Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Bust-A-Move 2 Arcade Edition Review

bam2_boxPlatform: Arcade, Playstation, Saturn, N64, Gameboy
Released: 1996-1998
Developer: Taito/Probe
Publisher: Taito/Acclaim
Digital Release? Yes, but only on the Japanese PSN (of PS1 version)
Value: $3.50-$10 (disc/cart only – all platforms), $7-$15 (complete, all but N64)/$25 (complete N64), $30-$40 (sealed)

Bust a Move 2 Arcade Edition was a popular title released on the Sony Playstation, Sega Saturn and N64. While the concentration of these systems was to move gaming into 3D, Bust a Move was a game that kept its feet firmly in the 2D realm, and it still does to this day. All versions are ports of the very popular arcade game and all versions are arguably fantastic ports, bringing that vintage arcade experience home. For this review I’ll specifically be covering the Playstation version.

bam2ae_2I have always enjoyed the Bust a Move series. I have played the majority of the entries on home consoles and arcades. The most memorable game from my younger days was Bust a Move 2. This was literally in every arcade in my area. It ran on Taito’s F3 hardware and could be found in dedicated arcade cabinets and later the Neo Geo cabinets which were becoming increasingly popular. Bust a Move 2 was one of those arcade game where I would literally watch the demo screen over and over again even after I ran out of money to sink into the cabinet. There was something rather hypnotic about watching, maybe because I have always had a fascination with arcade puzzle titles, or maybe its because I’m a utter fan boy for Taito games, especially the Bubble Bobble games of which this series is a spin off from.

Bust A Move originally was called Puzzle Bobble in Japan but most modern releases of the games in the series have also taken this title in the West including the recent iOS game. This is a shame because I always loved the title Bust a Move. When I used to play this game with friends you would always shout “BUST A MOVE!” when you got one over on your opponent. It also caused many people to sing the infamous song at the same time also.

Bust a Move 2 arcade edition is a fast action puzzle game. The object is simple you fling coloured bubbles up the screen. Matching 3 together will cause the bubbles to pop. The real strategy is chaining as many bubbles together as possible and then popping the anchor point holding them in play. All that fall will then score double and really rack you up one hell of a high score. This is not easy to do though as the game is moving fast and you have to make split second decisions on the fly and regularly change your strategy There is practically no load times in this game making it a fantastic port of the arcade original. If your playing versus mode with the computer or a friend, when letting the bubbles fall it will throw random bubbles on the opponents screen. The more you drop the more they will rage at you. Its similar to Puyo Puyo (or Robotniks Mean Bean Machine on Mega Drive) in the sense that the game is about survival and the first player to allow a trail of bubbles to reach the bottom line of the screen is the loser. Playing against the computer is a fun time but the game is far more fun against someone else. Like a lot of fast paced arcade puzzle games it will have that ‘just one more go’ feel to it. The game is so simple to pick up anyone can jump in and have fun with it. Matches only last a couple of minutes but the play time will soon turn to hours. Also be prepared for a lot of raging and swearing from players as you go head to head, the best experience is when you are on the verge of loosing and you shoot that one bubble in the correct spot and it just totally ruins your friends day. That my friend is what you call “Busting a Move” right there.

bam2ae_1As well as versus mode you can play the much more relaxed “puzzle” in this mode you’re not against a opponent so your game takes up the full screen. The object here is just to pop all the bubbles while the screen slowly descends downward. Like with versus if the bubbles reach the bottom line its game over. This mode feels a little more relaxed than versus as all the mistakes you make will be caused by you rather than someone else making life difficult. The boards are also preset so you can try multiple strategies should one not work for you. Once you’ve finish a board you get a choice of two levels to proceed to. This is a nice touch as it allows for a lot of replay value if you want to experience the other possible boards in puzzle mode.

Unlike the arcade game you can adjust the difficult settings in the options menu and adjust your credits. No free play mode is available which is disappointing so if you do play solo you only have a maximum of 9 credits to conquer the game. I never really understood why games ported from the arcades don’t all feature free to play as standard. I’m aware that was not a option for all arcade games but seems odd for ports to consoles.

Finally you have Time Attack mode which is the only mode not featured in the original arcade game. This is essentially racking up the highest score possible. You can do this head to head with a friend to but their game will have no impact on your performance its just who can get the most points while bubbles continuously descend from the top screen.

Graphically the game is very colourful. Graphic sprites are literally taken from the Bubble Bobble series, you may see a few new characters in the Computer versus mode, but like with a lot of fast games you will be concentrating on the game more than the characters shooting the bubbles. The graphics are not pushing any boundaries of the hardware but then again it really doesn’t feel necessary for a game like this. The backgrounds occasionally change where your playing but again these are superficial perks.

Music wise you will be hearing the authentic sounds of the arcade originally. For me this is great playing through the game makes me feel like I am right back at the arcade. The music is pretty upbeat and happy even when you’re getting your ass handed to you. The sound effects of those bubbles shooting out are unique to this series and you’ll never hear them anywhere else, it’s adorable. But maybe your not into this cutesy stuff in which case you can  put on a podcast or something (maybe GH101).

bam2ae_3Bust a Move is not a long game and it’s perfect for those quick gaming sessions. Throw in a friend though and those short sessions could end up turning into an all night marathon depending on how competitive you get. You can save your high scores but you’ll probably only be bragging to yourself. Unless you want take a picture of your TV and throw it up on social media. Never know maybe that old trend might become popular again like in the old gaming magazines.

Bust a Move 2 Arcade Edition is a fantastic port of an arcade classic. It’s fast addictive gameplay is fun for all, regardless of your skill level when it comes to gaming. This is the perfect game to play head to head with friends but there is a ton of fun to be had alone. There have been many sequels to this game since and in all honesty if you’ve played one of these games you have pretty much played them all. I personally really enjoying playing arcade ports especially when they are done well like this. If you collect games for the Playstation, Saturn or N64 this is a worthwhile game to add to your collection. If your really hardcore why not go track down the Gameboy port to, then you could buy the original arcade machine. Wait, that may just be my dream. Either way this is a title my lady and I still play to this day, a lot of fun to play alone but endless if you play together.

Final Score: 4 out of 5  (review policy)

Written by jamalais

April 29, 2015 at 4:38 pm

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