Puzzle Bobble 3D Vacation Odyssey
It's intriguing to see the number of retro revival games that have graced our doorstop in the past several years. Bub and Bob (and friends) return following the release of Bubble Bobble 4 Friends released in 2019. Originally released as a VR exclusive title and developed by Survios, Puzzle Bobble 3D Vacation Odyssey would release later in 2021 on the PlayStation 4 and 5. What was great for PS VR owners was that it was compatible with the PS4 version, offering a wide range of players the VR experience without shelling out money on a different set-up.
For the first time and with the support of ININ Games, Puzzle Bobble 3D Vacation Odyssey makes its way to various retailers as physical copies. Players who purchase either version will own the other version free of charge as the PS4 version includes a free PS5 upgrade and the PS5 version includes a PS4 voucher code. The PS4 version is the only one compatible with PS VR as the PS5 version doesn't support it. Bear that in mind if you wish to experience VR as the PS4 version is the way to go.
Courtesy of ININ Games, we received a code that gave us access to both versions, meaning all players can enjoy it without worrying about compatibility. There are some key changes between the two, but I'll get to those changes soon. Fans of Puzzle Bobble who wish to own a physical copy and are living in the United States can purchase from Newegg or from Amazon. Limited special editions are available exclusively on Games Rocket with a bunch of goodies for the price.
Puzzle Bobble 3D's gameplay can be best described as a unique spin, pun intended, on the classic Puzzle Bobble formula. You aim with the left stick and fire a bubble with the R2 button, almost like a third-person shooter. Clearly, the game is not a shooter, but this is the best way I can explain it. In traditional fashion, matching three or more with the same color will pop all of the bubbles, with any bubbles surrounding them cascading beneath. After every shot, the "Bubble Core" rotates, exposing another side of the bubbles.
As the player reaches deeper into the Core, firing a bubble into the Core or clearing all bubbles surrounding the core will cause it to shatter. In Story mode, this is required to clear a level and there are a hundred levels to play through. As you play you'll earn coins that can be used on power-ups. Also, certain stages may ask for certain requirements including clearing all of the bubbles within a certain time limit. Generally, it's "get to the core before you run out of bubbles," meaning every shot counts.
The game's story is told in a storybook style, which shows Bub and Bob's friends getting kidnapped and having to go across various islands to save them. What starts out as a traditional island takes the duo to forests, deserts, and even volcanos. Other special bubbles like the Star Bubble will instantly clear all bubbles of the same color. The music is composed by the original Bubble Bobble composers, Zuntata, providing remixes to the classic Puzzle Bobble soundtrack.
If there is one complaint I can give the game, it's that there's no local co-op. I can understand the limitations in doing so as the game was meant for a single player experience. The game does have online versus modes where you can play against your friends, but adding a mode to play with a buddy on the couch would have been great. The lack of modes is also a dozy, only offering the 100-level story mode and an "infinite mode" where you play until the void sucks up the bubbles.
Regardless, there is a traditional Puzzle Bobble game on the horizon titled Puzzle Bobble Everybubble! that will release in 2023. Those looking for the classic PB gameplay with a fresh coat of paint would do well to look forward to it. There's even a co-op mode as advertised in the trailer below! Overall, Puzzle Bobble 3D is a cool game to own physically for fans of the series and it's a fun way to pass time for those wishing to have a unique twist on a timeless classic.
Puzzle Bobble 3D Vacation Odyssey is available on the Sony PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. A review code was provided to us courtesy of ININ Games.