I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: As much as we may hate the freemium model for mobile games, it definitely incentivizes making fun games. You can’t make money on IAPs unless your players love the game. Once again, King, developers of Candy Crush Saga, has made a game that looks great, plays great, is tons of fun, and that reaches for your wallet early and often. Bubble Witch Saga 2 is a mobile game that thanks to the freemium business model, players everywhere are going to simultaneously love and despise.
Like its predecessor, Bubble Witch Saga, Bubble Witch Saga 2 is a match three bubble shooting puzzler, though this time with added objectives. Not only are you given levels where the goal is to clear the bubbles to reach the top of the screen, but you’re also challenged to free bubble-trapped animals and ghosts that reside in the center or throughout the level. Scattered about are special bubbles that add interesting game dynamics. Examples include a bubble that clears an entire line when touched, or a white bubble that doesn’t revel its true color until you strike it. To add to the challenge, the ghost levels rotate. That is, the ghost is in the center of the screen, and shooting bubbles at either side cause the rest of the bubbles to spin like a pin wheel.
The real challenge of Bubble Witch Saga 2 lies in the fact that you have a limited amount of bubbles in your arsenal. If you fail to clear a level before running out of bubbles, you lose. To aid you are two special bubbles that are in limited supply. A rainbow bubble, that acts as a wild-card of sorts, that is, all colors simultaneously, and a fire bubble, that shoots through and destroys all other bubbles in its path. Of course, the first three shots are free. After that, players should expect to shell out some in-game currency.
In truth, Bubble Witch Saga 2 is a lot of fun. It feels great when you clear dozens of bubbles with a single shot, and hearing all the points accumulate is extremely satisfying. Unfortunately, there’s a catch. With King, there’s always a catch. In Bubble Witch Saga 2, you are afforded five hearts at a time. Fail a level and you lose a heart. If you have no hearts, you can’t play. At this point, you can either spend gold to refill a heart immediately, or wait thirty minutes for it to refill. Not surprisingly, the only real way to refill your gold is to pester your friends on Facebook or spend real money. That’s just one example of where the game looks for cash. You also have to spend gold to unlock certain blocks of stages, buy the power-up bubbles, or buy extra bubbles after losing a level to take a few extra shots.
All of this would be fine if the difficulty spikes in Bubble Witch Saga 2 weren’t so extreme. For example, there is a level that is around 80% white bubbles. To reiterate, that means you have no idea what color those bubbles really are, so you’re effectively shooting in the dark. The result is an overbearing feeling of pessimism while playing; constant suspicion that King is intentionally encouraging players to buy more gold — which, of course, they are.
There are a good number of players that don’t mind the meta game of jumping from game to game dodging timers. For you I say, Bubble Witch 2 is a lot of fun and probably worth your time. However, freemium tactics will make Bubble Witch Saga 2 nearly unplayable for many others beyond the first two hours or so. For those I say, it’s still a fun two hours, but one that will leave you feeling bitter and jaded. If you have the discipline to play for a short time, then happily uninstall, by all means, have at it. If not, well, consider this review all the time needed to spend on Bubble Witch Saga 2.
+New objectives breathe life into old formula
-Very aggressive IAPs
-Challenge spikes are unnaturally steep