Bubble Witch Saga Makes Me Appreciate Facebook Games' Manufactured Limitations

Take the addictive bubble-popping gameplay of Bust-a-Move, toss in the enticing random chance of Peggle, and you've got Bubble Witch Saga, a Facebook game so addictive I'd be playing it right now if I hadn't run out of lives.

The last time I played a full console version of Taito's Bust-a-Move bubble-popping puzzle game was back on the PlayStation 2. Super Bust-a-Move had what, a hundred puzzles? More than that? I brought the game home from the store, sat in front of my television, and completed every one of them. If I failed, I would go again, and again, and again until I moved to the next puzzle, refreshed by the new challenge.

So I tend to avoid the series these days, if only because I don't have the time to waste sitting around all day.

King.com's Bubble Witch Saga, on the other hand, gives me five lives. Five chances to score one, two or three stars and move on to the next puzzle. If I fail enough, I'm forced to wait. It's perfect.

What's also perfect is that Bubble Witch Saga injects an element of Peggle-like chaos to the mix. As you clear groups of colored bubbles, spiders descend from the top of the screen, each with a bonus multiplier attached. As bubbles drop from the puzzle proper they bounce against these multipliers before dropping into holes with various point values. They key to getting enough points to advance is dropping enough balls, having enough spiders on the field, and putting in a good word with lady luck.

Like any addiction, your friends can enable you. They can send you extra lives, or coin to purchase various power-ups to help clear the board. Later in the game your friends are required to help you advance. To move from level 26 I had to have three friends commit to helping me. I reached out to everyone I knew played the game, even our own Stephen Totilo.

It took me a day to gather all three. Totilo never responded. Hmph.

There are other ways to advance, of course, but the pay-to-win items Bubble Witch Saga sells are too costly for my blood — three extra lives runs 99 Facebook cash, or nearly $10. I might-as-well just buy a full version of Bust-a-Move.

But I don't, because unlike Bust-a-Move, Bubble Witch Saga keeps me on a leash, along with some 6.5 million other players.

Bubble Witch Saga [Facebook]