Bubble Babble is the latest title from the PDA game developer/distributor, Astraware. It’s a simple word game that won’t blow anyone’s mind away, but still provides decent entertainment at a reasonable price.
Bubble Babble has a stationary screen with an underwater theme. Bubbles containing a single letter float up from the bottom until they reach the top surface and pop. The player’s goal is to use the stylus to drag bubbles together in order to link them and form words before they burst at the top. Successful formation of words with 3 or more letters results in points once the bubbles pop. The core gameplay is really simple, but the title does have some variation to it.
There are four game-types: Challenge, Target, Mystery, and Freeplay. The goal of Challenge is to make X number of words from an endless stream of bubbles within a given time frame. Each time you meet the goal, you have to make more words per time frame in the next level. In Target, the player is given a word, then bubbles with the letters to make the word are scrambled and set free from the bottom. You need to put them together correctly to advance. Target presents little difficulty until the words start hitting ten or more letters long. Mystery releases a set number of bubbles and asks you to build a word of 3, then 4, then 5 letters, etc. Finally, freeplay is just that. An endless stream of bubbles is emitted from the bottom of the screen and the player freely puts them together to score points. There is no penalty for forming incorrect words or letting unused bubbles hit the top here. The game just keeps going.
The developers also did a good job putting a few extras in the game that go a long way. First, the use of rare red or yellow bubbles to create words will provide scoring bonuses. Next, there are spiraling starfish and expanding puffer fish that randomly appear on screen to break up your linked bubbles. Another great feature that should be added in more games is the inclusion of a trophy room. Meeting certain requirements during play unlocks shells, or trophies, for your collection. Sure, the trophies don’t really do anything, but it contributes to the replay value and gives the player a few extra goals; it’s a very welcome touch. There is also a leaderboard feature. If you have a great score in any of the gameplay types, you can upload it to the home website. Finally, one of the cooler additions is the “word of the day.” On the menu screen the host fish, Wordsworth, tells you what the word of the day is. Forming the word of the day in any of the game-types nets you extra points and unlocks trophy shells.
The graphics of the game are clear and pretty basic, but they work as well as you need them to for a Palm game. The music fits the underwater theme very well and is reminiscent of Super Mario 64’s water levels. However, after awhile the music does get repetitive and can drive you nuts like almost any other PDA game out there. The only real gripe I had with the game was that the stylus control can be a little imprecise at times. Occasionally, bubbles I was dragging would not link together immediately or my attempts to insert a single bubble in between two other bubbles that were previously linked wouldn’t work out so well. This small hiccup would cause a few panic moments when I was trying to build a large, 8+ letter words.
Overall, the game isn’t bad, it’s just that it’s–well–a word game. If that interests you then Bubble Babble won’t disappoint. If you’re not into word games, this title probably won’t convert you over to the spelling side of entertainment. However, the game does a great job of being a good PDA title. It’s very playable for quick 5 minute stretches and has just enough replay value with the game-type variations, trophy room collecting, leaderboards, and word of the day bonuses to keep you busy for longer periods of time. There is a free demo available at the Astraware website, and if the price remains under $10, Bubble Babble is a good value game to leave on your PDA’s memory card to supplant life’s unexpected boring moments.