Puzzle games have seemed to hit a wall over the past several years. The premise is generally the same: line up three or four similar objects as they fall from the top or rise from the bottom, throw in a few wild-card items, gradually turn up the speed and challenge, and voilà! You’ve got a puzzle game.
With Liqua Pop, Electronic Arts doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel in terms of puzzle game mechanics. You’ll still have to organize colored bubbles and use items to help you along. But the game is just unique enough to make it stand out from the crowded field of dropping blocks and shifting tiles.
In Liqua Pop, you must combine like-colored bubbles until they pop and do so before the screen fills up. To do this, you simply drag one bubble to another with your finger. Combine four bubbles and they pop. You can also time your bubble pops into combos by either shaking the iPhone to pop them immediately, or stalling the bubble popping by double-tapping your bloated bubble. Along the left-hand side of the screen is a lizard climbing up a stick, which represents your progress meter. As you pop bubbles, the lizard will climb, and once he reaches the top the level is cleared.
Of course there are factors added in as the game progresses, usually in the form of little bugs that are trapped inside the bubbles. Some bugs cause explosions when their bubble is merged, while others change the colors of all surrounding bubbles to the color of their bubble. These bug modifiers keep things interesting and allow the player to work strategically to achieve the highest combo possible, thus racking up more points.
Stylistically, Liqua Pop is colorful and strangely relaxing. The bright, primary color palette mixed with the rain forest aesthetic are visually appealing, and the soundtrack mixes with the game quite well.
One note, however, for those who may be a bit colorblind. I myself have trouble distinguishing between certain shades of reds and greens and there were times I found myself dragging bubbles around the screen hoping to find a match. This method of play does at times result in success, but if you have colorblindness, it may be something to consider before making the purchase.
Bottom Line: Liqua Pop is a charming, unique entry in the puzzle game genre and easily worth the asking price.
Liqua Pop is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.