Pop Review

Pop requires more strategy than twisting a roll of bubble wrap, but not by much.

Pop is the dark avenue through which to unleash your completely justified hatred of bubbles. As hundreds of spherical globules float across the screen, it's your job to wield your Wii Remote like a pointy stick and, using the A or B button, pop those fragile suckers good. It's a basic concept, and you'll certainly be able to get a decent score by blowing up everything at random, but there is actually a method to the bubble-popping madness. Pop lacks the depth to suck you in like better puzzle games do, but the tranquility of flowing bubbles combined with the savagery of nonstop popping gives it an unexpected charm. For a little while.

The only enemy in this serene world is the clock counting down the seconds to your doom. The depth comes from trying to balance your need for a higher score with the clock's need to end your fun prematurely. Stringing together a run of same-shaped bubbles will earn you a combo bonus, making your score soar while the clock continually winds down. The only way to add time to that unrelenting beast is to destroy bubbles with reckless abandon. Once you learn to deftly shift your focus between chaining combos for a high score and adding precious seconds to the clock, you'll work your way quickly up the leaderboard.

That bubble looks like a rhombus.
That bubble looks like a rhombus.

That balance of score-striving and time conservation is the only real trick to mastering Pop. Though levels flow in different directions and at varying speeds, you'll never have to adjust your strategy. As long as you don't miss the bubbles completely while attempting to pop one, you'll be able to continue playing long after the fun has dissipated. High scores are more a matter of hardheaded determination than skill. Even with a few power-up bubbles thrown in for diversity, the repetitive action makes Pop tedious once you get the hang of the balancing act.

The multiplayer mode follows a similar path, but it adds a dose of pure viciousness. The benign power-ups from the single-player campaign have learned a few new tricks that will make stricken players scream with fury. Most upsetting is the lightning bolt, which makes your cursor completely worthless. There is something unsettling about not being able to pop bubbles when they flow mockingly past you. Another cruel charm will blanket the battlefield in black, except for a tiny area immediately surrounding the person who activated this power. Crafty players will bob and weave at random, ensuring no one else is able to steal their precious light source. This mode isn't very deep. And because the focus is more on tormenting your friends than reaching for a high score, matches will end quickly, with no real satisfaction coming from conquering your foes. It's still more fun than popping bubbles should ever be, but don't expect the joy to last.

Pop may be a simple game, but it has a frantic single-player mode and a cheerfully chaotic multiplayer mess. Unfortunately, the mechanics are ultimately too limited to keep you entertained for long. The single-player mode is simply a high-score race with different goals to reach depending on the difficulty level. Without a variety of modes to tool around in, you will quickly tire of the monotonous string of bubbles that must be popped. The multiplayer serves as a wild diversion rather than a consistently engaging competition because there aren't any techniques that need mastering. Though Pop can be fun in short bursts, it isn't worth 700 Wii points ($7). Your cat will love it, though.

The Good
Strangely engrossing multiplayer mode
The Bad
Too easy to master
No strategy in the multiplayer mode
No variety in single-player mode
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Pop More Info

  • First Released May 12, 2008
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • Wii
    Pop is one of the first games to come out on the Wii via WiiWare.
    Average Rating84 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Published by:
    Nnooo, Electronic Arts
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    No Descriptors