Puzzle Bobble 3 (also known as Bust-A-Move 3DX) is the sequel to Puzzle Bobble 2 released originally in arcades then ported to numerous consoles, most notably the Sony Playstation 1, Nintendo Game Boy, Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn. Much later, it was released unfortunately as only a digital download for the PS4, Microsoft Xbox 1 and Nintendo Switch. There was also a PC and DOS port back in the late 90's.
Puzzle Bobble 3 was a very important game for the series, for numerous reasons. For one, it was the first in the Puzzle Bobble series that didn't rehash art designs and sprites from a coinciding Bubble Bobble game. All the art for Puzzle Bobble 3 is exclusive to this title, possibly due to it being the next game after the previous Psychic Force: Puzzle Taisen, which was a spin-off that seemed to use a similar art style. (The Bub from Puzzle Bobble 3 can be seen in the background of that game in one of the stages).
This is also the first game to include the new "win contest" mode and "edit" mode. (although the Sega Saturn port of Puzzle Bobble 2 known as "2x" was technically the first to include a primitive edit mode, Puzzle Bobble 3 was the first to have it as a default feature, minus Game Boy and Arcade original versions.)
PUZZLE BOBBLE 3 / BUST-A-MOVE 3
Game Boy Edition
Like Puzzle Bobble 2's Game Boy port, the Puzzle Bobble 3 one is monochrome and the bubbles are identified by shapes inside them. This is of course something the other ports have too, but in this version due to it's monochrome colour they are neccesary to see what you are doing. The Game Boy port includes everything from the other versions minus the Edit Mode and the Win Contest mode. (Interestingly, Puzzle Bobble 4 actually DOES feature Win Contest mode but it is labeled as "VS Computer".) Due to the lack of Win Contest, this port is short of 2 secret playable characters (Paya-Paya and Otama). The other two secret characters are the bosses Debrun and Drank and are in the game in VS Computer Story Mode but are not playable.
VS Computer Walkthrough
Click on a characters name to read about that character. Each character has their own page.
After a win streak you will meet a secret character.
You will be put in a battle against them.
If you defeat them, they will be unlocked for play.
Earning a high number of wins will also solve the picture puzzle which can be viewed upon losing. If you do not have enough wins, the picture will not be completed. If you have enough, you will see the picture complete itself and change from monochrome to full colour. This is the main goal of Win Contest mode, to view your characters full, unique portrait.
Your character will move through arcade cabinets.
They will then meet the character from that game.
Then have to battle them in classic VS contests.
Once bubbles cross the deadline, it's a loss.
Puzzle Mode options, Practice, Normal and Ver2.5
Normal mode will lead you to the Alphabet Ladder.
Each "standard" letter contains 5 puzzles to defeat
Some letters on the Alphabet Ladder will contain tiny Bubble Bobble monsters spinning around it. These letters do not contain the traditional five round challenges, and are instead "ENDLESS" puzzles. This means that the entire letter is a single round, but the bubbles keep decending even if you clear the screen. The term endless may be misleading however, since there is an end to the decending bubbles and they are held up by a point at the top but it is very very far up, meaning it seems endless. Each time you clear the screen, you will get a "PERFECT" on screen before the next "chunk" drops down for you to clear. If you do not clear the screen, and do not get the "PERFECT", then the bubbles will decend as normal instead of in "chunks".
Arcade Mode requires you to select your character from the list and play through that characters story mode. Each character has their own reason for being in Rainbow World (all dragged in by one of Drank's evil spells) and each character has come from a different game world. The objective is to get to the end of the story, defeat Drank and send them back home to their own games. You will be faced with consecutive opponents until you reach the sub-boss, and finally, the final boss. Defeat of the boss with each character will reveal their ending story through three illustrations.
Win Contest Mode
Play through a tough contest of endless, randomised opponents. This gets more and more difficult and goes as high as up to 99 wins that can be earned. However, you can win many more but that is where the counter stops. After a certain amount of wins you will encounter a secret character that once beaten, will be unlocked for play. If you are unsure when an encounter is a chance to unlock a secret character, you can tell by the boss music that plays during their battle. There are five secret character slots, four secret characters, one of which takes up two slots.
The bubbles are thrown across the screen by popping more than 3 at once or dropping bunches of them. Bubbles dropped or popped in more than groups of three are sent over to the opponents screen filling it up. If the bubbles cross the deadline at the bottom of the screen, that character loses the battle. Each character has their own attack pattern, meaning who you pick to play has is important and has a direct effect on the gameplay.
A standard letter puzzle consists of 5 single maps.
An endless puzzle constantly decends as you clear.
The bar at the side shows how far you are to win.
Completing the ladder will give you a story ending screen for the character you played through with. This being said, you can change your character between letters if you desire it. There is nothing else really to be said on this, just remember the basics: Pop the bubbles and do not let them cross the deadline at the bottom of the screen.
If instead of choosing "NORMAL" you choose "Ver 2.5", you will be given an entirely different Alphabet Ladder. This one is based on Puzzle Bobble 2's ladder, and features re-imagined puzzles from Puzzle Bobble 2 with the new features of Puzzle Bobble 3 (for example, Puzzle Bobble 2 had a pusher at the top of the screen which of course is no longer in use in Puzzle Bobble 3 onwards.) Some puzzles will seem identical whilst others have been ever so slightly tweaked from Puzzle Bobble 2's original versions, making a familiar but still considerably new challenge.
There are no Endless rounds in Ver 2.5.
Puzzle Mode Walkthrough
Puzzle Mode offers several different options. The classic ARCADE alphabet ladder, which gives you three options of "Practice", "Normal" and "Version 2.5", a Challenge Mode and Collection Mode. Beating the Arcade Ladder will give the player a passcode to a whole new, even tougher ladder referred to as "Another World". Let's talk about "NORMAL" to begin with.
After selecting NORMAL, you will be taken to the Alphabet Ladder. You can choose your character on this screen by pressing up and down. There is a timer though, so choose quickly. From here, you can pick which direction you wish to take. If you select a standard letter (one that does not have tiny Bubble Bobble monsters spinning around it) you will enter a five-puzzle challenge for that letter. You must defeat all five puzzle rounds to "complete" that letter.
Challenge Mode contains a Number Ladder 1 to 5.
Each ladder number contains 5 tough puzzles.
You earn a rank at the end of each number.
After you have played through all 25 puzzles, you will be given a final certificate of skill, adding up all the skill certificates you earned from each number on the number ladder. You final grade is your overall rank.
This structure is very similar to that which we will look at later in EDIT MODE, minus the fact you have to beat all levels in that mode.
Collection Mode is a somewhat special kind of mode. It contains 1.025 puzzles designed by other Puzzle Bobble players around the world. Upon selecting your character you will be taken to a puzzle select. Each puzzle shows the name of the designer before you select it. It's a very nice puzzle challenge in itself just seeing what awesome puzzles people have come up with. You can play any puzzle in any order, but once you beat a puzzle it will give you the option to move right on to the next one in order. You can choose not too, however.
Choose Version 2.5 (PB2 and a half).
This Alphabet Ladder has no endless modes.
The puzzles are all modified Puzzle Bobble 2 maps.
Challenge Mode is a set of 25 puzzles that you are presented with, grouped in bunches of fives (each represented by a Number Ladder of 1 to 5.) This puzzle mode is unique in the fact that you do not have to defeat each puzzle to progress. The purpose of this is to challenge the player's skill. At the end of each 5 puzzles, the player will be given a ranking certificate with a grade of skill. "A" being the best. This is why you do not have to beat the puzzles to progress, because the idea is to test how good you are on a rank basis.
Practice Mode is very much the same as Normal, except that it only offers a few puzzles before telling you to try the normal modes.
Practice, Normal and Variety modes are available.
Both players must pick their characters.
The two players battle for trophies for the win.
Normal Mode and Variety Mode are the same except that Variety offers "puzzles" to battle against each other with whilst normal shows the usual random bubble screens (not in any particular "puzzle" formation). Practice mode is the same as normal, except that both players are given guidelines to help them aim better.
Each puzzle will show the creators name.
There are 1025 puzzles in total to beat!
You can choose to play in order or as you decide.
VS Player Walkthrough
The rules are exactly the same as the basic rules for VS Computer except it's for two players to compete against each other in battles. You can decide in the settings/options modes a battle of one round, best of three rounds or best of five rounds. Like VS Computer, you chuck the bubbles back and forth and the player whose bubble cross the deadline at the bottom of the screen loses the battle. The amount of rounds in a battle won are shown as small trophies above the screen of each player. They begin grey, but when they are filled in gold, it means a round won.