Aliens come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some of them want to give your face a hug, others want to read your their latest piece of prose. And then you have Bobulous, who just wants to defend his princess against invaders, spikes, and meteor showers by gathering enough energy to grow bigger and bigger in this arcade style game of reflexes.
The Captain follows your cursor, so it's your job to guide him to points and away from hazards. The Captain can't swallow any enemy bigger than he is, and a picture in the upper left corner will show you what to avoid. Chow down on enough small enemies simply by running over them to gather energy, and your hero will be able to evolve and become even bigger. Once you've collected enough energy, a portal will open, and popping inside it will make our hero grow, thus enabling him to sample the delights of bigger game. Just be careful, since each hit you take not only steals a chunk of your energy, but makes you lose a life. Lose them all, and it's game over for you. There are four levels to unlock, so look lively, Captain!
Of course, this doesn't mean you can ignore your surroundings. Be sure to listen for the warning klaxon that lets you know a meteor shower is on the From time to time, stretches of the shell of your environment will light up; green grants you an extra life, yellow grants you a bonus, and red... well... you might want to steer clear of red. To collect, just run the Captain along the colour until he's touched every section that was lit up. Stay on the lookout for glowing green and blue bombs; the former you can collect and deploy with a click to clear an area of enemies, and the latter explodes immediately on contact to destroy most foes onscreen.
Analysis: While Bobulous could do with an injection of variety into its levels and enemies, as an arcade style game its a solid title. It's easy to pick up (although probably a bit too frenetic for touchpad users), and the difficulty ramps up significantly with each new level you unlock. A story beyond "Oh noes, aliens!" would have gone a long way towards beefing up the experience, but as it stands it's a very colourful and challenging experience with a lot of charm.
My biggest gripe is the lives system, which feels like a cheap way to force you to replay the game; the penalty to energy whenever you get hit is penalty enough, don't make us have to start the entire level over from the beginning just because the playing field is the equivalent of a handful of confetti the further you go. The lack of a pause key means you also have to wait for a clear path before you can click on "Main Menu" to pause the game, or Captain will soar right after your cursor into spikes or enemies.
Although Bobulous lacks enough meat on its bones (do alien blobs have bones?) to become one of the bigger movers and shakers out there, its fast-paced, challenging gameplay and oddball presentation make it a flawed-yet-fun offering. It could have done more, but what's there is twitchy goodness. With the beautiful(?!) princess at stake, will Captain Bobulous save the day? Tune in next time, same Bobulous time, same Bobulous channel... or, y'know... just play yourself and find out.