Bopple offers addicting musical experience with a few dropped marbles

Posted: July 23, 2009 in Arcade, Puzzle

The iPhone/iPod Touch platform is an ideal one for music as we all know, and of course for games that use music. But honestly, I’ve never really been attracted to those “tap tap” to the music games. If you’re like me or even if you’re not, Bopple just might be your kind of game that combines the attentiveness of a match-3 and the quick thinking of a Tetris with the musical beats of a Tap Tap Revenge. Aside from the fact that the game only has 7 levels right now, the challenge will keep you engaged, but the music will keep you addicted and wanting more.

Accelerometer controlled, Bopple can be played in any position because the marbles move around just like real marbles inside a box. With auto-flip functionality, you can even shake the device to scramble them and re-orient your device accordingly. In addition, the marble physics seem spot on and realistic with some nice sound effects as marbles hit each other (think Skittles bouncing off each other). The game has three levels of difficulty: easy, normal and hard. Easy and normal difficulty settings are somewhat difficult especially in the later levels, but hard can be especially challenging because of the rapidity of marble drops and the life of a marble…you’ll know what I mean shortly.

The objective of the game is to connect marbles of the same color. Unlike a typical match-3, once you tap the screen, marbles that are connected to other marbles of the same color will disappear one by one each playing a specific note which combine together to create a tune. Bopple really incorporates this function into the entire game because during gameplay, the tune these marbles create often sync nicely with the background soundtracks. Depending on the level, the marbles play a specific instrument ranging from piano and sax to chimes and electric guitar. This is one of those games when playing your own music really defeats the purpose of Bopple.

The larger the combinations, the higher the points will be. Of course, there is a catch to all this…the life of a marble. As the game progresses and more marbles fall from random spots in the wall, older marbles lose their color. Once they’ve lost their color and their tune for that matter, they cannot be removed until the end of the level. Instead they’re lifeless, tuneless obstacles that clog up the screen. So connecting marbles must be done quickly because once the marbles reach the top, the game is over. The more I played this, the more it just became more of a relaxing experience.

The music in Bopple and how notes are incorporated into the individual marbles really sets it apart. The soundtracks vary from jazz to blues, and the polish of the game is very evident from the menu screens, which are presented as marbles and move the same way.

Where Bopple falls short right now is in the limited number of levels. The lack of online scoreboards is a little disappointing, and the game also doesn’t have auto-save functionality. Even so, I’m entertained by Bopple, and at this point, it just needs a little more to fill it out. Seriously, the pieces are more or less there and deliver some terrific gameplay.

So I’m a bit torn here because while Bopple is a neat and innovative game, it needs additional levels and a few tweaks. I sincerely think most who give this game a try will enjoy it, and really the things that keep me from giving Bopple five stars are the issues I noted above. The gameplay itself is solid, and if the devs build this game out, it will evolve from a fun time waster to a great game.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (I recommend this because of the solid gameplay and engaging musical gaming experience; but note my caveats regarding game content and the need for a few tweaks/additions to build it out)

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