It’s not often that a game is released that inspires nostalgia from past gaming experiences without being a poorly made clone of the original. Many of these said clones are the same game from old but with new fluffy-looking graphics and maybe a few power-ups or upgrades added to the mix. Nothing changes. But once in a while a game comes out that isn’t a direct and re-imaged clone of the original but instead a reinvigorating and refreshing branch off of the old game’s concept.
Tidy Bubble released June 20th, 2013 by Invisible Spaceship is a PC-based arcade game. The game is reminiscent of Breakout but different enough to be its own game. Players must bounce a tidy bubble at moving microbes in an attempt to eliminate them all while preventing the tidy bubble from falling off the bottom of the level by bouncing it with a paddle.
The controls are reminiscent of Breakout in that they must keep the Tidy Bubble from falling off the level. The player can simply bounce the tidy bubble off of the paddle or can swing the paddle to essentially bat the tidy bubble in a direction, giving it much more momentum. The tidy bubble is affected by gravity so it does arc downward as it flies across the level and bounces off of the walls and ceiling. If a microbe strays too close to the paddle, the player can bounce the microbe back into the center of the level. The player can score combos by eliminating multiple microbes between paddle bounces and score points for each microbe that he destroys.
Game play is captivating in its simplicity. A player can play the game for 2 minutes or can sit down and play for hours. The graphics are original and very clean. The interface and controls are simple and easy to understand and use. The sound track is fitting. The level design could be more than just a box however. I’d like to see structures within the level for the tidy bubble and microbes to bounce off of and perhaps interact with.
Tidy Bubble features a few game modes to keep the action rolling and it includes a tutorial which teaches the player the basics of the game.
- Infinite Mode: A continuous game that never ends. The player will have to clear 80-100% of the level before continuing to the next. This continues until the player quits or the boss catches you playing.
- Course Mode: 3-9 random levels are generated for the player. Each level features a collection of different microbes that are different colors, sizes and travel at different speeds. The objective is to complete the stages using the least amount of bubbles possible while racking up a high score.
- Clean Mode: The player must clean the background of the level by hitting microbes that essentially explode, creating a clean area in the wake of the explosion. The objective is to clean as much of the level as possible.
The game also features two multiplayer modes, which is nice to see. The modes called War Local and War Net allow players to play with up to 3 other players in what reminds me of an arena match based on air hockey. Each player gets a corner and must defend 8 microbes in that corner by deflecting the tidy bubble away as other players swat it in their direction. The arena is rectangular with a circular hump on each wall to create some crazy bounces. In local mode, player controls are configured to share input on the same computer by using a combination of the mouse, keyboard and any available gamepads. In Net mode, players can connect to a host by connecting to the host’s IP address but there is no match-making service or server browser.
In closing, I look forward to further development of Tidy Bubble. The game play is engaging and reminds me of the hours I spent playing arcade games of old. Now I need to go find a vertical arcade unit of Arkanoid!
Tidy Bubble can be purchased from Invisible Spaceship’s website for $4.99 online in digital download format. For those wanting to try before you buy, there is also a demo available from the same site.