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External Review: Pop+Solo

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Introduction

Can popping bubbles be fun? That is what Australian developer Nnooo had to ask themselves when creating Pop. Pop has appeared on a wide range of devices over the past few years. The DSiWare version is the most resent, appearing as Pop + Solo does it incise the user to stick around or does it make the user pop out straight away?

Gameplay

It is easy to imagine Pop + Solos gameplay, especially when comparing the title to the ability pop bubble wrap in many ways. While the feeling of bubbles appearing on the surface of water and just disappearing might be the inspiration it certainly isn’t’ the end result.

Pop + Solo takes the player under the sea to an amazing world filled with bubbles. The goal is simple pop bubbles and by chaining the bubbles you popped together you score points. However it isn’t as cut and dry as that, with the game offering a wide range of power ups and power downs to make the environment just a little bit more tricky.

The title features a wide range of modes for the player to test their skills in. Training, Normal, Adventure, Advanced, Challenge, Timed, Bonus and Chill. It is a huge list, but each one offers a slight variation to the gameplay. For example Adventure puts the player through all the tricks of the trade, with different power ups and an extensive amount of bubble waves. Normal Mode gives the player an endless mode with the one thing in mind- scores.

However this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and there is even a chill mode for the player. If you just want to relax, or pop a few bubbles before dinner.

Controls

The game is a stylus based game, which revolves around the player just tapping what the user wants. Bubbles pop with a simple tap, and there really isn’t much else to it. Other items might float by depending on the users mode, for example fish or sea mines- just tap them as well.

Graphics

The graphics might be a little bit diminished from what the WiiWare version offers. However the DSiWare one does pack a punch to it. With the bubbles looking almost spot on to the higher end versions. As well as backgrounds and other animations still retaining a charm which can’t be beaten.

Sound

The music is created by Beat Therapy. An Australian Artist who has created ambient music for a wide range of video games. With the game featuring an ambient soundtrack, it is no wonder that it just feels like it belongs within the title. The relaxing atmosphere which the music generates becomes one with the game. An great soundtrack which just completes the work.

Dual screen

The dual screen use is pretty bland, as in it isn’t a feature which really sells the game. The top screen is just used as an extension of the bottom. However users cannot control anything which is on the top screen. With it most of the time also showing information depending on the mode the game is set on.

Special features

Pop + Solo was developed for the DSi, however in this case it doesn’t entice the player with many special features. The game doesn’t allow the player to take pictures, or use any of the features which the DSi brought with it over the original DS. While the original version of the game did appear on WiiWare and these features are no Wii features, it would of been nice to see extra features appear for the DSi version.

The title contains a feature called badges, which is sort of an achievements list players can use to strive to reach certain goals. There is a good amount of badges for a wide range of modes and miscellaneous achievements.

Final comments

As the developers original title, the updated Pop appearing on the DSi is an amazing title to complement what has already been achieved by the original. Pop is great for gamers to relax to while playing it, and no doubt with the eShop launching on the 3DS- the game will get a few extra sales.

Pro: A wide range of modes making Pop + Solo the one of best if not the best in the “series”.
Con: Bubble popping can get a bit repetitive at times. Graphics can be a little choppy.
Final score: 7.5

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