Bubble Loop review

Bubble Loop is a new Facebook game from Royal Cactus. It’s available now for anyone to play, and is currently being advertised in the sidebar module in Facebook’s App Center.

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It’s not difficult to work out what kind of game Bubble Loop is from its rather literal title — with a name like that it’s either going to be a bubble shooter or a Zuma/Puzz Loop clone, and in this case it’s the latter. This is somewhat better than contributing to the oversaturation of genres such as Bejeweled- and Diamond Dash-style “match-3” puzzlers and traditional bubble shooters, but it’s still an unoriginal concept at its core. That said, Bubble Loop does provide a couple of interesting twists on the usual formula that make it mildly worthy of note — but ultimately it’s still an inferior knockoff of Zuma.

For those unfamiliar with the Zuma/Puzz Loop formula, it is similar to other match-3 genres in that players shoot out colored objects and must form groups of three or more of the same color. Here, though, rather than swapping gems around on a grid or shooting bubbles at a predefined arrangement, the colored orbs here roll slowly around a predefined track on their way to dropping down a hole. If the pearls drop down the hole before the level’s objective has been completed, the player fails. If the player runs out of time, the pearls immediately rush forward and drop down the hole, failing the level if they have not completed the objective by this point. The one interesting twist on the usual formula that Bubble Loop provides is the facility to end a level early — if the player completes all of the objectives for a level and does not wish to continue playing until time expires or the pearls fall down the hole, they can simply click an “End Game” button to prematurely end the level. This is obviously not the best way to get high scores, but for those primarily playing solo and attempting to “beat” the game, it is an efficient means of making rapid progress.

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Objectives for the levels vary from scoring a particular number of points — a value that normally corresponds to scoring a “one-star” rating for the level — to making a certain number of colored jewels by creating combos. Combos are created by destroying a group of pearls that immediately causes another match to be created when the gap is closed — for example, if there is a group of red pearls, then a group of yellow, then another group of red, and the player destroys the yellow group, the two red groups will become one and create a match as part of a combo. The more combos that are created with a single shot, the more valuable the jewel created.

As the player progresses through the game, they unlock various special abilities, most of which can either be “crafted” by using the jewels acquired from making combos, or simply purchased using in-game currency. This, along with the game’s “lives” system, which depletes by one each time the player fails to clear a level, form the backbone of the game’s monetization. Social features for the game, meanwhile, are limited to a leaderboard for each level and the occasional opportunity to brag about attaining trophies.

Bubble Loop’s gameplay is a relatively competent take on the Zuma/Puzz Loop formula, but the whole package is rather unpolished. Like many of Royal Cactus’ other games, a significant proportion of the game’s interface has not been translated from its original French and the parts that are in English don’t always make a lot of sense due to bad translation. In terms of presentation, the graphics are drab and simplistic, the background music annoying and the use of sound effects is inconsistent — matching groups of pearls makes a sound, but other actions such as pearls falling down the hole or collecting jewels at the end of a level are completely silent. The combination of these flaws leaves the whole game feeling like an unfinished product that wasn’t quite ready to release to the public — and yet, with it being advertised in App Center, Royal Cactus clearly believes that it is in a state suitable for release and active promotion. Putting out a slapdash product is not a particularly good way to inspire customers’ confidence, so in future it would probably be to the developer’s benefit to do some more thorough quality assurance — particularly on the translation side of things — before opening the game up to the public.

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On the whole, then, Bubble Loop is a reasonable but unpolished game. Unfortunately, given the sheer volume of games available on Facebook these days, this isn’t really enough to make it stand out, and as such, it’s not really worthy of recommendation.

Bubble Loop currently occupies the 500,000+ MAU tier with a rank of 541 and the 100,000+ DAU tier with a rank of 684. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.

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Passable but unoriginal gameplay coupled with unpolished presentation make this one to skip.