Bubble Rush is a Facebook game from Artoon Solutions. It’s also available as a free download from the iOS App Store, but this review is based on the Facebook version, which showed up as the No. 4 emerging game last week.
Despite the fact that Bubble Rush’s name might lead one to expect yet another in the long line of bubble shooters that populate Facebook, this game is in fact a color-matching puzzle game of the Diamond Dash mold. Basic gameplay involves tapping on contiguous groups of like-colored bubbles to make them disappear, though where the game goes from there depends on which of the five play modes the player has chosen to indulge in.
The game’s main “Classic” mode requires players to clear a certain number of each of the three colors of bubbles from the board, then cause three patterned coins to drop all the way to the bottom of the screen. After this, a new level begins with slightly higher target numbers but also a corresponding increase in the time limit available in which to complete the level, meaning the game never really gets any harder — each level just gets longer.
Other modes include “Clear All,” in which the grid does not refill as the player clears bubbles and they must remove a certain number from the screen before running out of available moves. “Filled” and “Timed” mode, meanwhile, are variations on a theme — in both cases, players must remove a certain number of bubbles before the screen fills up with new rows that come in from the bottom, though in the latter case the player also has a time limit to contend with. Finally, “Endless” mode simply allows players to continually clear bubbles until there are no more moves available — which takes quite some time.
As play progresses in all modes, various powerups drop from the top of the screen and have various effects. In the Facebook version, players only have access to two different powers to begin with, but can unlock the rest by inviting friends to play and populate the weekly tournament leaderboards for each mode. This appears to be a missed opportunity for monetization, however — if the player has no friends who wish to join in and play the game, they are stuck without two of the available powerups. The iOS version, meanwhile, offers the ability to unlock the additional powers through in-app purchase — it’s surprising to see that option absent from the Facebook version, as there is no other monetization mechanic in place aside from some advertising for Artoon’s own free-to-play iOS games around the game canvas.
Bubble Rush isn’t a bad game — in fact, the bubble-clicking gameplay is surprisingly compulsive and addictive, even though we’ve seen its basic mechanics many times before. The main criticism of the game is that it’s much too easy, meaning that it offers little to no challenge to experienced puzzle gamers. Single sessions tend to drag on for a long time with no means of suspending in mid-game to return later. The game would benefit from shortening its time limits to make it more challenging and to give the player the opportunity to fail. This also helps to encourage the player to come back time and time again to best their own score — if a single session goes on for half an hour or more, though, there’s little incentive to try again, as players will simply head for more fast-paced, short-session titles such as Bejeweled Blitz and Diamond Dash in the meantime.
Bubble Rush currently has 50,000 monthly active users, 20,000 weekly active users and 3,000 daily active users. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.
Bubble Rush is a decent game, but it’s lacking in a few key areas for a Facebook game — most notably monetization and challenge factor.