The Neo Geo has pretty few puzzle games in its library, but we must recognize that some of these titles are golden nuggets. Puzzle Bobble is one of the most famous among these: the soft stamped Taito made a lot of noise in the world of gaming since its inception in 1994, through many adaptations and countless sequels. Today to face this blockbuster, here's an arcade game almost unknown made by Namco: Emeraldia. The editor has not really made himself famous for this type of product (more with legendary titles like Pac-Man, Soulcalibur or Ridge Racer), but the fact remains that this one points the tip of his nose fall 93 in dark rooms. The first one's principle is to clean the screen of its colored balls by getting colors together, while in the other you'll have to stack blocks in order to get rid of them, a little like in Tetris.
First Puzzle Bobble's graphics seems particularly bare and simplistic, but let's be honest, for the time it's quite clean and cute. The backgrounds of the levels are varied enough, and spartan interface is nonetheless pleasant. Emeraldia is much more colorful, with its large colored blocks falling on oceans and palm backgrounds, as well as its cute and endearing aquatic characters. The game board is friendly and the atmosphere turns still much less austere than in the game of Taito.
PUZZLE BOBBLE ......... 68%
EMERALDIA .................. 74%
Our rivals are both featuring a nice animation, even if these remain in the simplissime register of puzzle games. The explosion of balls or cubes are equally fluid as each other, and the characters in the two apps have some funny animations. The action is taking enough on both sides, but Emeraldia takes advantage thanks to its more alive tables, small cutscenes and various effects experienced over the levels, such as deformation of the oceans and zooms.
PUZZLE BOBBLE ......... 79%
EMERALDIA ................. 82%
Puzzle Bobble's musics are melodious , but damn they're few.. Only four different themes successing each other every four or five levels, with the characteristic of increasing rythm when the situation becomes critical (à la Street Fighter II!). The sound effects are few, but at the same time, the action does not really require more. The Namco game is not featuring a better brand, but the melodies are more worked, and the sound effects more varied. The Neo Geo loses the battle in this section, and this is so infrequent that it has to be noticed!
PUZZLE BOBBLE ......... 64%
EMERALDIA ................. 69%
Emeraldia consists of seven seas, broken down into thirty-four levels in which player must release nice little aquatic beasties that are hold prisoners by bricks. The challenge is long and hard, and unless you come out straight from Polytechnic School of London, I don't see how to get it cleared without cheating. The game is very difficult and principles of gameplay are quite complex, to the point - in my opinion - it might repel a majority of players. The competitive game for two players is still a fun time, but the soft soon shows its limits. Puzzle Bobble is playing on simplicity and fun, and the thirty courses are still a big challenge for any fan of puzzle games; in addition, the two-players battles are way more fun and intuitive than those of its competitor, providing the game an almost infinite life.
PUZZLE BOBBLE ......... 96%
EMERALDIA ................. 80%
Puzzle Bobble is based on very simple principles: it's all about 'cleaning' each table of its clustered colored balls. Players are in control of a steerable crossbow, and they have to launch the balls that randomly arrive. Connecting at least three of the same color will blew away the cluster, but that is not all: the law of gravity plays in our favor, and all spheres that were suspended to the destroyed ones fall (chain reaction). We may also use the walls to make rebounds. Two, it is possible to send penalty balls to the opponent if you performed chain reactions! The game takes a very fun dimension and competition quickly becomes taking. Emeraldia offers a gaming window about the same size, but in this it's blocks of three cubes that fall from the 'ceiling'. There are up to five different colors, and you must stack the blocks by assembling colors to destroy them. The 'chain reaction' is also in use here: when a block disappear, those located above fall and if they're the same color, they can destroy other blocks located below. Two, the principle of penalty to the opponent is used, but the gameplay is so much more complicated and less intuitive than in PB, that it's much more difficult to plan a way to play: the 'fun factor' suffers especially from this. Besides that, the Namco game includes specials weapons and bonuses, but it shall not be sufficient to close the gap with its rival.
PUZZLE BOBBLE ......... 95%
EMERALDIA ................. 72%
Emeraldia can boast of a great realization, a nice atmosphere and a very good lifespan, but it lacks the essential to win this comparison: an addictive and fun gameplay! Puzzle Bobble, although quite simple, quickly proves addictive to the players. Simple principles that compose it and pleasure felt even when beginning to play propel it among the best puzzle games ever created.