Zynga is taking yet another step away from its long line of casual sim “-Ville” games today with the launch of Bubble Safari. It’s an arcade game where a monkey named “Bubbles” has to shoot down pieces of fruit hanging above him to save his friends from poachers. If he matches several of the same kinds of fruit in a row, they’ll tumble down and get sorted into baskets by hummingbirds.
These bubble shooter games are not new to the Facebook platform. With the rapid rise of Europe’s King.com and Germany’s Wooga on the back of games like Bubble Witch Saga and Bubble Island, it’s not surprising that Zynga would eventually launch its own take on the genre. Notably, it’s also the first time Zynga is simultaneously launching a game to Facebook and its own destination site (in a sign that the company is really trying to diversify off the social network).
Like in Bubble Witch Saga and Bubble Island, there’s a map the player has to traverse as they level up. Zynga’s Bubble Safari has little touches here and there that try to differentiate it from the other games. There’s an “On Fire Mode,” where if the player successfully knocks out three matches in a row, they’ll get an explosive fire cannon that can clear out hazards like bee hives.
“None of the Match 3 games have this kind of explosive action and strategy that the ‘On Fire’ mode and boost bubbles bring,” said Mark Turmell, who is a senior creative director at Zynga San Diego and joined the company from EA last summer.
There’s also a lightning cannon that zaps gaps between bubbles, a sticky bomb that makes explosions from bomb bubbles last longer, a paint splat that repaints bubbles into the same color, a steel crush bubble that also eliminates hazards. There’s even a double rainbow bubble that connects colored bubbles together with “magical” rainbow bubbles. A “gravity” bubble is coming soon too. It will be able to take a curved path instead of a straight one. There’s a social element where friends can share bubbles with each other and weekly tournaments.
Then to make the game more challenging there are also hazards like beehives. If you accidentally hit them, a swarm will come after you. There are also “spawners” or special bubbles that can create more bubbles if you accidentally hit them.
Stepping back, Bubble Safari along with Zynga’s recent launches Hidden Chronicles, a hidden object game, and Slingo, a casino-style game, show how the style of gameplay on the Facebook platform has diversified over the last year and a half.