Ah, Bust-A-Move (or Puzzle Bobble as it is called in Japan). Probably my favorite puzzle game, Bust-A-Move is deceptively simple. The main object of the game is to pop all of the bubbles on your screen before they come crashing down on you. If you're playing a versus game (either against your friend or the computer), the object is to score more points than your opponent, thus filling his/her screen with bubbles and causing him to lose.
The Bust-A-Move franchise has grown quite a bit over the years. There is now a BAM game on nearly every platform imaginable, from the Neo Geo Pocket (which flopped in the US) to the Playstation 2 and even the PC. The first time I was exposed to BAM was on a Neo Geo arcade machine at my local pizza parlor a few years ago. I avoided playing it for the longest time because it just looked so cheesy, but I finally gave in one day and popped in a few quarters. I think the cute little dinosaurs and vibrant colors got to me on a subconscious level. Needless to say, I was hooked.
Fast-forward a few years. I now own Super Bust-A-Move for the PS2 and GBA, and I love them both. So if I love it so much, why am I giving it a 7/10 and not something higher? Quite frankly, I think the developers rushed the GBA version out without adding much to it. Hell, in some places they've taken away some of the greatness that is Super Bust-A-Move.
One of my biggest gripes is that there are no voices in the game. This is truly a shame because we know the Gameboy Advance can do voices, and the voices from the PS2 of BAM are excellent. And by excellent I mean incredibly strange, but in a good way! The voices of the characters (which thankfully made their way to the GBA version) in the PS2 version matched the spirit of the game perfectly. The voices were vibrant, almost annoying even. But they gave the game a sense of personality. The first time I heard them I almost died laughing because they are so over-the-top. It's a shame that Taito cut them out of the GBA release. Even the "Ready, GO!" voice is missing.
I also have issues with the menu system and the overall layout of it. First off, they fade in and out incredibly slowly. Secondly, the opening menus are not polished at all. The menus don't take advantage of the GBA at all. No nifty fade effects, no particles, nothing. Just plain old boring options. To make it worse, the text for certain options is incredibly hard to read. The color of the text mixes with the background way too easily in a lot of the levels. This may not look too bad on a TV, but on the little GBA screen it's pretty hard to read.
Speaking of the GBA screen, how does Super Bust-A-Move look on the little GBA LCD? To be honest, not that great. Bust-A-Move was always a very bright, vibrant game. Since the GBA does not have a back-lit LCD screen, the colors come off almost bland. The game actually looks pretty flat when you compare it to its counterparts. Nothing is jumping off the screen at you, which I really miss.
So after all of that you're probably wondering, "Is it really worth buying?" In short: yes. Super Bust-A-Move for the Gameboy Advance may be lacking polish but it's still a blast to play. The GBA version has tons of play modes to keep you playing for a long time and it's hard to beat the winning formula that BAM came up with so many years ago. If you're looking for an exciting puzzle game to take on the go, it's hard to go wrong with Super Bust-A-Move. However, if you don't mind not having a portable version of BAM, I'd suggest purchasing the PS2 version. It's a bit more polished and a lot wackier. Plus it's easier to play with your friends.