Happiness is surely the ultimate objective of any self-respecting person’s life. Sadly, the pursuit of this ideal is often less than straightforward, and you can find no better example of this than the story of poor little Buka.
A cute little sentient orb, Buka finds herself far away from her home - which she constantly refers to as “The Happy Place” - and looks to you as her saviour and guide. The ultimate objective of the game is to lead her safely through the hazardous reaches of outer space so that she can once again frolic within the confines of her own personal utopia.
Buka is constantly being hassled by evil asteroids, which are hell bent on colliding with her delicate spherical frame. Thankfully she isn’t doomed to be bashed about endlessly by extraterrestrial bullies. With your help, she can repel the assailants and chart a safe passage homewards.
The first weapon in your arsenal is the ability to create shockwaves that deflect oncoming objects with a single touch of your finger. Depending on the velocity of the object, several taps may be required to slow it down completely and redirect its course.
While this first option is more of a preventative mode of defence, your second choice is far more deadly for Buka’s enemies. Holding down your finger on the touchscreen builds up an explosive spark attack. Release your finger and a massive detonation ensues, consuming any hapless asteroids that happen to be in the blast radius.
However, even when you’ve exploded a few bad guys, Buka isn’t out of danger - some of the larger asteroids will burst into fragments which are just as deadly. These can then be averted with a shockwave or captured in another explosion.
Therein lies the core of the gameplay: exploding enemies result in more points. You can take out several asteroids at once with one blast, but when Buka is under heavy and sustained bombardment you often have to rely on the trusty deflection method, which yields no points but at least avoids unwanted collisions. Finding the balance between these two options is the key to your success.
To add another layer of complexity, it’s also possible to move Buka around the screen. You can either use your finger to do this or enable the accelerometer-powered tilt-control.
The latter might sound like the most confusing of the two choices but it’s actually a lot more effective in practice as it leaves your digit free to fend off baddies.
Despite the glorious simplicity of the premise, Buka is a real feast for the eyes. While the main character and asteroid sprites are fairly plain, the effects that accompany the action are fantastic, a good example being when you charge up your spark attack. The area of the screen around your finger glows and pulsates with power, and the resultant flare looks fantastic.
The aural experience is also thoroughly pleasing. Buka makes all kinds of adorable chirping sounds and the explosions are represented by punchy and incredibly effective spot effects.
With loads of levels, plenty of variety in enemy types and an engaging and intuitive interface, Buka is hard to fault.
The only niggle we could find is that during the more hectic stages of the game the incessant tap-tapping required to deflect so many fast-moving asteroids often means that your digit obscures the action, which sometimes results in you missing the approach of an enemy. This is a relatively minor complaint, however.
Buka’s quest might be lengthy and fraught with peril, but it offers an experience that is almost out of this world in terms of its enjoyment. This effortlessly ranks as one of the Android’s best pieces of software yet, and Apple fans would be wise to keep their eyes peeled for a forthcoming iPhone version.