Bubble Heroes

Title           Bubble Heroes
Game Type       General Action
Company         Arcadia Developments/Crystal Interactive Software
Players         1 or 2
HD Installable  Plays from CD
Compatibillity  AGA or Graphics Card versions
Submission      Daithi O'Cuinn

Back when the Amiga was mainstream (yes, remember those days, when you
could walk in to a high street shop and browse?) we all got used to a
certain quality of game. Money and effort was poured into getting games
looking slick and professional. But then there was the great regression -
in the wilderness years when the Amiga was ownerless, new games became the
domain of the bedroom coder once more. And it was embarrassing. As PC
games got flashier and flashier, their Amiga counterparts could hardly
muster up a decent FMV between them all. Not that FMV is the be-all and
end-all of course. But we were treated to a succession of games that were
sub PC-shareware quality. It was a bleak time for the Amiga gaming scene.

So then there was a breakthrough, heralded by the illegal porting of
stolen Quake source code. So recently the Amiga market has subsisted on a
steady trickle of ported PC games.

But now there seems to be something of a resurgence - the bedroom
programmer is back with his homegrown software,  and he's been polishing
his skills in the meantime! One of this new wave of original Amiga-only
games is Bubble Heroes. Sure, it's a knock-off of Puzzle Bobble, but it's
so stylishly implemented you can't help but love it. Running on either AGA
or RTG, it's a simple idea well executed.

In case you are unfamiliar with this type of game (also appearing on the
Playstation as Bust-A-Move) it invovles firing bubbles which stick to a
constantly descending ceiling. Get three or more of the same colour
connected, and they disappear, along with any bubbles which relied on
them for support. Clear the screen of bubbles and you win, let a bubble
descend past a certain point, you die. Simple as that! The skill involves
picking your angles (bouncing off the walls first if necessary - the
bubbles are fired from a rotatable cannon) and thinking quickly.

Guide your hero (choose from three Anime style characters) through a
succession of increasingly challenging worlds, fighting a boss at the end
of them. The bosses taunt you with some charming pidgeon English (though
this is no doubt the result of the Italian develpoment team, rather than
some canny attempt to cash in on the recent "All Your Base" style Engrish
fad!), and the game keeps the variety up by having a few different modes
(as well as the obligatory 2 player mode).

It's all firmly 2D, though the backgrounds have a few nice dual playfield
and animated touches to keep it all visually appealing. There are some
hilarious animated effects for the characters, as they hop about in joy or
anguish at the progress of the match, often accompanied by cute sound
effects. My favourite is the compulsively polite frog who apologises
profusely when he's performing badly, and the tree boss who sprouts
flowers when he pulls off a good move.

Bad points? Sometimes you progress more through luck than judgement, I
suppose, and it does crash on exit on my system, but this may be due to my
running of MCP which the manual advises against when playing the game. I
suppose it's also startlingly unoriginal, but it's the best Amiga
implementation of this genre so far.

I was going to end this review with the standard "if you like this type of
game, get it." But as well as being a trite little reviewing cliché, it's
also not entirely true. For frankly, I didn't think I liked this sort of
game at all, but after what was supposed to be a cursory glance at the
demo, found myself completely hooked. So, get yourself a great little game
and support Amiga development in the process, and pick up Bubble Heroes.

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