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14Aug/093

Xbox Live Indie Games Review - Dr. Popper

Hmm, I wonder what two things they got the inspiration for the name from? ;)

Hmm, I wonder what two things they got the inspiration for the name from? ;)

The first time I played a game like this was on the Sega Dreamcast. The game was called Sega Swirl, and I'm WANTING to say that it was on the Dreamcast Web Browser Disc, but I can't say for sure. And I was hooked instantly. For a guy who hates puzzle games, I sure to play a hell of a lot of them.This game isn't any different from that old Dreamcast game in basic play, although not as graphically pretty or anything. The gameplay is simple, like all puzzle games. You select a group of 2 or more of the bubbles, hit the A button and they disappear. The hard part is getting your high score up there where it's actually worth sharing. The bigger the group, the bigger the overall score. One of those easy as sin to learn that anyone can have fun playing it, but difficult to really master kinda deals. Maybe that's why I hate puzzle games most of the time ... hmm .... and no. Don't bring up Tetris to me. I got my fill of that game when I was younger playing Super Tetris on the PC and, obviously, on the Game Boy. That's when I learned to somehow HATE that game. I even used to have nightmares of Tetris blocks falling at the speed of light and trying to get out from under them. They were even pixelated. It was weird, and I'd rather not relive that game. Anyway, enough of my tangent about Tetris, let's get on to Dr. Popper, because this game is actually worth talking about.

screen1_Web.jpg

Graphically, the game is perfectly serviceable. You have your score at the bottom and various little options and the field of bubbles at the top. The bubbles look like they're having a seizure when you select them, which really makes the groups stand out thankfully. When you pop a REALLY large group of bubbles, they explode in this pretty impressive looking ... well ... explosion. You have different themes to choose from, basically just making the default bubbles into different things. Multicolored dice and jewels and whatnot, but they have no effect on the gameplay whatsoever. Just whatever floats your boat. I tend to stick with the default bubbles because the dice just look weird and ugly to me being multicolored. Maybe if they spun or something when they were highlighted. And the jewels, while they look cool, I just prefer the default theme. But it's really cool that you can pick different stuff in the first place.

screen2_Web.jpg

The sound is standard fare if you've ever heard sounds in a bubble game. The bubbles pop, they slurp for some reason when you get more of them. And the explosion sound is a very satisfying long lasting echoing explosion. The music however gets a tad repetitive after the first couple of times it plays because it doesn't flow. It just stops and starts over again. The first couple of times you hear it it's alright. But after a while of playing I found myself going into the options and turning it down almost all the way so that it was still there, just not so there if that makes any sense.

It has 5 different modes of play. There's the traditional game where you get a set screen of bubbles and you pop as many as you can. Ideally all of them. If you create a blank spot at the bottom of a column, all the colums to the left of that move over to the right. And that's more than likely where gamers who don't know this kind of game will start with. There's Continuous, which is what the name implies. It just keeps adding columns infinitely. Then there's Shifter and Megashifter. Shifter, every time you pop bubbles, it moves all the rest to the left of what you popped to the right, grouping them all as much as it can to the right of the screen. Which really screws me up because I'm not that good at anticipating it when I wanna make combos. :) And Megashifter does the same thing, only after so much of the screen is cleared it sends over a whole bunch more random bubbles you have to deal with. Then there's the mode I play the most. It makes the field of bubbles a hell of a lot bigger, so you have even more of them to deal with, and it seems to add in the Megashifter mode. Which is a hell of a lot of fun.

Now I can't really say anything bad about this game, but there are some things that would prolong the life of it by a lot and make it even better. Multiplayer of ANY kind, whether it be local or over Xbox Live (preferably Xbox Live in my opinion) would've been awesome. But the game is only 1 player. And on the high scores list,  you're competing against set high scores that come with the game, yourself, and whoever else happens to play it on your system. While that's just fine, it'd been better to have an online updated high scores list just to have some sort of goal besides beating out your own high score. And better/more music, or custom soundtrack support would have been a welcome addition, because the same song looping over and over tends to get a little repetitive and annoying.

7.0 - If the game had any kind of multiplayer support, better music and a better high scores list, it would've easily gotten an 8 or 8.5, because this game is great. Addictive as hell, every time I play it time seems to just fly by. Don't let my gripes about what I think should have been in it keep you from buying this. Especially since it's only 80 points. There's no reason not to pick this up, and if you have kids they'll more than likely love it.

Check out what other people think of it at XBLARatings.

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Comments (3) Trackbacks (0)
  1. This is one of the games I queued up and downloaded but then never got around to trying. Guess I need to go check it out.

  2. @Jigsaw hc
    I got it because it looked like that old Dreamcast game I vaguely remembered in the boxshot. And I had, like, 160 MS points left. Now I have 80 and trying to find something to spend that on. So I went through and downloaded every 80 point trial I could find.

  3. Thanks for the review, I wrote this game for my daughter originally, she played a game like it all of the time after school. I especially appreciate the suggestions for improvement since I’m working on a sequel right now and a few of these things are already on the list.


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