Bubble Safari is a new social bubble shooter game from Zynga. Set in the wilderness, Bubble Safari sticks to the traditional match-3 genre of casual games, but adds plenty of new features that make gameplay quite addicting.
Players step into the shoes of a cute little chimp who wants to save his girlfriend from the clutches of evil poachers. To rescue his better half, you will need to help him shoot colorful bubbles. The objective is to match 3 or more same-colored bubbles by shooting colorful balls off a small portable projectile carried by the chimp. What I really like about this game is the challenge it presents, right from level 1.
There are two goals to meet to complete a level: Earn at least one star and clear a minimum of 10 bubbles in the top row. The objectives might seem easy for some, but as players progresses they become increasingly difficult.
Gameplay is fairly simple, yet quite challenging. Using your mouse, you will need to move the small handheld projectile, set the aim and click to shoot a bubble at a cluster of similar-colored bubbles. Bubbles get popped if three or more same-colored bubbles match. The more bubble you pop, the more points you earn and the quicker you reach the top row. You also get a chance to trigger bubble drops, which happens when your shooter bubble hits a bunch of same-colored bubbles and a few colorful spheres fall down. Triggering bubble drops earns you more points. The colorful spheres fall into any one of three baskets. Each basket carries 250/500 points and if the bubble falls into it, points associated with that basket add to your total score. Scoring more points is crucial to advance to the next level because it helps you earn stars. Once you have burst at least 10 bubbles in the top row, the level ends. However, it will successfully complete if you earn at least one star.
Things get more difficult if you haven't reached the top row and have few bubbles to spare. You will have around 30 to 40 bubbles to shoot and will need to replay the level if you run out of colorful spheres. I had a tough time reaching the top row and earning stars with few bubbles to spare when I played level 10 and level 12, and I am sure playing those levels (and others as you advance) will also be quite challenging for you. Well, this is where Bubble Safari's social elements come into play. You can send bubble requests to your friends if there are only a handful of colorful spheres up your sleeve. This social feature, called "Bubbles from Friends" makes the game even more interesting as it allows players to send bonus bubbles to each other. Each Facebook friend can send one bubble at a time and if you have more friends, the chances of getting additional bubbles is greater. After 18 hours, you can request an extra bubble.
While the "Bubbles from Friends" social element is refreshing, there are also some amazing gameplay features that add a breath of fresh air into the traditional match-3 genre. Zynga is known to add fun twist to its games, and this social bubble popper is no different. The most impressive gameplay feature is the sudden appearance of hummingbirds. I loved the way cute little hummingbirds appear from nowhere after I burst bubbles in a row. These charming birds bounce dropping bubbles off their heads into the baskets. Besides the cuteness factor, these birds throw up an excellent scoring opportunity. Each hummingbird bounces all dropping bubbles into the basket that fetches more points. Every successive bubble match attracts a hummingbird. But a bird flies away if you miss a bubble match, so continue bursting bubbles to attract the cute avian.
Another cool feature is the power-up panel at the bottom of the screen. It gets unbolted after you reach level 7. You can purchase them using gold or Facebook credits. These power-ups make gameplay a bit easier by providing extra bubbles, extended aim and an option to undo a missed shot. There's also a special "fire mode" that equips your bubble projectile with special fire bubbles that rip past bubbles, irrespective of their color. This helps gamers reach the top row quickly. The "On fire" mode isn't a paid power-up but a special mode that gets activated when you match bubbles consecutively. I found it pretty impressive, but am a bit confused as to when it gets activated. I had to be real quick popping bubbles in a row and only then there's a chance of activating it. However, it still is pretty useful, especially when I am stuck in a level with few bubbles to spare and want to get rid of 10 bubbles in the topmost row.
Graphically, Bubble Safari is pretty impressive. Everything, from layout and presentation to animation is well done. The visuals are bright, peppy and colorful and perfectly complement with the casual game title. The chimp and hummingbird animations are extremely well done; however, I would have wanted some more animated flora and fauna to bring this game to life. The music and sound effects perfectly complement with the visuals, giving a very cartoony look and feel to the game. There are absolutely no issues with loading times. Being a 2D Facebook social title, Bubble Safari loads pretty quickly on my Google Chrome browser and so does each level.
All in all, Bubble Safari is a decent bubble shooter game. There are a few social elements if you compare it with other Zynga games, but it's the unique gameplay features that make Bubble Safari ever more interesting. The game also has an online leaderboard that updates scores of your friends, and declares the winner at the end of the titles. Rest, everything is quite similar to old school Zynga games, including Energy used to play each level and requesting gifts from friends. If you really like bubble shooting games and want something different than the traditional match-3 genre, then you will certainly find Bubble Safari extremely addictive and fun to play.
Anurag Ghosh is a social gaming aficionado who enjoys playing Facebook and browser-based games. He loves writing strategy guides, walkthroughs and tips/tricks that help newbie and expert gamers alike. Follow his guides and tips to learn more about your favorite social/browser games.
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