Puzzle Bobble 3D: Vacation Odyssey is the enhanced version of Puzzle Bobble VR: Vacation Odyssey which was released for the Oculus Quest. This version however ensures that not only gamers with the PSVR headset can play it but it’s also playable even if you just have the PS4 or PS5.
If you have been living under a rock and not know what Puzzle Bobble is, it’s a match-3 game where you try to match bubbles by color. You match them by aiming your bubble gun at them. In this iteration of Puzzle Bobble, you are trying to get to the core that the bubbles are covering. Once you get to that core, you will then need to pop the core to win the game.
At the beginning, there is a tutorial that will teach you the basics of the game. The left stick is used to aim at the bubbles while the cross button is used to swap bubbles with Bob. Although the controls are easy to do, playing the game is not as easy as it seems. Because everytime you throw a bubble to match it with the other bubbles, the core rotates. This is because they are suspended in mid-air in 3D.
I also find interesting that the game is utilizing the haptic feedback controls. You can choose between half pulling the trigger to shoot the bubbles low or pull the trigger fully to shoot the bubbles farther. I found it really cool that they have thought of doing this and that they were able to use the feature of the PS5 controller.
There are three modes for you to enjoy in Puzzle Bobble 3D: Vacation Odyssey. The Online mode, the Story mode and the Infinite mode. Online mode allows you to play either a quick match with someone online or play with a friend. I wasn’t sure whether it’s my internet’s problem or not but I couldn’t seem to get into a quick match. There were also no options for you to choose a server so you are forced to only queue up to the server for your account’s region. For a game that its selling point was letting you play against others, it sure came off as a bad start for me.
If you don’t fancy playing with others, you can always play the Story mode. The Story mode has 100 levels for you to play through. Each level giving you a challenge that you would need to complete to clear it. The challenges per level varies and they can be anything from clearing the level using a limited number of bubbles or clearing the game in a limited time.
Throughout the Story mode, the levels will have their own mechanics that will further challenge you in clearing them. These level mechanics are modified bubbles that will test your creativity and wit so that you can clear them. One of the most interesting mechanic I encountered were the inverted bubbles. The inverted bubbles are unpoppable until they revert to their normal self. The normal bubbles will turn into inverted bubbles everytime you take a shot and vice versa. The other level mechanics are actually interesting too but if you’re someone who is used to playing match-3 games, these mechanics shouldn’t really hinder you into clearing any level.
Clearing a level in the game also nets your gold coins. These coins can be used to purchase powerups. There are only three powerups in the game and they are the bomb, the paintbrush and the spin bubble. The most interesting one to me would have to be the spin bubble because it’s really very useful especially when the bubble that you got can only be matched to a bubble that not directly infront of you.
Each five areas in the Story mode takes you to a different location. I like how they did this to ensure that you are at least looking at a different scenery each time you complete 5 levels. I guess it feels like its one of the rewards too. The background is done entirely in 3D which are colorful and alive with animals like birds that are flying by.
The Infinite mode is just an infinite number of bubbles that you need to clear before they get swallowed by a black hole. The level mechanics will also show up here and you can still use your powerups. The game ends once a bubble gets swallowed by the black hole. You will also earn gold coins based on how long you played the game.
The game is also very accessible for people who are color blind as they’ve got a setting for this. It’s really nice for a game to do that and I commend the developers who always think about making their game more accessible to a wider audience.
My only problem with the game is that because it’s 3D, it’s sometimes gives you that false sense of depth perception. Like there are times where I was sure I was going to hit the bubbles but for some reason I was way off. I’m not sure if it was intended to deceive you but it does get you annoyed at some point.
The background music brings back a lot of memories. They have chosen to use the same melodies from previous iterations of the game. I love that they added this touch to make you feel nostalgic.
Overall, Puzzle Bobble 3D: Vacation Odyssey is a good pastime if you just want to enjoy a casual match-3 game. If you have been a long time fan of Puzzle Bobble, you will feel right at home in this game. If this is your first entry to the series, then I’m sure you will also love the variety that it brings.