CrowdStar’s Second New Game, Pop Boom, Brings Arcade Action to Facebook

CrowdStar is having a busy release week, following on over three months of silence. Yesterday we reviewed its new game for the teenage demographic, It Girl; today we’re taking a look at the arcade-style title Pop Boom, which appeared at the same time. (Hat tip to Frisky Mongoose for spotting the game.)

At first glance, Pop Boom appears to have a lot in common with Bejeweled. Once you click on your first bubble, though, you’ll immediately see that Pop Boom is its own game, not a copy of previous match-three titles.

Pop and Clock

Here’s the resemblance to other match-three games: your aim is to line up three or more bubbles of the same color to “pop” them, and you’ve got just one minute in which to do so. The minute time limit doesn’t seem important, but Bejeweled creator PopCap has often mentioned that the minute-long game is a feature that required much trial and error to arrive at on Facebook.

The difference is that the major mechanic in Pop Boom involves picking up bubbles and moving them to any position on the game board, instead of swapping the position of two gems. Pop Boom thus becomes a much faster game.

It’s also somewhat more strategic for the difference. Given the chance to set up bubbles in any configuration, you’ll quickly discover that bubbles in cross or L-shaped patterns are much better; if placing a single bubble results in a simultaneous horizontal and vertical burst, the entire row and column will be popped.

That’s where “boom” comes in. Special bomb bubbles will appear now and then, which blow up a small section of the board when popped. If you manage to set off a whole row of bubbles, then, you can place a bomb toward the end, and it will take out even more bubbles with it. As you take out more bubbles, your score multiplier for additional popped bubbles will rise.

Bombs are also one of only two virtual goods offered in Pop Boom at launch, the other being an additional five seconds to play. Both are bought with coins that are earned during play, or can be purchased with Facebook Credits.

Social Bubble

There’s not a lot to say about Pop Boom’s social features; they’re about what you’d expect, with a friends-only leaderboard and the ability to send out a global challenge. You can also see the scores of your top three friends at all times.

One development choice worth noting is that CrowdStar doesn’t ask for confirmation to add a feed story about your score; the “Publish” button is large and centered, without the usual “Skip” beside it. If you hit Publish instead of the right-hand corner “X” (seen below), there is no option to skip.

Conclusion

It seems a bit odd, at first blush, for CrowdStar to be releasing an arcade game when all its previous games have been straightforward farm, pet, city and island-themed titles. But along with the launch of It Girl, the company is clearly feeling the need to be experimental.

Arcade games, though they may not monetize as well as more traditional social games, can also offer other benefits. They may spread more quickly through players, and they can serve as a funnel to the company’s other games. They also can be more straightforward to make; note that Pop Boom looks pretty complete as-is, while It Girl is still in a rather buggy alpha stage.

Overall, Pop Boom looks like an interesting experiment by CrowdStar, and one that other developers would do well to keep an eye on.