Zombie Farm Bubbles (iOS) review

Zombie Farm Bubbles is a new iOS game from Playforge, based loosely on its fairly successful Zombie Farm line of games. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store with additional in-app purchases of hard currency available, and has been receiving a fair degree of promotion through Facebook’s iOS app recently.

Zombie Farm Bubbles is, as the name suggests, a bubble shooter that makes use of the colorful, cartoonish aesthetic of Playforge’s previous zombie-themed games. Playforge’s zombies are cheerful, happy characters rather than threatening undead monsters, making the aesthetic of the game suitable for all ages.

Gameplay revolves around traditional bubble shooter mechanics — players must match groups of three or more like-colored vegetables to pop them, score points and drop any vegetables that are no longer attached to the top of the screen. In each level, the player must free a certain number of trapped zombies while attempting to score enough points to attain a one, two or three star rating.

As the player progresses through the game, they work their way through four different environments, though the only real difference evident between them is a different background image and the occasional introduction of different vegetable types — up to eight in total. Powerups also become available over time, allowing the player access to various powers to make their job a little easier — though these cost hard currency to use. Hard currency may also be spent on restoring the game’s play-throttling energy system. There is little here to distinguish Zombie Farm Bubbles from the numerous other bubble shooters available on the market aside from its cheery, cartoonish aesthetic.

Zombie Farm Bubbles is not only a fairly unremarkable bubble shooter, but it suffers from more than a few flaws, too. The level select screen is frequently prone to graphical glitches when scrolling from one level set to another, and the game’s heavy reliance on an Internet connection means that if the player’s device loses connectivity in the middle of a game or as a level finished, it simply freezes up and will not proceed at all, even if connectivity is restored. This can lead to wasted energy points and hard currency, and is a problem which should be fixed as a high priority — there is no discernible need for the app to make constant use of an Internet connection; it should simply sync data as appropriate. This issue also makes it impossible to play the game offline.

Gameplay flaws include the fact that the touch-based controls are imprecise and difficult to use without spending hard currency on the “extended aim line” powerup — this is particularly apparent on the small screen of the iPhone. It also appears to be completely impossible to score a full three-star rating on a single level — filling the score meter in the top left of the screen only ever appears to register two stars maximum.

Other flaws are a matter of taste but worthy of note nonetheless — the background music loop during play is approximately ten seconds long and quickly becomes infuriating, but cannot be switched off independently from the sound effects. However, the sound effects are also rather limited and quickly become annoying, too, so many players may simply choose to play with the sound off altogether. The game also features Facebook connectivity for no discernible reason other than to allow the player to Like the game’s page on the social network — there does not appear to be the facility to post scores or compete against friends.

All in all, Zombie Farm Bubbles is a rather disappointing, flawed package — even leaving aside the fact that zombies, farms and bubble shooters are three of the most oversaturated themes in mobile and social gaming right now — making this one to skip.

Zombie Farm Bubbles does not appear to be listed on the App Store leaderboards at the time of writing. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.

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Three overly-familiar tastes that don’t go well together.

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