LAS VEGAS--With the upcoming release of Bust-A-Move Bash for the Nintendo Wii, four-player multiplayer may become passé. The game will support up to eight players on the same console--a fact that could make the already hectic nature of Bust-A-Move that much more intense. We had a chance to play the game during a demo at the Majesco booth here at CES 2007 and, frankly, it scared us a bit.
If you've never played Bust-A-Move before, the idea is simple. You shoot brightly colored jewels from the bottom of the screen to a slowly cascading wave of jewels. By lining up three jewels of the same color in a row, you eliminate them. The more jewels you collect and the more chains you line up, the better your score. Bust-A-Move started out as a simple single- and two-player experience; with Bash, the tension is ratcheted up considerably because it supports a maximum of eight players.
We competed with only three other players in our session with Bash, but even with four players, it's easy for the game to get out of hand quickly. To aim, you simply move the Wii Remote left or right and fire with a press of the B button. Jewels are fired from every direction and explode on the cascading top of the screen at a seemingly constant pace. It's tough to keep pace with the action on the screen, but after a few moments of adjustment, you learn to focus on your area of the screen alone. Periodic power-ups will appear, such as bowling balls that will destroy any jewels in its path and a "slide" power-up that will cause the jewel you shoot to automatically find the closest jewel of its type. The winner at the end of the timed round is the one who collects the most jewels; should there be a tie, the player with the most chains is declared the winner.
In addition to the multiplayer support, Bash will include a classic puzzle mode that features five worlds and 250 puzzles to play through, as well as an additional five worlds (and 250 more puzzles) to unlock as you go. Endless mode will let you play the game without the restrictions of a timer, and shooting mode will test your reflexes by challenging you to shoot jewels from every direction. The trick in this mode will be changing your reticle to match the color of the jewel you are trying to shoot.
The Bust-A-Move series has long been known as a favorite among casual gamers. Bash seems to up the ante on the Wii with more of the same Bust-A-Move gameplay fans have come to expect and with the added challenge of more players to compete against. Expect a full review of the game when it's released in the second quarter of 2007.