This game was given a gold award by the official Nintendo magazine last year, and it isn't hard to see why once you start playing.
Described as the "next best game in the world ever" by said magazine, Soul Bubbles is an action game that was designed for 12+ players on the DS system. You as the player are a herder - or psychopomp as the game says - who must guide spirits through the mazes of different worlds in bubbles that you create. You must avoid popping the bubble, losing the bubble or having it stolen from you by the various creatures that exist in the worlds you pass through. You control the bubbles by blowing them through the levels using your stylus, and though a little tricky to start with the training level takes care of that and teaches you the basic skills you need to herd souls from one end of the level to the other safely.
You realise this isn't a regular game not just by the description of gameplay above, but by the wonderfully cute comment made on the second page of the DS guide - it states "Please do not panic! It's all gonna be hunky dory...". The fact that this isn't just like the other games out is a great thing, it is innovative and oddly soothing to play, even when it's difficult the background music and watching the leaves sway in the wind on the levels is calming.
This game was also given a great review by GameCentral, a teletext based service that when teletext is switched off next year will sadly be no more. But they had the review on this game spot on, and without them I'd have missed out on a fantastic game that is worth buying whether you are young or old, an old hand at the DS or a newbie. Playing this game is a joy, never an annoyance - and that is what games should be about in the end - fun.
Soul bubbles is an excellent game that deserves some good recognition for it's interesting themes and relaxing gameplay.
The idea is to transport spirits to the end of level and they must be transported inside bubbles! The bubbles are created by drawing a circle and then they are blown around the level with wind created by the stylus. You draw a bubble around the spirits to capture them and transport them around. The bubbles can be shrunk, cut in half, squeezed through tiny gaps but you need to watch out for those sharp corners or your bubble will get popped and you'll lose the spirits inside.
The graphics are really good and the implementation is brilliant. The game isn't always easy, but the style does make it relaxing but challenging to play. There are lots of different levels and styles and lots of hidden items to look out for. The sounds effects are really good too as is the music.
It's not the longest game but it is really good fun and addictive and well worth buying.
Soul bubbles is an adventure game with a twist. Basically you have to look after spirits, they are fragile so you put them in a bubble. You can change the size of the bubble or split it up to help you navigate your way around the level. You then blow the bubble by using the stylus to send the bubble in the direction you want to go. The aim of the game is to transport the spirits to the end of the game safely with out losing any along the way. This game will take you a long time to complete and you will have to invest a lot of hours if you want to complete it. This is because there are 7 levels, each with roughly 4 mini levels in them, each mini level would take you at least 10 min to complete. This game will definitely keep you occupied. I love the graphics in this game as they are cartoons but they are really pleasant to look at not like the vivid colours of the super mario games! Overall i really liked this game and would say that it is worth every penny you pay for it as it will keep you entertained for hours.
About the Game
Released in 2007 by Eidos Soul Bubbles is a puzzle and maze game with a unique twist.
The game concept in principle is simple. You are trained to become a herder of Spirits and herd them to gateway cubes that are their door from our world into the next! Unfortunately the spirits are fragile and need a protective spell. This spell is represented in the form of a protective bubble. The pathways to the gateways are wrought with danger and hazards and it is your job to guide the spirits safely through the mazes intact.
This may sound simple enough but this is not the case. Now for a reality check!
On loading the cartridge you are forced to read a disclaimer stating that the game does not depict licensed racing cars, post-apocalyptic soldiers, gang fights etc and advises "its all gonna be hunky dory". This is a nice intro to put you in the calm mood that this game envokes.
After accepting the comical disclaimer (by touching the screen) the game begins and you are presented with the main menu with the choice of playing the game or going to the options menu which gives you access to change the sound, view a gallery of your progress through the game, view the Credits and delete your game data (handy if you intend to sell the game at a later date).
The game starts quite gently and you are adopted as a spirit herders apprentice and introduced to the tree supporting the spiritual world, which actually represents the levels of the game. Before you can play any of the seven spiritual levels (or branches!) you need to undertake training.
In your induction training, you are taught how to blow your bubble around the screen (using the stylus), split your bubble into smaller bubbles and fend off enemies. To split or rejoin your bubble you need to wear a special tiger mask. Later in the game you discover that different masks give your character different abilities.
Once you have successfully undertaken your training you progress up the trunk of the tree and can begin your first herding task. It is here that you are introduced to the spirits for the first time.
The spirits are little blue and white glowing entities that reminded me of animated germs that were used in a TV commercial many years ago! I digress! With the goal of guiding these spirits safely to the next world (a black gateway cube) you must encapsulate them in a protective bubble and then proceed to blow them through a maze to their destination.
This may sound simple on paper but there are several hazards that you need to navigate to complete this journey intact.
The most obvious hazard is the structure of the mazes themselves, some have very narrow gaps that you cannot squeeze through whereas some are in total darkness and prove difficult. This is where the use of the different mask is essential.
In addition to the maze path itself there are wind currents and vacuums that can suck and blow your bubbles in different directions, predators that steal or burst your bubbles, mushrooms switches than need a specific size bubble to activate, log obstacles and a plethora of other nasties!
I mentioned masks earlier. Without utilising the powers of the different masks it would not be possible to complete the mazes. There are 4 masks -
The tiger mask allows you to cut bubbles from large bubbles into several smaller ones, a useful attribute for getting your bubbles through narrow crevices and paths. The mask also allows you to reformulate your bubbles back into it original larger form. To do this however your smaller bubbles need to be touching each other before you can perform the rejoin. Other masks are the elephant Mask which gives you the ability to deflate or pop your bubbles and finally the bird mask that allows you to draw and create new bubbles of your own, handy if your bubble is burst by a predator.
So to summarise - you protect your spirits in a bubble through a dangerous maze with the end goal of reaching a gateway cube. As this wasn't hard enough you also need to collect golden shining stars that adorn you path and more importantly collect blobs of gum like substance called Calabash. Calabash is important as quantities of it are needed to unlock the game finale (which I won't spoil here!). Unlike the golden stardust trails, calabash is a much more difficult item to find and is often the puzzle element of each level. When your spirits come into the proximity of Calabash they turn into red glowing hearts, which can help!
To progress through the levels you must get a required number safely to the gateway, which gets progressively harder the more you progress through the levels.
And that really is the whole idea and concept of the Soul Bubbles game.
The graphics on this game really do stand out. The scenes are beautifully drawn and really are vibrant in colour. Movement through the bubble mazes is seamless without jitter or slowdown in Gameplay. What does make the game fantastic is the dynamics and movement of the bubbles themselves, they move in a believable fashion and do indeed seem like real bubbles. I think the graphics are a real achievement and are probably pushing the Nintendo's graphics to its limits.
Sound and controls
Like the Graphics the soundtracks to the game are wonderful. From subtle ambient doodling to African drum music that would be at home on the Lion King soundtrack. Unlike several game soundtracks this one really does work and helps create a calm and relaxed atmosphere which is great as some of the game levels can be somewhat frustrating. You can also set the sound to be standard stereo, surround sound or a headphone optimised - all of which sound excellent.
To control your bubble around each maze is performed by using the stylus to position your character. Dragging the stylus creates a breath that blows your bubble along its course. The longer the drag the harder the blow. In addition to using the stylus the D pad is used to selct different masks and to display a map of the current course.
There have been a plethora of successful puzzle games for the DS, but this game is something special. The combination of puzzle and reward gels wonderfully and makes you want to play it repeatedly, which has to be a good thing. Admittedly there are frustrating and difficult levels. I found some levels near on impossible, but managed to progress after repeated attempts.
Considering the wonderful graphics and sound, plus intuitive Gameplay this is undoubtedly a winner.
Additional details, Price & Availability
The game was available for £24.98 from http://www.amazon.co.uk at time of writing.
Copyright M Jones (Otalgia) 2008