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FAQ by Michael Kelehan

Version: 1.3 | Updated: 04/30/2002

Puzzle Bobble Online FAQ v.1.3
by Michael Kelehan
April 30, 2002
mkfaqs@hotmail.com
Mkelehan in the game

________
Contents
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I.   What is Puzzle Bobble Online?
II.  Signing Up
III. The Lobby and Game Rooms
  1. The lobby
  2. The game rooms
IV.  Gameplay
  1. Basic gameplay
  2. Attack modes
    a. Attacking
    b. Items
    c. Critical Attack
  3. After the game
  4. Etiquette
V.   Strategies
  1. General strategies
  2. Items
  3. Play styles
VI.  Closing

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I. What is Puzzle Bobble Online?
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You've most likely played Puzzle Bobble in some form, probably by its
Western name Bust-a-Move or the terrible knockoff Snood.  Well, now you
can play it online, with as many as six people in a single game.  Play
against 5 total strangers, team up with a friend against two teams of
other friends, whatever you want.  And, there are a few new things
thrown into the mix, such as special items and deleting your own
bubbles when in a tight spot.  It's free, it's awesome... and it's in
Japanese.  This FAQ, however, is in English, so with its help, you
should have just as much fun as little Hoshi.

______________
II. Signing Up
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First, you'll want to go to the Puzzle Bobble Online webpage.  Bookmark
it; you'll need to go here whenever you want to play.

http://www.pbo.jp/

Okay, now, don't be scared of all the Japanese.  The left menu has a
big red "Login" button that is really all you need.  The last option
(yellow crown) is a ranking of the top players, which you should
absolutely aspire to become through play after play.  Let's click
"Login" and get ready to set up the account.

Ignore the two text fields for now, and click the red button that has
"ID" followed by some Japanese.  The first field on the new screen is
for your ID, which can be no longer than 8 characters and is how you
will be known in the game.  Type in what you want, and click on the
little button next to it to see if it's taken.  If there's an OK
button, you're all set.  If not, well, try again until you get
something new.

The next field is for your name... where you also have an 8 character
limit.  This makes sense for the Japanese, since their names rarely
pass 5 characters, and that's first and last.  Just type your first
name.  The next one is for your password, with the following one being
the field where you retype your password.  It must be 6 to 10
characters.  Password hint and password answer are next up, followed
by email.  Feel free to type in your real email; they haven't sent me
a blessed thing.  If you can't trust Taito, I ask you, whom CAN you
trust?  Click the first button on the bottom, and away we go.

If there was a problem, reread the instructions above to make sure you
entered everything right.  If it went through okay, you should get a
confirmation screen with your name, email, and user name.  Now you can
login with the ID and password you chose.  When you login, you'll have
the choice of two servers, one in Japanese, and one that's English
Only.  If both you and your version of Windows understand Japanese, you
can try that, but I'd take English if that's what you speak.  Now, Bob
will look all sad, because you don't have the program on your computer.
No matter, just wait a little while and it should start the fully
English install.  If it doesn't, click Retry.

Now that the game's installed, when you login and pick your server
the game should load up... and we're ready to rock.

_____________________________
III. The Lobby and Game Rooms
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1> The lobby

When you start up, you'll be in the lobby.  You should see a few
things: a list of games, a chat area on the bottom, a list of people in
the lobby, and buttons all over the place.  The top right has your
standard Windows buttons, with the line minimizing and the X closing.
The one in the middle switches between windowed and fullscreen, which
you won't notice if you're playing in the game's native 800x600
resolution.  Clicking it to windowed will make it easier to switch to
other programs if you must (like, say, Notepad for writing a FAQ), but
the game will run better in fullscreen.  The Exit button will take you
back one screen.

Chatting is pretty simple: you click in the text box on the bottom of
the screen, type your message, and hit enter.  You can click the
Refresh button to refresh the list of people, and scroll with the up
and down buttons.  Click on someone and then click Messenger to send
them a private message.  You can click Find then type a name to see
what game a friend is in, if that friend is online.  If you click on a
name and then click Info, you can see their rank and score.  Score is
changed after every game, depending on how you do.  You start with 1000
points.

Click Option to bring up the ol' options menu.  Turn BGM and SE on or
off, pretty obvious.  The F1-F8 fields change what message will pop up
when you press that particular key in the heat of battle, so set them
for different occasions, such as when you're about to send something
over or when you're in trouble.  On the right you can change the
controls, but be warned that in this guide I will refer to the default
controls.

Now, the game list.  That big list on the upper left contains all of
the games that are on the server.  The All list is pretty pointless,
since it contains games that are full or in play, so click Waiting if
you want to join a game.  The list won't update itself, so click back
and forth between All and Waiting to get a more current list.  Click a
game to enter it.  If you get an error message, update the list and
click another one.

If you want to create your own game, you'll obviously hit the Create
button.  The immediately highlighted field is the game name, with the
one above it containing the password.  Don't put on a password unless
you've arranged one with your friends, obviously.  The 5-6-7-8 on the
left refers to the number of colors of bubbles, less colors equals
easier play.  The little 6 in the yellow oval is the max number of
players; set it to less when you want a more personal gaming
experience.

The only other thing left to check is the game mode: Beginner, Normal,
or Hard.  Click on a circle to change the mode.  Beginner has no items,
and the stack moves down slowly.  Normal has items, and the stack moves
at a decent rate.  In hard, the stack moves down faster and faster as
the game progresses, and attack items last longer.  When you pick a
game, you can tell the difficulty by which difficulty icon the game's
box has.  There won't be anything for a Beginner game, there's a
Radiation symbol for normal, and a skull for Hard.

2> The game room

Okay, now we're in a game room.  Get ready to party.  Step one is to
pick a character, or "avatar."  Move the mouse over one of the eight
Taito figures to see their attack pattern, special items, and special
item percentages.  The attack pattern is basically what bubbles will be
sent to opponents when you attack them.  Special items will be
discussed in the Gameplay section of this FAQ, and special item percent
is how high your chances are of getting a special item.  Who you pick
is all personal preference; no one character is the best.  Next, pick
your team.  S for solo, and A, B, or C to be on one of those three
teams.  Click Ready when you're ready to go, unless you created the
game, in which case you can click Start when everyone else is ready.
If the creator leaves, starting rights go to the first person who
joined, followed by the next, etc.  The starter is marked with a yellow
dot next in their box.  If no one else is there, you can click "Single"
to play by yourself, but people can join during then.  If you get a
message box, click OK to go back to the game room.  After long last,
it's game time.

____________
IV. Gameplay
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1> Basic gameplay

Before we get into anything else, let's discuss basic Puzzle Bobble
gameplay for the 3 of you unfamiliar with the series.  You control a
pointer that shoots bubbles.  You can see the bubble that's about to
be shot, as well as the next one up.  Left and right move the pointer,
while spacebar shoots the bubble.  Get 3 same-colored bubbles together,
and they burst, leaving the playfield.  If you want to succeed in
multiplayer, though, you'll want to clear more than 3 at a time.  This
is done by either shooting a bubble that connects two groups of two,
or a group of one and a group of two, or causing bubbles to fall.
Bubbles won't just hang in the air, they need something to stick to.
Get rid of what they're stuck on, and they'll be forced to fall.  You
can bounce bubbles off the left and right walls; practice this to make
tricky shots.  Up and down can also be used as controls, with up
bringing the pointer to the center and down bringing it to the far
left or right, depending on where it is.  When the bubbles all shake,
the stack will fall down in two turns, and there will be a new bunch of
bubbles on the top.  Oh, and don't take too long to shoot your bubble,
or the game will shoot it for you.

Okay, glad that's out of the way.  Let's talk about the screen layout.
On the bottom is the chat area, you know how that works.  On the right
side is your playfield, the use of which has been explained above.
The top left contains everyone else's playfields, so you can keep an
eye on what they're up to.  Your box has messages about attacks, which
will be explained... now.

2> Attack modes

There are two modes: attack and item.  Next to the chat window, there
are two long boxes.  The one that's all white is the currently selected
one, which can be switched with the Tab key.  Press the number key
corresponding with the player you wish to attack/use an item on, and
it will be done.  Alternatively, left click on someone's field to
attack them, or right click to use an item on them.  In addition,
there is an ultimate attack called the Critical Attack.

<a> Attacking

Whenever you clear more than 3 bubbles, all of the bubbles
beyond 3 will go into the attack box.  So, if you knock off 4 bubbles,
one will go in your queue for attacking.  Left click on someone, or
press their number with Attack selected, to send some bubbles to their
field after they shoot their current bubble.  A big bubble represents
7.  If you have 7 or more, each click will send 7 bubbles, else wise
just one.  You can send as many over to one person as you want, but
they'll only get 7 per turn.  Meaning, if you send 8, they'll get 7
bubbles, shoot a bubble of their own, and then get one.  If you attack
yourself or a teammate, you'll delete that many bubbles instead of
adding them.  If someone attacks you, and you haven't shot your bubble
yet, you can attack yourself to decrease the amount they attacked you
with.  So, if someone sends you 8 bubbles, and you send yourself 7,
you'll only get one bubble added to your field.

<b> Items

Some bubbles have icons on them.  Pop these bubbles to get an
item corresponding to the icon, and use the item by right clicking a
player, or pressing his number with Item selected.  Yellow items are
for attacking, while white items are helper items.  You can only hold
5 items at a time, and must use them in the order you got them.  If you
get a sixth... well, you just won't get it.  So, if you see something
you really want, like a 4-line or Time Attack, clear some space.

Darkness (demon):  Puts a big demon over the player's screen, so
they can't see what's going on.

Secret (question mark):  Makes it so the player doesn't know what
bubbles he's shooting.

Lightning (rocket):  Makes the player's pointer move far too fast.

Chaos (no pointer):  Pointer is invisible.

Time Attack (clock):  Gives the recipient only a second to shoot the
next few bubbles.

2-line and 4-line:  Makes the bottom 2 (or 4) lines of bubbles
disappear instantly.

Guide (white pointer):  Gives you a guide to where the bubble will go
when shot.

When an item is used, its effects stay with you until a certain number
of bubbles have been shot.  This is dependent on the item itself and
the difficulty level chosen.

<c> Critical Attack

You'll attack everyone in play with 14 bubbles if you do a Critical
Attack.  This is done by dropping at least one bubble of each color in
one move.  Note that the bubbles must be DROPPED (not exploded) to
count.  So, if you explode some blues that drop a bunch of bubbles,
but none of them are blue, it doesn't count.

3> After the game

Once someone loses, they can stay and chat, or leave and get on with
their life.  If you quit in-game, that's just like a loss, so see it
through!  Once only one player is left standing, he's the winner, and
you know what that means: it's time for another game!

4> Etiquette

Okay, you're playing an online game, and you don't want to be a jerk.
Here are a couple of things you should keep in mind.

First, try not to attack people with under 1100 points if there's
someone else still alive.  They're still new, let them get the hang of
the game.  When it's down to the two of you, though, anything goes.

Don't flood the chat.  That's just annoying.  Use coherent thoughts.
If someone just won't click ready, ask them calmly to do it before you
yell at them.

_____________
V. Strategies
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1> General strategies

First, if you've never played Puzzle Bobble before, practice a few
single player games.  You'll have to get a sense for where bubbles will
go when you shoot them, as a missed shot can screw you good.

Saving a few attack bubbles to use on yourself in emergencies is a
Good Idea.

If the stack is shaking, and you're so close to the bottom that you'll
lose as soon as you fire off your bubble... hold it.  It's very
possible that in those few seconds, someone else could lose, putting
you up one place.

2> Items

Items add all sorts of strategy not present in previous versions of the
game.  First, we'll deal with how to deal with an attacker.

Mystery:  The current and next bubbles you might remember from before
you were attacked.  They'll remain the same.  However, chances are,
you're just shooting bubbles you don't know, so put them as high up in
the field as possible.

Darkness:  I hope you remember the general shape of the field, so you
can get those bubbles up as high as you can.  This is a good time to
use a few of your attack bubbles to clear some space, and a great time
to use the Guide.  The Guide will still work, telling you exactly where
your shot will go.

Time Attack:  Keep your wits about you, man.  If someone's attacking
you now, the attacks will come quick, so negate them with your own
attack bubbles.  You might also want to use a 2-line or 4-line to clear
some space.

Lightning:  Just tap left or right.  You're seriously limited to where
you can shoot; just pick what's best.

Chaos:  Okay, remember your up key.  Hold up until it stops moving,
and you're pointed at the center.  Then, adjust as you will.

Now, some defensive item strategies...

2-line, 4-line:  Remember that these will delete lines instantly,
unlike your attack bubbles, which take effect after your next shot.
These will delete the bottom 2 or 4 lines, no matter how few bubbles
are there, so if your bottom two rows have one bubble each, that's all
you're getting.  Save them for when you've got 2 or 4 complete rows on
the bottom, when you're in a real emergency, or when you see a great
place for your shot 2 or 4 lines up.

Guide:  As you might guess, this is perfect for when you need to line
up a difficult shot.  Don't get too confident in your aim; the best of
us can't make them all.  That's why there's a guide.

Okay, enough about defending yourself.  Let's talk about the kicking of
the tails of others.  While they're all certainly bad to get hit by,
the Time Attack is particularly nasty when combined with others...

Time Attack + lots of attack bubbles:  The best thing to do with the
Time Attack item.  Since you can only send 7 bubbles per turn... why
not speed up Mr. Opponent's turns?  That will give him a bunch of
bubbles, and no time to figure out how to deal with them.  Pure evil.

Time Attack + Secret:  Rapid fire of bubbles he doesn't know.

Time Attack + Darkness:  Rapid fire, with no idea of where they're
going.

Time Attack + Lightning/Chaos:  Unaimable rapid fire.

Time Attack + one or more of the above items + lots of bubbles:  You,
sir, are the devil.  Unless they're real quick with the attack
negation, you've done some serious damage.  A great finisher.

3> Play styles

While everyone plays differently, there are certain play styles in
Puzzle Bobble Online, involving how you attack others and how you
defend yourself.  A few of these are listed below, but be sure you
spend some time to figure out which combination of these styles suits
your particular style the most.

The Pacifist:  Never attacks others, uses all of their attacks to
remove bubbles from their playfield.  If you're a Pacifist... you might
as well be playing single player.

The Vulture:  Attacks the player closest to losing.  When someone's
playfield is almost full, he'll inundate them with bubbles and attacks.

The Spreader:  Attacks all players equally.  Not good when one of your
opponents is...

The Revenger:  Saves all his attacks until he's attacked, then returns
with all he's got.

Kick 'Em When Their Down: Atacks someone who just used up his bubbles,
so he's defenseless.

Remember, just sticking to one of these will rarely work; figure out
your own play style just like any other game.

___________
VI. Closing
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Thanks for reading my Puzzle Bobble Online FAQ.  If you have any
suggestions, go ahead and email me; just don't ask questions that have
been answered above.  Look for me in the game as Mkelehan, often in a
game called something like "You!  Join!"

Thanks to:
Taito, for making this fine game.  Dream come true.
CJayC, for hosting the FAQ.
Tycho of Penny Arcade, for linking to it.
All the fine people who didn't buy Snood for the Game Boy Advance.
...and everyone I've played in the game.  Good games all around.

Version history:

4/30/02 v.1.3: Fixed Critical Attack, and changed item behaviors to
               reflect the new patch.  Added a new play style.  Added
               something else too...

4/20/02 v.1.2: Added the Critical Attack to the Attacking subsection,
               and explained the 5-item limit.  Added sub-subsections
               in the Attack Modes subsection.  Added Thanks to the
               Closing section... right above this.

4/19/02 v.1.1: Organized the FAQ a bit better, so it wasn't just a big
               lump of paragraphs.  Added strategies, so it's complete.

4/18/02 v.1.0: First version.  Expect a new version this weekend, as I
               research more.  Meaning, I'm going to play it a lot.

This guide is copyright 2002 Michael Kelehan.  Puzzle Bobble is a
trademark of Taito.  Distribution of this FAQ is permitted (in fact,
it's encouraged), as long as it is kept in its full and complete form.

Here's an extra tip for reading this far: how to change the in-game
music and sound effects to whatever you want.  In the directory where
you installed the game (by default C:\Taito\PuzzleBobble\), there's a
Data directory, and in that, a Sounds directory.  That contains all of
the game's music and sound effects, in WAV form.  Simply get a WAV of
what you want, rename it to what you want to replace, and replace it in
the Sound directory.  You can have all sorts of fun with those sound
effects, but for backgrond music... I'd just turn it off in the game
and use Winamp.

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