About mid-year, last year, German developer wooga (world of gaming) created an entertaining quiz-like game by the name of Brain Buddies. Since then, the game has done fairly well, currently earning around 3.2 million monthly active users. However, the European company has also been hard at work on a new Facebook game, Bubble Island.
The game is a remake of a classic arcade type of game where the player shoots multicolored bubbles toward a collection of other bubbles hanging from a ceiling. The object is to match three or more of the same color to remove them. However, every couple of shots, the ceiling lowers, and should any of these soapy orbs cross the red line located near the bottom of the screen, the game is over. Of course, if you remove them all, you win.
Like the arcade rendition – and the myriad of casual Flash versions – of this game, bubbles can be bounced off of walls, and in the case of Bubble Island, the ceiling. Furthermore, all bubbles hanging from the ceiling must be connected to the ones above them to avoid falling, so the player is capable of shooting connecting ones to remove all those below.
Like with wooga’s last title, the presentation value for Bubble Island is fantastic. Players play as a backpacking raccoon and move about a tropical island setting. Each section of the island is a new level that has three to four stages that must be cleared in order to move forward. Furthermore, each one has a very nice visual display and music that, for the most part (there are a few stages where the music skips), fits perfectly.
Beyond aesthetics, each level changes the board slightly too. Some boards seem to be taller, others wider, thus adding a nice change in game play pace. Frankly, even more dynamic and oddly shaped levels might be prudent in adding a little new flavor to such an old game concept.
Nevertheless, what Bubble Island does bring to the table — that is very new — is its social elements. Yes, it has the basics of inviting friends and competing for high scores on each level, via leaderboards. But there’s more. Players have lives in Bubble Island. Should they fail to remove all the bubbles before they reach the bottom, they lose one. However, the more they play, and the more their Facebook friends play, the more lives they earn.
Beyond the above, this app also has other social standards such using the social graph through feed postings and earnable trophies (achievements). To the untrained eye, it may not seem like terribly much, but for many players the earning of achievements is narcotic, and adds a great deal of longevity to even the simplest of games.
The only real complaints to be had are minor, at best. It feels like the bubbles shoot a bit too fast. They literally are in place in less than half a second, and there was always something gratifying about watching them bounce into place. Ironically, the second issue is the reverse. When one completes a level, it often takes a exorbitant amount of time to load the scoring screen, leading one to the assumption that the game might have crashed.
It is also worth mentioning that, yes, a more original game concept would be much better, but, this type of game is still very entertaining, and new iteratoins on old ideas are loved by many social game players.
Currently, wooga’s Bubble Island is still in beta, and it doesn’t have a tremendous amount of users yet. Our AppData is tracking around 19,300 monthly active users. However, unlike most Facebook games that say “beta” (Pet Society still has a beta tag, and that came out ages ago) wooga’s seems more like a real one. It prompts users to input an email and wait a bit for access. That in mind, this app isn’t exactly doing too bad. We look forward to seeing how it does when fully released.