The first draft of this review consisted of a few screen shots framed around the simple, if manic, sentence “ZOMG, Bust A Move 4 is the best game!1!! No read, play now!” I thought it best, however, to elaborate further on a game I consider to be the best thing since Tetris. While I’m happy to do just that, those needing very little encouragement will be happy to know that Bust A Move 4 on the Vita offers exactly what you would expect: fun, addictive puzzle action on the go.
Originally made for the PlayStation in 1998, Bust A Move 4 returns as a PSOne Classic for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. If you’ve visited an arcade at some point in your life, there’s a good chance a Bust A Move machine (or a Namco multicab) was there. I used to think that an establishment couldn’t call itself an arcade without at least one dedicated Bust A Move setup. The idea of the game is simple: complete stages by clearing out multi-colored bubbles through a Match Three system. The game’s challenge, outside of scoring the highest possible points, is to finish the stage before the ceiling pushes the bubbles below a safe zone and cause an immediate and dissatisfying end to the game.
I spent many of my formative years playing Bust A Move 3 to near death on the Sega Saturn and very little has changed in its sequel outside of a two brand new, devious features. Larger and more complex stages make use of pulleys that rise and fall according to how many bubbles get attached to them. There are more nefarious blocks will push groups of bubbles upwards or downwards if they are not destroyed from nearby bubble clusters.
This hot little package offers a great deal of playable content spanning different game modes: Story, Puzzle, Story Versus, Win Contest, Player Vs. Player and Challenge Mode. The story is nothing more than a fluff piece involving travel across the land of dreams to collect lost arcana. Puzzle mode skips the story in favor of map made up of different paths marked by each letter of the alphabet. Story Versus pits you against a series of computer controlled villains in a quest for bubble supremacy. Player Vs. Player is pretty self explanatory and Challenge Mode is a skill based ranking mode. While these gameplay variations do not alter the primary gameplay, these deviations are still quite fun.
Bust A Move 4 has a distinctly Japanese flavor and that shouldn't come as a surprise. The graphics, though dated, are bright, cheery and vibrant. Character sprites look as if they’ve been pulled from a children’s anime series from the late 1990s. Unlike previous games, players can play the story as different characters rather than series mascots Bub and Bob. These additional characters don’t have any special abilities, so the decision is purely an aesthetic one. There are four additional characters that can be unlocked by confronting them in Win Contest mode but just like the everyone else, they do not affect the gameplay in any meaningful way.
Making the game available on a handheld platform like the Vita is a stroke of genius. It doesn’t make use of the hardware’s various bits and bobs, which is just fine. Accessible to any skill level, this is the kind of game that will result in many late nights and that most famous of gaming lies, “Just one more level.”
TL;DR - ZOMG, Bust A Move 4 is the best game!1!! No read, play now!
Teen Services Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.