Tag Archives: ElvishJumpSuit (Developer)

REVIEW: Bubble Booster

Whatever name you ascribe it, working to align bubbles of a similar color and shooting them down is a pretty timeless recipe of the puzzle shooter genre. It was a guaranteed staple of the earliest game consoles (see Puzzle Bobble and the like), and it’s a damn near regular appearance on mobile devices of all kinds these days. Bubble Booster ($1.00) is yet another example of that tried-and-true formula.

Here, the setup retains the classic conundrum of bubble busting; orbs of various colors spread across the stage, some in noticeable, ‘easy to shoot’ patterns, others less so, and in harder to reach areas. You can control your shots and / or fine-tune your aim, sending your own orbs ricocheting off walls or stacking them aside for later use. You complete any given level by clearing out all of the bubbles on that stage, one way or another.

This gives the game its simple hook on the surface, with some strategy and mindfulness needed to actually increase your scores to a boastful level. While you can always just match the color (three or more) in a line of some sort to remove bubbles from the playing field, you gain more points for ‘dropping’ other bubbles in play around where your shot hits. In this regard, it makes more sense to ‘pick and choose’ your moves, placing your shots where they’ll do the most damage and clear out more of the board.

It’s a clever trick, one that’s made all the more tricky with the added complication of having a limited amount of time to take your shots, as well as the level ‘ceiling’ pushing the stack of bubbles closer to game over every few moves you make. To motivate you to do better, the game offers online leaderboards, tracking everything from practice scores to fastest level completions, overall high scores, and highest level reached. You can also earn new bubble skins (like individual country flags) and wallpaper backgrounds.

Bubble Booster - Screen

It’s all superficial stuff, mind you, but it’s a decent amount of unlockables to earn. With all that said, though, Bubble Booster is an also-ran, with plenty of better examples in the genre released well before it, or for free1, for that matter. There’s literally dozens of this game type out there, and that has to hurt its bottom line.

So while it’s far from original or unique in its execution, Bubble Booster is a fun enough puzzler to waste a few hours on. What worked ‘then’ still works ‘now’, albeit in smaller doses. The online leaderboards further extend that lifetime if you’re the competitive type, just be aware that there isn’t anything here that you haven’t already played in years (possibly decades!2) past.

  1. It’s arguably easier to aim and play these games with a mouse, too. Controllers are nice, but they’re not always the best option for all game styles and genres. 
  2. If so, congrats! You’re old (like me)! 

REVIEW: Cromo Dynamix

Time waits for no man, or for XBLIG, for that matter. When I previewed Cromo Dynamix ($1.00) almost a year ago, I thought it held definite promise as an online-focused, twin-stick shooter. Back then, there were still people gravitating towards multiplayer offerings on the service, and the game seemed like a natural fit. A busy schedule and unforeseen circumstances prevented developer ElvishJumpSuit from releasing it sooner, but, as they say, better late than never1.

To a certain degree. Since that initial preview, XBLIG has seen its community shrink with each passing month, and with it, most of those that would even semi-regularly use the online component of any given indie game have departed as well. And as Cromo Dynamix is primarily billed as an online shooter for up to ten players, you’d be hard-pressed to find even one person in the game’s online lobby2.

It’s a hurdle, to be sure, but as recent shooters have shown, if you build it, they will may come. Cromo Dynamix concerns an interstellar battle for the fate of the planet, happening right under our noses. You take control of miniature ships, fighting this invasion against enemy drones at a microscopic level3. In reality, it’s just twin-stick ship combat, with powerups thrown in. There’s not much in the way of a heavy tutorial, but you do get a very lengthy intro movie to help explain the story if you’d like (which is ironic, considering the ‘story’ never really shows its face throughout the single-player campaign).

You don’t need much of a primer to get into the fray, however, so that’s less of an problem and more of a dressing to be poured over the simple setup. Fighting takes place over six arenas and with ten different ships, all of which are unlocked as you progress in the single-player (30 missions) and reach certain milestones. The ships are more than a cosmetic choice, as each has their own rating, shields, etc. Powerups too, have an obvious effect on the game and your steed, as missiles and double lasers will swing things in your favor. Hitting the lettered bubbles opposite your team color will boost your weapon power, and function as hazards at higher speeds.

Cromo Dynamix - Screen

There’s a handful of tricks and strategy to it, but it’s relatively easy to grasp and pick up. Sadly, any depth is lost on the game’s AI. While online battles would certainly play out a little differently, the single-player’s enemies rely on brute strength and numbers to take you out. As later missions increase the odds (and reduce your spare lives in reserve), this becomes more of an issue. Respawns can place you in harm’s way, too, with foes crowding your ship and souring the mood before you have much time to act.

Moreover, there’s a sense of familiarity and nagging repetition to it. There’s nothing in Cromo Dynamix that hasn’t been seen and done elsewhere in twin-stick shooters, and that hurts its bottom line. The game works (mostly) as advertised, but without a community of players to liven things up, the pedestrian design, shooting, and bland powerups all fall flat pretty quickly.

  1. That doesn’t mean it’s bug-free, however. I ran into a few ‘Code 4s’ in the game’s trial period, waiting around too long in the menu after a stage had loaded. The trouble mysteriously disappeared once I had purchased the game, but it’s worth a mention / warning. The developer is already aware of a number of other bugs, too. 
  2. I literally did find one person to play a game, and he / she promptly left mid-battle. Or maybe they were booted. Not sure. Either way, my online career consisted of two kills, one death. 
  3. Sounds a bit like Innerspace, really, minus the wacky Martin Short hijinks. 

‘Cromo Dynamix’ Goes (Sub)Atomic

Evil is everywhere these days. Secret organizations, spying governments, fast-food chains taking beloved items off their $1 menu (or worse, charging more for them; the horror!). And that’s just the evil you can see. Taking things down to the atomic level, Cromo Dynamix wants to show you the (very) miniature war being fought right under your nose.

Billed as an online shooter for up to 10 players, with AI bots available for single-player sessions, the game looks to feature most of your standard shooter power-ups and arenas. With human opponents, it could make for some exciting battles, but only time will tell how much of a half-life the game has (…forgive that last line, Scientific Community, as it was a tragically unfunny attempt to sound smarter than I really am not).

Cromo Dynamix is currently on track for a late February release. To follow developer ElvishJumpSuit or learn more about the studio’s previous games, you can take a look here.


Cromo Dynamix - ScreenPreview

Cromo Dynamix - ScreenPreview2