The NEOGEO is a cult classic favorite console that still holds dear in people’s hearts today. However, as consoles continue to age and cartridges begin to falter, we are looking towards an all-digital future. The ACA NEOGEO ports on Xbox, Nintendo, and PlayStation systems are a solution to those factors, and for the most part, they’re shown in their full glory with a few caveats here and there. Today, we’ll be looking at the port of Puzzle Bobble 2 (Bust A Move 2) on the PS4 (played on PS5).
The ACA NEOGEO ports are technically from the arcade versions that will likely reap higher-quality graphics than their console counterparts. It includes four different modes with Puzzle Bobble 2: Japanese, English, Hi-Score Mode, and Caravan Mode. The Original Mode in both Japanese and English play just like the standard version, which comes with both the arcade run through and endless puzzles. The Hi-Score Mode challenges you to get the best score against the online leaderboard and make it to the end of the game without saving. Lastly, Caravan Mode has you trying to get the best score within five minutes of booting up the game against the leaderboard. The two new modes of play are fun diversions to the overall experience and add something new for diehard players of the ACA NEOGEO games.
The Screen options disappoint
When you first boot up an ACA NEOGEO game on the PS4 or PS5, it will give you a handy screen of what each input is on the controller. You can study it before dropping into this cute puzzler or whatever NEOGEO game you are playing. Before jumping into the game, press the touchpad button to get into the variety of options available. This is where the port begins to show its cracks.
From the Display Settings menu, you can alter the position, size, and even the orientation of the display to your liking, It certainly looks horrendous if you set it to widescreen, so don’t do that. Next, you can change the wallpaper and screen filters, which unfortunately fall short. The wallpaper the port supplies isn’t themed to Puzzle Bobble 2 at all with a bland black and grey design you could probably find in Microsoft PowerPoint. Thankfully, you can leave it blank. Meanwhile, the screen filters are simply scanlines that some can take or leave. You can change the intensity of the scanlines through six different variations. The latter three has a moving scanline like an old school VHS. It looks pretty neat but it would be distracting during an intense ACA NEOGEO game.
Another issue I found while playing Puzzle Bobble 2 is that the default screen setting has the image slightly cut off on the sides. It was disappointing but it can be somewhat mediated. On Display Settings, you can toggle “Display wider screen” on. While it shows the complete image, you’ll get some offputting grey scanlines. It would have been nice if these were cut off, but this could be due to the original arcade format.
The game thankfully runs well and has some great options
Thankfully, despite these issues, Puzzle Bobble 2 runs smoothly on the PS4 and PS5. All my inputs were precise and the game didn’t have any hiccups in terms of frame rate. The music also plays just as I remember from playing the game on the Nintendo 64 unlike the awful AtGames version of Sonic The Hedgehog on its plug-and-play machine Rerez played. This port even has audio settings that lets you adjust the sound quality with Average, High-range Up, and Bass Up options alongside reverb.
The ACA NEOGEO port on the PS4 and PS5 also lets you customize your button inputs, which is great for those who have arcade sticks. In addition, you can change the game to your liking as it has the following settings included:
- Difficulty (Level 1-8)
- Continues or No Continues
- 2P Battle on or off
- Reset scores and rankings
The ports also come with a decent manual that explains the mechanics and controls of the game in great detail. It doesn’t beat having one physically, but we’ll take it. Unfortunately, multiple save states aren’t available in these NEOGEO offerings. Instead, you can create interrupt save data that boots up where you were at the launch of the game. It’s not the best, but at least there’s an option to save our progress.
Overall, the ACA NEOGEO ports are decent attempts at bringing this classic library back to life with the image and audio quality intact alongside online functionality and customizable button layouts. Unfortunately, the lack of save states and decent screen options slightly sour the nostaglic experience.