The Bust-A-Move series, whose roots go all the way back to the days of the Neo Geo, has structured itself similarly to popular sports game franchises. Every year, a new version comes out with a slightly updated presentation and a handful of new features. Unfortunately, Taito has allowed the series to stagnate in recent years, to the point that the latest Bust-A-Move game, titled simply Super Bust-A-Move, brings virtually nothing new to the franchise - in fact, a great deal of features found in last year's Bust-A-Move 4 are curiously missing. These factors, combined with a puzzle system that is really showing its age, make Super Bust-A-Move a marginally proficient puzzle game at best.
If you've played any previous Bust-A-Move games, you've played Super Bust-A-Move. You're presented with a rectangular playing field that is filled with different-colored bubbles. You launch randomly colored balls from the bottom of the field in an attempt to attach them to bubbles of the same color. Once three bubbles of the same color are touching, they pop, and you repeat this process until the field is clear of all bubbles. While Bust-A-Move 3 and 4 both brought a few new gimmicks to this formula, such as conveyor belt walls and special bubbles, Super Bust-A-Move is simply more of the same. The controls are still exactly the same, and it's rather mind-boggling that no analog support has been built into this series yet, as it would surely be a natural fit. While previous versions of Bust-A-Move featured an overload of gameplay modes to keep puzzle junkies happy, this game is incredibly stripped down. Featuring three modes of play - single-player, against the computer, and two-player versus - Super Bust-A-Move doesn't even come close to the standard set by last year's model.
To its credit, the Bust-A-Move trademark graphical stylings are in full effect, with no shortage of bright, happy characters drawn in an anime-inspired fashion. The series has never looked better, with extraordinarily sharp 2D graphics and a healthy amount of visual splendor. The soundtrack and sound effects are almost identical to those found in the original Neo-Geo version and every version thereafter.
While Super Bust-A-Move brings the Bust-A-Move series to the PS2, it's far from being the best version of the game. The graphics may be unparalleled in the series, but fans of the series will be greatly disappointed by the lack of innovation and features. Those new to the series are better off with the Dreamcast or N64 versions.