Quick Look: Animal Pop for iPhone

Casual games abound on the App Store, and while in theory that seems like a good thing, in practice it makes it that much harder to find ones that are worth spending your time on. That’s what people like me are here for, and I believe I’ve found another one to add to your “worth having” list. I hate to classify Animal Pop as a match 3 game, because I don’t think that completely describes the game play to be found here. However you want to categorize the game, it’s got bubbles, physics and cute animals. What more could you ask for?

Free The Rabbit

Free The Rabbit

Somehow cute little critters have gotten themselves trapped in bubbles, and it’s your job to get them out. Different colored bubbles will continually float to the top of the screen, and when two or more of the same color are touching you can tap the group to pop them. Ultimately your goal is to clear a path so that the animals’ bubbles will touch the top of the screen, at which time they will pop on their own and the animals will be free. There is no other way to pop an animal’s bubble. A level is complete when you rescue the designated number of animals. The game is over when your time runs out on a particular level.

Along the way you’ll get certain power ups to help you clear the screen. They are surrounded in bubbles as well, and must be matched just like any other bubble. The anvil floats to the top then falls to the bottom of the screen, destroying every bubble in its path. The lightening bolt gets rid of all other bubbles of the same color as its bubble was, and the mine destroys a few bubbles around its proximity. The clock obviously adds more time to the level. This power up is the one exception because it is encased in ice instead of a bubble. You free it by popping groups of bubbles around it, shattering the ice.

I'm Number One

I'm Number One

The main obstacle is of course the bubbles themselves. The board is in constant motion, so what one second might two touching bubbles another second might have just enough space between them to keep you from popping them. Also, it’s not uncommon to clear a path for an animal, just to have the space get filled up by other bubbles before the animal gets there. Time is an obstacle as well (at least when it runs out). Your ranking is also based on time. The other thing I’ve run into so far is animals that are wrapped in “layers”, where every layer except the innermost one must be popped first by combining it with a group of bubbles of like color.

Controlling Animal Pop is quite simple – just tap to pop bubbles. Power ups are used as soon as you free them, so there’s nothing additional required there. Unfortunately there is only one game play mode, and there are currently no achievements either for OpenFeint or Game Center. Hopefully both of these things will change in future releases. Granted the game as it stands right now is pretty fun, but it could use both these things I’ve mentioned to be even better.

Anvils Can Float?

Anvils Can Float?

The visuals are pretty decent. The bubbles actually look nice, the animals are cute, and the backdrop is simple but charming. The only thing that seems a bit out of place is the clouds, which are somewhat blocky in nature. They don’t look bad, but they don’t really fit the overall style of the graphics either. The sound effects are actually enjoyable, especially when it comes to the animal noises when they are freed. I don’t know how authentic they are (I’m pretty sure no animal goes “ewww” in real life), but they sure make for entertaining video game noises. The music is good and very light-hearted, but it would be nice if there were a couple of different themes mixed up between the levels.

If you’re looking for a lot of variety, this definitely isn’t the game for you. With one game play mode and no achievements, it can get a bit repetitive even if it does click for you. Thankfully I quickly grew to enjoy it, so the repetitive nature doesn’t really bother me. Besides, rescuing those cute little animals makes it all worthwhile. If you have kids, this is a game they will certainly enjoy as well. There are better matching type games out there, but the constantly shifting playing field and animal rescuing goal are twisty enough to make this one worth playing.

Final Verdict: Recommended

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