|The new Facebook game Bubble Safari Ocean|
The new Facebook game coincides with the release of the original Bubble Safari on iOS, and has seen strong growth recently as the publisher stepped up its cross-promotional efforts.
Bubble Safari Ocean plays things pretty safe and doesn’t tinker with the usual formula much. Additions to the basic setup include a “frenzy” (explosive bubbles) mode when the player drops bubbles with three consecutive shots, and a spinner that gradually fills and provides the player with a random powerup every so often. Progressing through the game unlocks additional features, including the ability to take “friend bubbles” into a level and use them when a specific color is needed, and the use of powerups to provide additional bubbles with which to complete the level or enhance aiming functionality. Certain powerups are also available mid-level in exchange for hard currency — powerups purchased prior to the level use soft currency, which is earned through play.
Bubble Safari Ocean works the same with Bubble Safari in many ways. For example, the Bubble Frenzy in Bubble Safari Ocean is the way similar to On Fire in Bubble Safari, where players obtain special bubbles after three consecutive successful shots, which could cause several bubbles to drop regardless of their colors. Also, the two games both ask, or force, players to invite friends by now and then presenting the friend invitation dialog box with all their friends listed and it is extremely annoying that those dialog boxes cannot be directly closed or skipped and players have to continue the invitation before they can resume the game.
Bubble Safari Ocean makes use of a strange scoring system. Rather than requiring players to attain a high enough score to achieve a “three-star” rating on a single playthrough, a player’s score and subsequent rating for a specific level is cumulative from all their attempts. This means that everyone will always be able attain a three star rating on every level simply through replaying it repeatedly, and it also makes the social leaderboard functionality in the game all but worthless because score is no longer a measure of skill and/or good fortune, simply a measure of persistence.
The game also has a number of technical issues, regularly failing to load completely during testing and requiring a refresh of the page. Zynga suggests on the game canvas that players should turn off secure browsing in their Facebook settings to get around this issue, but many users may not wish to do this. Without better visuals and innovative gameplay, Bubble Safari Ocean is hardly a noteworthy title.