Puzzle Bobble VR – Review

It’s not often you find arcade games in a virtual reality setting, and “Puzzle Bobble VR” is no exception. It’s a simple game, but it’s a blast to play, and a unique way to take in VR. It’s also the kind of game that’s both hard to explain and easy to play, which is why I plan on writing a review for you.

Like many other games on the Play Store,  this cornucopia of a game comes in a “VR” version. Puzzler Bobble is an old-school game, released in 1987, and a mainstay of arcades. In this latest iteration, you play the title role of Puzzle Bobble’s hero, Bobble, an adorable little blue creature that is constantly popping and bobbling in a way that is sure to bring smiles to the faces of all his fans.

“Puzzle Bobble VR” is a new title from Konami that will test your puzzle-solving mettle like it has never been tested before. It’s a game that stylizes the classic “Puzzle Bobble” title, which was released back when the NES was in the throes of its most important and beloved era. In “Puzzle Bobble VR”, you’ll be tilting and rotating your head around to aim a cannon at matching colored bobbles. Once the color matches, the bobble must be destroyed. More bobbles are added on the screen at faster speeds than what you can destroy, so you must keep your wits about you to dodge shots and dodge incoming projectiles.

Puzzle Bobble (1994), commonly known as Bust-a-Move in the West, was the first game to introduce the tile-matching puzzle genre, influencing generations of mobile games such as Candy Crush Saga and spawning innumerable clones over the years. Puzzle Bobble VR: Vacation Odyssey is a brave attempt at transferring the 2D game’s time-tested components into a 3D setting for the first time. The many and sometimes basic stages in Puzzle Bobble VR may not immediately pique your interest, but there’s something about this modest bubble-popping version that makes it seem like it might truly take off in the future.



Following in the footsteps of Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs (2019), Puzzle Bobble VR puts a virtual twist on its arcade tile-matching forebear by putting a bubble cannon in your hands and transforming the tidy rows of bubbles into globular 3D masses.

The goal is to shoot color-matching ammunition at all the bubbles in each stage, ultimately shattering the puzzle’s center. Most levels have either a time restriction or a maximum bubble limit to consider. Score as many points as possible to collect money, which you can spend to unlock unique powers such as explosives, a paint swatch that allows you to alter the color of your ammunition, and a system that allows you to physically spin the puzzles as you want. That final point is crucial since all of the puzzles seem to have their own minds, and the only way to modify them in 3D space is to fire a bubble at them and turn them in the air on their core, which also happens to be their primary axis.

You just need a single star to advance to the next level, much as in Angry Birds, but in Puzzle Bobble VR, it pays to be nice and pick up additional coins everywhere you can to ensure a constant supply of power-ups. You’ll need them to get through some of the more difficult riddles that pop up every now and then.

All of this seems to be a wonderful formula for casual enjoyment on paper. And it does, at times, deliver on this promise. However, getting to that ideal mix of smart bubble-popping seems like labor as you work your way through the overwhelming amount of simple problems. About a third of the way through the narrative mode, I took almost an hour to come to a problem that really needed a game strategy beyond basic color matching. It seems like you have to earn your pleasure slowly and carefully for that hour of gaming. As additional bubble modifier pieces come, the game begins to flow more smoothly. If you want a challenge right immediately, you’ll have to put in some effort.


Okay, the difficulty claim isn’t completely correct: there are tougher stages strewn throughout the game, not only in the second half. The fact that certain problems travel about the sky on their own topsy-turvy paths adds to the complexity. It’s a cheap trick to make a simple problem more difficult, but I found it particularly aggravating since the two-handed manual bubble launcher isn’t very enjoyable to use.

Because you have many possible targets to strike and aiming is dependent on aligning your hands like a bow and arrow, shooting may seem fussy as the preview of your bubble bounces about wildly, temporarily clicking into position where it may not belong. I’d like a more solid and tactile shooting experience that wasn’t as unsteady, as well as a cannon that didn’t take up so much valuable FOV space. It’s a huge one.


It’s not that the game isn’t entertaining; the first half of the game is littered with difficult riddles that require forethought and strategy to solve. These were few and far between, and as I previously said, you’ll simply have to grin and bear it until the latter part of the game, when you start hitting those real jewels.

After completing narrative mode, you may continue playing in ‘Infinite Mode,’ which allows you to fight an endless wave of bubbles gently rising up to a black hole. There’s also an online 1v1 option in which you compete against an opponent to reach the center of similar puzzles. This, like the endless mode, I thought, would have been more of the same, but with another person at your side. I really wanted to add this in my review, but I couldn’t locate a match even after the game was out. This is likely to be true for many individuals interested in playing the game, since the emphasis on single-player content is the main draw.


Puzzle Bobble VR is colorful, low-poly, and completely in line with the series. The music is also enjoyable to listen to, which is no surprise given that it was created by TAITO’s in-house band, Zuntata. Stepping into the universe is unceremonious—you’re simply dumped into a menu where you have to choose a game mode—but I wasn’t expecting anything more.


In the narrative mode, you’re shuttled from level to level over a globe with several islands in a sequential manner. Environments may seem flat at times and have a lesser quality than they should, but they are well-made and serve as basic backdrops to the primary job at hand. They also provide some context, since the bubble puzzles all tend to look the same after a time. You may not recall the design of a particular problem after playing, but you may recall having a difficult time on the lava island with a puzzle with too many poison bubbles.

Because the game utilizes a slingshot mechanism, you must be very careful not to pull the slingshot back too far beyond your head or too near to your chest. If you don’t, you’ll lose some of your tracking, making aiming much more difficult.


Because the game’s auto calibration recognizes the user’s height, it may be played in both sitting and standing modes. To shoot bubbles, you’ll just need a little amount of space, but you may want to avoid playing in front of a monitor or TV so you don’t inadvertently touch it with your non-dominant shooting hand.

Because the puzzles are strewn out in front of you at a reasonable height, the danger of neck strain is low. Because you’re constantly standing in the same place in each level, there’s no artificial movement, making it a wonderfully relaxing game.

It’s only been a month since the highly anticipated Puzzle Bobble VR hit Steam, and we’re already seeing some amazing things from the title. But, what’s in a name? “Puzzle Bobble VR” is a simple game that requires you to be good at action, puzzle, and arcade games as you navigate around a series of bubble-shaped worlds and pop bubbles to clear a path to the exit. The game is perfectly playable with a single Joy-Con controller, but the ability to play with a headset like the Oculus Go is sure to add some dizzying action to the mix.

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