Skip to main content

BigBot Audio Drop Review: Windows Phone gets an exclusive, stylish puzzle game

After taking last week off to review Microsoft’s Xbox One console, I’m back with a look at a just-released indie game for Windows Phone 7 and 8. BigBot Audio Drop comes from Wisconsin-based indie developer BigBot Systems. Not only is it their first game, it’s also exclusive to Windows Phone.

BigBot Audio Drop blends traditional falling block gameplay with thumping electronic music and slick visuals. The gameplay and design are closely modeled after Lumines, an early PSP hit that later came to XBLA and other platforms. But Lumines never came to Windows Phone, so Audio Drop fills a nice gap in our favorite smartphone’s software lineup. It also comes in both paid and free versions, so it won’t break the bank.

Match three? No way, four square

Many falling block games fall into the match-3 category, with players matching three of the same object in order to eliminate them. Not all genre titles are match 3, though. Tetris – the father of the genre – marches to the beat of its own drum, after all.

BigBot Audio Drop is one of those that works a tad differently. Within the playing field you’ll find pieces falling from the sky, sure. There’s also a vertical line called the time bar which passes from left to right at regular intervals, proving important to differentiating Audio Drop (as with Lumines before it) from other puzzlers.

Each square-shaped piece that falls from the sky is made up of four smaller blocks. Those smaller blocks only come in two varieties: circle and square.  The player’s objective is to match at least four of the same shape in a 2 x 2 pattern. Once you do, those pieces get “primed” (marked) to be cleared.

Those marked pieces don’t actually disappear until the vertical line scrolls by and touches them. As long as pieces are marked but haven’t been cleared yet, you can get more points by stacking more of the same shape next to the marked structure, causing them to merge with it. If any additional, separate sets of marked shapes get cleared by the same vertical line, you’ll get. a combo bonus for them

In addition to rotating pieces and stacking them as best you can, you can also drop them down instantly. Dropping is important for making combos since you want to clear as many pieces as possible each time the line passes by.

Power drops and abilities

Additionally, two little beat indicators constantly tick down at the bottom of the screen. Drop a block exactly when the beat hits the center to perform a power drop. These charge up special abilities and boost the combo meter. I find timing my drops to the beat somewhat difficult when I’m trying to frantically make matches, but you’ll get enough power drops just by chance anyway.

Special abilities are another way that Audio Drop differs from typical puzzlers. Instead of grabbing power-ups from the playing field, players have four different abilities that charge up during a level. Each one charges at its own rate, with the more useful abilities taking longer to become available than the simpler ones. Activating an ability depletes all four charges, so you basically have to save up for just the one you want and ignore the others.

Abilities include:

  • Switch: a virtual d-pad appears, allowing players to switch any blocks on-screen with the current active block
  • Slow: The timeline bar moves half as fast, making combos much easier to get
  • Multi: a temporary quadruple points multiplier
  • Bomb: the virtual d-pad allows players to detonate pieces off of the playing field

Music and levels

Whenever a current level’s song ends, players move on to the next song and level. The game launches with six songs, all electronic compositions from an artist called SGX. Each song also has its own beautiful background and color theme for its falling blocks.

You can select a song to play from the main menu, but it’s hard to know what you’re picking if you haven’t memorized the song. It should play preview snippets of a song before players choose to launch the game.

The selection of songs is quite similar to what I remember from Lumines. Honestly, most of them are too discordant for my liking. “Span” is okay. I never dug Lumines’ soundtrack either. Music is of course subjective, and I expect some players will really dig the tunes. You can even buy an expanded version of the soundtrack at Xbox Music.

Unlike the songs, Audio Drop’s sound effects are mixed fairly quiet. So much so that I first thought they were missing or something (partially my own fault). I had to turn them up louder than the music to actually hear them very well.

As for the song transitions between levels, the level you’re playing basically just ends with no warning. You’re then taken to a Scoreloop leaderboard screen and the next song starts after a few seconds. I don’t like how abruptly songs end though. The screen should flash and count down to the end of the song or something – provide a little urgency to the puzzling.

Controls

As slick as BigBot Audio Drop looks and sounds, its controls need a little work. In the default scheme, tapping the left and right sides of the screen moves the falling blocks left and right. The bottom corners rotate the pieces, and tiny little drop buttons beside the rotation areas.

The problem is the hitboxes for the left/right movement don’t extend low enough on screen, so you need to keep your thumbs higher up than usual in order to hit them. And the drop buttons are just too tiny and hard to hit… All of which adds an unintended degree of challenge to the game.

Having played a prerelease version of the game for a few days now, I’ve already had the chance to discuss the controls at length with the developer. Thankfully, they agree about the control issues and plan to fix them in a forthcoming update.

Free versus Paid

BigBot Audio Drop comes in both free and paid versions. The free version includes five songs and the default “Audio Drop” game mode. It displays adds on the menu screens, but not during gameplay.

Buying the full game for $1.99 will disable ads. It also adds a sixth song: “Coactive (Over my Shoulder Mix)” and a “Pure” game mode that disables special abilities, simplifying gameplay a smidge.

Depending on how well the game does, BigBot would love to add more songs in the future. That would certainly boost the game’s longevity.

Overall Impression

BigBot Audio Drop is an unusually polished game from a first-time indie developer, with ample visual flair from start to finish. The menus and fonts just look super slick, and the gameplay graphics and backgrounds don’t disappoint either. The music (while not quite to my own taste - give me chiptunes!) fits the visual style very well, justifying the title of the game. There needs to be more tracks, but those will surely come in time.

If you like puzzle games or electronic music, drop this game into your download queue and give it a go.

  • BigBot Audio Drop – Windows Phone 7 and 8 – 18 MB – $1.99 – Store Link
  • BigBot Audio Drop Free Edition  – Windows Phone 7 and 8 – 16 MB – Free – Store Link
  • BigBot Audio Drop Soundtrack – 14 tracks – $9.99 – Composer's Store Link – Xbox Music Store Link

QR: BigBot Audio Drop Paid

QR: BigBot Audio Drop Free

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

33 Comments
  • Meh.
    LOL.
  • If you have nothing constructive to say, why are you wasting your time with useless and idiots commens ike this?? Go live your life!!
  • Meh.
  • LOL.
  • I'll say MEH when Daniel ban your account again Josh.
  • Also not available here in Brazil... :(
  • I'll just add the obligatory "WP7.x?" and "no xbox live==fail" ;-)
  • Now you're even pre-emptively trolling. Classy. And why shouldn't WP7 owners complain? They have every right to. They got completely screwed over. Many of them bought WP7s only to find out  months later that Microsoft was abandoning them by creating a completely different architecture for WP8, thus fragmenting the app market. Locked into 2-year contracts, WP7 still holds approximately 1/4 of the WP market and WP7 owners rarely ever get new apps or games. I empathize with them; you mock them. As for no Xbox integration in this game, people in the #SaveXboxWP movement don't expect indie games like this to be Xbox enabled because Microsoft's cumbersome Xbox certification process precludes indie developers from publishing Xbox games (it's when big studios like Gameloft, Rovio, and MiniClip publish non-Xbox games that we get upset). That said, this game would be a great candidate for an indie Xbox WP game should Microsoft ever extend their ID@Xbox program to Windows Phone, which they badly need to do.
  • WP7 owners did get screwed over, but there's a statute of limitations on these things. If you keep complaining for all eternity, that's pushing it. A year of WP8 superceding WP7 is enough time for people to get used to the idea IMO.
  • To me that statute of limitations is the 2-year contract cycle from immediately before the WP8 launch date, so 10.5 more months of complaints is jutifiable to me. I don't think it's unreasonable for someone who signed a 2-year contract for a phone to expect that phone to be supported for the entirety of that 2-year contract. I didn't have a WP7 so I didn't personally have to put up with this, but I know that had I been subjected to it, I would be pretty upset, so much so that I surely wouldn't be that eager to hop on board the WP8 bandwagon without really thinking about it. Presumably Microsoft learned their lesson and WP8 owners will be eligible for future OS updates, but even as someone who never owned a WP7, I'm disappointed in Microsoft for not making more of an effort to port the big WP8 apps to WP7 as a token of appreciation for early WP adopters stuck on WP7.
  • I'm just saving you the trouble of spamming this article as well. There is no, I repeat NO indication that Xbox integration is dead. Have Microsoft said anything, no they haven't so why not wait for them to say something. My guess is that Microsoft are looking to make it more like Gamecentre or Play Games in that it will be optional, what I mean is that Xbox integration won't be required for achievements and leaderboards but if you want a unified friends list and multiplayer then you would have to sign into Xbox. As I already mentioned, Microsoft haven't confirmed or denied anything so lets wait and see.
  • Wp7 users have an awesome jailbreaks am homebrew which im totally jealous bout
  • Tell me more about this homebrew scene on WP7. WP7 also has quite a few good games and apps that never made it to WP8 and that I'm surprised Microsoft didn't port over (like Tentacles or The Harvest).
  • Happily, as corrected in the article, our game does in fact support WP7.5 and greater. We'd love to support features like achievements, gamertags, and other XBox Live features if they are available to us as an Indie Developer in the future.
  • That would be awesome! Contact Microsoft and tell them to extend the ID@Xbox program for Windows Phone as well so that you guys can someday do that. Would love to play this game and your future gamese with Xbox integration.
  • One word: Lumines http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipVM2V4mLMI
  • Not a bad thing if you like Lumines though!
  • that makes me want to get a ps vita so bad...
  • It was the first thing I thought too
  • Yup... Had this on my psp
  • i really want to love this game, but unfortunatelly i cant. I love Lumines, I had it on my PSP (until that got stolen) and so far was hoping for a lumines or at least a clone on WP. now this comes along and I am less than thrilled. the soundtrack is too small and not diversified enough. Lumines had a great soundteack that ranged from pop over electro to mashup and even rock. this just lacks that charm.   and the controls are really bad for my taste. i tried both control schemes and both didnt feel like i had the cubes on my fingertips. I felt like i couldnt move the cubes around fast enough.   that said, i will keep the game on my radar (not the name of my phone, lol) maybe itll improve.
  • Yeah, I think they will get the controls right in the next update. I agree that the music needs more variety too.
  • how would I login with my scoreloop account? when I set my scoreloop username it tells me "name already taken" but wont allow me to enter my password or anything.
  • That might be another issue for the devs to fix. I'll ask 'em soon.
  • Hello Localhorst86, We'll be looking into this. We'd like to work with you to resolve the issue with your Scoreloop login. We can't post a link directly to our website or this post will be considered spam. Feel free to search for our website and leave a message for us with our contact form. We'll get back to you as soon as we can. Thank you, BigBot Systems
  • It now actually worked after i used a few other scoreloop games. Not sure, but at least now I have my name in the game.
  • Hello Localhorst86, We're glad to hear that your name is now showing up in the game. We'll be looking into if it is possible to make this process smoother. Happy Gaming, BigBot Systems
  • I find that the left/right handed controls work a lot better than the two handed. That makes it easier to swipe and rotate.
  • We're glad to hear that the touch controls are working well for you. :)
  • According to the Store page it's available for WP7.5 as well. And hasn't this been out for a really long time? I remember testing out the trial version several months ago (probably over a year ago), and I'm pretty sure it was on my Lumia 800, after one of the devs linked it on reddit.
  • They had an open beta period for a while, but the game only officially launched today. Thanks for the WP7 correction; fixed.
  • Correction: The paid version of the game has been out for a while, but the free version is new.
  • I have checked now and I have a Lumines Block Challenge on my good old SE W910i phone... :-)