Bubble Explode by Spooky House Studios, recommended app for people living with dementia

Review

This app falls under the 'matching-tile' category of puzzle games, although its 'Classic' mode, reviewed here, is a much simpler version of the game than many other available titles. The only matching rule in this game is that the bubbles have to be grouped together by colour in order for them to be popped, initiated by a single 'tap' of the finger. There is no time limit or negative consequences for wrong moves, therefore this game can be considered 'failure-free'. In addition to its simplicity, its stand-out feature is the variety of customisation options allowing the user to control the speed of the animations, size of the bubbles and presence of superfluous visual effects (see below for our recommended settings). Following a collaboration between AcTo Dementia and Spooky House Studios, this app now features an auto-prompt if the user becomes inactive or if they are struggling to identify their next move.

This app has been tested by people living with dementia in our research project and it proved to be very accessible and popular. There were some minor problems observed including the overlapping of bubbles with the menu button at the top of the screen, and the use of potentially distracting text as feedback, however these did not prove to detract from the user experience in our study. 

There is a free, ad-supported version of the app which is acceptable as the presence of adverts are fairly unobtrusive. However, their inclusion at the top of the screen necessitates a reduction in size of the rest of the game contents, hence our decision to recommend the premium version at 99p.


Pros

  • Large, clear design of objects, text and menu display
  • Multiple options to improve accessibility via the options menu
  • 'Failure-free'
  • Simple, fun gameplay

Cons

  • No prompt for inactivity
  • Top row of bubbles overlap buttons at the beginning of the game

Recommended Settings

Access the settings by tapping on the 'wheel' icon on the app's launch screen. These are our recommended settings when introducing the game:

  • Sounds/Music (user preference)
  • Waves (Off - red)
  • Effects (Off - red)
  • Skins (default, 1st row)
  • Bubbles Size (Medium or user preference)
  • Animations (Slow Motion)
  • Notifications (Off - red)

Return to the main menu and select the play icon, followed by 'Classic' mode.