Soap Bubble 2
While we at JayIsGames pride ourselves on featuring the best and latest in casual gaming, we always have time to feature quality works that fell through the cracks. Case in point: Soap Bubble, a, if not the, prototypical avoidance game, was originally released in 2002 and became one of the earliest games featured on the site. The charming and devilishly difficult tale of an ultra-delicate bubble making his way through a cave back to his friends was the start of great things for Anders Gustafsson: his releases include the Audience Award winning Gateway series and the coolly claymated The Dream Machine. So it seems that the 2006 sequel which continued the story of the iridescent-sphere-that-could passed us by... until today! Soap Bubble 2 is a great simple idea game that keeps what was best about the original while making the concept its own.
Gameplay is the mostly the same as the original: using the [arrow] keys, float the soap bubble through the factory and explore what you can find. It is, of course, incredibly fragile, and any contact will the scenery will cause you to burst with a disparaging "pop". It has the physics of a floating bubble, meaning it will sink slowly given no input, tend to float in water, and even the slightly touch of momentum (from you or a fan) can send it hurtling. Timing is of the essence, so be careful. Your bubble's lifespan is determined by a "bubble fluid" bar that slowly empties over the course of each level. Popping yourself gives it quite a hit. Run the meter out and it's game over.
Soap Bubble 2 is a worthy follow-up to a classic. The sequel's aesthetic is more gray and technological as compared to the original's shadowy organic feel. It's a little less appealing to my eye, but it does make for some cool level designs. The difficulty is intense, even frustrating at times, which is just the way I want it to be. There's a sense of humor to the proceeding: levels that seem impossible until you realize the gimmick at play, playful shifts of scenery that force a quick rethinking of strategy, moments that trick you into thinking things will happen when they won't... I must have failed a thousand times, but wouldn't stop till the finish. Thankfully, the new lives system is much more generous that the original, even if the slowly emptying bar makes you feel you should move faster than you should. One drawback: the password system does feel a little unnecessarily archaic. Overall though, Soap Bubble 2 uses simple mechanics to create devious challenge. Be sure not to blow it off!