Bubble Grubble HD for iPhone and iPad
In principle, trapping adorably rotund bugs to feed them to birds is not my idea of a fun game. I like cute things, and I don’t like watching or making them die. But I quickly got over my ethical gripes about killing tiny critters when I started playing Bubble Grubble HD, a new game by Fan Studio for the iPad and iPhone that works with iOS 4.3 and later.
At first, it’s easy to draw a comparison between this family-friendly game and Angry Birds. They’re both physics-based puzzle games with birds taking a starring role—but Bubble Grubble is definitely no imitator. The main point of the game is to capture bugs in bubbles, then feed the bugs to your chicks so they can fly away. When all the baby birds leave the nest, you move on to the next level.
To capture the species-ambiguous bugs and demolish obstacles that stand in your way, there are three weapon types: bubbles, stones, and bombs. Use the stones to shoot and destroy wood, glass, or diamonds, and use the bombs to demolish concrete, which will earn you points and help clear the way. Save the bubbles for capturing bugs—they won’t be good for much else. To switch your weapon of choice, tap the appropriate icon at the bottom right of the screen. Aim, and shoot by tapping.
Once you’ve captured a bug, tilt your device to bring it directly into a baby bird’s mouth. The bug/bubble will “pop” and the bird will fly away, just as long as you don’t let the bubble pop before it reaches the bird. It’s like balancing on a tightrope. With one wrong tilt, your bubble might pop when you don’t want it to. They won’t burst on their own, but beware of things like crows and bees with sharp stingers. When you accidentally run into one of them, your bubble will burst and the bug will die before you can feed any of the birds. If this happens to you three times, you have to restart the level.
While there’s a bug trapped in a bubble, you can’t shoot anything else. So, for instance, you won’t be able to multitask and destroy obstructions while you’re feeding the birds. This makes the game more challenging, and it forces you to plan ahead. At one point while playing the game, I captured a bug, but hadn’t cleared away all of the wood panels and gems. The bubble was stuck floating around, and I had to purposefully pop the bubble and lose a life in order to shoot the objects in my way so I could feed the chicks.
With some games, it doesn’t matter whether you’re playing on an iPhone or iPad, but Bubble Grubble is much easier to maneuver on an iPhone. Half the game involves tilting your device, which is more physically laborious with the iPad. It’s not impossible to play on an iPad—and, in my experience, definitely still fun—but the smaller iPhone is easier to move. However, the scenes are crisp and clear on both devices, and I didn’t experience any issues with lagging graphics or response delays.
The only minor thing that annoyed me was when I tried to shoot downward, and accidentally changed my weapon type instead. The takeaway? When you’re aiming almost directly down, don’t tap too close to the ground. It’s an adjustment that the player has to make, but can be hard to remember when the timer’s ticking down.
You can download the app for free and get ten levels, or pay $2 and receive over 80 levels of game play. I’d recommend spending the two bucks. For each level, you’re given a certain number of stars based on your performance. So even if you finish all of the levels easily, your competitive side will probably be enticed to play the entire game again. Most times, I barely eked by and received no stars. Getting three stars for each level is definitely something to work up to, and it’s an endeavor that’ll provide you with way more playtime.
Overall, Bubble Grubble is a fun game for a wide range of people. It won’t scare away the casual gamer, but it also won’t bore a more seasoned pro. The concept is simple but quirky, the graphics are crisp, and the combination of tilting and tapping keeps things interesting.
[Brie Hiramine is a Macworld editorial intern. Follow her on Twitter.]