There are a lot, and I mean a LOT, of word games in the App Store. There are, of course, the Zynga “With Friends” games. There are your glorified Flash games, like Text Twist 2. There are your minimalist games with Zach Gage’s SpellTower. There are even awful translations of existing television game shows, such as GSN’s Lingo.
Bubble in Paradise is a good ol’ fashion high-score-a-thon. You are given points, basically, by Scrabble rules. Common letters are worth less points than rare ones. Thus, a ten-letter “Tarantulas” will garner fewer points than a five-letter “pizza” does. The game even follows your standard match-3 rules. However, it’s what it does differently that truly sets it apart. Letters are trapped inside bubbles that rise up the screen. These bubbles expand over time, slowly at first but at an increased speed as you progress. Ignore that ten-point Scrabble letter long enough and it’ll take up the space of six fresh letters. This can greatly reduce the number of letters that appear on screen at one time and, in turn, the number of possible words that you can form.
This simple hook changes the way you make words. The tension builds as you scramble to pop the largest letters while trying to manage the other expanding bubbles. You’ll be keeping an eye out for those troublesome letters, trying to pop them as quickly as possible before they become a nuisance.
Occasionally, special bubbles that do not expand appear at the top, but they are weighted and cascade off the screen if you don’t get to them in time. Using these bubbles in a word will have an effect on the bubbles around them or the bubble rate. There are some small physics elements in play, but they’re mostly moot. It’s more of a “because we can” addition than a core element.
You’ll also need to pop and collect star bubbles as you play. Collecting enough stars will unlock other game modes or play areas. These areas reduce your garbage time and take you down to the nitty-gritty. It’s a lot like starting a new game of Tetris on Speed Level 10.
There are four different game modes in Bubble in Paradise. You have your standard single player mode, a blitz mode, an endless mode, and a battle mode.
Endless Mode is truly endless, as you play until you get sick of playing, and would be your tension-free zen experience.
I was never able to find an opponent for Battle Mode, though I admittedly was only using GameCenter. I’d imagine signing up for Crystal would open up another world of players, but I’ve never cared for compulsory service sign-ups.
Regardless, I adore Bubble in Paradise. It’s simple and elegant with an original catch that makes it feel fresh in the stale world of word games. Frankly, Bubble in Paradise feels a lot like Tetris if it were a word game and, you know, not the awful mess Wordtris was. It’s simple, it’s addictive, and, like a can of Pringles, once you pop, you can’t stop.
(Bubble in Paradise features retina-display graphics and GameCenter integration. Versus mode can be played only through GameCenter or Crystal, so be prepared to sign up for yet another service.)
About the Author
|Fade to Slack is a founding member of Delta Attack, an American expatriate in South Korea, and a true believer in the legitimacy of mobile gaming.
Keep up with him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Fade2Slack so he can justify having a Twitter account.
Fade to Slack has written 308 posts on Delta Attack.