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Puzzle Bobble 3D: Vacation Odyssey - Review - PS5

Puzzle Bobble (or Bust-A-Move for us cultured International fans) has always been one of the better retro, matching puzzle games available throughout the years. Launching in 1994 as a spin off of the arcade classic Bubble Bobble, it's gone on to arguably be more well known and loved than the game it was originally based on. Over the years it has seen multiple releases over a variety of consoles and now it has come to the Playstation 4 and 5! This release is a port of the 2021 VR game (on Oculus), so lets see if the conversion holds up! Obviously the thing that will stand out here straight away is the fact that this game is VR compatible. For those of you with a PS4 and PSVR you can jump in with the head set or you can play the game on standard TV's. It's really nice to see a game accommodate for those who may not have VR headsets but are invested in the franchise. Also this is the first game in the series that has made the jump to 3D! With all prior games being playing the 2D perspective with their charming pixel graphics!

The gameplay loop in this release remains relatively the same as previous titles in the series, with a few notable changes. The core mechanic of firing your bubbles at same-coloured bubbles to pop them and make any of the bubbles below them fall stays the same. But with the switch to 3D it means you are now aiming at clumps of bubbles that are arranged around cores that you will need to break.

You still need to match three colours together to pop them, but now when you shoot at the floating clump structures in front of you, you will cause them to rotate/spin determined on the direction you fire at them. It adds a nice new spin (no pun intended) to the classic formula and was clearly introduced to help with the use of a VR headset, but even when playing without a headset its a neat addition. You now have to carefully think out where you want to hit because every move makes changes to what you could do next. This may not be to everyones liking as it does mean that you can't plan multiple moves ahead like you could in the previous games.

The game feels a lot more relaxed that classic Bust-A-Move games as you're only bound by the amount of bubbles you can fire or a time limit and not by and endless barrage of new bubbles pushing you slowly towards a failure. The game features over 100 puzzles to play through so there's a lot of content on offer here. You will also be able to unlock a selection of power-ups as you progress which can also be used to your advantage! The graphics here are also nice, they are bright and colourful and despite the move to 3D they still retain much of the charm of the 2D classics. There are also a variety of biomes to play through all themed around vacationing! My only gripe is during story mode is that the story is pushed along with still images every handful of levels instead of some kind of cutscene/animation but that's a minor issue as it doesn't affect the overall gameplay.

Whilst the game has a lot of positives to it there are a few negatives to talk about. The controls aren't great - the aiming feels pretty twitchy and can sometimes cause you to miss by what feels like no fault of your own. You can tell the game has been made with VR in mind and that comes across in the way the controls feel. If you have ever played a more precision based game on a VR headset you will know exactly what I mean!

Another negative is while you do get a FREE upgrade to the PS5 version of the game when you buy it on PS4 (which is always welcome when games on Playstation are getting £10 upgrades nowadays) - there is no cross progression between these versions. You can jump between the PS4 and the PS4 VR versions as if its the same game, but if you jump onto the PS5 version (which has the best visuals and is well worth playing for that alone) you will need to start from scratch as if you haven't already played the game. This means PS5 owners need to decided, do they want the VR side OR do they want the shiny side. It just feels like a choice players shouldn't have to make with cross-progression being available on other games.

Overall Puzzle Bobble 3D: Vacation Odyssey is a decent update on a classic formula. It will feel fresh to veteran players but not too different that it isn't appealing to them. The core puzzle mechanic is still enjoyable and challenging and the ability to play in VR and also on standard TV's is also a great addition - it's just a shame the controls let the side down as otherwise this would have been a great return for the franchise and it's Arcade roots!



Puzzle Bobble 3D: Vacation Odyssey is available on the Playstation store and is playable on both PS4 and PS5 consoles. The game is priced at £15.99 and can be purchased HERE.

A copy of the game was provided for this review. A huge thanks for that.

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