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Bust-A-Move '99

Rated E for Everyone


Nintendo 64 (N64)




Distinctive Developments


March 1999

ROM Size:

64 megabits


One to Four Simultaneous




Controller Pak (30 pages)


Rumble Pak



> Final Rating: 4.2 out of 5.0


Tetris may be the world's most widely played puzzle game, but the Bust-A-Move series has gone from underground cult hit to mainstream popularity. It has appeared on many platforms since its arcade inception in 1993, including the Super NES, Game Boy, PC, PlayStation, and Saturn. Acclaim brought a straight port of Bust-A-Move 2: Arcade Edition to puzzle-starved N64 fans in 1998, and it has followed-up with a sequel, Bust-A-Move '99, that gives Bust-A-Move fans more of everything.


If you're not familiar with the concept of Bust-A-Move, be prepared to become addicted. Basically, there is a group of randomly colored bubbles at the top of the screen on each stage. This group slowly moves closer and closer to the bottom of the screen. Your job is to burst every last bubble. To get rid of those bubbles, you must make three or more bubbles of the same color touch so they can burst and disappear. Using a bubble machine with 180 degrees of aiming power, you shoot one bubble at a time at other like-colored bubbles. Bubbles even can be shot off sidewalls in order to bounce to difficult angles. Once a bubble goes underneath the "deadline" at the bottom of the screen, your game is over. Combos exist in the game, too. If there are extra bubbles attached to the underneath of a cluster you shoot, then the extra ones will fall off, resulting in "garbage" being sent to your opponent in the Vs. modes and bonus points in the one-player modes.


Bust-A-Move '99 is a mixture of Bust-A-Move 2 and Bust-A-Move 3 (which did not appear on N64), with extra modes and features thrown in for good measure. For instance, in addition to the rainbow spectrum of colored bubbles, special bubbles have been included, too. You'll come in contact with the star bubble, which eliminates all bubbles of the same color; the rainbow bubble, which adopts the color of an eliminated bubble; the block bubble, which can't be eliminated by itself and only can drop with a cluster; and the metal bubble, which will burst bubbles until it touches a wall or block bubble.

Gameplay & Controls

In the Vs. modes, you get to pick from eight different characters. Each character has its own combination of "bubble attacks" that will be sent as garbage. If you recall, garbage is sent by clearing "linchpin" bubbles—that is, extra bubbles suspended from bubble clusters. One character might send the aforementioned special bubbles as an attack. Another character might use random combinations of colored bubbles. Yet another character might get "tougher" (mostly applies to the computer) when the action heats up. Wisely, an option to let multiple players select the same character is available. This ensures that no one has an unnecessary advantage.


Options-wise, Bust-A-Move '99 contains settings to change difficulty level, match point, handicap, and sound. The controller configuration can't be changed, but you won't need to switch anything, anyway. First of all, you have the option to use either the Control Pad or the Control Stick. The analog Control Stick is more precise but also more touchy. You also have the ability to use the L/Z and R buttons to get that pinpoint accuracy when you can't seem to aim exactly where you want. Then you just press the A button to launch a bubble. That's it.


Bust-A-Move '99 contains the following gameplay modes: Arcade, Multiplayer, Challenge, Win Contest, Collection, and Edit.


The Arcade mode is an arcade conversion of Bust-A-Move '99 for one or two players. You can choose from Puzzle, Player vs. Computer, and Player vs. Player. Puzzle is a one-player quest with rearranged rounds based on Bust-A-Move 2. Player vs. Computer and Player vs. Player are one-on-one battles where the first player to clear the number of rounds designated by the match point option is the winner. Different game levels set the variety and difficulty of the puzzles.


Multiplayer enables three and four players to play Bust-A-Move simultaneously for the first time. You can pit yourself against any combination of human and CPU opponents. For whatever reason, though, the CPU opponents don't seem as intelligent in this mode as in other modes. A big problem exists with this mode, too: The individual playing fields are very, very small. In fact, Multiplayer is nearly unplayable because of this. Each playfield uses only about half the vertical space available. Unnecessarily large score information is above each playfield and a too-large character icon is underneath. Why?


Looking at the other modes in Bust-A-Move '99, the Challenge mode offers specific challenges to meet. Maybe your goal is to just clear the rounds, or maybe you're supposed to clear them as fast as you can. After completing the challenge, you'll be evaluated with a grade, which determines if you can move on. The Win Contest mode is similar to Player vs. Computer, except the goal is to win as many games as possible. The Collection mode is a collection of over 1,000 puzzles designed by players around the world. In addition to the Collection mode, there's an Edit mode where you can save up to 25 of your own puzzles.

Graphics & Sound

Understandably, the graphics and sound in Bust-A-Move '99 are secondary to the gameplay. But one would think they would be more enhanced since this is more than a mere port.


The graphics are slightly improved over Bust-A-Move 2: Arcade Edition. More animation exists for the characters, which makes things entertaining. Scenery backgrounds from around the world exist behind each one- or two-player playing field. They're still low-res, though. Overall, the graphics don't look like they've improved or changed in six years.


Sound is disappointing, too. Considering that much memory couldn't have gone to the graphics, one would think the sound would be awesome. It's not. The sound effects are good, but they can get somewhat grating. Furthermore, the music is annoying, repetitive, and uninspired. One only needs to look to Tetrisphere, Wetrix, and The New Tetris to hear the enormous difference.


Bust-A-Move '99 is the most complete version of the series around, although it doesn't include any newer enhancements from Bust-A-Move 4 (not on N64), which may be a good thing depending on your gameplay preference. The graphics and sound are still stuck in 1993, but the gameplay always will be fun and addicting no matter the year. The scrunched four-player option is a travesty, but it's possible to play with a large enough TV.


Die-hard Bust-A-Move fans might want to purchase this game for the Multiplayer, Collection, and Edit modes, but they should rent it first. Those unfamiliar with the game will be surprised to find that it's highly enjoyable and second only to Tetris in the world of puzzle games.
















Not available.


Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: March 27, 2000

Appendix Added: N/A




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