Built-in level editor
Available on various platforms
Simplistic scoring system
Shallow difficulty curve

Actually I like Tetris clones - I really do - but nevertheless I wasn't quite as enthusiastic about this game as I thought I would be. Frozen Bubble is basically a remake of Puzzle Bobble for Linux, so there isn't all that much to be said about gameplay: try to clear the screen by making rows of three or more bubbles of the same colour. Simple but addictive. You can easily waste an hour or more playing this game.

The graphics aren't exactly stunning, but it doesn't hurt your eyes to look at them either. I'd recommend keeping the graphics options at the best possible setting because with the lower setting for slower computers you don't get the arrow as an aiming device. Instead you get a tiny red pixel, which isn't a very good substitute. My only objection to the graphics themselves is that I often confused the red and orange bubbles. This may just be my bad eyesight, but I suspect it's because they look too much alike. The slow falling motion of the frozen bubbles, on the other hand, is very nicely done (and another reason to use the higher graphics setting).
The music isn't quite as annoying as in Puzzle Bobble, but it's only one piece which is repeated over and over again. Needless to say it gets on your nerves after a while, but there is an option to switch it off.

There is only one level of difficulty in the game by default, although at first sight it may look as if there were two, "default level set" and "hard". "Hard" is an addition in the Windows port I played, and only seems to consist of a single level. Frozen Bubble clearly has a bit of a balance issue: "default level set" is extremely easy whereas "hard" is impossibly difficult by comparison (to give you an example, I easily got to level 65 in "default level set", but I have yet to beat the "hard" level). In addition to that you appear to have an unlimited number of lives, which makes for a rather odd experience. It's a bit as if you were playing in some sort of cheating mode.

However, the game does have a very interesting feature: the level editor, written by Kim and David Joham. You can change or delete existing levels, add new levels or even create a new level set. The editor is very easy to handle and offers a good way out of the balance dilemma. If it wasn't for this editor, I'd probably rate the game as a 2.8, but as it is I'll give it 3.3.

All in all, Frozen Bubble is a potentially very nice and addictive Tetris clone with some drawbacks. If you like games like Tetris or Puzzle Bobble, you should give it a try. You may have to make quite a few changes with the editor before you can really enjoy the game, but then you will enjoy it.

Note: The version I played was the "even easier-to-install Microsoft Windows version by Paul Malcher". The game was written for Linux, and its original authors do not support or endorse the ports to other OS's which have been made.

Frozen Bubble is free software, which is in fact distinct from freeware; free software is designed with the intention of respecting and supporting your freedom - you are free to download it, redistribute it and even study the sourcecode and improve it, so long as you don't infringe upon the freedom of others.

Review by: A. J. Raffles

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(9 posts)
7,2 MB
Multiplayer modes:
Hot Seat
Age rating:
Safe for all ages
Ports for Windows 9x and above, Mac OS X 10.3.x and above, Yopy PDA

The binary Linux version requires:

perl-SDL >= 1.19

Note: incompatible with perl-SDL version 2.x
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