Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone






The long running puzzle series continues on the PS2 with the release of Super Bust-A-Move 2 from UbiSoft. Gamers looking for innovation will find it in the new edit feature that allows you to create and play your own puzzles. This is enhanced with over-the-top surrealistic graphics and animation, but the gameplay remains faithful to the series. There's also some cool new multiplayer games plus a new story mode. You'll be inundated with gaming goodness since dozens of clever levels are included. Fortunately, the winning formula from previous games is intact. Join us as we discover that Super Bust-A-Move 2 offers hours of addictive, yet non-taxing fun and the reasons why this simple game remains so appealing.

Puzzle games may not be the most glamorous genre out there right now, but most gamers shouldn't be fazed, because you don't always want or need the most advanced 3D engine to have fun. Sometimes, the simple things in life are the most enjoyable. Take Super Bust-A-Move 2, a title that does exactly what you'd expect but offers some cool new gameplay modes that enhance the interactivity of the experience. The basic premise of the game hasn't changed much from earlier installments. Basically, you shoot balls using a cannon at the bottom of the screen and try to create chains of colored balls that explode. When shot, the colored balls bounce around the screen, but the earlier levels light up a path that shows you where the balls will end up when shot. It's good if you're not really familiar with the mechanics. There's more to it than that, since there are also exploding bombs that take out all the same colors on that level, which leads to a huge bonus. These chain reactions are difficult to perform, but give you a massive point bonus when successfully completed. On each screen, there's a variety of special balls that change color when hit, and wild-cards that can be used to stock up some impressive chains. This sounds incredibly difficult but it's fairly straightforward in practice and most players should get the hang of it. The real key to SBAM 2's appeal is the variety and creativity that goes into making challenging and interesting puzzles. Like the best games in the genre, SBAM 2 has some interesting twists that make it more fun. As you progress through the levels, you'll find many surprises in store, with increasingly elaborate and difficult boards to master which will leave you occupied or tearing your hair out depending on your skill.

While it's nice to see that the basic gameplay remains unchanged, there are some cool enhancements that differentiate this installment from previous editions. The biggest surprise is that Super Bust-A-Move 2 has a cast of 8 characters. These wacky animated figures appear at the bottom of the screen to turn the cannon, which adds a cool effect to the game. These surreal anime characters are awesomely designed with exaggerated features and give SBAM 2 a decidedly funky personality all its own. What's cool is that each of these characters can be played in a cool story mode, where the puzzles are more difficult. This is pretty cool and you can unlock hidden characters in this mode as well, though it's not easy to get through all the levels. The story mode is divided into several normal puzzles followed by a boss confrontation, which makes for an extremely challenging mode. The game's replay value is hidden in the many options it offers players. Obviously, some of these are standard. As you'd expect, there's a good single player mode which can be quite addictive and borders on entrancing once you get into the flow. Other modes allow you to battle with either the computer or a friend in a head-to-head split-screen mode. This is cool since you can 'attack' foes when you complete a line by throwing obstacles on their side of the screen.

Super Bust a Move 2's biggest change is the welcome addition of a new edit mode. This allows you to create a new screen from scratch using different bubble types and other elements and play it either with yourself or a friend. You can test these creations out before you show someone else, make adjustments and change anything about them before you save them to the memory card. The control interface makes editing the puzzles and making the necessary tweaks a snap. Like the controls, this is straightforward and most players should have little trouble navigating the menus. This interactivity gives SBAM2 a distinct feel from other games in the genre and definitely adds to the depth and replay value of the title. Additional options allow you to adjust difficulty, number of match points in multiplayer mode and other variables.

Unlike previous installments in the series, this one seems to be much more active with dozens of cool animations and effects that make it the best looking one to date. Gamers who haven't played the series in some time will love the brightly colored graphics and wild character design gives the game a surreal sensibility that heightens the experience. The screen is an explosion of colors and gives it a distinctly off-kilter flavor. As you might expect, Super Bust-A-Move 2 also features frenetic music and sound effects that also serve to make time go by quickly. While the 2D puzzle genre might seem passť to the jaded, and it may not look that appealing in screenshots, when you see the game in action, the overall effect is more impressive than your initial reaction might indicate. Visually, it's kind of like a Kindergartener's dream with waves of colors and weird elements giving it a surreal feeling without overwhelming the gameplay. The controls are similar to previous titles, and since most of the progression in the game design has been mostly incremental, most players should have no trouble jumping right in.

If you've played any of the previous installments in the series, you're probably going to be surprised by the hyper-kinetic presentation of the PS2 edition. While it doesn't move the series forward substantially, it's a solid title with loads of puzzles and is high in replay value. With it's wild character designs and manic animation, it seems a lot busier than you'd expect. It's a super-cute title, and while this may put-off some older gamers, don't be fooled. Its got the same basic play mechanics and matches up well to the older games in the series. In fact, the level of difficulty seem to have been taken up a few notches as well, so even veteran gamers will find it surprisingly challenging and enjoyable. It's not some easy kiddie title, so don't let the cartoonish appearance of the game fool you. Even though the PS2 hasn't seen a lot of puzzle games this is a good one, between the editing and new story modes, this has a surprising amount of depth. Super Bust-A-Move 2 might be accused of offering just another serving of more of the same, but it's solidly entertaining and remains quite fun.

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