Bubble Monsters is a new Facebook game from French developer RoyalCactus. It’s a bubble shooter, and is currently showing up as the No. 28 top gainer by DAU.
Bubble Monsters is a fairly conventional bubble shooter at heart, though it has a few twists up its sleeve. Basic gameplay is as expected for the genre — the player takes control of a cannon fixed in location at the bottom center of the screen and must fire bubbles using their mouse pointer in order to create groups of three or more like-colored bubbles, at which point they pop. Conventions of the genre dictate that if this causes any bubbles to no longer be attached to the top of the screen, they will fall and score the player additional points, but Bubble Monsters appears to apply this rule somewhat inconsistently.
There are two main types of level in Bubble Monsters, split roughly equally between levels where the player must clear a path to a monster sitting on a cloud at the top of the screen, and time-limited “survival” levels where the player must score enough points to attain at least a one-star rating. The path-clearing levels seem to work fine, but it’s on the survival levels that a number of very inconvenient bugs come into play, not least of which is the aforementioned inconsistent application of the “bubble falling” rule, leaving bubbles hanging suspended in space and the player unable to scroll the level up until they are cleared out of the way. Along with this issue, the screen scrolling is not handled very well — if the player clears the screen, in many cases it will not scroll up to reveal additional bubbles until they fire another bubble, meaning they must effectively make a “blind” shot to proceed.
As the player successfully progresses through the levels, they unlock additional content including “boosters” (permanent enhancements to abilities such as an aiming line) and the ability to craft powerups. Powerups are consumable items that allow the player to perform special abilities such as switching colors of certain bubbles or gaining additional time in Survival levels. In order to craft these powerups, the player must collect various colors of gem by matching bubbles in various sizes of group — matching six or more at a time produces an emerald, for example, while destroying 10 or more produces a sapphire. This is a nice addition to the otherwise-conventional mechanics on display in Bubble Monsters.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to save the game from being a bit of a flawed mess. For the first few levels, everything is fine, but as the game opens up and becomes more complex, more and more issues start to show their faces, ranging from the fact that some interface text has not been translated from the original French to the aforementioned “bubble falling” problem. There is also a horrendous difficulty spike on the 16th level, due in part to the broken mechanics on Survival levels, but it is almost impossible to complete this level without resorting to paid upgrades and consumable items.
Ultimately, then, despite the addition of a good new mechanic — the crafting system — Bubble Monsters falls flat. The crafting mechanic is not enough on its own to distinguish Bubble Monsters from its numerous peers, and the flawed gameplay mechanics make it a frustrating experience to play. Consequently, it’s one to skip past.
Bubble Monsters currently has 110,000 monthly active users, 60,000 weekly active users and 30,000 daily active users. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.
Despite the addition of an interesting powerup-crafting system, this otherwise-predictable bubble shooter’s flawed execution makes it one to avoid.