Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bubble Meadow (Game Review)

Every once in a while, a game comes along that is both familiar and pleasant. It may not break new ground, but it can provide a few minutes of fun when you are distracted or impatient. One such game is Bubble Meadow, created by Logicking, based in Kiev, Ukraine. The art is pleasing and the game play is familar, but well tuned and works well on the Firefox OS ZTE Open.

Bubble Meadow is a simple bubble shooter, but I like it better than other bubble shooters I've played (with maybe the exception of a variant called bubble spinner), and I like bubble shooters very much. In fact, I reviewed one earlier called Planet Defense that I liked because of its space theme. But Bubble Meadow survives and succeeds for a few important reasons. But first a little about the game.

Here is the title screen. Cute, fun, bright on rainy day!

The star of the game is a cat who has a cart full of bubbles. And the meadow he is driving through has bubbles also. There are three buttons on the screen.One is for sound, and the sound doesn't work. This is the only flaw in the game, but I understand that sound is tricky in HTML5 games and I will definitely be writing about it soon.

The other two buttons are Play and ?. If you press ?, you get the credits of the team in Kiev:

If you press Play and choose the first level (which is all you can choose the first time through), you get some great help and tips. This is great, even though there a lot of bubble shooters out there. Here is what the first screen tells you:

Shoot at the bubbles and match three. Notice that the art uses a finger so you know you are playing a game on a phone or tablet. You throw the bubble in your hand at the bubbles at the top of the screen. But you need to match the color, and match three to get the bubbles to burst.

Next is a useful tip. You can bounce the bubbles off the side to get the bubbles you want. Nice!

Finally, you are told something that makes this game more fun.

You can swap the ball in your hand for one in your cart. This helps you from getting stuck. Way cool, Logicking! Having some options makes a game cooler, more fun, and telling me about it in this simple way is better still. Firefox OS is clearly aimed at a world market, and so the rules for your game should be told in some kind of pictures. Text should be optional. I was really charmed by the rules and story for Steel Story and I can't recommend enough that it is always great if you can give the rules and tell your story in pictures, making your game easy to play in any country in the world.

So now you know how to play the game. When you press Play on the title screen, you get this:

You get a set of meadows to play in, each with a different challenge of bubbles to burst. There are 16 levels here but that is a good start. I'm looking forward to Bubble Meadow II. This screen also gives you a choice to go a main menu, which looks like this:

You can use this as a pause, and then you can resume your current level, restart it, or go to the Levels screen, or also turn off the sound if you had any (boo hoo). 

And here is the first of actual play:

The cat is holding a purple ball and he must shoot it at other purple balls. Shoot straight up, cat!

But what makes this game cool is that you can switch the balls by touching the cart:

Now he has a green ball, which he could shoot in either directions since there are two green groups.

Here's a later screen, for comparison:

As you can see, the layout of the balls is more complicated. I really like two things about this game:

  1. The balls are larger which makes it actually easier to aim but at the same time make it harder to bounce around balls you don't want.

  2. I like the option to switch balls.

And the art is really bright and colorful. This will have a permanent place on my ZTE Open! 

Even without the sound, this rates a definite 5. I look forward to more games from Logicking.

Cost: Free
Genre: Bubble Shooter (match 3)
Score: 5 (out of 5)
Tested on: ZTE Open (Firefox OS)
Get it at: Firefox Marketplace

PS: I just noticed that Logicking is the creator of Ultimate JS, an HTML5 game engine. I'll have to check it out! There are so many HTML5 game engines out there but right now I'm focusing on making everything from pure HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript (oh, and SVG, which is a good friend of HTML5. I'm also starting to look at CSS3, but I'm not sure how widely adopted it is.

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