Developer: Rival Games
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 0.9.8
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Whenever a monocle-wearing scum-lord calling himself “Weevil” kidnaps fluffy, chubby forest animals, it’s the sacred duty of the game-lover to do whatever’s necessary to liberate those critters. Sometimes they need to take up arms, but sometimes it’s just a matter of besting rivals in a puzzle game.

Bubble Rival is a bubble-popping puzzler by Rival Games. Players are enlisted to stop the slimy Count Weevil, a real charmer who’s kidnapped reams of cute forest creatures called Blubbles. Winning back Blubbles requires players to best Weevil in the art of bubble-popping, though tons more rivals are on-hand to slow down the rescue operation.

Success in Bubble Rival depends on speed and quick thinking. The player goes up against five computer-controlled rivals in each stage, all of whom pop bubbles like mad in order to climb to the top of the rainbow-colored stack. At the end of two minutes, the rivals’ progress is measured by achieved heights. The three highest competitors are the victors, and if the player isn’t in this winner’s circle they lose a life and are barred from advancing to the next level.

bubblerival_05bubblerival_04Bubble-popping games usually don’t require deep thought, but Bubble Rival really emphasizes reflexes over any kind of strategy. The player’s position jerks up and down like a badly-maintained elevator, and it’s often unclear who’s going to be the winner until the last few seconds. It’s admittedly exciting – and that excitement is addictive.

Granted, it can use a tweak here and there. The Blubbles don’t do anything except look cute, and it’d be nice to get more than three lives at once (lives are lost when the player fails a stage, and are refilled with hard currency or after a waiting period), but there’s still motivation enough to go after Weevil.

Bubble-popping fans might be tempted to overlook Bubble Rival because of the game’s simple presentation, but don’t be put off by the bare-bones character design (barring the Blubbles, which are pretty adorable) and music. Bubble Rival is a fun little puzzle game.


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