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Joystiq hands-on: Pop (Wiiware)

Zack Stern

WiiWare will include casual, simple, and hopefully cheap titles with its upcoming release outside of Japan. While some of the Wiiware efforts on display at the Nintendo Media Summit impressed and surprised me, I was more ambivalent about Pop.

The simple game is just about pointing and clicking on bubbles that drift by. Click a bunch of like-colors in a row, and rack up a bonus score that's activated when you pop a different-colored bubble. Miss the bubbles completely, and the count-down timer jumps ahead, moving closer to the end of the game. The only other catch is that your potential points and time keep rising with bubble-popping combos, but they aren't added to the game until you break the run. Get too greedy, and you'll run out of time.

Gallery: Pop (WiiWare) | 7 Photos

I was most interested by the power-ups and emergent ways of playing with friends. Up to three other gamers can jump in at any point, sharing the same countdown timer, and it's up to the group to decide how to play. Certain bubbles score more points while others extend the game length, leading to competitive-and-cooperative play at the same time. Will you just go for your own points, or try to extend the game for everyone?

Power-ups are bound to bubbles and activated when popped. These items directly attack or confuse other players. For example, a flashlight icon darkens the rest of the screen, illuminating only the area around one player's pointer-sight. A lighting bubble shocks the other gamers, preventing them from scoring for several seconds.

When not competing-and-cooperating in the multiplayer mode, gamers might enjoy the pace of a solo game. Developer, Nnooo suggested that single-player games are casual and a trance-like way to relax. I didn't get that sense, but the crowded media event wasn't a good place to test that feature.

Pop is finished, although no launch date has been announced; I anticipate it'll be in the May 12 WiiWare launch group or soon after. A price isn't set either, but Nnooo suggested it might land in a rough range of 500 to 800 points.

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