Developer: Crowd Café
Price: $0.99 (Sale)
Version Reviewed: 1.1

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

CrowdCafe claims that Bubblehead is “the ultimate cartoon flyer,” and while I wouldn’t go that far, it is
fairly entertaining. You control a bulging-eyed little guy by tilting your iPhone, dodging giant obstacles as you navigate the course. There are twenty-five planets, each with five levels; each planet features its own brand of obstacles, from pizza slices to thumbtacks. There are stars to collect along the way, which you’ll need in order to unlock other planets. The game’s wacky, vibrant graphics look great and it’s fun at first, but ultimately, Bubblehead feels like it’s lacking something—another mode, perhaps, or power-ups, to give it a bit more variety. The alternative to the ordinary Arcade mode is Random mode, but it’s really just more of the same with randomly generated obstacles. Bubblehead is a good diversion while it lasts, but the novelty wears off.

In order to control your little guy, you use the accelerometer to move left and right, and you hold your finger on the screen in order to accelerate; let go, and you drift downwards. It took me a few tries to get it right, but it works really well. For some reason, it’s easier to build up horizontal speed than vertical speed, but you probably won’t want to move too quickly. Despite the clock counting out your seconds, finesse is far more important than raw speed. The obstacles require some careful navigating, particularly in the later levels, and especially if you’re trying to snag a star.

Bubblehead’s graphics are cute; the cartoonified obstacles and the Bubbleheaded character are all endearingly outlandish. I could do without the sound effects, though. While they’re nice at first, the squeaky sounds begin to get annoying after a first few plays. I will say that it’s pretty fun to crash Bubblehead into things; you can hear him splatter. Oh, and actually trying to complete a level is fun enough, too, all bubble-murdering aside.

The background is the same for every stage, and while it’s a nice image, having the same swirly background (with a color change or two) in every level makes the levels feel a bit…similar. Actually, that’s part of a larger problem with Bubblehead: the levels aren’t very unique. You spend every level using the same basic tactics for dodging obstacles. The obstacles are stationary; there aren’t any powerups or enemies to spice things up. A mushroom? A power cord? A hot dog? What’s the difference? Zigzagging across the screen is initially amusing, but it didn’t really hook me, largely due to a lack of variety. Thankfully, the developer locked later planets until you defeat the earlier ones—if not for that, I had no incentive whatsoever to do well in a level.

Bubblehead feels like it was designed to be played in bursts, which is usually a good thing. Games like that don’t need to have depth; actually, Bubblehead can be fun when played for a few minutes at a time. Unfortunately, it’s hard to jump into thanks to the loading screens. While it’s cute to see Bubblehead slurping down his shake, I’d rather be able to leap right into the game. You have to wait for the game to load each new level, and when the average level takes a minute or so (assuming that you don’t perish!), that time adds up.

Don’t get me wrong, of course—Bubblehead is still fun. The only problem is that (for me, at least) the fun wasn’t quite enduring enough to make it worth my while. If you try out the lite version and think it’s awesome, by all means, go ahead and try it. In my opinion, however, Bubblehead is a potentially good game that’s just lacking in content. I’d love to see some updates that make it more entertaining. The most recent update did a good job of making Random mode a whole lot less frustrating, so CrowdCafé is obviously still working on it, and I have to applaud them for it. Perhaps the future will hold improvements for this little green bubble.

Here’s the developer’s video:


BubbleHead: Ultimate cartoon iPhone game from CrowdCafe on Vimeo.

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