There's something in that old proverb about the early bird. Bonsai Blast was one of the first games available for Google's Android platform and it's built a decent following as a result. Now, it moves to iPhone in an effort to duplicate the success and the results are as surprising as banzai blitz.
Bonsai Blast is effectively a swizzed-about version of Zuma. It's all about lines of coloured marbles snaking onto the screen, with you having to fire other marbles at them to make matches of three or more of the same colour. Plan your moves well enough, and you can set up combos to make one match after another, and score more points.
There's more to the game than that, of course. You can switch the position of your marble-shooter and bounce marbles off walls, sending them along chutes to get out of tight corners. You can also collect power-ups based on the elements, to help you clear the marbles quicker. Learning what these power-ups do and spotting them quickly when they appear is key.
In Bonsai Blast the touchscreen is forcefully put to good use. Aiming marbles with a tap of the finger feels intuitive, even if it differs dramatically from past incarnations of this weathered puzzle game.
Equally impressive is the presentation, marked by crisp graphics and effective audio that complement the action perfectly. It's not the most spectacular-looking or sounding game on iPhone, but it's clearly had a lot of craft put into it.
The best thing about Bonsai Blast, though, is the way it introduces new elements and gradually ramps up the difficulty over the course of its 90 levels. Besides the core Adventure mode, there's also a Survival mode that offers an endless line of marbles for play.
You could argue convincingly that the game could make more use of the iPhone's features, like the accelerometer, or even connectivity. With indie-developed games routinely offering networked high-score tables now, it's a shame the likes of Glu aren't yet following suit - although, of course, there's potential to introduce this kind of feature in future updates.
Even so, Bonsai Blast remains an exceedingly well-designed game for iPhone, just as it is for Android. It adds just enough new elements to the Zuma format to provide a satisfying and challenging puzzle game fix.