Bubble Blitz is a new Facebook-based puzzle game from PlayQ, creators of the Peggle-like HotShot which launched in May 2011. HotShot enjoyed a peak MAU figure of 2.3 million in October of last year, and is still clinging on to 1.1 million today. Bubble Blitz, meanwhile, has already picked up 1.4 million MAU since its launch in April, suggesting that the new game is likely to outperform its predecessor by a considerable degree.
Bubble Blitz combines two of the most crowded puzzle game genres on Facebook into a single package: the bubble shooter and the timed “blitz” puzzler. Players have 60 seconds in which to make groups of three or more like-colored bubbles by shooting them from a mouse-controlled cannon at the bottom of the screen. Bubbles which are no longer attached to anything after a group has been popped fall to the bottom of the screen and into a score multiplier meter, and the player receives a “chain” bonus that increases with each consecutively-popped group of bubbles. When the 60 seconds is up, the player’s score multiplier is converted into “golden bubbles,” which each automatically fire and explode, giving the player a random number of points.
Following each game, the player receives soft currency and experience points and is shown how they stack up against their friends on a leaderboard. They are also informed whether or not they have beaten both their best score for the week and for all-time.
A number of additional game features unlock with each level up. First comes a “lightning bubble,” which appears if the player scores a long enough chain and simply cuts off any bubbles it passes through. Next comes “juice” bubbles, which must be dropped to the bottom of the screen to fill a meter at the end of the game. Filling the juice meter provides the player with a key, and collecting enough keys allows them to collect a “valuable.” There is a flimsy, unnecessary plot wrapped around the collection of these items, though the interactions between the characters involved are mildly amusing, providing a small degree of incentive to progress.
At level 6, players finally gain the ability to spend all the soft currency they’ve been acquiring as power-ups start to unlock. Like in many other “blitz” puzzlers, these are equipped at the expense of soft currency before each game — though initially there is only one available, with others unlocking as the player gains levels. This certainly provides players with motivation to rise in the ranks, but it is a little frustrating to not be able to use these power-ups immediately as in other “blitz” puzzlers. The game does not explain that these power-ups will be unlocking at level 6, either, leaving many players confused as to what they are supposed to do with the soft currency they are collecting. There are a number of comments on the game’s App Page that indicate this needs to be explained a little better to new players, particularly if the game wishes to monetize through soft currency sales. Hard currency may be used to unlock power-ups early, but there is also no facility for players to do this prior to reaching level 6.
Despite following the conventions of two very crowded game genres, Bubble Blitz is a good game with an addictive quality that is likely to acquire users quickly and retain them well. The gradual unlock process helps encourage players to keep pushing forwards to the next “milestone” — though the game would benefit considerably from explaining this a little better, and perhaps providing some sort of “preview” of what unlocks to expect in the coming levels. Graphics and sound are good quality, smooth and don’t get in the way of the fast-paced “blitz” gameplay. And despite using an energy system to limit play, this is paced well enough that players can generally enjoy reasonably lengthy play sessions as they rise through the first few levels and unlock content.
Takes a little while to get up to speed, but when it does this is a high-quality entry in the crowded bubble-popping and blitz puzzler genres.