If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Hudson, the creator of
Bomberman should be flattered. PopTag! is another fun, free–to–play online game
from Nexon, that offers competitive gameplay in short but sweet bursts.
PopTag! is essentially Bomberman with water balloons instead of bombs. The game
starts off with a set of tutorial quests that get the player familiar with the
game. It introduces the Quickplay modes, a Pop Shop which
offers many different items for use in game, and the Monster and PVP modes.
Quickplay is a match against computer–controlled
opponents, which can be set to any difficulty the player
is comfortable with and is a nice way to get acquainted with the nine
differently themed maps. The nine maps include:
forest, ice, pirate, cookie, village, factory, desert, camp and pang land. The
player also has a choice of eight different characters to play as, all of which
have certain strengths. Some are faster, while others,
when fully upgraded, can drop more water balloons or have
them burst in a wider radius.
Equipped items then come into play once the match
begins. The most popular item, and not to mention the
most helpful, is the needle. When your character gets
tagged by an opponent’s water balloon, they become
suspended in a bubble for a short amount of time, and depending on whether he
has a needle equipped or not, will result in him losing
or getting right back in the match.
My only gripe with the Pop Shop is that many of
the items that are offered, such as items to personalize the avatars,
can only be bought with real money, and only a small percentage of them can be
bought with the money won in game, though being free to play makes it more
The game also has quests that can be completed
while matches are played. Some quests task the player to kill a certain amount
of enemies while others task the player with collecting rare objects that appear
during a match. They aren’t necessary to complete, but just add to the player’s
The next two modes, which are the Monster and PVP
modes, are where the game begins to pick up its pace. Monster mode pits the
player against many different monsters and eventually a boss. This mode differs
from Quickplay because the monsters do not attack back, instead they are faster,
and ensure death as soon as they are touched. PVP mode is where to experience
PopTag’s true competitive nature – a
room of up to eight people can go head-to-head
or form teams. This is the mode where the ability to equip items gives this game
a competitive edge. There were many times where the needle saved my life and
just as much infuriated me when my opponent used one on himself. A
downfall is that the population count is low and not many people
are playing this title at this current moment – so don’t expect to find
many matches online.
Items also come as power-up drops, which appear
in all modes of play. These items will increase the amount of bombs that can be
laid down, make the player move faster, and even extend the balloons burst
range. Another unique item was the flying saucer;
it let’s the player fly across all the
obstacles, while laying water balloons anywhere on the map. Items can also be
destroyed by laying water balloons near them, and sometimes this strategy can be
used to lure players in to get them, and then unsuspectingly blow them up.
The game also features a Town mode where the player can walk around and interact
with other PopTag players, though all it serves as, is an interactive menu to
set up games. There is a house that sets up matches, a house which acts as a
friend finder, and an interactive rock, paper, scissors game. Though players can
chat with each other here, it is definitely the most boring part of the game,
and isn’t required to be visited.
The graphics are cute, colorful and bubbly. The
characters are all short and round, and have a cute anime style to them. The
levels are colorful and each theme is represented well. The ice levels for
example have snow covered houses, trees, and ice blocks. The cookie levels have
cupcakes, brownies, and bright pink backdrops. The music fits well with the
graphical style. All the songs are upbeat and lighthearted, and brought a smile
to my face evenwhen I was losing 10 matches in a row.
PopTag! is a fun game that doesn’t require players to invest a ton of time into
it to enjoy themselves. It has fun modes that let players enjoy the game on
their own, and short VS. matches that can get extremely competitive.
Essentially an online and free to play Bomberman, but
with water balloons.
The game is in 2D and is presented in a vibrant and colorful style.
The music is appropriately cheerful and lighthearted.
Matches are quick and satisfying. The item shop is a welcome feature, though
many things must be bought with real money.
PopTag! is a refreshing take on a classic play style, presented in an online
environment, that is easy to set up and a joy to play.