First hearing word of Bubble Saga evoked just one thought: "Another bubble bursting game on Facebook, seriously?" Many of you might have had the same exact reaction. Well, stop it. Right now. Bubble Saga, for all of its creepy character art and somewhat limited social features, is one of the most original additions to the pantheon of bubble-bursting games this writer has seen in a long time. Developed by King.com, Bubble Saga introduces a framework of a plot that cuts right to the point: blowin' up some bubbles. (If you're interested, Princess Love is looking to reunite with her Prince who happens to be trapped on a small planet, which can only be reached by ... popping bubbles? Never mind.) At first glance, this is just another adaptation of classics like Bubble Bobble, but after a single shot you'll notice what makes this one in particular so special.
Because the colored bubbles surround a flower, shooting bubbles too far in one direction will cause the entire collection of bubbles to spin in that direction based on how direct your shot was. Spinning the board forces players to adapt to new positions, and make constant use of wall shots to make consecutive matches. Not to mention that, in later levels, a bubble touching either wall as a result of a haphazard spin will end the game immediately. This brilliant combination demands accuracy and strategy, something most Facebook games are devoid of these days.
Of course, this is all made possible by built-in physics and some pretty impressive graphics for Facebook that surprisingly don't slow the game down one bit. Speaking of graphics, the character art in Bubble Saga, primarily for the princess, is downright frightening. At times, she'll offer you a warm, cartoon smile, but at others she'll look like a bug-eyed princess demon. But back to what really matters: the fun factor. The game rewards players for consecutive matches with a bonus meter that, once full, will reward 50 percent more points for future matches. Though, keeping the streak is key to maintaining a bonus. In later levels, this is almost required to ensure scores that are sufficient to move on to the next planet.
You also have a finite amount of shots per level, though the game's high demand for planning shots will help you avoid this quota. For even more sound bubble-blasting decisions, players can switch between the bubble that's currently inside their cannon and the next bubble in line. This especially comes in handy during the final moments of each level when you're limited between just a few differing bubbles.
Every social game must have a hook, and Bubble Saga's Heart system is no different, though it's much better than most. Players receive about eight Hearts to start, but only losing a level will remove a Heart from your stash. This means that, for skilled players, your play sessions could go on indefinitely. Players can buy Hearts for Facebook Credits, or they can ask friends for more.
However, friends aren't worth much more than that in Bubble Saga. Well, aside from the ability to taunt those whose scores you beat or pass in overall progress. While this might work to stir friendly competition, some direct multiplayer or even item sharing would have added more depth. Regardless, Bubble Saga is a refreshing take on the tired sub genre of blowing up bubbles, and if its soothing tunes won't calm you down after a stressful day at work, nothing will.
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