Monday, June 11, 2007
Heaven only knows how many cheap Bubble Bobble knock-offs there are, but here's one that just different enough to be good. It's called Pastel Muses, and was released for Sega Saturn in Japan. The gimmick is pretty simple enough; it turns Bubble Bobble on its side and requires you to lob colored balls across the field.
I probably wouldn't be impressed if it weren't for the fact that you have to gauge trajectory and power when making your shots. It's evidence that the designers actually put some thought into the formula, instead of replacing one set of cartoon characters for another. You are helped out with that familiar dotted line on the first round, but after that, you're on your own.
I haven't spend enough time with the game to check out all the game modes, aside from the main story mode. Each level contains several stages, followed by a boss battle. The trick is that you aren't competing in seperate vaults, like every other puzzler. No, this time the boss character actually stands in between you and the jewels in the pit. You need to know how to fire above him; it he gets hit he'll march forward. Nice.
Pastel Muses offers a lot of bright, chirpy 2D graphics, the kind you expect to see on a Saturn. Nothing exceptional, but nice, and nobody ever expects much from a puzzle game, anyway. There seems to be a lot of stages and characters to discover, and there's a fair bit of challenge. I'm frankly surprised that nobody has bothered with the sideways approach yet. Why is every Tetris puzzler set in the same vertical pit? Would it kill them to do something different for a change?
So Pastel Muses is a pretty fun game. Would have been nice to see it released in the States, but that's another tired refrain that gets used too much. Give it a try sometime and see what it does for you.
UPDATE: Wouldn't you know it, there's a gameplay clip on YouTube. Enjoy!