These days, it would seem that Taito, the publisher of classic arcade titles such as Rastan, Operation: Wolf, and Arkanoid, is no longer in the business of making new games. Rather, Taito seems to be in the business of making the same game over and over again. Take, for instance, Super Bust-A-Move 2, the latest addition to the long-running Bust-A-Move puzzle series--a series that Taito seems intent on simply running into the ground, over and over again.
There's a chance you might remember Bust-A-Move from its arcade days in the early '90s, where the cute little dinosaurs from the Bubble Bobble games would launch colored bubbles at other like-colored bubbles, popping them in bunches in an effort to clear the game field. Now, in 2003, players can expect pretty much the same thing, save for the cute dinosaur duo of Bub and Bob, who take a backseat to a cast of what appear to be mutant Pokémon rejects, like Catch, an albino Gumby-looking character, or Mr. @, a character who looks suspiciously like Hudson's Bomberman character. The bizarre character design can be downright unsettling at times, but mostly it just seems like it's being weird for weirdness sake.
Aside from the expanded cast of characters, the only real difference between this and the last Super Bust-A-Move is the inclusion of a story mode, and the only real difference between the story mode and the standard puzzle mode is the inclusion of video clips in between levels. While each character theoretically has his or her own story, you'll notice they share many of the same story elements, often recycling the same video clips. The clips themselves are almost embarrassing to watch. While the PS2 could render these sequences in real time with ease, all the cutscenes are prerendered, and bad MPEG compression is constantly visible. The script itself seems like it was translated from Japanese in a bit of a hurry, with lines like "I am scared! I should be brave!" delivered by voice actors who apparently had no previous voice-acting experience. Luckily, the story mode is exceptionally short and easy, and an experienced Bust-A-Move player should be able to breeze through it in a half hour.
And while flashy graphics and catchy sound design aren't necessities for puzzle games, Super Bust-A-Move 2's shoddy presentation definitely detracts from the experience. As in all Bust-A-Move games, a small 2D sprite representing your character will hang out at the bottom of the screen and react to the action in the game. The sprites seen here have a jaggy, low-res look to them, and they have a very limited number of animations. Fans of the series will quickly recognize the soundtrack as a virtual carbon copy of the soundtrack in the last Bust-A-Move game, complete with the trademark baby gurgle at the end of each round.
If you can look past the game's terrible production values, the gameplay in Super Bust-A-Move 2 is just as fun and challenging as the gameplay in the original Bust-A-Move, or really any Bust-A-Move since. But, since there's already another version of Bust-A-Move available for the PlayStation 2 (Super Bust-A-Move), this game has absolutely no significance for anyone but hard-core Bust-A-Move completists.