Bubbles IQ is a Facebook game from Playforia. It’s been available since July of 2011 and peaked in June of this year, but has recently been seeing some renewed growth, showing up as the No. 15 top gainer by DAU this week. An iOS version is also available on the App Store, which may account for the more recent resurgence in user figures.
Bubbles IQ is a simple bubble shooter game. As per usual for the genre, players are tasked with clearing screens by matching like-colored bubbles into groups of three or more. Popping arrangements so that a group of bubbles is no longer attached to the top of the screen causes them to fall off the bottom. The game is over if the player either runs out of bubbles before the level is cleared, or if the bubbles drop below a “Danger” line at the bottom of the screen. Unlike other bubble shooters such as Bubble Witch Saga, which only require the player to clear a certain number of bubbles from the top row, Bubbles IQ requires players to destroy (or drop) every bubble on the whole level to proceed.
Scoring in Bubbles IQ is a little unconventional in its presentation. Players earn “IQ” points by popping and dropping bubbles, and also receive bonuses for completing a level according to how many bubbles they have remaining. A good Bubbles IQ score is usually in the high hundreds rather than the thousands or millions seen in other games, giving it a distinctive “feel.” Players also form a team with their Facebook friends they have invited to play the game, and the team’s cumulative high scores are tracked on a meter at the side of the screen at all times. At various milestones on the meter, the team is awarded various powerups which can be used to make play easier. These range from the ability to select the color of the next bubble to an aiming line. Powerups may also be purchased directly using Facebook Credits — there is no in-game soft currency with which to earn these powerups via any other means.
The game features a variety of “medals” to earn throughout the course of play. These vary from reaching various score milestones in a single game to making use of powerups or earning team rewards, thereby encouraging players to make use of all the game’s features. Some medals have a “chain” of increasingly-difficult objectives to attain.
Bubbles IQ does what it does well, but manages to be completely unremarkable in the process. Its graphics are functional but uninteresting and lacking in personality. Its sound is effective but limited. Its play mechanics include nothing that players haven’t seen before. And its lack of progression or soft currency systems provide non-paying players with little incentive to return if they don’t have a team of friends to play with. Ultimately, there are far better bubble shooters available on the market — Bubbles IQ may have been around for longer than a lot of them, but the newer titles display significantly more creativity and personality about them, as well as providing greater incentives for players to check back regularly. The bubble shooter genre is already a crowded and stagnant one, leaving little room for older titles like this that haven’t moved with the times and incorporated newer innovations.
It may have survived for a long time, but there’s not much of note to see any more in this rather unremarkable bubble shooter.