being had. This scenario is a good representation of Bubblis: small amounts of fun surrounded by mountains of tediousness.

Another key issue with the game is the learning curve. There are three difficulties: beginner, advanced, and expert. These three difficulties correlate to the speed with which the letters fall from the rotating bank. The best way to describe these difficulties are: frustratingly slow, no challenge, and holy-shit-why-is-it-going-so-fast. A higher difficulty also means longer words that need to be spelled, but that barely ups the challenge. The only real challenge is the speed the letters fall on expert. This isn’t due to design failures, it stems from the basic premise of the game: dropping letters on the correlating spot is only easy to mess up if the player has quick fingers and hits the screen a little to the right or left. There is the occasional trick in the bank that fogs up the screen, or puts a cloud of smoke up, but these are only problems when combined with the speed on expert. Even then, it’s an issue for two seconds.



This lack of challenge brings up my biggest issue with the game. Bubblis was marketed as a “word puzzle game”. It is not. A puzzle requires some thinking, and this is basically matching “A” to “A.” The game would be the exact same thing were it numbers, colors, or random shapes. In fact, that would have made developing the game a lot easier too: the creators spent a lot of time to make the game accessible in a multitude of languages most people wouldn’t even know existed, which is a wonderful thing to do. The problem with calling Bubblis a puzzle game and it not being a puzzle game, aside from obvious feeling of deceit, is that it reminds players of what could have been. Bubblis is vaguely reminiscent of a word-based Tetris. This game would have been much more successful and fun had this been capitalized on. For example, groups of letters falling in the standard Tetris shapes, and players needing to rotate and arrange them in ways that spell out words, causing the shapes to disappear and leaving more space for more blocks; the longer the word, the higher the score. Or something like that, I’m not a game designer.

Bubblis is a game that I would not recommend anyone pick up. I’ve been trying to think who it would appeal to and who would find enjoyment in it, but nothing comes to mind. The tagline “a game that you get obsessed with” could not be further from the truth. The best way to decide if this game is for you, is by watching this commercial for the game. It shows off almost nothing about the game and doesn’t explain why it’s worth buying, but if this tickles your fancy, Bubblis just might too.

Final Score “A bad way to waste time” 4.5
Graphics
The graphics of Bubblis involve letters in bubbles and background images. The background images are slightly animated and serve as a backdrop for the game, but add absolutely nothing to the experience. The best of these backgrounds is an old man feeding birds.
5.0
Gameplay
Repetitive, dull, and the opposite of rewarding. The game plays smoothly enough, but what players are doing is too lame for this to matter. The act of putting letters in order isn’t fun, and the lack of thinking required just drills this in that much faster.
4.0
Value
Two dollars is nothing. Two dollars is some candy, or sodas from a vending machine. Two dollars could be a bad meal at McDonalds. Two dollars is a price too high for Bubblis.
2.5
Sound
If a soundtrack that gets stuck in your head is what you’re looking for, Bubblis has got you covered. If a good soundtrack is what you’re looking for, looking somewhere else is advised. The music is just the perfect tune for getting people angry at you for keeping the sound on in public. The sound effects accompanying the letters being placed are solid, though, so not all is lost.
4.0

Review by Chris Lohr
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Chris Lohr is a freelance writer currently in film school. If you’re looking for him to write for your website, manifesto, or Russian bride catalogue, send an email to puddinginasock@gmail.com. Put today’s date as the subject line and include a picture of yourself. Must be DDD free and willing to host. All Articles by Chris.



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