Bubble Gum Popper is another match-three puzzle game in the Nintendo eShop, but the developers wanted to give a twist to the formula promising a “cool new matching game that is unlike anything else”. The first time you start the game, you will notice that the game indeed looks different than most games in the genre. The developers did a good job proving it in the first level: you play in a gumball dispenser that constantly fills the screen with random gumballs, and your job is to clear them all.
The gameplay is really simple: when you start a level, the screen will be constantly filled with gumballs while a timer starts and shows the remaining time. If three gumballs of the same color or type are together, you only need to tap them in order to make them disappear. Every time you clear three or more gumballs, a meter on the bottom of the screen will be filled, and once full, you complete the level. If the timer reaches zero first, you lose the level.
Every time you beat a new level, a new type of gumball will be unlocked, adding it to the mix. Later in the game, you will also see newer versions of the gumballs you unlocked, but without replacing the old ones. With a total of 100 levels and over 20 different types of gumballs you will need a couple of hours to beat all the levels.
Of course, having a large variety of gumballs will give you a problem: there won’t be group of three of the same gumballs. Thankfully you can swap a gum with another one in order to advanec, but only if after swapping places with the original gumball creates a group of three of the same.
With that said, Bubble Gum Popper mixes two different styles of the match-three genre. While this makes the game easier at start, in later levels it will give a challenge: you have a time limit and the meter will need more gumballs to be cleared.
Some of the gumballs you will unlock are like power-ups and don’t need to be with others of the same type, you only need to tap them in order to clear them. For example, there is a hourglass that will add seconds to the timer, a transparent gumball that will expand increasing in size until it explodes shaking the closer gumballs and giving you bonuses that will fill the meter.
While the developers try to add a twist to the generic match-three gameplay, the execution is dull and needs some work: the level progression feels slow, the gameplay gets repetitive and boring, and the lack of replay value doesn’t give you a reason to come back.
The presentation has some flaws too: every time you beat the level the screen will freeze for a second, the menu interface is slow to move around levels, and graphically it feels like a game released 20 years ago. Also, the Gamepad doesn’t output any sound at all, but it isn’t a big loss either: the music is nice at first but it gets really repetitive and some of the sound effects are annoying to listen to.
I have to say Bubble Gum Popper offers a good idea in an overused genre, is cheap, and technically works but the execution make the game hard to recommend. Tt gets boring, repetitive and the presentation doesn’t help at all.