Bust-a-move 2 – aka Puzzle Bobble 2 – is loosely related to the fan favourite Bubble Bobble and a follow-up to previous foamy baffler Bust-a-Move, or Puzzle Bobble. The tiny and flawlessly cute Bub & Bob continue their divine quest to match coloured balls with similarly coloured balls and removing said group from the screen. The game sounds simple because it is and that’s the long and the short of it. Although a humble idea to produce, the comprehensible formulae and solid execution of the Puzzle Bobble/ Bust-a-Move franchise has spawned a multitude of imitators and re-hashes.

Bust-a-move 2 was released into the arcades in 1995 and this is the essential version. Played with an arcade stick, the response and accuracy is spot on; these elements made it successful as an arcade title and spawned several sequels and numerous ports to home gaming systems. The following year Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64 and PC conversions followed, all with differing degrees of quality. The Saturn’s brilliant ability to produce 2D graphics along with its warm colour palette made it the best conversion, which was almost indistinguishable from the Neo-Geo benchmarker. So this was the version we chose to play for our Retrobates episode.

Before firing up the Saturn with Matty B, I had memories of a characteristically kawaii Japanese title, with catchy music and cute creatures all blended with solid play mechanics and smart level designs. Nothing had changed and this is exactly what we got. As with many of the most successful ideas, its brilliance is in its simplicity. It’s testament to a good concept when neither of us have played Bust-a-Move since its initial arcade release but both of us could jump straight it and knew exactly what we were doing. Even a player who has never heard of the title – let alone played it – would need minimal introduction to get to a level playing field with the average gamer.

Both the single player and the two-player tournament modes stand up to the test of time and although this level of content would not be acceptable as a modern release (What about XBLA? – Ed.), for a game coming up to 17 years old Bust-a-Move is well worth a look. The differences between the original and the sequel are not huge, although for two players there is much more variance to be had in the Saturn re-release Bust-A-Move 2X, which adds extra alternate maps and a level editor.

We had a great time making this video as the game is perfect for a laid-back evening with a mate and a couple of beers and it very much gets a recommendation from us. If you don’t believe us, have a go on the demo here: http://www.classicdosgames.com/online/bm2demo.html