The idea behind the TouchArcade Game of the Week is that every Friday afternoon we post the one game that came out this week that we think is worth giving a special nod to. Now, before anyone goes over-thinking this, it doesn’t necessarily mean our Game of the Week pick is the highest scoring game in a review, the game with the best graphics, or really any other quantifiable “best" thing. Instead, it’s more just us picking out the single game out of the week’s releases that we think is the most noteworthy, surprising, interesting, or really any other hard to describe quality that makes it worth having if you were just going to pick up one.
These picks might be controversial, and that’s OK. If you disagree with what we’ve chosen, let’s try to use the comments of these articles to have conversations about what game is your game of the week and why.
Without further ado…
Tiny Bubbles ($3.99) from Pine Street Codeworks caught my eye the second I saw its trailer last year, and it’s not hard to understand why. The game uses a bubble physics system that’s totally convincing and totally mesmerizing, and it’s the type of thing you could just stare at all day and feel at peace with the world. Which is great and all, but I’m here for gaming and not a screen saver, so all those fancy physics would mean nothing if Tiny Bubbles didn’t come through in the gameplay department. With the official launch of Tiny Bubbles this week I was finally able to dive in and find out for myself, and not only does it come through with gameplay that matches its gorgeous visuals, but it’s easily one of the most varied and unique puzzle games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.
The core of Tiny Bubbles revolves around a matching mechanic, but calling this a matching game is not doing it justice at all. At its most basic, you’ll be tapping on bubbles to change their color in order to get at least four of the same colored bubbles touching each other in a group of bubbles, which will eliminate them from the bubble cluster. Once that happens, those beautiful physics go to work and any leftover bubbles that aren’t cleared away will pull towards each other to fill in the gap you’ve created. The goal is usually to clear away all the bubbles from each level.
Where Tiny Bubbles shines the brightest is in how it expands on that concept in every possible direction over the course of its nearly 200 levels. Not long after starting you’ll learn that you can also mix colors together to create a specific color to match, or that when you clear a set of bubbles and the group of bubbles closes in on itself that also presents the possibility of creating another match on its own, like creating a cascade of matches in a typical match-3 game. Timing is crucial in a lot of these puzzles, so often you’ll need to figure out the correct order to make your matches so that everything falls into place correctly to make futher matches.
This might all sound too complicated, but it’s really not. What it is though is challenging for your brain in the best way possible. I haven’t even gotten to the different creatures that will show up throughout the game that each add an additional wrinkle to the mechanics, like Bloop the fish that will add a new bubble to the cluster for each bubble’s color that you change, or creatures that are mischievous and will pop bubbles (sometimes important ones!) right in front of your eyes if you don’t plan around them. It feels like the gameplay is constantly fresh throughout Tiny Bubbles, and it’s just an added treat that we get to enjoy that gameplay with these remarkable physics and almost zen-like aesthetics and soundtrack. This is the complete package for puzzle lovers, so do yourself a favor and spend some time with Tiny Bubbles this weekend as I don’t think you’ll regret it one bit.