Bubbles are neat things. Stop and think about them for a second. You get some soap, some water, and you can make little floating orbs. I remember many a day in my youth where we'd whip up a batch, make some bubble wands, and start firing artillery at each other. Thanks to the makers of Bubble Tanks 2, we all can revisit a more innocent, vaguely dysfunctional time.
From Hero Interactive (Starshine, Light Sprites, Storm Winds) comes Bubble Tanks 2, the long-awaited followup to the original Bubble Tanks. Using the [WASD] keys to move your tank and the mouse to aim, destroy enemy tanks and collect bubbles to upgrade your ship. Guide your evolution along either the fighter, heavy, or balanced paths and take on massive enemies.
Fire up Normal Mode to jump from bubble to bubble, taking down enemies, or launch Arena Mode to test your skills against a horde of your choice. The Bubble-o-Pedia lets you view your conquests and learn the names of your vanquished foes.
The weapons at your disposal have increased drastically since last time. While old favorites like the small red bullet and the big shot are still around, new weapons like the spread shot, the sniper shot, and mines add to the variety. A new secondary weapon system offers abilities like a mega cannon, teleportation, a shield, and more, all activated with the space bar.
To keep pace with your new abilities, your enemies have been overhauled. The tanks are bigger and the weapons crazier, ranging from swarms of smaller ships to a goo that slows your ship drastically. Part of the fun is recognizing and responding to the new foes ahead of you.
As a bubble tank, you trade in bubbles. They are experience, currency, and life points wrapped all into one. Destroy enemy tanks to earn bubbles. Collect enough bubbles to earn an upgrade. If an enemy bullet hits you, you lose some bubbles. Your ship can downgrade if you lose too many, and if you lose all of them, you'll be ejected to the nearest safe bubble. This isn't necessarily game over; during testing, I lost an early struggle and was tossed out to safety, where about a dozen non-firing enemies awaited me, including a "life carrier" that gave me fifty bubbles. It's a nice little touch.
Indeed, there are many nice little touches improved upon from the original. The developers read over comments posted to the first game and improved mechanics in this update. Your cannon is now on automatic fire; no more frantic clicking all over the screen. A meter shows how many bubbles remain to the next upgrade, but stays out of the way in the heat of battle. When the last enemy dies, all bubbles are magnetically attracted to your ship, and for those obsessed with total victory, a map system aids navigation around the massive arena.
Analysis: I am not ashamed to admit that I burned a full night playing the first Bubble Tanks. I am slightly ashamed to admit that, in the process, I may or may not have bobbled my calc homework. I blame the ensuing B on the Hero Interactive team. Fortunately, they had the good sense to release this over summer break, preserving my academic integrity. Good show!
Bubble Tanks 2 proved to be just as addictive. On three separate occasions, I attempted to set up a screenshot of a standard battle for the picture in this review, only to get caught up in the battling and forget everything. It's almost impossible to resist this game once you get rolling.
In comparison with its predecessor, BT2 runs significantly smoother. Even with massive amounts of enemies on my screen, there was little to no slowdown. This was actually a bit tricky at first: the fast-running game combined with the rapid increase in difficulty as you branch out made early levels rather difficult. If you're not an experienced bullet dodger, you might want to spiral around the starting circle for a while, where the enemies are easier. The map will help you here, allowing you to set a path on the fly.
The variety of weapons and tanks is a pleasure. Experiment a bit in early games and figure out what style works for you. I personally settled into a blend of the fighter-balanced upgrades, but there's something to be said for massive firepower.
My one complaint is the lack of a save system. I understand that a lot of the game is the buildup of your tank and exploration from the center point, but it would still be nice to have the option of continuous conquest over several segments.
But that's it. That's the only complaint I have. This game is just sheer fun. There's enough to do here to keep you busy for a long while, and you'll love every minute of it.
Play the entire Bubble Tanks series...