There are three modes of play in Bust-A-Move 3 DX: arcade, challenge, and collection. Arcade mode offers single-player, player vs. computer, or player vs. player arcade-style games. The single-player rounds are pretty boring, but probably a decent training ground for anyone who's not familiar with the Bust-a-Move curriculum vitae. Player vs. computer is more intriguing, as the pace is faster, and that ever-trusty component of competition seasons the experience even more so. In this mode, you pit against a CPU character in a progressive series of 2D puzzles set against thematic backgrounds, such as mah-jongg, priccio, and tarot. If you beat the character, you move on to another; if you lose, you can restart, picking up where you left off, with the option to change your character. Player vs. player mode is essentially the same, only your logical CPU opponent is replaced with your more unpredictable, and perhaps illogical human friends.
Challenge mode features five single-player rounds with several puzzles in each round. You choose a character and then proceed through the puzzles, which have very specific goals, such as clear the bubbles from the screen in as few moves as possible or clear them without damaging your own bubbles, as quickly as possible. At the end of each round, you receive a score according to how many bubbles you used, how many you damaged, as well as your speed, strategy, and technique. At the end, you get a "certificate" and a final grade from Chairman Bub. If you don't want to commit to a linear progression through levels, the collection mode is your stop. In this mode alone, there are more than one thousand various puzzles (all notably created by Japanese players in a contest) you can play in any order. When you complete one, you can go to the "next" or go back to the index and pick and choose in any order.
Bust-A-Move 3 DX bubbles include the standard color bubbles in green, yellow, purple, red, blue, and orange, as well as the rainbow bubble, which adopts the color of the bubbles that explode near it; the star bubble, which eliminates all the bubbles that share the same color as the ones next to it; and even a hematite-colored bubble. There are also cannonballs, which knock out all bubbles in their path indiscriminately; blocks, which you can't destroy as they annoyingly extend the bubbles closer to your "finish" line; and the obstacle block, which looks like the block, but disappears when all surrounding bubbles are destroyed.
While Bust-A-Move 3 DX has an incredible number of levels (more than 1500), many of them are variations on a theme - ricochet off the walls strategically, hit certain bubbles in a certain order at a certain speed, and in the end, knock them all down. This is typically fine for puzzle gamers, as the addiction is fed by the desire to beat each level methodically and predictably, slightly improving over the last.
The 2D graphics and happy-fun sounds are pretty much course-of-puzzle standards, so the real premium in Bust-A-Move 3 DX is the value. If you've spent hours with the previous BAM titles, whether in the arcade or at home, you'll spend at least as many, if not more, with BAM3. And as with any puzzle game, you won't exactly regret the time spent, but you won't really walk away with anything."