Puzzle Bobble VR: Vacation Odyssey
Puzzle Bobble VR: Vacation Odyssey is the VR adaptation of the 1994 classic Puzzle Bobble (a.k.a Bust-A-Move). You play brothers Bub and Bob in this classic colour matching action-puzzle adventure.
Puzzles consist of a mass of bobbles (coloured balls) arranged in different shapes. To complete a stage, players need to reach and destroy the puzzle core by popping the bobbles surrounding it. Removing bobbles requires you to match 3 or more of the same colour. To do this you are equipped with a bobble launcher which acts like a slingshot that lets you launch bobbles at the shape. The launcher requires you to aim with one hand and draw back using the other, similar to a bow and arrow mechanic. The launching works reasonably well but sometimes small movements of your hand just before releasing means the bobble will go astray which can be frustrating. The launching device is also a tad on the larger side which can get in the way of your view.
Each puzzle rotates around its core when hit. This adds an element of strategy as hitting the 3D shape in just the right spot will turn it around to expose another side that might help you get to the puzzle core quicker. There are a variety of different bobbles you will encounter along your journey such as crates which cannot be destroyed but need to be cleaved off by destroying the bobbles attaching it to the shape. You also earn coins as you progress which allow you to buy power ups to help you along the way. The power ups can be very useful, particularly in later stages but it is often pain staking trying to earn enough coins to afford one.
Despite all of these features, the game is quite simple. Not that this simplicity is bad, some of the best casual puzzlers are relatively straight forward. However, the gameplay can get a little repetitive. Each of the stages will challenge you to complete the puzzle within a certain time or ball limit. You might get a little tired after a few stages of completing the same objectives despite the different puzzle designs and environments.
The environments are colourful, bold and vibrant like you might expect from a puzzle bobble game. There is a variety of them too, from beaches to mountains, which help to keep things fresh. Graphically, the environments are quite pretty to look at. There is some apparent foveated rendering around the edges but you won’t be noticing this too much in game. But one of my favourite features has to be the audio. It includes upbeat tracks from the original Puzzle Bobble soundtrack developed by ZUNTANA which is sure to please fans of the classic game.
There is a PvP mode which is a blast. You have to clear your bobbles as quickly as possible to outdo your opponent. The more you clear, the more ‘jammer’ bobbles will spawn on your opponent's shape which always feels very satisfying. There is also an infinite mode where you clear a never-ending wave of puzzles before they get sucked into a vortex to achieve a high score. Last but not least, we have the story mode featuring 100 levels of progressive difficulty. Some of the levels offer a good challenge whilst others are very easy and it can feel like a bit of a grind making your way through these easier stages to get to the more interesting challenging stages.
Even with some of these easier stages that feel a bit like content filler, the single player mode should take you at least 5 hours to complete and even longer if you want to try to get 3 stars on every stage.
Overall, Puzzle Bobble VR: Vacation Odyssey is a worthy entry into the series. Whilst this game is a fun puzzler, the simplicity and repetitiveness means you will be playing this one in short stints rather than having extended play sessions. It offers a nice range of game modes and breadth of content, but would benefit from more variety in objectives and a greater number of challenging stages would also be welcome. If you enjoy casual puzzle games or a fan of Puzzle Bobble, you will probably enjoy this.
Fans of casual puzzle games will probably enjoy this fun action-puzzler, even if they do only engage with it in short stints because of its simple and sometimes repetitive gameplay.
Crisp, vibrant and bold graphics that are pleasing to the eye and fit well with the Puzzle Bobble genre.
Upbeat and fun soundtrack featuring songs from the classic game that delivers a hit of sweet nostalgia.
Brothers Bub and Bob have been turned into dragons by an evil wizard and need to find a way to turn back. You won’t be buying this one for the story.
A story mode that will last you at least 5 hours coupled with a PvP mode and an infinite puzzle mode means there’s quite a bit to get stuck into. The star rating system for each level also offers some replayability.
Doesn’t make the best use of VR as you are locked in one position and focused on the puzzle directly in front of you most of the time with no need to look around or engage with the surrounding environment.
No comfort options required as you don’t need to move, nor is there any uncomfortable motion in your environment. However, holding the catapult up can put a bit of a strain on your arm after a while.
Learning Curve: 9
Beautifully simple and addictive gameplay make it suitable for young and old alike.
Value for Money: 7
You get a fun puzzle game with a decent amount of content for your $19.99.
An enjoyable, family friendly puzzler that fails to wow but will tick the boxes for fans of the genre.
Puzzle Bobble VR: Vacation Odyssey
Summary: Aim, Shoot & Pop in VR! Bub and Bob are in for a surprise when their island vacation takes an unexpected turn for an epic, bubble-popping adventure!
Game Modes: Multiplayer, Single User
Genres: Arcade, Casual, Puzzle
Platforms: Oculus Quest
Publishers: Taito Corporation
Release Date: May 20, 2021